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Register for VAT in Spain

The Spanish value added tax (VAT), sometimes refered to as IVA tax in Spain, is imposed at a standard rate, that is applicable to most of the economic activities developed here, and reduced rates, that are applicable only to specific categories of goods/services. The VAT is applicable to both services and goods that are sold on the entire Spanish territory. Companies need to register for VAT purposes with the local tax authorities and obtain Spanish VAT number and they also have to take the necessary measures so that their business complies with the tax regulations in their business field.

Our team of specialists in company registration in Spain can advise on VAT registration in Spain; investors can obtain consultancy services from our specialists that are related to all the corporate taxes that have to be paid by local businesses. 

At Lexidy Law Boutique SLP we provide high-quality services to local and foreign investors alike and specialize in various legal fields, most notably company formation, taxation as well as corporate relocation. Federico Richardson Alborna founded Lexidy Law Boutique in Barcelona and he is a fluent English speaker who can assist foreign investors with numerous corporate matters. 

Organizations we are part of

Lexidy law Boutique SLP is part of a number of Spanish as well as international organizations. Among the notable collaborations, we can mention that with the German-Spanish Association of Lawyers, the International Bar Association, the Spanish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Barcelona and the Barcelona Bar Association.

VAT registration in Spain for domestic companies

The value-added tax (VAT or IVA – impuesto sobre el valor añadido) is an indirect tax levied on the deliveries of goods and services as well as on the import of goods and intra-community acquisitions.

VAT registration in Spain is mandatory for all companies that provide goods and services that are taxable for this purpose within the Spanish VAT territory. The main requirement is to register with the Spanish Tax Agency in order to be able to engage in the activities that are subject to this tax and to obtain Spanish VAT number.

Value-added tax is an indirect tax in the sense that the corresponding value is passed on to the customer, as per the issued invoice. This is the accrued VAT, while the deductible input VAT is the one passed on the supplier itself and it must be calculated according to the existing transactions. There are formal obligations to issue standard or simplified invoices and also to keep a set of records in order to justify the deduction of input VAT.

The Spanish VAT number is assigned to companies that actually engage in the activities that make up the scope of this tax. It is not the same as the NIF (the tax ID number assigned to every legal person, including to foreign entities).

Our team is here to provide complete information on the VAT registration in Spain and Spanish VAT number as well as the general registration requirements for both locally registered and foreign entities doing business in Spain. Understanding the basic taxation regime is a prerequisite for doing business in the country and it is important for many business owners and entrepreneurs.

The IVA or VAT number is assigned to companies that make intra-community acquisitions of goods that are subject to the tax as well as those that offer services or goods within the country that are subject to this value-added tax.

The Spanish VAT number is assigned using the already existing NIF number, and it consists of the country prefix ES, followed by the afla 2 international code. Therefore, the VAT NIF is expressed as “ES+ the NIF number” for a registered economic operator.

An interested company requests the VAT by completing the declaration of registration. Once this step is complete, the company will appear in the VAT Information Exchange System. When submitting the application, the company representative will need to provide essential documents such as the company’s Articles of Association, proof of tax registration and others. One of our agents who specialize in VAT registration in Spain can provide you with more details on the actual submission and the processing time that is to be expected from the Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria).

VAT registration in Spain for foreign companies

Foreign companies are also required to follow the process of VAT registration in Spain if they will make intra-community operations or if they will deliver certain types of goods and services (that are subject to this tax) on Spanish territory.

Companies that are not considered residents for tax purposes but have a permanent office in the country can also request the Spanish VAT number for legal personal and organizations (NIF). The Tax Agency is also the one that allocated the tax ID for foreign entities and once attributed, it remains assigned to the foreign company unless a change in the business form or the country in which it is registered takes place.

Foreign companies registered for tax and VAT purposes in Spain are required to provide the assigned number in all of their tax returns and self-assessments as well as other documents. Our specialists in IVA matters can provide complete details on the Spanish VAT number that is attributed to foreign companies.

VAT compliance in Spain

The filing and payment requirements for VAT purposes, as well as the monthly refunds (if applicable) are also important issues to take into consideration by all companies, domestic or foreign, that are subject to this tax. Below, we provide a summary of the main regulations:

  • monthly VAT refund: can be accessed by registering with the refund registry (through an online form and by filing the monthly VAT assessments);
  • register books for invoices: these must be accurately kept in order to determine the total amount of VAT passed onto the customers as well as the amount that was received by the company.
  • rectifications: entries in the registry are possible once the settlement period is over.
  • intra-community operators: are required to enter certain operations in the register book, such as the transfers made by the taxpayer to another Member State.

