U nder the Law 8/1975 whenever a British is purchasing a property in certain parts of Spain, they require a special permit from the Spanish Ministry of Defence

This very archaic law makes little sense nowadays, but still, it is applicable in certain locations, particularly in the Spanish islands – Canary and Balearic -, and must therefore be observed.

The military permit for British citizens to purchase a property in Spain

Areas and installations of interest for National Defence establish limitations for British citizens who acquire real estate in Spain in areas of restricted access to the property by foreigners.

This out-of-date law, which has been forgotten in recent years, has been given a new lease of life with the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU and the consequent change in the status of British nationals in Spain, who have gone from being EU citizens to foreigners.

Despite being totally outdated, contrary to common sense, and more typical of distant jurisdictions and not so much of a modern EU member country, this law is nowadays more valid than ever and can become a serious inconvenience when buying a property in the Canary Islands or certain areas of the Balearic Islands.

  • But, what exactly does Law 8/1975 establish?

It establishes that, in restricted access zones, acquisitions of property on rural or urban land, whether they have buildings constructed or not, whenever they are made by foreign individuals or legal entities belonging outside the EU, will be subject to military authorisation.

  • What are these restricted access zones?

They are distributed throughout certain parts of Spain, but in the vast majority of cases, they coincide with those areas of the greatest tourist interest for British foreigners, i.e. the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca, and Formentera) and the whole of the Canary Islands.

  • And, what is the main disadvantage of acquiring a property in a restricted area by a foreigner?

The main problem with this military authorisation is the slowness in obtaining the permit, which takes a minimum of three months to process, so the acquiring party will have to take this timeframe in mind when thinking about the closing.

Establishing a deadline to sign the public deed of sale and not being able to complete it because the purchaser does not have the military authorisation, could be a breach by the acquirer, with the consequent risk of loss of the amounts paid on account.

Chances are that the lack of the permit can lead to failure to register the acquisition in the land registry and, in the most extreme cases, to the total nullity of the transaction.

To process the military permit, it is necessary to submit a request to the Spanish Ministry of Defence in which the purchaser’s personal details, such as the nationality, situation in Spain, and other data that may be relevant to the case, must be provided.

If an acquirer is a natural person, it shall likewise provide a copy of the passport as well as a DBS certificate in the country where the applicant last resided.

If you are thinking of buying a property in the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of expert conveyancers will be able to provide you with the information you need.