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Glossary of Terms

Here is a glossary of the most common Spanish terms related to law, banking and real estate, translated into plain English.

At the Lawyers(Abogado) or Accountants(Contable)

At the Estate Agents ( Inmobiliaria ) or Architects (Arquitecto)

At the Bank (Banco)

Other useful words

At the Lawyers(Abogado) or Accountants(Contable)

Administrador: Administrator, e.g. of a community of property owners in a community development.
Administrador de Fincas: Licensed property administrator
Agencia estatal de administracion tributaria: The tax office, usually shortened to Agencia Tributaria, previously called hacienda (and still used by most people).
Apostille: An official stamp on a document that certifies the signature of the official who signed it, his capacity or office, and the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears.
Asesor fiscal: Financial or tax consultant.
Arras: The 10% deposit paid on a contrato de opcion de compra (option contract) where the contract can be cancelled by either party, with the buyer forfeiting his deposit or the vendor paying the buyer double the deposit.
Ayuntamiento: City hall or town hall.
Catastro: Land Office housing all details for the Cadastral Certificate
Catastral reference/ certificate: this shows location and measurement of the property and is used for the basis of taxation.
Certificado de habitabilidad: A certificate certifying that a property can be lived in, which is issued when a building (DIY) conforms to the building standards and codes. It must be issued before the electricity /water can be connected or a gas contract signed.
Certificado de empadronamiento: Certificate certifying that a person resides or owns property in a certain town. Census.
Certificado de fin de obra: Certificate provided by an architect or building engineer certifying completion of work in accordance with the building plans.
Certificado de No Residencia: Certificate confirming that you’re a non-resident in Spain, required by non-resident home buyers in Spain.
Colegio: College or professional association (also a school). All professionals belong to a Colegio
Comisaria: National police station where a Numero de Identificacion de Entranjero (NIE) can be obtained.
Comunidad de propietarios: Community of owners.
Comprador/a :Purchaser, buyer.
Contrato: Contract.
Contrato de arrendamiento: Rental contract.
Contrato de compraventa: Sales contract.
Copia simple: Copy of an escritura (deed) without signatures.
Cuota (de participacion): An owner’s share (expressed as a percentage) of a community development, used to calculate his percentage of community fees.
Declaracion de obra nueva: Declaration and registration of a new property or development to a notary.
Denuncia: A formal complaint made to the authorities, e.g. the police.
Departamento de extranjeros: Foreign residents department, e.g. at a town hall.
Derecho de paso: Right of way.
Domicilio fiscal: Main residence for tax purposes. Fiscal domicile.
Escritura publica de compraventa: the registered title deed of the property and is the proof. of ownership and title. It is signed by both contracting parties and by the Notary after which it is inscribed in the Land Registry and after all the taxes are paid, the purchaser is given a copy
Estatutos: Statutes, rules or by-laws,e.g. of a community development.
Expediente de dominio: Proof of domination, i.e. a document proving ownership of property or land when an escritura doesn’t exist or has been lost.
Garantia: Guarantee, warranty.
Gestor: A licensed professional who acts as an intermediary between private individuals and government departments such as the tax office and social security (administrator).
Impuesto sobre el valor añadido (IVA): Value added tax. From September 2012 the rates will be: 4% on primary necessity goods (milk, bread…), 10% reduced rate (for specific product categories like food) and 21% standard rate on professional services, alcoholic drinks and commercial products.
