British Embassy Madrid press release: Britons urged to avoid taking risks with the law – arrests in Spain rise 9% last year Alcohol-related incidents cause concern Around half of those arrested under the age of 34 New figures reveal that between April 2011 and March 2012, British Consulates in Spain handled 1,909 arrests cases involving British nationals, a 9% increase on the previous year. The total included 141 arrests for drugs offences. The figures are part of a worldwide increase of 6% in Britons arrested overseas, with a total of 6,015 cases against 5,700 in the previous year. Drug arrests worldwide increased by 2%, with the FCO handling 816 cases. Minister of State for Consular Affairs, Jeremy Browne, said: "It is important that people understand that taking risks abroad can land them on the wrong side of the law. The punishments can be very severe, with tougher prison conditions than in the UK. Whilst we will work hard to try and ensure the safety of British nationals abroad, we cannot interfere in another country’s legal system. "We find that many people are shocked to discover that the FCO cannot get them out of jail. We always provide Consular support to British nationals in difficulty overseas. However, having a British passport does not make you immune to foreign laws and will not get you special treatment in prison." The statistics, released in advance of the full British Behaviour Abroad report next month, show that Spain and the USA continue to show the highest cases of arrests, with Spain showing a 9% increase on the previous year. Anecdotal evidence from Embassies and Consulates suggests many incidents are alcohol-fuelled, particularly in popular destinations such as the Canary Islands, mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands, as well as Malta and Cyprus. Consular staff around the world spend 35% of their time handling cases of Britons who have been arrested or imprisoned. Many have unrealistic expectations of what the FCO can do for them and Brits – particularly youngsters about to embark on summer holidays – should think hard about the consequences of running into trouble with the law. David Thomas, Consular Regional Director for Spain, said: "The police on Mallorca and Ibiza have a zero tolerance attitude towards alcohol-fuelled offences and we see many young people being arrested for causing trouble outside bars and clubs at night. "All too often they think they’ll spend the night in a cell sleeping off their hangover before being let out in the morning. They soon sober up when they realise their British passport does not grant them immunity and they’re alone in a foreign prison cell, unsure of when they’ll be released and unable to speak to officers because they don’t speak the language. "It’s particularly sad to see younger people throwing away years of their lives, often as a result of a risky decision made in the heat of the moment and after a few too many drinks. Not only can you end up with a criminal record but the effects on your family can be devastating." The Consulate in Palma, Mallorca saw the largest increase in arrests last year, while Alicante continues to have the highest total. Drug arrests are greatest on Ibiza (46) and in the Malaga area (34). Consulate Arrests 2010/11 Arrests 2011/12 Percentage change Alicante 507 554 +9% Barcelona 55 63 +15% Ibiza 179 193 +8% Las Palmas 168 184 +10% Madrid 115 103 -10% Malaga 394 380 -4% Palma 195 320 +64% Tenerife 134 112 -16% TOTAL 1747 1909 +9%
We normally pay our non resident taxes through a Rep but want to save some money by doing it ourselves. I think you have to go to the Hacienda near the main Town Hall but am not sure. Has anyone got experience of this who can tell us exactly where to go and what we need to ask for please. Also is it possible to do it on someone elses behalf if they can't get to the Hacienda themselves.
