top of page

Translating Justice: A Brief Guide to Spanish Law for UK Citizens

In an ever-globalising world, the movement of people across borders has become commonplace. For UK citizens considering a move to Spain or those already residing in the Iberian nation, understanding the intricacies of Spanish law is paramount. This guide aims to provide an overview, helping UK citizens navigate the Spanish legal landscape and ensuring a smooth transition into a new jurisdiction.


Historical Context

To comprehend Spanish law, it is essential to appreciate the historical and cultural influences that have shaped its legal system. From Roman law to the Islamic legal tradition, Spain's legal framework has evolved over centuries. The Reconquista and subsequent unification of Spain under Catholic rule further contributed to the amalgamation of diverse legal traditions. This historical context sets the stage for the modern Spanish legal system.


The Spanish Legal System


A. Civil Law Tradition:

Spain follows a civil law system, distinct from the common law tradition of the UK. Understanding the fundamental differences, such as the role of precedent and legal interpretation, is crucial for UK citizens navigating the Spanish legal landscape.


B. Autonomous Communities:

Spain comprises autonomous communities, each with a degree of legislative autonomy. This decentralised structure can lead to variations in certain laws between regions, emphasising the importance of understanding local regulations.


Certain taxes are a devolved matter, for example, each Community sets its own Stamp Duty Land Tax, Inheritance Tax or Gift Tax and as such, the amount of tax payable will depend, amongst other things, on where the property is located.


Residency and Immigration

A. NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero):

UK citizens planning to reside in Spain must obtain an NIE, a unique identification number for foreigners (in essence, a Tax number). This is a prerequisite for various transactions, including property purchases, employment and financial transactions.


B. Residency Requirements:

Understanding the different types of residency permits, such as temporary and permanent residency, is essential. This section outlines the application process, required documentation, and potential challenges UK citizens may encounter.


Employment and Business

A. Employment Contracts:

Spanish labour laws differ significantly from those in the UK. Exploring the intricacies of Spanish employment contracts, including working hours, holiday entitlements, and termination procedures, is crucial for UK citizens entering the Spanish workforce.


B. Setting Up a Business:

For UK citizens considering entrepreneurial ventures in Spain, this section provides insights into the process of establishing a business, including legal structures, registration requirements, and taxation considerations.


Property Laws

A. Buying Property in Spain

Navigating the Spanish real estate market involves understanding property laws, transaction processes, and potential pitfalls. Our blog post “Buying a property in Spain step by step” guides UK citizens through the intricacies of property ownership, including the role of notaries and the significance of the escritura pública.


B. Inheritance Laws:

Spanish inheritance laws differ from those in the UK, and understanding the implications for property and assets is crucial, such as the role of wills, and the distribution of assets among heirs.


"Translating Justice" serves as a brief guide for UK citizens seeking a brief summary of Spanish law. By delving into historical roots, the legal system, and key aspects of residency, employment, property, and legal rights, this guide aims to offer an introduction for individuals to navigate the Spanish legal landscape with confidence.

At Lopez & Moreno Associates, our team of experienced Spanish lawyers and notary can guide and advise you on every step of the process.

Please get in touch with us for information about our services and fees.



bottom of page