Hi! I’ve been living in Spain for almost twenty years. My wife is Spanish, my colleagues are Spanish, my customers are Spanish and by businesses are Spanish. Over these years I think I’ve learned quite a bit about “being Spanish”.
If you want to get into the under-exploited fast-growing Spanish market, you need to know more than just how to speak Spanish. You need to understand Spanish customs, Spanish etiquette and Spanish business culture. Otherwise, you’ll just be another American trying to “sell Spanish”.
One of the most important business institutions in Spain is the public notary.
Unlike in the United States, where almost anyone can become a Notary Public (my Mom was one), in Spain not only must you possess a law degree, but you must pass a very stringent access exam. Only then can you opt for a position of “Notario”.
In fact, the Spanish notaries are actually a strange mix of independent professionals and civil servants. The number of notary positions in a municipality is determined by the central government and their fees are set by law. However, once granted the right to open their office, the notary basically acts as any professional. They are responsible for hiring and maintaining there own staff and attracting there own customers.
The principle purpose of a notary in Spain is to witness, register and guarantee the legality of legal documents. However they also generally assume the responsibility of explaining the legal implications of the document to be signed assuring that all parties are well informed.
The following is a partial list of the proceedings which must be formalized by a notary:
- Redacting and registering wills and final testaments.
- Constituting a corporation or limited liability company.
- Buying or selling properties which require a deed.
- Prenuptial agreements.
- Signing a loan or credit from a bank.
In Spain being a notary is a prestigious and very well-paying profession. The competition for passing the access exam and gaining a position is very fierce. Many law graduates spend between three and five years studying before presenting themselves for the exam.
Dennis H. Lewis has been living in Alicante, Spain with his wife and two children for almost twenty years.
He currently runs three successful companies entirely in the Spanish market.