You can reach out to us for more information on the Spanish VAT number and the requirements and regulations for domestic and foreign companies that provide taxable goods and services. 

VAT rates (IVA tax in Spain)

The Spanish value added tax has a standard value of 21% for most goods and services, but reduced rates of 10% and 4% also apply. The types of products or services for which the reduction is available are: 4% (super-reduced VAT): dairy products, fruits or cereals, books, newspapers, magazines, advertising, drugs, and 10% (reduced VAT): foodstuffs (except for those with the super-reduced rate), passenger transport, certain plants, amateur sporting and events.

The supply of goods and services in the insurance sector and the financial sector is exempt from VAT and so are goods and services offered in connection with health, education and rental purposes. The normal 21% rate applies for all other products. VAT registration in Spain is mandatory for all companies that carry out transactions in this country. International companies operating in the EU are required to obtain a special VIES identification numberOur company registration agents in Spain can help you register with the tax authorities and offer information about IVA tax in Spain.

What should businesses after VAT registration in Spain?

Businessmen who want to open a company in Spain should know that once their business was registered for VAT purposes, specific procedures must be completed. Our team of consultants in company formation in Spain can offer step-to-step advice on the following procedures, which must be completed by all VAT payers in this country: 

  • issue invoices specifying the disclosure details, as per the Spanish tax legislation;
  • issue electronic invoices containing specific aspects, such as the electronic signature;
  • keeping and maintaining the company’s accounts and records, for a period of 10 years;
  • issue invoices for customers buying goods or services in Spain;
  • process credit notes and using the correct foreign currency rates. 

Since when is the VAT applicable in Spain? 

The authorities have introduced the Spanish VAT numberin 1986, when the country became a member state of the European Union (EU); the current legislation on VAT includes the regulations prescribed at the level of the EU and it regulates the manner in which commercial entities have to register for VAT, comply with the local VAT rules and submit VAT returns. The main institution which is in charge with the VAT regulations and compliance is the Agencia Estatal de Administracion Tributaria. Once registered for VAT, the following will apply: 

  • a company must deposit quarterly VAT returns provided that it had in the previous financial year a turnover of maximum EUR 6 million;
  • the monthly quarterly returns have to be completed by Spanish businesses which obtained a turnover of above EUR 6 million;
  • provided that a company in Spain does not respect the reporting requirements, they can be charged with fines ranging from 20% to 200%, applicable to the VAT they should have reported;
  • late payments of VAT can also be imposed with an interest fine of 5% (for a delay of one month); 
  • the value of the interest fine can increase up to 20% in the case in which the company delayed the payment of the VAT for a year. 

What types of entities should register for IVA tax in Spain? 

As a general rule, commercial entities obtaining taxable income from the sale of goods and services in Spain are required to register for VAT. Below, we present the main categories of commercial entities that have to apply for a VAT number in order to pay VAT in Spain:

  • companies importing goods on the Spanish territory, even in the case in which the goods are to be sold on another EU market;
  • entities selling goods or services (and entities purchasing goods and services) which are not Spanish companies that were issued with a VAT number;
  • the sale of goods and services through the internet is also charged with the VAT;
  • companies storing goods in warehouses in Spain, as these premises are considered permanent establishments;
  • companies organizing live events and exhibitions which charge admission fees to such events. 

Those entities that are liable for the payment of VAT should take the necessary measures in order to register for the payment of this tax. This is also necessary for foreign entities selling goods on the Spanish market. As a foreign trader, the VAT registration in Spain is done by completing the Form 036, a document that must be signed and submitted. This can be done in person or by accessing the online platforms of the Spanish tax institutions

VAT registration in Spain

This document will also be used for assigning a Spanish VAT number and no other additional documents will be required. The Spanish VAT number will be assigned following the provisions of the General Regulation on Management and Inspection Procedures. Please note that if the Spanish tax authorities do not issue a decision on the Spanish VAT number in a period of maximum three months since the application was made, it means that the request was denied due to various reasons. 

Documents to be completed by Spanish VAT payers 

Businessmen who want to open a company in Spain that is charged with the VAT should also be aware of the fact that if they followed the procedure for VAT registration in Spain, additional requirements, other than the ones mentioned above, must be completed. In this sense, the company may need to complete the EC Sales List, a document that is also requested for the sale of services, not only for the sale of goods (starting with 2010); our team of consultants in company registration in Spain can provide more information on this document. 