Press Release from British Consulate Alicante “Don’t let a lost passport ruin your holiday!” New video clip for use on news and community websites launched by British Consulates Losing your passport will cost you time, cost you money and could ruin your holiday. That’s the message from the network of British Consulates in Spain who between them handle more than 4,000 lost passport cases every year. For the unfortunate passport holder that usually means a journey to the nearest consulate, time spent making an application for an Emergency Travel Document, and a fee of over 100 Euros. So, keeping your passport safe will save you hassle and expense, and avoid you wasting precious holiday time. In order to help British passport holders, the consular network in Spain has produced a short video giving advice on how to keep your passport safe and reduce the risks of having it stolen. Paul Rodwell, British Consul in Alicante, said “We want to help holidaymakers and prevent passports from getting lost or stolen. This new video is an innovative way of getting across some simple steps to keep your passport safe and prevent your holiday getting ruined. “We want as many people as possible to see this video, so we’re asking members of the British community in Spain to share it as widely as possible – in Spain and back home in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you’re embedding it in your website, including it in a blog posting, or simply sharing it via Twitter or Facebook. We hope that by distributing the video through our community, we can reduce the number of Brits who suffer the stress and expense of a lost or stolen passport.” Thomas Cook is already planning to use the video casts to show to an estimated 60,000 British tourists this year. The resort manager in the Costa Blanca, Anne Mountney said “The video clip is a great tool which we at Thomas Cook can use to remind all of our customers when they first arrive about the importance of taking care of their passport while they are on holiday. It points out the inconvenience and cost that it can cause to them should they lose it. This should act as great preventative tool to decrease the number of passports lost or stolen by our customers and allow them to have a hassle free holiday.” The video can be found on YouTube using the search term ‘Lose your passport, lose your holiday - Spain’ and was produced by the local television company, Viva TV. And just in case… Recognising that some people may still lose their passport or have it stolen, the Consulates have produced a second video podcast that provides a step-by-step guide of what to do. This video can be found on YouTube using the search term ‘Getting an Emergency Travel Document’.
Press release issued by the DWP in the UK With summer approaching, Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, is sending a warning to people who commit benefit fraud abroad. In a visit to the DWP’s Pension, Benefits & Healthcare team in Madrid, Iain Duncan Smith warned British people living abroad not to break the strict rules on what benefits they can and can't claim. He also urged law-abiding Brits to use the dedicated Spanish fraud hotline to report benefit thieves. People who are pretending to live in the UK to claim benefits, but are actually living overseas cost the taxpayer an estimated £43 million last year. More allegations of people living in Spain whilst continuing to receive UK benefits are received than for any other foreign country, making Spain the number one country for abroad fraud. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said: “We are determined to clamp down on benefit fraud abroad, which cost the British taxpayer around £43 million last year. This money should be going to the people who need it most and not lining the pockets of criminals sunning themselves overseas. The vast majority of British people overseas are law abiding, but fraudulently claiming benefits while living abroad is a crime and we are committed to putting a stop to it.” Since its launch in 2008, over 750 calls to the Spanish hotline have resulted in criminal investigations by fraud investigators in the UK and over 100 people have been sanctioned or prosecuted. 134 cases are currently being investigated and £3.1 million in benefit over payments have been identified and will be reclaimed. The small Pension, Benefit & Healthcare team based in Spain provide support to the estimated 1million Britons living there. They work with the Spanish Authorities on behalf of the DWP and Department of Health to prevent and detect benefit fraud, ensure correct access to the Spanish healthcare system, and combat misuse of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Abroad fraud involves a range of scams such as people on means-tested benefits going abroad but failing to declare their absence, undeclared property abroad, and individuals working while claiming sickness benefits. In Spain, claims for Income Support or Pension Credit are the most frequently investigated for fraud. If you suspect someone of benefit fraud in Spain you can call Benefit Fraud Hotline in Spain on: 900 554 440 or you can report a thief online via: www.dwp.gov.uk/benefit-thieves
our absentee neighbours have let their boundary wall fall into disrepair and it is now in a dangerous condition. They claim it is everyone along the roads responsibility but as it is across the road from all our houses we do not think it is. The wall is at the top of a steep terrace on their land and is causing the road to subside, the worst part is where they knocked down part of the wall some years ago with a view to making a second access to there property. This was not completed and just left. Any one have any ideas about this please.