Impuesto sobre transmisiones patrimoniales (ITP): Transfer tax (payable buy the purchaser when buying a resale property instead of VAT which is levied on new properties ). As from January 2012 there will be a change in the rates. Please refer to the article Transfer Tax Explained in the Articles and publications section.
Impuesto sobre Actos Juridicos Documentados (AJD): A 1% tax on ‘documented legal acts’ roughly equivalent to the stamp duty charged in some countries.
Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI): Annual property or real estate tax/local rates (replace by the “contribucion territorial rustica/urbana”)
Impuesto municipal sobre el incremento del valor de terrenos: Capital Gain Tax: See plusvalia.
Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio: Wealth tax, commonly referred to simply as patrimonio..
Impuesto sobre sucesiones y donationes: Inheritance and gift tax.
Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Fisicas (IRPF): Income tax.
Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio y sobre la Renta de No Residentes: The tax declaration (form 214) for both wealth and imputed letting tax for non-residents owning property in Spain.
Impuesto sobre Actividades Economicas (IAE): Business tax or licence for business people and professionals (which replaced the former fiscal licence).
Impuesto sobre Construcciones,Instalaciones y Obras: Tax on ‘construction, installations and work levied on all building work requiring a municipal licence
Impuesto sobre sociedades: Company or Corporation Tax.
Informe urbanistico: A certificate from the local town hall stating what can be built on a plot of land.
Juzgado: Court or tribunal.
Ley: Law.
Ley de arrendamientos urbanos: Law governing urban property rentals.
Ley de costas: Coastal building law which governs construction in coastal areas.
Ley de Propiedad Horizontal (LPH): Law of horizontal division of a community development defining the legal rights and obligations of owners.
Licencia de apertura: Business opening licence.
Licencia fiscal: Fiscal licence.
Licencia de obra: Building licence.
Licencia de primera ocupacion: Licence required for the first occupation of a building, necessary to have an electricity, water, gas meters installed. Habitation license.
Llave en mano: Ready to occupy, i.e. key in hand
Nota simple: Extract of the property register showing a property’s details (such as the owner) and whether any encumbrances (debts) are registered against it. Also a copy of property deeds.
Notario: Notary Public. A legal professional acting as a public official when signing public deeds like wills, powers of attorney, mortgages and sales agreements. He ensures that the law is complied with.
Numero de Identificacion de Entranjeros (NIE): Fiscal or tax identification number required by all property purchasers in Spain.
Numero de Identificacion Fiscal (NIF): The fiscal number which all Spaniards have (the same number as their identity card and passport numbers).
Patrimonio: Wealth tax.
Plus valia: A tax on the increase in land value. Capital Gains tax. Officially called impuesto municipal sobre el incremento del valor de los terrenos.
Poder: Power of attorney or proxy.
Policia municipal /local: Municipal or local police.
Policia nacional: National police.
Primera copia: Signed original of the escrituraor a certified copy.
Recaudacion municipal: Municipal property tax (rates) office.
Recaudacion provincial: Provincial tax office, e.g. for business tax.
Registro de la propiedad: Land registry where all the details of properties are kept such as ownership, debts, mortgages etc.
Renta: Earnings or income.
Representante fiscal: Official fiscal (tax) representative.
Residencia: Residence card or permit.
Retencion: Withholding tax. Also the 3% of the sale price that must be retained by the buyer (in lieu of taxes) when a non-resident sells a Spanish property.
Seguridad social: Social security.
Seguro: Insurance.
Testamento: Will.
Todos los gastos: All fees or charges,e.g. in a property purchase contract.
Valor catastral: The fiscal or rateable value of a property fixed by the local municipality, on which property taxes (IBI) are calculated