This document is generally requested if a company that was issued with a Spanish VAT number makes an intra-community supply. This document has to be completed on a monthly basis and it must be submitted with the local Spanish authorities. It is legally required to submit this document on a monthly basis as long as the value of the products is above EUR 35,000. In the case in which it is below this value, then the document can be submitted on a yearly basis. 

It must be deposited on 20th of the month, following the supply of goods or services. It is necessary to know that the document can be completed as a paper document, but in practice, the electronic document is more preferred. In the case in which the document is submitted latter than the required deadline, there is a standard fee of EUR 20, which is applicable for both late submissions or to no submissions; investors can request more information on additional VAT related documents from our team of specialists in company registration in Spain

What are the VAT regulations for Spanish sole traders? 

One of the ways to carry a commercial activity in Spain is by opening a sole trader. Since the sole trader does not represent a separate legal entity that its owner, the tax requirements and tax compliance measures are different than in the case of corporate entities. Sole traders in Spain that develop a taxable activity are thus, required to register for taxation, including for VAT

The VAT registration in Spain is compulsory for a sole trader if the services or the products sold by the company’s owner are liable for VAT. If so, the Spanish sole trader should prepare specific documents necessary for the payment of the VAT and submit them on a quarterly basis. If the sole trader is liable for various taxes, including for VAT, it must be registered with the Spanish Tax Office (Agentia Tributaria). 

It is also worth knowing that the sole trader does not a Spanish VAT number, as the owner can use his or her NIE number (Numero de Identidad de Extranjero) for the same purpose, if the owner of the company is a foreign person. Our team of consultants in company registration in Spain can provide step-to-step advice to foreigners who want to register a sole trader in this country. 

The video below offers more details on the VAT registration in Spain and Spanish VAT number:


When should a company appoint a tax representative in Spain? 

A foreign company selling products or services in Spain must also appoint a tax representative in specific situations. Those opening a company in Spain should be aware that the tax legislation in Spain require scompanies to have a tax representative in this country. The procedure is not applicable to entities that are tax residents in one of the EU member states, but it is compulsory in the case of entities outside the EU. However, the procedure is not necessary in the case of entities registered in one of the following: Melilla, the Canary Islands or Ceuta

The procedures for appointing a tax representative in Spain have to be completed prior to engaging in any financial transactions in this country. The Spanish Tax Administration must be informed on the identity of the tax representative during the formalities for VAT registration in Spain and the basic condition to appoint a tax representative is that the respective person must have his or her domicile in this country. 

As a tax representative of a foreign country operating in Spain, the person is legally required to complete all the company’s tax obligations that are prescribed under the national law. It is necessary to know that the tax representative does not have any obligations towards the Ministry of Finance in Spain and all the obligations that arise from this institution must be completed by the foreign entity. 

What are the basic rules for invoicing in Spain? 

The VAT is charged to an entity when the selling company issues an invoice. The invoice is a document which provides information on a transaction referring to a product or a service sold here and it must also contain the Spanish VAT number; our team of specialists in Spanish company formation can present more details on the bookkeeping procedures available here. 

The basic regulations which refer to the invoicing rules in Spain are given by the following: the Royal Decree 1496/2003 of 28 November 2003 Approving the Regulation Governing Invoicing Obligations, the Basic Rules of VAT, the Value Added Tax rules, the Tax and Customs Regulations and the Regulations and Interpretation Criteria

The specific cases in which the invoice has to be issued are stipulated under the Article 2 of the Royal Decree 1496/2003. The same decree stipulates the cases in which a company must issue a corrective invoice (Article 13). For example, the corrective invoice is compulsory in the case in which the amount of tax payable was incorrectly calculated. 

Taxation in Spain

VAT returns in Spain must be filed periodically: the frequency is determined by the turnover. It can be monthly or quarterly. A VAT grouping regime allows companies to make aggregated VAT returns that includes the filings of more than one company in Spain.

Spanish companies also have other taxes to pay apart from the value added tax. The most important one is the corporate income taxOur experts can give you more information regarding the General Tax Law in Spain and how your company must observe it. We can also help you with professional accounting services and assistance for filing and payment. Contact our specialists in company registration in Spain to find out more about how to invest in this country.