British Embassy Press Release: Potential buyers of property in Spain were today (21st March) warned to avoid cutting corners when purchasing a home or holiday apartment. Estate agents, lawyers and property developers who offer ways to save money and speed up the Spanish conveyancing system may lead to purchasers ending up with hugely expensive headaches later on, the British Embassy warned. Despite the well-known problems facing thousands of past purchasers of property in Spain, the Embassy is aware that there are still property industry representatives who are trying to tempt future buyers with apparently attractive methods to secure their dream homes more quickly or cheaply. Such offers may in fact be very bad value. "You should exercise extreme caution if an estate agent, promoter or lawyer urges you to cut corners to save money or time", said Embassy property adviser Alex Brown. "The Spanish property conveyancing system is different to the UK. When you choose an estate agent, promoter or lawyer to help with your purchase, check that they are qualified, reliable professionals and have significant experience of operating in Spain and expert knowledge of how the system works." Although the vast majority of British property owners enjoy life in Spain and have had no problems, thousands of British expats are facing some kind of legal problem with their homes, some because they were advised to cut corners during the purchasing process. Many others are facing difficulties through no fault of their own, caught up in the complexities of Spanish planning regulations. "There is a wealth of information on the Embassy's UKinSpain website", said Alex Brown. "We strongly urge people to check the advice in full, make sure they use fully qualified, reputable advisers throughout the purchase process, and avoid any kind of 'dodgy deal' that could end up costing huge amounts of heartache and hard-earned money later on." Further Embassy advice on buying property in Spain can be found on the UKinSpain website at: http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-spain/property-in-spain. Other useful links for potential property purchasers: Advice on buying a property on the UKinSpain website Advice on UKinSpain for those who have encountered problems with their properties The Spanish Government's guide to buying a property in Spain
Ambassador Giles Paxman visits Valencia to discuss ways to increase support for British nationals Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman, yesterday (Monday 5th March) visited Valencia to meet members of the Valencian Regional Government and discuss issues that affect British nationals living in the region. He was accompanied by the British Consul for this part of Spain, Paul Rodwell. During the meetings, the Valencian government emphasised the importance of British tourists and residents to the regional economy, with tourist spending alone estimated at more than 1.3 billion euros a year. The government expressed its willingness to work with the Embassy and its Consulate in Alicante to address the issues facing British residents. At the meeting with the President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Alberto Fabra, both sides agreed to step up efforts to help British nationals living in Valencia to integrate more successfully with their local communities. They agreed that language skills were important to making a success of living in Spain and discussed the possibility of developing a language exchange programme. At a meeting with the Regional Minister for Justice and Welfare, Jorge Cabré Rico, the two sides discussed ways of reinforcing the role of volunteers in providing support for disadvantaged members of the British community, building on the success of the Consulate’s “ConeXiones” project. One of the key meetings was with Isabel Bonig Trigueros, the Regional Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and the Environment. The Ambassador and Regional Minister discussed the action being taken by the Valencian authorities to address the property and planning problems being experienced by a large number of British residents. The Ambassador welcomed a proposal from the Regional Minister to set up a working group involving town halls and planning experts to work towards a solution. The Ambassador reiterated his commitment to continue to help local councils and the Valencian Regional Government in addressing these issues, for example by facilitating communication with British nationals affected by property problems. Following the meetings, Ambassador Giles Paxman said: “It is important to continue to engage with the Valencian Regional Government on issues that affect British nationals who live in and visit the region. We hope the authorities will take forward the initiatives that we have discussed, namely the working group to look at property issues and the language exchange programme. We hope to see some progress on these issues in the not too distant future.”
Can anyone give me a definitive answer please, as I have had/read various answers to this. When selling a property in Spain, if you are over 65, and have lived in the property for 3 years or more, do you have to pay the 3% holding tax (regardless of residencia status). Any up-to-date facts would be welcomed. Thanks Larry
Hi All, anyone know the proceedure for claiming damages from the Spanish Air Force for damage caused by Sonic booms, I had two double glazed units blow/crack yesterday when we had a boom , loudest we've ever had, shook the whole place. any help appreciated
This year there will be changes to the QROPS arrangements and rules. The draft regulations relating to QROPS published in late 2011 have the potential to change the QROPS landscape. It is becoming accepted that there is likely to be little by way of alteration to the draft regulations and QROPS jurisdictions are looking to adapt with effect from the 6 April 2012 implementation date. The consultation period with the Financial Industry has just completed.There is a little more information on my blog at
British Embassy Press Release: Residents asked to join fight against tobacco smugglers and tax dodgers Cash rewards for information about tax evaders British residents in Spain are being asked to join the fight against tobacco smugglers and tax fraudsters. HM Revenue & Customs has launched a new campaign asking people who have information to call a Customs Hotline. The freephone Spanish number is 900 988 922. The message to expats: You don’t need to give personal details, and you may get a cash reward for useful tip-offs. The call for help in the fight against illegal imports of cigarettes to Spain, which are often en route to the UK, comes as smugglers try to make huge profits by evading tax or by selling low-quality, counterfeit cigarettes, tobacco and other goods. Some 225 million cigarettes and several tonnes of tobacco that were destined for the UK market have been seized in Spain over the last year. Cigarettes may look genuine, but they very often bear no relation to the brands which they pretend to represent. Smuggled alcohol is similarly very likely to be fake. Cards asking people to phone the Customs Hotline are now included with all passport renewals and visa applications in Spain. People with information can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or, if in the UK, can calI 0800 595 000. Customs officers continue to catch up with fugitive smugglers in Spain. Malcolm McGowan, convicted in 2001 of smuggling 56 million cigarettes worth more than 8 million pounds, was last month arrested in Valencia and will now serve his four year sentence. Information is particularly sought about the smuggling of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol, as well as other items such as drugs, firearms, obscene material and endangered species. Other tax frauds that HM Revenue & Customs want to hear about include betting and gaming, money laundering and the ‘carousel’ VAT scam in Europe. “We hope the public will help us come down hard on the smugglers and fraudsters who cheat the rest of us by not making their full contribution to the cost of public services”, said an HMRC spokesman. “These people are criminals who we want to catch.” Spain attracts smugglers because of the large numbers of British residents, and also because it is a staging post for smuggled and counterfeit goods en route to the UK. HM Revenue & Customs rely on information to fight smuggling and fraud, and to make sure that all citizens pay their fair contribution to the costs of society. The cheats mean that the rest of society has to pay more to deliver the same level of public services.
Press release 21st November 2011: Avoid the queues in the Consulate in Alicante – a new appointment system for notarial work to be introduced in December 2011. If you are thinking about getting married in Spain, importing your vehicle or need any other official certificate from the British Consulate in Alicante, please be aware that from 1st December 2011 this Consulate will be implementing an appointment system. The appointment system will mean that you can avoid queuing and will ensure that the Consulate can deliver the service in a more customer-friendly and efficient manner. Anyone who is planning to go to the Consulate in Alicante for a notarial service from 1st December onwards should ensure they make an appointment beforehand. At present, appointments can be booked by emailing the British Consulate in Alicante at Alicante.Consulate@fco.gov.uk with ‘Notarial appointment request’ in the subject area. An on-line appointment system will be introduced shortly. Those who do not have access to email can call the Consulate on 902 10 93 56 or send their request by fax on 965 14 05 28. British Vice Consul, Lloyd Milen said, “This is an important improvement to the way we run notarial work whereby people will be able to book their appointments in advance which should give a more efficient service. This will also enable us to ensure customers have the correct documentation before they make the trip to Alicante.” This will not affect applications for Emergency Passports, which will continue to be available from 08:30-13:30 from Mondays to Fridays without prior appointment. A full list of notarial services and what supporting documents are required for each one can be found on the British Embassy website www.ukinspain.fco.gov.uk.
British Embassy Press Release: Investigators catch British expat who pleads guilty to £15,000 fraud The vast majority of people who claim UK benefits are honest, law-abiding citizens, but there are those who continue to cheat the system… and who continue to get caught. One such cheat was James Bowery, 54, from Harrowside, Blackpool. For years he enjoyed life in Spain, living off UK income support, a non-exportable benefit, without telling the DWP that he had moved to Malaga. In total he fraudulently claimed over £15,000. Having been caught, he pleaded guilty to benefit fraud at Blackpool Magistrates Court in September and was sentenced to a three-month curfew order, restricting his freedom to leave home - and of course he has to pay the money back. Many assume that benefit fraud only occurs when someone receives a benefit, such as Job Seekers Allowance or incapacity benefit, and fails to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when they start working. But people who are in receipt of UK benefits have a responsibility to tell the DWP about any change in their circumstances, such as moving in with a partner, changing address, or going or moving abroad. The DWP will soon be imposing a civil penalty on those who fail to keep them updated. For people who fail to take reasonable care of their claim, perhaps knowingly letting a change in circumstances run on and incurring a small overpayment, the DWP will swiftly apply a £50 civil penalty as a punishment to deter them from such action in future. Deliberately withholding information that affects a benefit claim is a crime. Between April 2010 and March 2011, benefit cheats stole £79 million from UK taxpayers by not informing the authorities that they were going abroad. Spain is one of the countries where most UK benefit fraud is committed, but with UK fraud investigators working with overseas counterparts, benefit thieves are being caught. At a time when it is more important than ever that the correct money goes to the correct people, the general public can help stop benefit cheats. The Department for Work and Pensions for Spain has set up a free and confidential hotline that operates Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm. By calling 900 554 440 in Spain you can give information about anyone you suspect of committing UK benefit fraud. You can also report this online at https://secure.dwp.gov.uk/benefitfraud/. The DWP wants benefits to go to the people who are entitled to them, not the cheats.
Press release from the British Embassy: Foreign Office Figures Show Arrests Falling in Spain The number of Britons arrested in Spain last year fell by over 13%, according to the latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office report British Behaviour Abroad. Arrests for drug related offences in Spain also decreased by 4.5% over the past year. The positive downward trends for Spain are in line with an encouraging global picture for the year to 31 March 2011. The number of Britons arrested overseas fell by over 10% worldwide, with drug arrests down by nearly 20%. These figures compare with a 2% drop in the number of overseas visits by Britons. Despite the declines, Foreign Office staff still handled 5,700 arrest cases last year, of which 1745 were in Spain. Drug arrests continue to be a significant problem in some countries, with upward trends in South America and the Caribbean, but making up less than 10% of all arrests in Spain. Minister for Europe, David Lidington, said: "We work hard to warn British nationals about the consequences of breaking the law abroad so it is really encouraging to see the overall number of cases of arrests and drug arrests falling. But last year there were still 5700 arrests of British nationals overseas. People are mistaken if they think the Foreign Office can get you out of jail. We can't, but we will work hard to try and ensure your safety, and that you get a fair trial." Aside from arrests, the British Behaviour Abroad report shows that the number of Brits hospitalised in Spain increased 23% to 1024 cases, despite fewer people from the UK travelling abroad last year3. Medical treatment abroad can be very expensive, so to avoid being faced with large bills if taken ill or after an accident, the Foreign Office strongly urges holidaymakers to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Previous research suggests that 15% of Britons travel abroad uninsured, and every year some end up facing bills running to many thousands of pounds. New research launched today by the Foreign Office reveals that 43% of 18-24 year olds in Britain know someone who has taken illegal drugs whilst abroad. It shows that two thirds (69%) of people don't always find out about the laws of the country they are visiting before they go abroad – putting themselves at risk of unknowingly breaking the law. More worryingly a third (32%) of people are unaware that they will always be prosecuted under local law if they break the law abroad - with 6% thinking they will be prosecuted under UK law, 22% thinking it depends on the country they are in and 4% admitting to not knowing at all. Other key findings from the British Behaviour Abroad report: · Spain had the highest number of Britons requiring assistance (4,971 cases), but when total visitor and resident numbers