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At the Estate Agents ( Inmobiliaria ) or Architects (Arquitecto)

Acometida: Connection, e.g. of electricity or water
Adosado: Semi-detached, but usually refers to terraced town houses. .
Agente de Propiedad Inmobiliaria (API): Qualified and registered real estate agent.
Aire acondicionado: Air-conditioning.
Albañil: Bricklayer or labourer.
Alcantarillado: Sewage system.
Aljibe: Water cistern.
Alquilar / Se alquila: Rent. / For rent.
Amueblada: Furnished; Unfurnished is sin muebles.
Aparcamiento: Parking, usually refers to private off-road parking..
Aparejador: Architectural engineer (-the person who usually supervises the building of a property) or quantity surveyor.
Apartamento: Apartment..
Arboles: Trees.
Armario: Wardrobe.
Aseo: Toilet or cloak room.
Ascensor: Lift, elevator.
Aspiradora: Vacuum cleaner.
Atico : Top Apartment, attic ( Atico de Lujo is a penthouse )
Azotea: Flat roof.
Balcon: Balcony.
Baño: Bath or bathroom.
Barbacoa: Barbecue.
Barrio: City quarter or neighbourhood, district.
Basura: Rubbish/Garbage.
Basura y Alcantarillado: Rubbish collection and mains drainage, for which a charge is made by the local municipal council.
Boletin de instalaciones electricas: Certificate from an officially certified electrician stating that a property has been wired according to the regulations.
Bombona: Gas bottle.
Bricolaje: Do-it-yourself supplies.
Buen estado: good condition.(En: in )
Calefaccion: Heating.
Calidad: Quality.
Calle: Street, often written as C./ in addresses.
Campo: In the countryside.
Cesped: Lawn.
Chalet: Detached villa.
Chimenea: Fireplace, chimney.
Ciudad: Town or city.
Cocina: Kitchen (also stove, cooker, cuisine or cookery). Kitchenettes are called Cocina Americana
Codigo postal: Postal code.
Comedor: Dining room.
Contador: Meter (electricity, gas,water).
Cortijo: Farmhouse.
Cosas comunes: The parts of a community development that are owned communally.
Cuarto: Room.
Cuarto de baño: Bathroom.
Deposito: Tank, deposit e.g. for water.
Desván: Loft. Attic.
Doble cristal: Double glazed.
Dormitorio: Bedroom.
Dormitorio principal: Master bedroom.
Ducha: Shower.
Duplex: Maisonette. Duplex.
Edificio: Building.
Electricidad: Electricity.
Entrada: Hallway, entrance. Also the down payment on a home, the balance of which will be paid by a mortgage. The entrada isn’t returnable if the buyer withdraws from a purchase.
Equipados: Equipped.
Escalera: Stairway. Ladder.
Espacio para piscina: Room for a pool.
Estudio: Study/studio apartment.
Fianza: Security deposit.
Finca: Farm or farmhouse. Generally used to refer to any rural property outside a town or village.
Fontaneria: Plumbing.
Fosa septica: Septic tank.
Frigorifico: Refrigerator.
Fuente: Spring or fountain
Garaje: Garage.
Gastos de comunidad: Community fees.
Generador: Generator (electricity).
Habitacion: Room.
Hacienda: Property, farm. Also the tax office, now officially replaced by the agencia estatal de administracion tributaria, although hacienda is still used by most people.
Hectarea: Hectare or 10,000 square metres (2.471 acres).
Huerta: Kitchen garden, allotment or it can mean irrigated land.
Huerto: Orchard.
Inquilino: Tenant.
Inventario: Inventory.
Invernadero: Conservatory or greenhouse.
Jardin: Garden.
Ladrillo/ladrillos: Brick/brickwork.
Lavadero: Laundry or utility room.
Lavadora: Washing machine.
Localidad: Location.
Lujo/lujoso: Luxury/luxurious.
Mal estado: Dilapidated ( bad condition).
Mantenimiento: Maintenance.
Marmol: Marble.
Memoria: List of materials and specifications for a building job.
Memoria de caIidades: Building specifications, e.g. for a house, which must form part of the architect’s plans.
Metros cuadrados: Square metres.
Muebles: Furniture.
Mudanza: Move house.
Muro: Outside wall.
Numero de API: The Agente de Propiedad Inmobiliaria (APl) registration number of a real estate agent with the local college of estate agents.
Obra con garantia: Work/construction guaranteed.
Oficina de rentas y ventas: Sales and rental office.
Plan General de Ordenacion Urbana: General Urban Development Plan or town planning
Parabolica: Satellite dish.
Parcela: Building plot.
Parcialmente construida: Partially constructed or completed.
Pared Inside wall (Pared medianera: Party wall.)
Parquet: Wooden floor.
Patio interior: Central courtyard of a house.
Piscina: Swimming pool.
Piso: Apartment, floor (of building).
Plan parcial: Plan of building plots, e.g.in a community development or a municipality.
Planta: Floor.
Planta baja: Ground floor .
Potencia: Power rating, e.g. of a home’s electricity supply.
Pozo: Well.
Pozo negro: Cesspool.
Pueblo blanco: White village, e.g. a village in Andalusia with white-washed houses.
Puerta: Door, gate or portal.
Puerta de cristal: French window. .
Reformada: Reformed, e.g. modernised.
Rejas/Rejillas: Iron security grilles or bars, e.g. on windows and patio doors.
Renovado: Renovated.
Rustica: Agricultural property. Rustic.
Salon: Lounge, living room.
Seguro de hogar: Household insurance.
Sistema de seguridad: Security system, alarm.
Solar: Plot of land.
Solarium: Solarium/sun roof or deck.
Sotano: Cellar, basement.
Subasta: Auction, e.g. of property.
Suelo rustico/urbano/urbanizable: Agricultural land (suelo rustico),building land (suelo urbano) and land that can be changed from agricultural to building land (suelo urbanizable).
Taller: Workshop.
Taller del constructor: Builder’s yard.
Tejado: Roof.
Temporada: Temporary or short term, e.g. a seasonal property rental contract.
Termo: Water heater.
Terreno: Land, plot.
Terreno Rustico: Agricultural or rural land.
Tranquilo: Quiet.
Traspaso: Lease or transfer of property.
Trastero: Storage room.
Urbanization: Urbanisation or housing estate. A community development.
Vado permanente: Keep clear. No parking zone, e.g. in front of a private entrance or garage.
Vallado: Fenced in, e.g. a garden.
Vecindad: Neighbourhood.
Vende: Sale. Se vende: For sale.
Vendedor/a: Vendor or seller.
Ventana: Window.
Viejo/a: Old.
Vigas de madera: Wooden beams, beamed ceiling..
Vivero: Garden centre. Nursery.
Vivienda de Protection Oficial (VPO): Subsidised housing. Council housing.
Vivienda: Dwelling.
Vivienda habitual: Primary or main residence.
Zona verde: Green zone where no building is permitted. Also refers to gardens, lawns and other ‘green’ areas.

