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Live News From Spain As It Happens

Keep up to date with all the latest news from Spain as it happens. The blog will be updated constantly throughout the day bringing you all the latest stories as they break.

Inheritance and gift tax: Your guide to how it works, who pays, and how much
Friday, September 29, 2023

IN LIGHT of the news that four regions have axed inheritance and gift tax – either entirely, or for first-degree relatives – residents in Spain who have not had to deal with these as yet may not be clear on when it is payable, how much, or by whom. 

Inheritance tax can be confusing - at a time when you least need the hassle. Several regions have reduced or eliminated it, in full or in part (photo: iStock)

Confusion is sure to arise among expatriates in particular – those who inherit property or money from relatives or friends in their home countries, or who are unsure whom to include in their wills in case their loved ones in their nation of origin are hit with a huge bill.

They may also be wondering whether it is best, when they become very elderly or if ever they are gravely ill, to sign over their home and cash to their chosen beneficiaries before they die, in order to reduce the workload for their executors when the time comes.

We checked in with one of Spain's largest high-street banks, the BBVA, which gave us the lowdown on how inheritance and gift tax works, and why it is such a big issue leading to some regional governments' decisions to reduce or axe it.


What is inheritance and gift tax?

A proportion of assets or funds inherited from a person who has died, or transferred to you when the owner is still alive, is paid to the regional government of whichever of Spain's 19 autonomous communities the original owner lived in – 15 regions on the mainland, plus Ceuta, Melilla, the Balearic and the Canary Islands.

How much inheritance tax is payable depends upon the value of the assets, closeness of family ties, and the rates set by the government of the region in Spain where it is payable (photo: Canvas)

'Gift tax' relates to when a property, investment, land or other significant part of someone's estate is transferred to them without payment – perhaps if the owner is very elderly or knows they are terminally ill, and wants to save the beneficiaries of their will the time and paperwork involved in the transmission after their death.

'Inheritance tax' is paid when the transmission happens after the owner's death, at their request or, in the absence of a will, to their next of kin.

There is no set percentage charged on this type of tax; the figure depends upon individual regional governments' criteria, and rises in line with the value of the inheritance or donation in vivo.

Typically, it can be as low as 7.65%, or as high as 34%, and the figure decreases in line with closeness of family ties between the original owner and the beneficiary, through discounts applied.


Can I pay inheritance or gift tax out of the assets I receive?

You cannot usually pay inheritance tax out of the funds inherited – as in, if someone leaves you their house in their will, you cannot sell or remortgage the property to pay the tax. This has to be paid first, although it may be possible to acquire an unsecured bank loan to do so, then pay it back through a remortgage or sale.Read more at

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Four regions scrap inheritance tax and two reduce rates
Friday, September 29, 2023

MASS reductions in inheritance and gift tax have been reported across Spain, with some regions axing it altogether – starting, in most cases, from January next year.

An increasing fiscal trend nationally, eliminating tax paid by those who inherit property or financial assets from their deceased loved ones will come as a source of relief to those faced with big bills on top of grappling with bereavement.

Inheritance tax will be axed for close relatives in some regions, and eliminated altogether in others (photo: Freepik)

Governments in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, the eastern coastal region of the Comunidad Valenciana, and the land-locked northern wine region of La Rioja, have scrapped the tax altogether for some or most cases, whilst the inland north-eastern region of Aragón and the north-coast territory of Cantabria have reduced these duties.

MadridAndalucía, and Murcia had already done so in previous years.

Comunidad Valenciana president Carlos Mazón, taking up proposals already made by his predecessor Ximo Puig, has announced inheritance and gift tax will no longer be charged by the Treasury covering the region's three provinces of ValenciaCastellón and Alicante.

Balearic regional president Marga Prohens says no tax will be levied for inheritances or in vivo donations from parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren, or between spouses and legally-registered, unmarried cohabiting partners.

This comes at the same time as the Balearic regional government announces cuts to 'asset transmission' tax for young adult and disabled first-time homebuyers – a sum automatically payable to regional authorities when purchasing a property.

La Rioja president Gonzalo Capellán has scrapped inheritance and gift tax between parents and children and between spouses, as a first step in a full tax reform he intends to bring about before the May 2027 regional elections.

