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One stop shop for expats in Spain

The Presidents Club International (TPCI) can be your “one-stop shop” to help with your day-to-day life in Spain.
We’re here to help you, FREE of charge, no matter whether you’re a President of a community, an owner, a tenant or just a tourist visiting the area.
Our original intention was to provide a service to community Presidents on the Costa del Sol, to help with, the sometimes complicated, management and legal obligations of running their communities.
However, it soon became evident that residents, non-residents, owners, tenants and tourists alike, would benefit from TPCI membership.

Dependency Law (Ley de Dependencia)
07 March 2016

Ley de la dependencia (Dependency Law) and the importance it can have on your life

We have heard about Ley de la Dependencia and its benefits, but many foreign residents believe they don’t qualify.
According to its articles it covers individuals who cannot fulfil their basic life activities, for example those with physical or mental deficiencies, caused either by age, by being disabled or losing their physical, mental intellectual or sensorial ability. The cover can be provided by both professionals as other family members or acquaintances.
The dependant individual does not mean necessarily a retired individual or a disabled one. The dependency status is normally established by a social worker from the local authorities.
One of the requirements should also be:
-minimum residency in Spain for the last 5 years previous to the request.
The dependency law is really helpful for retired individuals, those who live on their own or cannot cover their basic life activities.
The idea is also to facilitate an autonomous existence in their home, having an individual they can rely on for the basic activities and also facilitate their incorporation into the community life.
There are also economical retributions for the dependency law, related to those who render the service, payments towards the family members helping or towards the personal carers.
Another service provided by the dependence law is the Home Care Help, including services such as cleaning, washing, cooking, preparing food or helping the individual with the personal hygiene activities.
The service also provides Day and Night Residence shelters and many more social activities.
If you want more info or would like help in getting in touch with the local authorities don´t hesitate to contact us.

 

www.tpci.es



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Pensions
02 March 2016

One of the main topics for expats is what happens to their pension. 
If you are moving to Spain from the UK you should inform the IPC of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments.
UK pension credit is not payable in Spain. If you decide to move to Spain permanently you must inform the office that pays your benefits before you leave. You will need to declare income from your UK state pension to the Spanish tax agency.
Once you are resident in Spain, and depending on your personal circumstances, income from a UK state pension can be liable for tax in Spain.
Can I be entitled to a Spanish pension?
After working in more than one European Economic Area country, it is possible for your contributions from each one to be taken into account when calculating your pension or benefit.
If you have worked in Spain for at least one year you may be entitled to a Spanish retirement pension, provided you meet other entitlement conditions. For information on how and when to claim your Spanish retirement pension or how your contributions in the UK can contribute toward your entitlement to a Spanish retirement pension, contact your local office of the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS).
When applying you must give as much information as possible about your working life.

www.tpci.es



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Unemployment
25 February 2016

Being unemployed is not the best case scenario, but here are some situations you should know:

1. If you are living in Spain, but didn’t pay into the system and currently don´t have a job, you can still register as unemployed. You will not get financial benefits, but it gives you the opportunity of being called for a job interview from the Employment Office and having access to training course and classes. Depending on your situation, if you have children and the income of the family is below the normal limit, financial benefits can be requested.

2. You have just been made redundant. For each year of payment into the Social Security you are allowed 4 months of unemployment benefit, for a maximum period of 5 years. The steps are: register as unemployed and if there are any jobs offers you might be called for interviews in the employment office.

 

The unemployment payment is done on the 10th of the month.

 

3. You have been working as self-employed. Until recently, autonomos would not receive any unemployment benefit. The law has changed and now, by paying extra a month into the social security you can benefit from unemployment if you decide to terminate your activity and you can´t continue trading. The period for receiving these benefits is the same, 4 months of unemployment for each 1 year of contribution.

If you would like to know more information you can give us a call and will be happy to assist.

www.tpci.es



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Healthcare
23 February 2016

Healthcare
 

The state health system in Spain
State healthcare is free of charge to anyone living and working in Spain.
As an expat, you are entitled to free state healthcare if you are:
•    resident in Spain and work in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions,
•    resident in Spain and receiving certain state benefits,
•    resident in Spain and recently divorced or separated from a partner registered with social security,
•    a child resident in Spain,
•    a pregnant woman who is resident in Spain,
•    under 26 and studying in Spain,
•    a state pensioner, or
•    staying temporarily in Spain and have an EHIC card (see below).

