BRITONS aiming to buy a country property in Spain have been warned that since Brexit they will need permission from the Spanish Ministry of Defence, which could add six months to their timescale and around €1000 (£830) to their costs.

The rule affects all non-EU buyers in Spain apart from the Swiss and Norwegians, who have an exemption agreement in place. It applies only to what are known as “rustic” – or rural – properties and does not affect those in urban areas.

According to a blog post by chartered surveyors’ practice Property Works Mallorca, when assessing a buyer’s suitability for the MOD permit, authorities will also check for a criminal record and require a plan of the property and land.

“This is, in fact, an old law drafted in the last year of the Franco regime (Royal decree 689 published in 1978) in order to protect national security,” said the post.

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“It has been used for non-EU purchasers for over four decades.

“The Balearic Property Registrars College recognises this is not going to help investment in the islands as the process at present takes about six months.”

The blog cautions that the permit is property and person-specific, so cannot be obtained in advance when people first start looking for their place in the sun.

However, it added: “At Property Works, sadly, we are seeing vendors turn down good offers from Brits as they do not wish to wait for the purchaser to obtain this permission, much preferring an EU citizen who can complete with less fuss or delay.

“We have also heard that in some property registers, they are allowing properties to be registered with the clause ‘pending military certificate’.

“This appears to be an exception and potentially risky for the registrar and notary if the permit is denied.”

Hopes are said to be high that the rule will be changed “soon”, as there is “significant” pressure from all sides, particularly estate agents and lawyers.

One Scot who is a subscriber to The National and lives in Mallorca told us that it meant some non-EU citizens, including Brits, need permission from the defence ministry to buy a “rustic” property, while nationals from EU countries did not have to deal with the added layer of bureaucracy.

They said: “This in effect means if a Brit wants to buy a property on rustic land, they cannot purchase it until they have had authorisation from the Spanish Defence Ministry.

“By the time you get that permission any EU citizen could have made a bid for the property and bought while the UK buyer is still waiting for authorisation from the Spanish Defence Ministry.”