Huge discounts, up to 100%, on inheritance and gift tax, among other taxes – including on fuel in some cases – have been announced in the Canary Islands, whilst a reduction in inheritance and in income tax is said by Aragón president Jorge Azcón to be on the cards.

María José Sainz de Buruaga, leader of Cantabria regional government since May, has not given specific details of cuts, but has pledged 'the greatest fall in taxes in the region's history' for 2023 duties, which will mainly be paid or adjusted in 2024, and which will include rates payable for inheritances and live donations.



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Spain's cheapest cities to rent in – and their top attractions
Tuesday, September 19, 2023

BEFORE committing to buying a permanent home in Spain, many movers prefer to rent for a specific length of time to get a feel for life in their new country; this is also likely to be the go-to option for anyone planning to live in Spain for a finite period, such as for work, or just to experience a new culture and language for a while.

Lugo's Roman city wall (photo by Galicia regional tourism board)

Buying a property in Spain as a long-term investment, and renting it out as a main home, is another way of creating a solid tie with the western Mediterranean country, and potentially providing a pied à terre that can be used as an eventual retirement retreat.

How much you might have to pay each month as a tenant, or how much you can expect to charge, are fairly crucial initial considerations before your journey even begins. Of course, you may already have a very set idea as to where in Spain you want to focus on – in which case, you can check out typical prices by area in our Property to Rent section

Always bear in mind that rent prices in Spain tend to be more dynamic and market-sensitive than the cost of buying, and that both of these can vary considerably – not just by area, but in the same area. Renting or buying a home in one street may be far more expensive than in another street barely 100 metres away, or might be cheaper in the next town along the road.


Average city rental prices

To gain an idea of average rental prices, figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) shows us that in provincial capital cities across the board, the approximate cost to a tenant is around €9.77 per square metre of property.

Based upon a house or flat of 90 square metres – which would typically have around three bedrooms in the case of the latter, or two if it was a villa – this means a national average monthly rent of €879 if you're in a city.

Naturally, provincial capitals are not the end of the story – or even the whole of the beginning of the story. Very few are close to a beach, most are at the higher end of the price range for their province as a whole, and their main market is among the workforce, particularly those in jobs that do not permit remote working.

But the cost of rent in a capital gives a starting point when working out the cost elsewhere in the province.



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If you are a British national living permanently in Spain, you need a Spanish driving licence.
Friday, September 15, 2023

[UPDATED]  BRITISH nationals living in Spain will now have to replace their UK-issued driving licences for a Spanish version.

This also applies to anyone who has a driving licence from Gibraltar, a British territory, or who is not a British national but holds a licence issued in the UK or Gibraltar.

If you are a British national living permanently in Spain, you will need a Spanish driving licence from September 15, 2023 (photo: Joaquínceb/Wikimedia Commons)

The Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK struck an agreement with Spanish traffic authorities in March, giving British citizens until September 15, 2023 to exchange their licences.

They were told to make the swap within six months of March 16, 2023, or within six months of the date they officially became residents, whichever is the later.

UK nationals who became residents in Spain more recently than March this year can still switch their British driving licences for a Spanish version up until the six-month cut-off point, their UK licences will only be valid for up to 6 months after their entry into the country or the date they were awarded residency.

Exchanging a licence after this date means the holder will not be allowed to drive in Spain until they receive their Spanish one.

Britons who do not exchange their licences in time will need to take a driving test (photo: Pixabay)

British nationals whose UK licences have already expired – either the photo-card part, or the licence as a whole for the over-70s – may still be able to swap them for a Spanish version, DGT confirms.

UK licences expire once the driver reaches the age of 70, and is then renewed periodically thereafter; however, the photo-card normally has to be replaced every five to 10 years, even when the actual authorisation to drive is still valid.

If the photo-card expiry date has passed, or – in the case of drivers aged 70-plus, the complete licence deadline – an exchange may still be possible.

Where the holder was already living in Spain before the expiry date, they can swap their licence for a Spanish one within the first six months of their residence date, or up to and including September 15.

But if the licence expired – and was not renewed – before the driver became a resident in Spain, it cannot be exchanged, and the holder must take a fresh driving test in Spain.

