Accounts - Spain
This page provides general information and access to electronic services for accounting and associated administrative procedures that must be carried out by businesses in Spain.
Legal requirements: accounting, legislation and accounting plans
Spanish legislation requires businesses to keep accounts appropriate to their business activities. This legislation indicates how accounts should be kept so that this information is understandable to all. It also determines how information should be made public.
In Spain the rules on accounting are in line with the International Accounting Standards, the International Financial Reporting Standards and the legislation of the European Union in this respect.
Sole traders and companies are required to keep business accounts. The form in which these must be kept is laid down in the trade legislation and in the two General Accounting Plans that apply in Spain:
- General Accounting Plan: this sets out the principles, criteria and rules for keeping business accounts. It has two levels of application: general and abbreviated. The latter is intended for small businesses which meet certain requirements in terms of turnover, assets and liabilities or number of employees.
- General Accounting Plan for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: this also applies to micro-enterprises. It is specifically designed for small and medium-sized enterprises, which can be sole traders or companies. It is better suited to such businesses and is simpler.
These General Accounting Plans can then be adapted to the various economic sectors.
More detailed information is available on the following web pages:
Accounting documents: accounting books, annual accounts, supporting documents and invoices
Accounts are set out in accounting documents, which can be grouped as follows: accounting books, annual accounts and supporting documents.
- Stock book and annual accounts: at the start of the financial year, the initial inventory of assets and liabilities belonging to the business is recorded in the stock book. During the year, interim balance sheets are added, which reflect the assets and liabilities and financial situation of the business at different stages during the financial year. These balance sheets are produced at least once a quarter. At the end of the financial year, the annual accounts and a final inventory are added to the stock book.
- Daybook: this records, in chronological order, the assets and liabilities and financial activity of the business throughout the financial year. It provides the information allowing the other documents to be completed.
Within three months of the end of the financial or accounting year, annual accounts are prepared. These documents set out the change in and final situation of the assets and liabilities, finances, and profit or loss of the business. The following documents form part of the annual accounts:
- Profit and loss account: this sets out separately the income, expenditure, and profit or loss.
- Balance sheet: this sets out separately the net worth, assets and liabilities.
- Statement of change in net worth: this describes the change in the net worth, assets and liabilities.
- Cashflow statement: this sets out the development of income, expenditure, and profit or loss.
- Notes on the accounts: these supplement and explain the previous documents.
These documents together reflect the assets and liabilities and financial situation of the business.
Annual report and proposed distribution of profits or losses
The annual accounts are accompanied by two documents: an annual report, which describes how the business has been managed, and a report setting out the proposed distribution of profits or losses.
Consolidated annual accounts and annual report
Groups of companies, or several companies that hold each other’s shares and meet certain requirements, must submit consolidated accounts for all the companies involved. This requirement applies to their annual accounts and annual report. More information is available through the following link:
Approval of annual accounts, annual report and proposed distribution of profits or losses
Within three months of the end of the financial year, the annual accounts are prepared. The business must then approve the annual accounts within one month. The method of approval depends on the legal form of the business: sole traders can approve the annual accounts themselves, whereas shareholders must approve company accounts at a general meeting. After being approved, they are filed with the Business Register.
Keeping of accounting documents
So that their business activities can be monitored, businesses must carefully keep their accounting books, documentation and supporting documents for their business activity for six years from the final entry made in the accounting books.
Additional books for tax purposes
The tax authorities use the information provided by the accounts to determine the assets and liabilities and financial situation of businesses and to calculate the taxes that these businesses must pay. In some cases additional accounting books and registration requirements may be specified. More information on this subject is available through the following link:
Many businesses are required to have their general accounts and annual accounts externally audited every year.
Auditing involves an accountant or auditor examining the accounting documents of the business. The aim of the audit is to check whether these documents accurately reflect the assets and liabilities and financial situation of the business. The audit result is indicated in an audit report.
Small businesses can keep abbreviated or simplified accounts. In some cases they are also exempt from having to be externally audited.
The purpose of Business Registers is to safeguard economic activity in general and the activities of businesses in particular. To that end, they record acts and events that are particularly important in financial terms for businesses, so that these can be publicised and brought to the attention of interested parties.
Due to the importance of the information provided by the accounts, the law requires businesses to authenticate their accounting books and to file their annual accounts with the Business Registers.
Businesses and professionals must, as a general rule, issue invoices or equivalent documents for all goods or services that they supply or provide to their clients in the course of their business activities, and keep evidence of the latter. There are some exceptions. Businesses may use the electronic invoice created by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance.
In Spain many administrative procedures can be easily and simply carried out online. Information and forms can be accessed without the need for identification. However, for certain procedures, the person concerned sometimes needs to be identified, using passwords or an electronic certificate.
Authentication of accounting books by the Business Register
Businesses must present their accounting books to the Business Register covering their registered office, so that these can be authenticated before use. This can be done in person or online.
Authentication of the accounting books involves the accounting documents to be used being stamped. The aim is to ensure that these documents are used to record the accounts of the business and that they are not altered or replaced by other documents.
Filing of the annual accounts with the Business Register
This filing ensures that the annual accounts are made public. It also allows interested parties to find out about the assets and liabilities or financial situation of a business. This filing can be done in person or online.
Accountants and Auditors: formalities to be completed with the Institute of Accounting and Auditing
If you are an accountant or auditor, you must complete certain formalities with the Institute of Accounting and Auditing. These formalities can be easily and simply carried out online.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: