Spanish Legal Services for Expats – Balcells Group

April 30, 2024 | Blog, Home & Relocation

With over 40 years of experience, Balcells Group offers international Spanish legal services and advice to individuals and businesses living in or moving to Spain from abroad.

They specialise in immigration law and also have extensive expertise in business, tax and real estate laws in Spain. Their team of dedicated legal experts takes pride in offering highly personalised advice and support, ensuring a smooth process for their clients from start to finish. 

We spoke with Cristian Balcells, CEO of Balcells Group Lawyers to learn more. Here he shares his story with us, and more insight into the variety of legal services that Balcells can offer expats in Spain.


Balcells Group – International Lawyers in Spain

Can you give us an overview of the different services that Balcells Group offers ? 

At Balcells Group, we help foreigners apply for any type of Spanish residence permit or visa. We handle the whole legal process internally and are by our clients’ side from start to finish. This means that if the immigration process also requires experts in real estate, taxes, or business, we can take care of that, too. 

We can also help individuals and companies with all legal procedures related to setting up a business in Spain, all steps of buying or selling property, Spanish taxes, and monthly accounting and invoices. 

When was Balcells Group founded? What is the story of the company?

I come from a family of lawyers, so the law environment was never foreign to me, and I knew it was the life path I wanted to take. So, I took up law myself, and founded Balcells Group in 2013. My family is from the Lleida region, so the tree on the company logo is actually a nod to the olive trees found there. 

At Balcells Group, our goal is to help foreigners with immigration, taxes, business, and legal matters in Spain. 

I decided to go into immigration law because I’ve always enjoyed meeting people from other countries and learning about different cultures. The international and multicultural atmosphere is something that inspires me. 

We started as a humble team of just two people, and have since grown to a company of 30 hardworking individuals! Now, we have a marketing department, customer support department, and are growing our tax law and accounting department alongside the immigration department. We are socially active, and work closely with different associations, the town hall, and even Banco Sabadell. 

 

Spanish legal advisor for Expats

 

During the pandemic, we developed the digital side of Balcells Group a lot. Today, it is a pillar in our efforts to help and stay connected to people globally. We share a lot of information on our social media and web pages, we hold free webinars at least twice a month, and we offer the option of online consultations. 

Not only am I very happy with how much the company has grown, and how it continues to grow each day, but I’m also very proud of my team, and what they have contributed to make Balcells Group what it is today. I would not be here without them. 

Tell us more about your team? What kinds of backgrounds do they have?

We have a great team of international and multilingual individuals from around Spain, and even some from outside of the country. All of our lawyers speak English and Spanish and some are also fluent in Catalan, French, Italian or Russian. 

Our lawyers specialise in different fields of law. We have some with backgrounds in real estate, taxes, family law, gender studies, education, and psychology.  

Outside of the law firm, we all have many of our own interests, such as photography, sports, dance, travel, etc. I, myself, am very into long-distance running, skiing and spending time in nature.

Overall, we are ready and happy to give legal advice to people from all over the world. Our team is grounded in experience and empathy, with a deep desire to help others.

Where are your clients typically from? 

The majority of our clients come from the United States of America or the United Kingdom, but we also have a big Latin American community, and many clients from all over Asia. 

Can you offer international legal advice for people based outside of Spain? 

Yes, of course we can. Our clients can consult with us online or in person. Some immigration procedures can even be done completely online, or through an authorized representative in Spain. This means that most clients do not have to step foot in Spain until completely necessary. 

What would you say are your most popular services?

Our most popular services are the digital nomad visa, student visa, non-lucrative visa, golden visa, and the family member of an EU citizen residency card (which includes pareja de hecho or the civil partnership).

Immigration Services

Tell us more about your immigration services and what kinds of situations you can assist with? 

At Balcells Group, we process all existing types of Spanish residence permits and visas. Spain has a wide variety of options, so one of the most important steps in our process is the initial consultation, where we analyse the client’s individual case and decide which permit would suit them best. From the non-lucrative visa to the family arraigo, our goal is to obtain a positive resolution for our clients. 

As you know, we also handle real estate, business, tax, and civil processes. As I mentioned earlier, this means that we can handle all of your legal needs internally. For example, if you are aiming for the self-employment visa, our tax lawyers can help with the tax procedures. Or if you want the entrepreneur visa, we can also help with the legal side of setting up the business.

At the end of the day, more than anything, we are the legal partner that will be by the client’s side from beginning to end. We prioritise meeting their legal needs as they relocate to Spain and help them enjoy a smooth and effortless process. 

What are the biggest challenges you see for expats moving to or recently arrived in Spain? 

