The word escritura occurs in property transactions frequently also as escritura pública. It simply translates as a notarised document. It is the notarised property sales contract. This notarised sales contract has the same function in Spanish legal transactions as a document of ownership. This viewpoint, while not entirely correct, serves as a useful paradigm. Do not confuse Escritura with a Private contract.

primera copia

Is the first certified copy of any public document, e.g. escritura or will (testamento).


Wills in Spain are notarised. These can be drawn up quite easily with a Spanish notary in two languages. However, caution is required since the notary might not be familiar with applicable law in your home country. Great difficulties can arise from such contradictions regarding wills.
In Spain, joint wills are not possible. Handwritten wills are however possible, but not very common. Before drawing up a will in Spain a consultation with a lawyer knowledgeable in this area is essential.

declaración de herencia or declaración de heredero (certificate of inheritance or bequest)

This document is necessary in case of death where Spanish property is involved and can be obtained from the appropriate probate court, if the death certificate is presented and certain other questions answered. However, with deaths of most European citizens, their home statutes may still apply. The district court of the last domicile of the deceased is relevant and a death certificate should be requested. This is to be translated officially and a seal of Apostille applied to comply with Spanish law. If a Spanish will is presented, then the notarised inheritance acceptance (aceptación de herencia) can take place without the certificate
of inheritance.

declaración de ultimas voluntades (Certificate of Absence of a Spanish will)

With every acceptance of inheritance a certificate obtained from the local office of the Spanish Ministry of Justice must be presented. There is a central will registry in Spain. If the bequeather has at any time made a will before a Spanish notary, then this can be located. Occasionally one can be surprised by finding a long-forgotten and superseded Spanish will.
Then the Notary must decide which is the most recent and therefore valid document. If no Spanish will is present, one must prove this fact by presentation of the certificate of Absence.

Apostilla (legalisation certificate)

In 1962, the Hague Convention states that an Apostille certificate authenticates the signature of the public official who has signed the document in your home state. The Apostille certificate confirms the person that signed the document has the authority to do so and that the document should therefore be recognised as legal without further evidence in another member state. A member state is any country which has joined the Hague Convention.

traducciones juradas (= official translations)

These are frequently required for legal transactions e.g. in property and inheritance matters as well as in other legal matters in Spain.. Translations from ordinary translation agencies, without an official stamp, are not recognized. In Spain, this authorization is given by the Ministry of Justice in Madrid. Official translations are also needed to receive an inheritance, when the certificate of inheritance must be translated into Spanish. Where no international (if multilingual) death certificate is present, then a national death certificate must be officially translated. More information can be obtained from the qualified translator, Ramon López:


This is a kind of pre –certification which can secure your right to the property registration, but whose validity is limited. There will be a confirmation in the daily report (=protocolo diario) of the land registry office that an entry-requiring procedure, has been taken out, for example an escritura serving as a purchase contract. This procedure called‚ ’asiento de presentación’ gives a 60-day protection and waiting period (extendable up to 180 days) in favour of the person entitled in the document. There is also asiento (de presentación) via fax. The notary sends these upon request of one party and not automatically to the land registry office. This also is a kind of pre –certification, which protects the buyer for a period of ten days. Within these ten days the original document must be submitted to obtain the full 60 day asiento. These protective instruments are useful, but must be applied for and then followed up by the attorney or a Gestoria (tramitacion).