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TOURISM

EXPLAINED: What are Spain’s rules and taxes for Airbnb rentals?

If you've ever thought about making some extra cash by renting out your Spanish property on Airbnb, here's everything you need to know, from how to apply for tourist licences to the taxes you need to pay and the regional differences.

renting out your holiday cottage on Airbnb
What you need to know about renting out your property on Airbnb in Spain. Image: Hans Braxmeier / Pixabay

In 2019 there were over one million tourist apartments in Spain, half a million of which were registered on Airbnb.  

While the Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt brought this number down, Spain still has a huge number of tourist rentals. 

READ ALSO: A third of Spain’s Airbnb landlords own five or more properties

The country has had a turbulent relationship with tourist rental sites such as Airbnb however, with many city councils battling against rising numbers of illegal apartments and the impact it has on rental prices for residents. 

In 2016, the Catalan Tourism Register fined Airbnb €30,000 for not responding to demands from the administration requesting details on homes advertised without registration numbers. In 2018, Spain’s Balearic Islands also attempted to fine Airbnb €300,000 for advertising unregistered tourist flats, but the Balearics’ Supreme Court annulled the fine in 2020.

So, with all these tough crackdowns and rules, how can you make sure you rent out your apartment legally on platforms such as Airbnb?

How do I legally rent out my property in Spain on Airbnb?

Generally, most regions in Spain require you to apply for a tourist licence before being allowed to rent your accommodation out to tourists. The process is slightly different for each region but is generally done online through each regional government site.

For more information about your area, you should visit your local Town Hall or Ayuntamiento

In March 2019, a new law was passed in Spain which states that if three-fifths of the owners of a building are against short-term rentals in their premises, they can decide to limit or prohibit tourist apartments in their building.

This means that as well as registering your accommodation with the relevant authorities, you must also get permission from the other owners in your building.

In the last few years, several Spanish regions have also brought in new laws and limitations for tourist accommodation, so make sure you do your homework before considering renting out your accommodation on Airbnb.

This is because not only do most regions in Spain have differing rules, but many municipalities do too. For example, the rules for renting out accommodation in the cities of Barcelona or Valencia are different from the rules for the rest of the region. 

Andalusia

The Andalusian government define tourist accommodation as a residential property that is repeatedly rented out to tourists and charged for. It can be rented through tourism channels such as travel agencies or companies that allow bookings to be made such as Airbnb.

In order to legally operate an Airbnb apartment in Andalusia, you will need to register the property with the Tourism Register of Andalucía, and agree to comply with the regulations of the Tourism and Sports Council.

Find out how to apply for registration here

If your application is successful, you will receive a registration number, which you must add to your Airbnb listing. For more information on renting out tourist accommodation in Andalusia, you can look on the Andalusian government website

Catalonia

The Catalan government consider tourist accommodation to be any accommodation rented out to paying guests for short term stays. In order for your apartment to be legal, you must register it with the municipal authorities and apply for a tourist licence.

You can apply for your licence or Habitatge d’Ús Turístic (H.U.T) number here

Be aware that in some places in Catalonia, such as Barcelona, it is not possible to get a licence anymore. In 2017, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau banned new applications so the only way to legally rent out an Airbnb apartment in Barcelona is to buy one of the circa 9,600 apartments that already have tourist licences.

You need a licence to register your property before renting it out on Airbnb. Photo: InstagramFOTOGRAFIN / Pixabay

Valencia

You need to register any tourist accommodation in Valencia with Valencia’s Tourism Register by submitting a formal notice to the Territorial Tourism Service of the province where your apartment is located and state your intention to use the property for tourist accommodation. You can find out more about Valencia’s tourism accommodation laws here

Once you have been granted your licence you must display your registration number on your Airbnb listing.

In June 2018 the Municipality of Valencia issued various limitations for tourist apartments in the city. These are: 

  • The tourist accommodation must be located on the ground floor or the first floor.
  • The apartment must not be located above or on the same landing as another private residential dwelling.
  • The building must not have more than 50 percent of tourist accommodation.
  • In the Ciutat Vella, you can only rent your apartment out to tourists for a maximum of 60 days.