I’d say the biggest challenge is dealing with Spanish bureaucracy, as it can be unpredictable and sometimes slow. It can be difficult for expats to fully estimate when they will receive their resolution or be able to book an appointment for their residency card. You need to be willing to be a bit flexible when facing Spanish immigration. 

 

Individual and business Spanish legal services for Expats

 

Another thing is that different consulates or immigration offices can have their own preferences and rules regarding requirements. We are familiar with these distinctions because we’ve done hundreds of applications, but this may be a hurdle for some expats applying for the first time. 

So through our own experiences and the struggles we, ourselves, have faced with Spanish bureaucracy, we can give you legal certainty – helping you step-by-step to have a clearer path to Spain. 

Business Services

What business services do you offer? 

We help foreigners obtain the entrepreneur visa and self-employed visa. For self-employed individuals, we help them register in the tax system and social security. 

We can handle the legal side of setting up the business, opening a bank account, purchasing the property, drafting contracts, and hiring employees. 

Finally, we also do trademark registration, opening a branch or franchise, and generally any other legal procedure for businesses. 

What kinds of businesses can you help to set up?

We help to set up sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, stock corporations, and branch offices. 

What are the implications of being autónomo or self-employed in Spain?

If you are a non-European citizen, before you can register as autónomo, you will need to obtain an entrepreneur visa or self-employed work permit to enter Spain. Then you will have to register as an autónomo to tax authorities, and register in Social Security. 

Autónomos have three main obligations: paying income tax annually, paying VAT quarterly and contributing to Social Security monthly. 

The amount you pay to Social Security changes depending on the income bracket you fall under. You will need to submit a forecast of your income at the beginning of the year. At the end of the year, you will have to settle the balance, whether you made more or less than you initially predicted.

Tax Advice

How can your team help clients navigate the Spanish tax system?

Our tax lawyers and accountants help our Spanish and foreign clients navigate the Spanish tax system by understanding their situations so that they receive tailored advice. We also manage all the paperwork and calculations, and present them to the Spanish tax agency on their behalf.

We can help with non-resident tax, real estate related taxes, income related taxes, and business taxes. If you only need monthly accounting and help billing invoices, we can do that for individuals and companies, too. 

 

Spanish tax advice for expats

 

What is the Beckham Law? Who does it apply to?

The Beckham Law is for foreigners who move to Spain to work as employed individuals. This means that if you have the digital nomad visa, you can only benefit from the Beckham Law if you are working remotely for a company outside of Spain, not if you are a freelancer. 

The Beckham Law lets foreigners pay a flat rate of 24% income tax for their first six years in Spain. This is much better than the usual progressive rate that goes from 19% to 45%. Unless you are a digital nomad working for a foreign company, this tax is just for income generated in Spain.

A small detail that people tend to overlook is that foreigners need to apply for Beckham Law within six months of registering with Spanish social security. Also, they cannot apply for it if they’ve been a resident of Spain anytime in the last five years.  

Real Estate Support

You can provide legal support throughout the purchase process, what are the steps involved in buying a property in Spain? 

Buying property in Spain can be divided into three phases: the pre-purchase, the purchase, and the post-purchase. 

The pre-purchase starts with finding and negotiating  the property you like, and obtaining your NIE. You cannot buy property without a foreigner’s identification number. The next step is performing due diligence and signing a reservation contract or deposit contract. 

Once you have prepared all of the required documents, you’ll need to go to the notary to draft and sign the final contract. 

The post-purchase phase includes going to the Property Registry to name yourself as the new owner, and the transfer ownership of utilities (meaning gas, water, and electricity). Finally, you need to complete the property transfer tax or value-added tax form, and the stamp duty form, and pay the amount owed within 30 days. 

How long does the process of buying real estate in Spain typically take? 

Once you have found your desired property, the purchase process typically takes around three months. 

You offer help with due diligence. What should prospective buyers consider before taking the plunge?

Important due diligence includes reviewing all of the existing documents related to the property at the registry. This is to make sure that the seller and sale are valid, and that there are no outstanding debts, mortgages or tax problems. This process also includes having an architectural report done to make sure the property is liveable and undamaged. 

Another thing prospective buyers should consider before taking the plunge is whether they are buying a new property or a resale. If it’s a new property, the buyer will receive warranties from the developer. If it’s secondhand, they won’t. 

Also, in terms of taxes, for new properties, 10% VAT is applicable, and a 1.5% stamp duty fee. For resale properties, property transfer tax is 8-10%. 


Find out more about the different ways that Balcells Group can support you during an international move to Spain, from purchasing a home to setting up a business and more.

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