British nationals resident in Spain cannot renew their UK-issued licences via their home authority, the DVLA – their only option is to obtain a Spanish licence, either through exchange if they are eligible or, if not, by taking a driving test.

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Spanish firefighters, military and charities help Morocco earthquake victims
Friday, September 15, 2023

SPAIN has stepped up to help Morocco after a devastating earthquake left nearly 2,500 dead, and numerous organisations have given details of how to donate aid.

Rescue workers in an Atlas mountain village following the devastating quake (photo: EFE)

Teams from Spanish provincial fire brigades – including Zaragoza, Cádiz, Granada and Huelva – have joined the charities Bomberos Unidos Sin Fronteras ('United Firefighters Without Borders') and Bomberos Para el Mundo ('Firefighters for the World') in the northern African nation to search for survivors.

Supervisor for the former, Antonio Nogales, says the group has been heading south from Marrakech into the province of Al-Haouz, in the Atlas mountains – the worst-affected area.

After an eight-hour overland journey to the nearest village, Imi N'Tala, accompanied by four trained search dogs, Nogales' team spent the whole of Sunday trawling through the rubble in the hope of finding survivors – but to no avail.

“There isn't a single house left standing,” Nogales reports.

“When we arrived, no rescue team had even made it there yet. We were the first to reach the area, which is completely inaccessible.”

The group has since moved onto the village of Amizmiz, where authorities are believed to have arrived and will, it is hoped, be able to guide the firefighters towards where the most immediate help is needed.

“Right now, the most urgent actions are attending to people who've lost everything and have been put up in camps, as they need shelter and blankets,” Nogales explains.

“They have very little chance of even being able to rebuild their homes in the future.”

He urged the international public to 'not forget about' the victims 'even after the earthquake stops being headline news'.

After the tremor – which reached 6.8 on the Richter scale and shook the historic, touristy city of Marrakech, Spain's defence minister Margarita Robles has sent out her national Armed Forces Emergency Response Unit (UME).

The UME is on stand-by to increase human resources if necessary, and say they will remain in Morocco 'for as long as they are needed'.

Meanwhile, the European Union has pledged an initial aid payment of €1 million, and is supplying satellite footage taken by Copernicus.

Other countries, along with Spain, which Morocco has so far accepted aid from include the UK, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Aid collection points in Spain

Residents in and visitors to Spain who want to help by providing funds, non-perishable foodstuffs and other basic necessities, and medication have been given a list of donation points.



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Where to watch the Vuelta this weekend
Tuesday, September 5, 2023

NOW into its seventh stage and a new calendar month, Spain's version of the Tour de France concludes its only incursion into coastal towns on Sunday, 

The last of the 'Big Three' international cycling tournaments – after the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia – the Vuelta a España hit the Mediterranean seaboard on Tuesday (August 29), when the fourth stage took it from the principality of Andorra, a different country altogether, down to Tarragona, southern Catalunya.

Stage six, setting off from La Vall d'Uixó (Castellón province). All Vuelta photos by Cxcling Creative Agency from the tournament's official site,

Stage five began at the Mediaeval inland town of Morella in northern Castellón province, finalising in the coastal town of Burriana, via Onda, Nules and La Vall d'Uixó.

Australia's Kaden Groves won both these stages, with the first three being won by Italy's Lorenzo Milesi, Denmark's Andreas Kron, and Belgium's Remco Evenepoel, in that order.

Stage one was entirely in Barcelona city, passing by iconic landmarks such as the Sagrada Família cathedral. Work started on Antoni Gaudí's creation in the 1880s, and it's still not finished

Stage six continued through southern inland Castellón province, briefly diverting into that of Teruel in the neighbouring land-locked region of Aragón, covering Segorbe and Montanejos in the former and Mora de Rubielos and Sarrión in the latter, finalising at the astrophysical observatory in Javalambre, Teruel, a ski resort between December and March and a high-altitude (1,966 metres) hikers retreat the rest of the year.

Victory for stage six went to the USA's Sepp Kuss.

Stage seven has now left the western Valencia-province wine-region town of Utiel, and is expected to reach the province's southernmost coastal town, Oliva, at around 17.30 today (Friday, September 1).



