What distinct types of companies are there in Spain?
In Spain, there are mainly three types of businesses:
1. The Sociedad Limitada, or SL, which is a limited liability company and is the most common type of business entity registered in Spain;
2. The Sociedad Limitada Nueva Empresa, or SLNE, which is a type of limited liability company that offers a less complex structure and streamlines the necessary procedures; and
3. The Sociedad Anónima, or SA, which is a public limited company that has the attributes of a corporation and is mostly used by larger companies.
Is there an official database for finding company information in Spain?
In Spain, the starting point for finding company information is the Registro Mercantil Central (RMC), Spain's official trade register. The RMC covers Spain on a high level, only holding central company data, and all companies in Spain are obliged to register their business there.
You can find information by searching for the company name, VAT Number (otherwise called CIF/NIF), key officers, or business projects. You can access it in English here and find information on registered companies.
For more detailed information, you can also contact the Regional Mercantile Register, which is a regional database for both trade companies and persons who are participating in commercial activities. The Mercantile Registry's central office is located in Madrid, but there are regional registries across Spain at the provinces where businesses conduct activities. The addresses of the central and regional registries can be found here.
Alternatively, the Servicio de Certificación de los Registradores (SCR), another official registry of companies, can be used to find additional and specific information about businesses in the provinces. You can look up companies by name, CIF/NIF and/or main officers. An English version is here. What type of information is available and how much will it cost?
Accessing the Registro Mercantil Central is not free, but fees are usually under €5. The price varies depending on the number of companies and the type of company document. To start, choose one of the criteria, then select "card payments". You can have the report sent to your email or get it online.
The RMC offers the following information:
- General information for each company, such as legal status, business activities, administrators and legal representatives, accounts, confirmation of financial statements with a summary of the company's report and a link to its website.
- Company registrations published in the RMC's Official Gazette.
- Other companies where administrators or legal representatives also operate.
- A project depository including information on approved mergers, dissolutions, etc.
For the Regional Mercantile Registers, you will need to call or visit the office in person. Fees may also vary depending on the information you wish to consult.
The Servicio de Certificación de los Registradores is fee-based and varies with the number of documents and companies you consult.
The SCR offers the following information:
A company's excerpt, including:
- General data such as the company's name, address, objects, VAT Number, C.N.A.E code (it refers to the National Code of Business Activity, which determines what the company does. Every business activity has its own code).
- A list of network domains if they are registered, and registration data.
- Entries pending registration and any specific issues.
- Annual records for the last three fiscal years
- Company officers
- Legalised official books including the company's status and fiscal years.
Several types of business certificates, including:
- Certificate of good standing and incumbency.
- Certificate for the issuance of a Legal Person Representative Certificate.
- Certificate of Articles of Association.
- Certificate of shareholders' regulations and of shareholders' agreements.
- Certificate of beneficial ownership of a company.
To find a certificate, search the company by name or VAT number. Note that you will be asked to give a justification for the request. The document will be provided either on the SCR website or by email.
Are there any alternatives to find company information?
Certain private companies also offer different types of registers and company information. You can search for Spanish companies by company name or VAT number. Fees usually start from €20. Both Informa (https://www.informa.es/en) and Infoempresa (https://www.infoempresa.com/en-in/es/) have English versions of their websites and offer a wide range of business reports.
On Axesor's website, you can also find companies' information, including sole proprietors. You can search by the name of the company, key officers, VAT Number or telephone number. This service is available in Spanish only: https://www.axesor.es/.
This article was published as part of the Logan & Partners and qLegal series, which showcased practical and helpful insights on a variety of legal topics. qLegal is a pro bono law clinic at Queen Mary University of London that works with entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.