If you don’t have the right to state healthcare you have to organise private health cover. If you have been registered on the padrón at your town hall for a year, the Spanish government has a state insurance scheme (convenio especial) with a basic monthly fee. This is administered by the authorities in each autonomous region.

The state system is funded by social security contributions, with each region of Spain taking individual responsibility for a health budget allocated by central government.

www.tpci.es
 



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Pets Relocation
22 February 2016

 

You have decided you are relocating to Spain, but part of your family is also your pet. The European Pet Passport allows for qualifying domestic animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) to freely cross borders in Europe. It contains obligatory information concerning an individual animal: identification number, and proof of valid vaccination against the rabies virus. It may contain other non-obligatory information and is valid for the lifetime of the pet. Each passport is numbered for identification purposes. Animals travelling within any European Union country need to be accompanied by a Pet Passport.

Also, if on the contrary you are leaving Spain and want to return with your pet, for Ireland, Finland, Malta, Norway and the United Kingdom, further rules apply. When crossing the border to these countries dogs must, in addition to the passport, also have proof of tapeworm (echinococcosis) treatment. This treatment must be administered between 24 and 120 hours before entering the country. All vets should have the relevant information and be able to prepare a pet for travel.

For travelling with pet rabbits, rodents, fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates within the EU there are no restrictions and no pet passport is needed for these animals. Rabbits and rodents from outside the EU may need to spend up to four months in quarantine.  

 The PETS scheme allows qualifying domestic pets to travel to and from the UK without undergoing quarantine.

A pet is eligible for a pet passport even if the owner is not an EU citizen.

To reduce the number of pets being unethically bred and sold in the EU, rules on pet transport within the union changed as of 29 December 2014. The key changes are:

  • In general dogs, cats and ferrets cannot receive a rabies vaccine before the age of 12 weeks. As a kitten or puppy cannot be transported without a confirmatory blood test 21 days after the primary vaccination, this effectively increases the minimum age at which a pet may be transported to 106 days (approximately 3.5 months). The day after vaccination is counted as Day One. Note: Some countries make provisions for transporting dogs, cats and ferrets younger than 12 weeks old.  
  • The introduction of a new style of pet passport. The new pet passport has laminated pages detailing micro-chipping, vaccination information and other details about the pet. Laminate is used to avoid this information being fraudulently changed later. If an animal already has an older style of pet passport it is not necessary to apply for a new one
  • Owners must travel with their pets or within five days of their pets being transported. An animal that travels more than five days before or after the owner must fulfil the requirements that apply to animals transported for trade, and fulfil those animal health conditions.

The passport may only be issued by a licenced vet and both the passport and a record of administered vaccines should be kept current by the vet. Before issuing it, the vet will confirm that the animal: is identified by a microchip has valid vaccines against rabies has had a blood test to confirm the vaccine is in the system Following these steps the vet can issue a certificate of health - the Pet Passport.

www.tpci.es



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Denuncia with the Police
19 February 2016