are compared with the number of cases, then Britons were most likely to need consular assistance in the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan. · The number of rape and sexual assault cases in Spain rose from 45 to 52. Victims of such crimes are encouraged to contact their local Consulate, so that assistance can be offered to them and their families. · Deaths in Spain that resulted in consular assistance fell by 8% from 1786 to 1639. Worldwide, 55% of such deaths were from natural causes. · Spain last year had 12.3 million visitors (source: Spanish authorities) and an estimated 808,000 British residents (source: IPPR – based on Britons living in Spain for a year or longer). Find out how the Foreign Office can help if you get into trouble abroad, at: www.fco.gov.uk/travel Sign up to Facebook and Twitter feeds to make sure you get the latest travel advice: www.facebook.com/fcotravel and twitter.com/fcotravel
Press release from the British Embassy: Spanish Government offers more information in English language to property owners and purchasers English speaking property owners and purchasers are to get greater access to property information in English, under new measures announced by the Spanish authorities. Expatriate home owners and buyers are now able to request a Land Registry certificate (nota simple) in English from the Colegio de Registradores (College of Registrars). A certificate, including the translation fee, costs €29 (plus VAT) and can be requested from the Colegio de Registradores website https://buyingahouse.registradores.org. In addition, a new central government decree (that came into force on 7 July) introduces a range of measures that the Government says will protect property purchasers and homeowners, helping to ensure that purchasers have the necessary information in hand and preventing property problems from occurring in the future. HM Ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman, said: "I welcome these initiatives. Communicating essential information in English, combined with the measures announced in the decree, should help to ensure buyers are accurately informed of any legal issues connected with a property. "However these measures will not, of course, do anything to help existing homeowners who have been experiencing issues with their properties. We will continue to work with the Spanish authorities to ensure these problems are addressed." British nationals considering buying a property in Spain or experiencing property problems are strongly urged to read the wealth of advice on the property section of the UKinSpain website, available at http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/living-in-spain/property-in-spain/. Further information The measures announced in the 7 July decree include: Allowing properties which are 'fuera de ordenación' to be registered on the Land Registry. The decree says this will protect owners who in many cases bought in good faith, while retaining the 'fuera de ordenación' status and the limitations this implies. Ensuring that essential information regarding the legality of the property is incorporated into the Land Registry. This means that when purchasers request a 'nota simple' from the Land Registry, they will be able to see whether there are or have been any legal proceedings against the property, such as proceedings which may result in fines or demolition. It will now be obligatory for town halls to provide registrars with this information. If town halls fail to provide this information, they will be held responsible for economic damages affecting third parties who bought in good faith. Confirming that it is impossible to acquire rights which contradict land and town planning laws due to administrative silence (this is also included in the Ley estatal de Suelo). This measure clarifies that a licence cannot be granted due to passivity or inaction by town halls. Instead, the transformation, construction and use of land requires administrative authorisation and if the timeframe for a response expires without the individual receiving authorisation, the lack of a response will be considered as a negative decision. Increasing protection for purchasers who buy off-plan from a developer. The decree states that it is not possible to register a new property on the Land Registry unless it has a licence of first occupation, a construction licence and a technical certificate which states that the property corresponds to the plans for which the licence was granted. The full decree is available here, at http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2011/07/07/pdfs/BOE-A-2011-11641.pdf Contacts: Requests for further information on the new measures should be directed to the Colegio de Registradores (tel: 912 701 796) and/or the Secretaria de Estado de Vivienda (tel: 915 978 171 / 172). Useful links: Advice on buying a property on the UKinSpain website Advice on the UKinSpain website for those who have encountered problems with their properties The Spanish Government's guide to buying a property in Spain Colegio de Registradores Ministerio de Fomento  Properties which were not built in accordance with current planning legislation but are over four years old and therefore cannot be subject to administrative action to restore legality (demolition).