In January 2019 a municipal decree for Valencia city was introduced which requires you to renew your tourist licence every five years.

Madrid

In Madrid, you are required to register any tourist accommodation with the Register of Tourism Enterprises and will have to agree to comply with the existing regulations. You can find the link on how to do so here

Once you receive your licence number, you must also add it to your Airbnb listing.

In March 2019, Madrid city limited the number of tourist rentals possible in different neighbourhoods, so if you plan on renting out an Airbnb apartment in the city, you’ll need to contact the Madrid City Council first to see what your options are.

Balearic Islands

If you want to rent out tourist accommodation in the Balearic Islands you must declare your intention to do so and obtain a registration number from the General Register of Companies, Activities and Tourist Establishments of the corresponding Council.

Mallorca

You can register your tourist apartment and apply for a licence in Mallorca here

Ibiza

You’ll find the link for registering your tourist accommodation licence in Ibiza here

Menorca

You can apply for your tourist licence in Menorca here

Formentera

Apply for your registration for Formentera tourist apartments here

Mallorca especially has cracked down hard on tourist rentals and since July 2018 introduced a complete ban on tourist apartments in the capital of Palma de Mallorca. This means that no more licences are being issued, even though Airbnb still shows many apartment listings there.

Asturias

If you want to rent out your flat on Airbnb in Asturias, you will need to register your accommodation with the Ministry of Employment, Industry, and Tourism here.

Like the other regions, once it’s complete, you will receive a registration which you must display on your Airbnb listing.

Navarra

The Tourism Registry of Navarra requires you to submit a responsibility statement to the Directorate General of tourism. You can register your tourist apartment and apply for a licence here

There are slight differences in the process depending on whether you are registering a rural property or a tourist apartment. 

Taxes

Taxes will of course be different for everyone, depending on their circumstances, but generally you will be liable to pay tax on any money you make from renting out your property on Airbnb.

Legally you must declare your earnings from renting out your tourist accommodation to the tax authorities, whether you are a resident in Spain or own a property as a non-resident 

This IRNR (Non-resident Income Tax) is 19 percent on net income for EU residents and 24 percent for non-EU residents.

Crucially however, foreign non-resident homeowners from the EU, Norway and Iceland can claim back many more expenses (mortgage interest, insurance, IBI, community fees etc) which non-EU resident property owners cannot.

READ ALSO: ‘It’s absurd’ – How Britons who let out properties in Spain will see taxes triple after Brexit

Depending on your situation, you may be required to present these earnings on your yearly ‘declaración de la renta’ tax return. However, if you regularly rent out your accommodation to tourists and it is a business for you, then you may be required to register as autónomo or self-employed. This means sending in quarterly tax returns declaring your earnings, as well as paying social security. You may also have to charge IVA or VAT.

READ ALSO – Self-employed in Spain: What you should know about being ‘autónomo’

You should always speak to your gestor or accountant about your specific tax situation and what you are liable to pay. 

In some regions, you will also be obliged to collect a nightly tourist tax from your guests and declare it to the relevant authorities in your area. This may require filling out extra tax forms too.

In 2018 Spain introduced a new tax form called the Modelo 179, specifically for intermediary companies such as Airbnb which require them to identify the properties and the owners renting out apartments on their site, the number of days the property has been rented out for, the income amounts and the means of payment.

This means that it will be very difficult for you not to declare your rental income to the tax authorities because they will already have a record of how much you earned.

What are the consequences of not getting a tourist licence?

In most cases, if you do not have a tourist licence and are found out to be renting out your property on Airbnb or similar, you will incur a hefty fine. Fines differ slightly depending on your region.

In the Balearic Islands, for example, property owners who rent out their apartments illegally can be fined anywhere from €20,000 to €40,000, while in Barcelona you can be fined up to €60,000. 

Member comments

  1. Hello – This article is not clear because it does not make the distinction between the rental of an entire apartment or if an on-site owner is simply renting out a room vis a vis airbnb et al. Please clarify. Thanks.

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For members

TOURISM

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy's tourist season is expected to be back in full swing this year - but will there be enough workers to meet the demand?