There are many different reasons that you might need to make a DENUNCIA (police report) –
•           to report something lost or stolen
•           to report harassment or menace
•           to report an accident or incident
•           to report an act of cruelty
•           to report yourself the victim, witness, or prejudiced against by an act that is illegal
•           to report a theft
•           to report an appeal for injunction against a general assembly
There are basically 2 types of denuncia – penal which would imply the possibility of a prison sentence or civil which would imply the possibility of a fine and a wrist-slapping.
The legal system will obviously decide the type it is and if the report is valid or not but in the first instance what do you do to make a denuncia?
1)           Go to your local Guardia Civil or Local Police Office.  Depending on the town, an interpreter should be available, but if this is not the case, take somebody with you who speaks Spanish.
2)          Explain at their main reception the reason for the denuncia and wait to be called.
3)          You will need to present your Passport, NIE etc (and that of your interpreter), medical report if relevant, photographs and as many specific details of the incident as possible. If reporting theft of belongings, you must itemise everything with makes, models, value and photographs and receipts if possible.  Insurance companies will only compensate for exactly what is included in the denuncia. If you remember something the next day or so, go back with your copy of the denuncia and ask to amend or add to it.
Always read before signing to make sure it is correct and all details tally. If it is a denuncia that will go to Court, only the information contained within can be discussed. If you have knowledge of the perpetrator, have witnesses or know the precise location and time of the incident, ensure these are included in as much detail as possible. Sometimes you may have to rack your brains to give specifics – identifying features, buildings nearby if you don’t know the exact location, car registration or make, model and colour etc so do try to give as much information as you can possibly remember.
If your report is for a theft or loss, you will need to process this incident with your insurance company. They will need a copy of the denuncia. 
4)          If it is against a fellow resident, they find the perpetrators and then you will be informed in due course of date, time and place to appear at Court though up to one year later is not unusual.
5)          If there is a counter-denuncia, you will receive notification to collect the documents from the local Courts.
6)          If you are summoned to court for whatever reason, even as a witness, you are obliged to attend or you could find yourself with a fine to pay for non-appearance.
7)          Before you attend Court remember to state you need an interpreter (if that is the case) and a Court translator will attend on the day.  If you are found to be in the right in a civil case, you might be asked by the Judge what penalty you want to be imposed on your wrongdoer. If you have incurred loss, state the amount of compensation you want. If you are accompanied by a solicitor this will have already been discussed with you but, if not, prepare to state a justifiable amount.

It is very important to report any criminal activity, theft, aggression, threat, scam, etc. as the local authorities need all the denuncias registered in order to tackle and identify the crime in the area.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other subject here at The Presidents Club International we have the professionals who can help our members so…..be sure to contact us!

 

www.tpci.es



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Consumer´s Complaint Form
18 February 2016

How Do I Get These Forms?

If you believe you have a complaint in a business in Spain, that is not being attended to correctly, then you ask (politely) for the “Hojas de Reclamaciones”. Normally the proprietor, or manager, will try to resolve the issue without recourse to this measure. But if no agreement can be reached, the booklet will be produced.

If they refuse to produce the booklet, you should call the Local Police. First tell the manager you are going to do that to give him a moment to change his mind.

How Do I Use An Hoja de Reclamación?

You should fill out the form as follows. Preferably in Spanish, but you can use English if you have no option. The form should be completed on the premises of the business where the complaint is being made.

You should state clearly and simply what is the cause of the complaint, and what solution you would like to see, such as refund, exchange of goods, repair of damages, etc. You cannot claim any punitive damages, by the way. This is NOT a court case, it is a civil arbitration process.

In this part it is easy to let your anger get the better of you. Keep it SIMPLE and STRAIGHT FORWARD. If you go off at tangents, your complaint might well not be clearly understood.

You should state clearly the date(s) and time(s) relevant to the complaint.

You should indicate your personal details, name and address, sufficient for the Spanish business or the Consumers Office to reply to you by post.

You should state the details of the business itself. Every Spanish business has a set of official data which they are obliged to provide you with for the purposes of filling out the Hoja de Reclamaciones.

You must sign the form.

You must make sure you have all relevant information in your possession. That means invoices, sales slips, guarantees, publicity leaflets, copy of a price list (if relevant), etc. You will need these later.

The proprietor or manager might wish to add some comments below what you have written, but usually their comments are made separately.

You now take the TOP TWO pages, that is the WHITE original and the GREEN consumers copy. You leave the PINK copy in the book for the business.

 

What Can I Expect?

You can now take the WHITE original plus photocopies of the receipts, guarantees, and any other document you believe relevant, to the local Oficinas Municipales de Información al Consumidor. You will possibly have to go to the local Ayuntamiento if you do not know where this office is. They will help you in anything you need to know.

It is good to go in person if possible, as you can get a stamped official receipt of your complaint. But another route is by Burofax. This is an official fax system run by the Correos post office for delivery of official documents.

An official mediation process will be set up, and you could hear a result in between 2 weeks and 4 months, depending on how stiff necked the Spanish business is about it. You will hear by post to the address you put on the form. Keep hold of all the documents and the GREEN copy in a safe place, in case you are asked for them.

If the arbitration goes your way, you should be compensated according to your demands on the form. The Spanish business might also be fined.

If you wish to take things further through civil courts, a positive result on the arbitration will be very helpful to your case, but the Oficinas del Consumo will not become actively involved in anything.