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At the Bank (Banco)

Amortizacion: Repaymentof the initial loan amount by instalment including the capital and interest as in a mortgage.
Cambio: Exchange, but also the currency exchange rate. Small change.
Cargos: Costs or charges.
Cuenta corriente: Bank cheque (current) account.
Domiciliacion de pagos: Standing order, e.g. for payment of utility bills.
Domiciliacion bancaria: Direct debit.
Fecha : Date
Gastos: Fees or expenses.
Euribor : European Inter- Bank Offered Rate, which is based on the interest rate for 12month Euro depositspublished by the European Central Bank
Hipoteca: Mortgage which will be recorded in the Property register.
Honorarios: Fees.
IRPH: Indice de Referencia de Prestamos Hipotecarios is the rate used for variable mortgages published by Banco de España.
Importe: Amount.
Impuesto: Tax.
Mensualidad: Monthly payment, e.g.for a mortgage.
Recargo: Surcharge.
Saldo : Balance
Señal: Deposit.
Tasa: Fee.
Tasa Annal Equivalente(TAE): The effective annual interest rate, e.g. for a mortgage, after interest is compounded and all commission and fees are included.
Tipo de interes: Interest rate.
Transferencia: Banker’s order. Transfer.

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Other useful words

Almuerzo: Lunch, (in Spain between 14,00 h and 16,00 h, most of the office and shops will be close for this). Velasco Lawyer offices too!
Cena: Dinner, or evening meal
Desayuno: Breakfast.
Estanco: A tobacconist (seller of rental contracts and other official documents and papel del estado).
Factura: Bill or invoice.
Ferreteria: Hardware store or ironmongers.
Ocasion: Bargain, special offer.
Papel del estado: Tax stamps (literally ‘state paper’) issued in various denominations for the purpose of making official payments to government offices, e.g. to apply for a residence permit. Sold by estancos (tobacconist shops).
Peligro: Danger.
Precio: Price.
Presupuesto: Estimate.
Recibo: Receipt.
Seguro de viaje: Travel insurance.