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy’s tourist numbers are booming, sparking hopes that the industry could see a return to something not far off pre-pandemic levels by the summer.

There’s just one catch: there aren’t nearly enough workers signing up for seasonal jobs this year to supply all that demand.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

“There’s a 20 percent staff shortage, the situation is dramatic,” Fulvio Griffa, president of the Italian tourist operators federation Fiepet Confesercenti, told the Repubblica news daily.

Estimates for how many workers Italy is missing this season range from 70,000 (the figure given by the small and medium enterprise federation Conflavoro PMI) to 300-350,000 (the most recent estimate from Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia, who last month quoted 250,000).

Whatever the exact number is, everyone agrees: it’s a big problem.

READ ALSO: Dining outdoors and hiking: How visitors plan to holiday in Italy this summer

Italy isn’t the only European country facing this issue. France is also short an estimated 300,000 seasonal workers this year. Spain is down 50,000 waiters, and Austria is missing 15,000 hired hands across its food and tourism sectors.

Italy’s economy, however, is particularly dependent on tourism. If the job vacancies can’t be filled and resorts are unable to meet the demand anticipated this summer, the country stands to lose an estimated  €6.5 billion.

Italy's tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers.
Italy’s tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“After two years of pandemic, it would be a sensational joke to miss out on a summer season that is expected to recover strongly due to the absence of workers,” said Vittorio Messina, president of the Assoturismo Confesercenti tourist association.

Different political factions disagree as to exactly what (and who) is to blame for the lack of interest from applicants.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia, a member of the right wing League party, has singled out the reddito di cittadinanza, or ‘citizen’s income’ social security benefit introduced by the populist Five Star Movement in 2019 for making unemployment preferable to insecure, underpaid seasonal work.

Bernabò Bocca, the president of the hoteliers association Federalberghi, agrees with him – along with large numbers of small business owners.

“What’s going to make an unemployed person come to me for 1,300 euros a month if he can stay sprawled on the beach and live off the damned citizenship income?” complained an anonymous restauranteur interviewed by the Corriere della Sera news daily.

“Before Covid, I had a stack of resumes this high on my desk in April. Now I’m forced to check emails every ten minutes hoping someone will come forward. Nothing like this had ever happened to me.” 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season.
Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

Five Star MPs, however, argue that the focus on the unemployment benefit is a distraction from the real issues of job insecurity and irregular contracts.

There appears to be some merit to that theory. A recent survey of 1,650 seasonal workers found that only 3 percent of the people who didn’t work in the 2021 tourist season opted out due to the reddito di cittadinza.

In fact the majority (75 percent) of respondents who ended up not working over the 2021 season said they had searched for jobs but couldn’t find any openings because the Covid situation had made it too uncertain for companies to hire in advance.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Others said the most of jobs that were advertised were only for a 2-3 month duration, half the length of the season (again, due to Covid uncertainty), making it not worth their while to relocate.

Giancarlo Banchieri, a hotelier who is also president of the Confesercenti business federation, agrees that Covid has been the main factor in pushing workers away from the industry, highlighting “the sense of precariousness that this job has taken on in the last two years: many people have abandoned it for fear of the uncertainty of a sector that has experienced a terrible time.”

The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector.
The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

“I said goodbye to at least seven employees, and none of them are sitting at home on the citizen’s income,” Banchieri told Repubblica. “They have all reinvented themselves elsewhere; some are plumbers, others work in the municipality.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Mass tourism is back in Italy – but the way we travel is changing

To counteract the problem, Garavaglia has proposed three measures: increasing the numbers of visas available for seasonal workers coming from abroad; allowing people to work in summer jobs while continuing to receive 50 percent of their citizen’s income; and reintroducing a voucher system that allows casual workers to receive the same kinds of welfare and social security benefits as those on more formal contracts.

Whether these will be enough to save Italy’s 2022 tourist season remains to be seen, but at this stage industry operators will take whatever fixes are offered.

“The sector is in such a dire situation that any common sense proposals much be welcomed,” the Federalberghi president Bocca told journalists.

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