I hope this has been a useful introduction to the way the Spanish handle the complaints procedure between a business and the consumer.

www.tpci.es



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Look after your property
17 February 2016

If a building is left half-built, unpainted or otherwise in a not very aesthetically-pleasing state the community you can make a formal request of the Town Hall to insist that the imperfections of the buildings or plots be rectified.
 Owners of fincas and communities of property owners of buildings that are uninhabited or abandoned, are obliged to conserve the public vision by adequate cleaning and maintenance of the façades, entrances and in general, all parts that are visible to the public highways.  This also applies to aerials, chimneys etc.
To this end the owners must carry out maintenance, cleaning and plasterwork when, by reasons of public image, it is necessary and ordered by the local authority, following report from the municipal services.
The cleaning, painting or maintenance of the exterior elements of buildings must be done taking care not to dirty the public highway.  The person doing the work will be held responsible and obliged to clean the same, subject to the adoption of security measures required in each case, as well as the licences for occupying the public roads, if needed, in those cases where the work involves occupying public roads or crossing over it.
 Those responsible for the cleaning are the following:
A. Owners of plots
B. The owners of buildings and detached homes
C. The promoter of buildings under construction
 
The Town Halls also can enforce fines depending on the percentage of deterioration, etc.
In case of abandoned plots, especially those in risk of fires due to overgrown flora, the town halls can also open sanction files, put fines and order the owners to keep the plots free of fire risks.

www.tpci.es



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Do I need a building licence?
16 February 2016

An important matter both for a President and for a community resident is when to apply for a licence, is it an Obra Menor or Obra Mayor and it is important to know because it will affect costs and time. Both applications are made at the Department of Urbanismo at your Town Hall.
An OBRA MENOR is literally ‘small works’. It refers to those works that due to their technical simplicity, scant construction and little expense can be done without modifying the interior layout of the buildings. It usually involves replacing tiles, windows, painting, etc. Some town halls require for small works just a written communication of intention. These works might include – kiosks, signs, publicity, canopies, repairs to roofs and pipework, installation of doors, windows, and security grilles, but we recommend you ask first in your local town hall.
Documentation to be presented with the written application:
• A plan of the affected area on the Municipal map
• A photograph showing the location of the works
• Explanation of the works to be undertaken
• A Nota Simple if it affects Suelo No Urbanizable (Non-buildable land)
• If the works affect common areas of the Community, then signed authorisation of the Board/President is required
• Detailed formal proposal of costs
• Tax (usually is a percentage of the costs, both of the material and the builder’s labour). Each town hall has individual percentages for tax on licenses.
An OBRA MAYOR is literally ‘major works’. It refers to those works of a new build or of extending the surface, volume or height of existing buildings or integral refurbishment (not partial) of already existing buildings. This licence requires a Project. The project must be drawn up by a qualified architect and stamped as approved at the College of Architects. Also, depending on the town taxes might vary. Usually they are around 4 or 5% of the value of the works.
Very important: never start the work, minor or major, before consulting with the local town hall and asking for the right license.
www.tpci.es



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Claiming benefits in Spain
15 February 2016

Working and paying contributions in Spain gives you entitlement to a number of Spanish social security benefits. These benefits include unemployment benefit, and permanent and temporary incapacity benefit.
If you have worked in Spain but have been told that you do not have entitlement to Spanish social security benefits as you have not paid enough national insurance contributions, you must make sure you declare the contributions you have made in the UK. or any other EU country. This is because previous contributions paid in these countries can often be used to make up any entitlement as though they were paid in Spain. Also make sure that, as for any benefit application, you apply in writing.
If you have been working and paying contributions in Spain, even for just a short time, you may be entitled to claim unemployment benefit. Make your claim at your local employment office in Spain. Usually there is a minimum 1-year contribution for a 4 month benefit claim.

Spanish sickness or incapacity benefit
You should apply for sickness or incapacity benefit in Spain if you have been working here and paying contributions. Make your claim at your local INSS office.
Spanish means-tested benefits
Even if you do not have entitlement to a contributions-based benefit, you may be entitled to financial help from your local social services, providing you meet certain requirements
You can find out more on what means-tested benefits are available in Spain by speaking to a social worker at your local town hall or visit your nearest Instituto de Mayores y Servicios Sociales office (IMSERSO - Spanish Institute for the Elderly and Social Services)

www.tpci.es
 



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