I am interested in purchasing a property in southern Spain and have been told that I may request an abstract (“nota simple”) or a certificate from the Land Registry concerning the property in question. Could you please explain the difference between a “nota simple” and a certificate?


The “nota simple” or abstract is an abbreviated informative extract of the contents of entries concerning a registered property. It is of a purely informative nature and does not serve as a testimony of the contents of the existing entries.

The abstract should identify the property, owner(s) of the rights registered, the area and nature of the property and any restrictions, limitations or prohibitions existing concerning the beneficial owners or their registered rights.

The abstract is a true and fair reflection of the data contained in the entries held by the Registry and provides no further detail than necessary in order to satisfy the legitimate interest held by the person requesting this information.

On the other hand, a certificate is an exact copy or transcription of the contents of the information held by the Registry concerning a given property. This is also the means whereby documentary evidence may be provided concerning the situation relating to any mortgages on the property or rights registered.

A certificate is also a public document issued by the Land Registrar who is the only member of the public administration with the power to attest to the contents of the books kept at the Registry which are understood to include any registry books and not only the inscription book.

Certificates may vary in class and can be positive or negative, refer to a given period of time or not, be literal transcripts of entries or relate specifically to issues such as ownership, charges and encumbrances and documents affecting the property in question.