VAT and Company Registration numbers
The Spanish VAT number, is called the CIF (Certificado de Identificación Fiscal). This tax number consist of a letter (ussually A or B) followed by 8 digits (or 7 digits + letter for foreign companies). To be alligned with the European standards, the CIF number is often preceded by 'ES'. You can check these numbers by using any of the websites below.
Since realty agencies that have a focus on expats are often run by foreigner themselves, you might come across Belgian, Dutch, French or British registration numbers. These can be checked here:
Registration of realtors
Even though Spanish realtors are barely regulated in Spain, you might want to check whether the agency is connected to one or more professional organisations. These registration are not mandatory and may not be a watertight guarantee for quality. However, these organisations at least require their members to pass an exam, to uphold the standards of the organisation and to take (a limited) insurance for their professional liability.
Checking financial data
For Spanish companies:
You van retrieve financial records via the website of Secretaría de Estado de Comercio
For foreign companies:
Belgian companies: General data can be requested via both 'trends.be' (paying or use 24h free trial) or data.be (partially free). If you are somewhat familiar with financial reccords, you can always request the 'raw data' financial statements online from the national bank of Belgium.
Dutch companies: Financial statements and balances can be retrieved (after payment) from kvk.nl
Checks land registry
You can request the following documents by going to the website of the land registry (registradores):
- Nota simple
- Nota localización
For more information on this website, check out the video below:
It never hurts to just 'google' a company you don't know yet. If the company you want to work with has an office, definitely check out reviews on Google Maps or Facebook. For some professions you may find that yelp or stars of service are a more useful resource in Spain.
Wherever you look for these reviews, bare in mind that people are simply more inclined to leave a review after a bad experience than they are when they had a good one. Don't judge a book by its cover, especially if it consists of only one review.
Trustworthyness of websites
There is no magic bullet solution to check whether a website is legitimate or not, but you can always check the reputation of a website or reveil where a website gets hosted. Off course, a location of the host is only an indication and not sufficient to label a website as not worthy of your trust. But nonetheless, if the hosting company is a shady company in Bulgaria, it might be a flag.