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Traffic authority explains new road markings: 'Dragon's teeth' and zig-zags
Friday, August 25, 2023

NEW road markings are being rolled out all over Spain after starting off on just a handful of highways, and the traffic authority wants to ensure everyone knows what they mean.

Markings known as ‘dragon’s teeth', originally piloted in the province of Burgos in 2021, are now being extended across Spain. Photo by the ministry for transport, mobility and urban agenda (MITMA)

Broken lines and what are known as 'dragon's teeth' began to appear along each side of roads in 2021, but only in a few towns – although now, they are gradually spreading out all over the country.

The General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), part of Spain's transport ministry, explains that 'dragon's teeth' – so named because of their shape – are a series of triangles painted along both edges of a road, with the apex, or point, facing inwards towards the centre.

They are normally found at the entrance to towns or built-up areas from a main highway, where the speed limit drops.

When drivers 'enter' the 'dragon's jaw', they should begin slowing down in preparation.

The idea of this is to prevent suddenly reduction in speed upon sight of a sign showing the much lower limit, which can lead to rear shunts if cars behind do not react quickly enough.

Broken zig-zag lines alongside the road, also introduced in Burgos two years ago, will roll out shortly to the rest of the country. Photo by the ministry for transport, mobility and urban agenda (MITMA) 

According to the DGT, the 'dragon's teeth' markings work by giving the driver the illusion of the road becoming narrower, which means they instinctively take their foot off the accelerator. 

In reality, this is not the case, since there is no prohibition on driving on top of the markings.

Similar, relatively-new road markings are broken lines in a zig-zag pattern, painted along a stretch of approximately 30 metres. 

These aim to warn drivers of an imminent zebra crossing, so they can slow down and be ready to stop in time. 


Is it illegal if you don't stop at a zebra crossing?




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'Campeonas' pay tribute to 'our shining stars' as they make bittersweet history
Friday, August 25, 2023

SPAIN'S national women's football team is recovering from a night-long street party attended by over 20,000, which started almost as soon as they had landed after their gruelling 24-hour journey from Australia, having barely caught a few hours' sleep between their World Cup final match and catching their flight.

Spain makes history after winning the first-ever women's World Cup following a tough match against England - and only the second FIFA World Cup in the country's history. The men's team won it in 2010 (all photos: EFE)

Olga Carmona, who scored the only goal in the tense and hard-fought final against England's 'Lionesses', announced ahead of the squad's arrival that she would be joining in the huge celebrations in Madrid, despite Sunday's having been 'the best and the worst day of her life'.

The 23-year-old from Sevilla clinched victory for La Roja – 'The Reds' – with her left-footed goal within less than half an hour of the start of the 114-minute match, catching out England's Mary Earps, affectionately known as 'Mary Queen of Stops'.

Despite making Spain work hard at every step up to the end of more than 13 minutes of extra time, England was unable to find an equaliser, which thrust their Mediterranean rivals into the sporting history books: The first women's World Cup, 13 years after the first-ever and so far only men's World Cup, and the only country other than Germany to have gained one of each.



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Where are foreign home-hunters heading? Top 15 locations explored
Friday, August 18, 2023

EXPATS and permanent foreign residents in Spain, as well as holiday home owners from abroad, often appear to be clustered around very specific areas – typically on the coast. 

The secluded Sa Riera bay in Begur on the Costa Brava (photo: Catalunya regional tourism board)

But latest figures show they are beginning to spread out farther afield, heading to smaller, more traditional municipalities.

Still close to a beach or, at most, within a half-hour drive of the nearest shore, the top 15 favourite locations for overseas movers and buyers in 2023 have now been revealed – and the majority are along the Mediterranean seaboard.

Daily newspaper Levante EMV, which covers the Comunidad Valenciana provinces of Alicante, Valencia and Castellón, reveals that two of the most sought-after locations are in this same region, whilst three others are close to the French border. 

The article takes its data from residential property sales so far this year among people born outside of Spain, and who do not already live there at the time of purchase.

Here's a bit of detail on the top 10, with a summary of the final five at the end.


Number one: El Poble Nou de Benitatxell

Usually referred to simply as Benitatxell (the 'tx' makes a 'ch' sound in the regional language, valenciano), this quaint, coastal village is tucked into the mountains in the north of the province of Alicante. A close-knit community, the main expat area is the large cluster of urbanisations, or residential villa complexes, on a mountainside above the picturesque Cala Moraig bay.



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Spanish cities with the best (and worst) quality of life
Friday, August 11, 2023

PROPERTY prices, housing quality, healthcare and education, living costs and the job market are among the factors that determine where the happiest locations in Spain are, according to research by a leading national consumer organisation.

This is Spain's top-ranking city for quality of life - by day or night. Read on to find out where it is (photo: Alberto Pérez/Wikimedia Commons)

Ease of getting around – parking, public transport, cyclist and pedestrian safety – clean air, and feeling safe out in the streets are also crucial, and the OCU ranked these in its 2022 report on where the nicest places to live in Spain can be found.

As yet, no updated study has been carried out for 2023, but little is likely to have changed in terms of living conditions in general in the areas researched since the report was published.

This said, as the investigation takes time, the data for the 2022 report were taken from surveys conducted towards the end of 2020. As a result, responses would still have been affected by the pandemic.

The OCU, one of Spain's leading independent consumer organisations, conducted the ‘quality of life’ study over two years (photo:

It is likely the Covid-19 situation at the time would have led to lower scores for job opportunities, entertainment and leisure, public safety, and healthcare facilities, but may have contributed to higher rankings for air quality, cleanliness and mobility – due to lighter traffic resulting from movement restrictions and not everyone's having returned to work, and more time spent indoors.

Whilst the OCU focused on Spain's 15 largest towns and cities – not delving into smaller villages or towns in their wider provinces – the great way of life in these urban hubs is a good indication of what you might find just a few kilometres outside them.

And although you might have expected the best quality of life to be found in more southerly, coastal parts, it turns out that living in Spain is easiest and most comfortable in some of its northern inland metropolitan areas.

A stratified sample of 3,000 residents were asked to score the 'liveability' index factors out of 100, giving a total percentage of quality of life. The average for Spain's main cities – which range in population from about three million down to fewer than 300,000 inhabitants – was 64%.


'Nowhere is perfect for everyone'

“Different cities, inhabited by very diverse people with very different priorities – and priorities that are often conditioned by age, family situation, and so on – means there's no such thing as 'the perfect place to live' for everyone,” cautions the OCU.

“Not even the cities given the best scores are, in fact, the best in all areas; nor did those which ranked the 'worst' score badly in all criteria.

“And we're not all influenced by the same criteria. We asked respondents to tell us which factors on the index most affected their quality of life, and it is these that contributed the most to the overall score.

“For the average person in Spain, the most determining aspects are living costs, public safety and crime, mobility, environment and pollution, and health services – more so than other variables like arts and entertainment, schools, or even cleanliness of their town.”


Property market 

Starting with the quality of homes available for sale and rent, and their prices – where you get the most for your money – Madrid and Barcelona ranked among the lowest, given that inner-city property is highly sought-after, meaning it tends to be much more expensive.

Zaragoza, Spain's fifth-largest city in the land-locked north-eastern region of Aragón, ranked top for its wide variety of homes, affordability and ease of finding a suitable house or flat to live in, either as a buyer or a tenant.

Zaragoza ranked top for its property market - price, quality and availability. But you can still find luxury in Spain's fifth-largest city: The picture (from Facebook) shows the Paseo de los Ruiseñores, one of the most expensive streets in the country

Second was Valladolid, in the centre-northern region of Castilla y León, just north of Madrid, whilst Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain and home to around 800,000 residents, also came third for quality and price of residential property.

Valladolid ranked second from top for its property market. Among the attractions of this classical, stately city is its huge Campo Grande park, where peacocks roam wild and mingle with pedestrians (photo: Info Valladolid)

Valencia is the highest-ranked coastal city for its housing market – others with at least one beach out of the 15 surveyed are Alicante, Vigo, Málaga, Gijón, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Barcelona, and Palma de MallorcaMurcia was on the list and, although this south-eastern city does not have a coast, the single-province region does, and the nearest beaches are 30 kilometres away in San Pedro del Pinatar and San Javier.



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