One word that you will hear a lot in Spain is gestor. People will advise you to go to a gestor, or a gestoría with this or that problem. But Who or What is a gestor?
The position is difficult to describe, simply because this agency does not exist in many countries. His main role is the interface between the public - in this case you - and the public administration. Generally, in UK you do not need any kind of interface, and when you do, it is clear that you should see a solicitor. In some other countries there will also be some person, or official in this kind of position.
This idea though helps us a lot, in fact. In UK, the solicitor is the first port of call when the going gets tough. He will give you a minimum of free advice which could easily consist of directing you to a lawyer, or an accountant, or somebody better suited to resolving your problem for you, or explaining to you how he can deal with it for you.
A gestor can best be described as an administrator, or an organizer, who is also your first port of call in Spain. He is usually needed at a much lower level of bureaucracy in Spain than in UK. Dealing with taxes, cars, etc are normally done directly in England, but in Spain it is often good to find a reliable gestoría and pay a gestor. He knows his way around the intricacies of Spanish administrative bureaucracy, as well as knowing with whom to speak to get things done quickly.
This is particularly important for people moving to Spain. He can save you mountains of time, heartbreak, blood-pressure treatments, hangovers, etc. The fee is worth it. While thinking about that, the gestor’s fees are not cheap, but neither are they out of this world. And in the long run, can often turn out to be a saving! Just ask some expats who tried to “do-it-themselves” before going to a gestoría, and you will find plenty of “if-only” stories!
But some words of warning are also in order. The functions of a gestor overlap with those of an accountant, or contable and an abogado (approximately equal to the solicitor in England). He will gladly take on the work of property transfer, for instance, and while the gestor is allowed to do this he is not the best person for the job. The abogado is where you should go for this. The gestor will gladly look after your business accounts for you, but in this case he is not only allowed to do so, he’s also a good, cheap option if all you have is a small business with a few employees. Once your company has outgrown the gestor take the work to a proper contable. Having said that, many gestores are also contables in their own right.
A gestor is not a licensed professional. In reality, he is just a clerk with experience and good contacts. In theory, you could open a gestoría tomorrow, so you need to be selective when you search one out. He can help you with basic administrative processes, but if you can find a gestoría that doubles as an abogado or contable or some such within the same office, then you can be more confident.
To find a good gestor is like finding a good solicitor. Word of mouth recommendations are useful. Ask people who are in business, such as your local pub, or shop. See if you can find one who can speak your language well. (And I mean, well. Not just “can get by”). Many gestorías are multi-lingual. You will find them listed in paginasamarillas (yellow pages, in case you weren’t sure) under Gestorías Administrativas.
The gestor, even one who speaks your language, will use words like trámite and gestión thinking that you will understand them. This is because they are difficult to translate exactly. They are sort of interchangeable and mean “administrative process”. This translation is good enough for you to understand what he is talking about.
To sum up, if you have any kind of bureaucratic dealings, find yourself a gestor who can understand you. Explain your problem to them; first visit free of charge. They will either help you set whatever wheels are needed in motion, or tell you who you should be talking to, or they will explain what you have to do yourself. (Some things have to be done in person by law, unfortunately). In this last case, they are usually quite willing to make sure you have your papers in order before you go, thus saving you mountains of time, heartbreak, etc etc in some unhelpful office with huge queues everywhere.
If they are to work for you, they will give you an estimate of costs, and time it will take. Make sure you ask for this information. You can check around, but will usually find the prices are pretty much the same wherever you go. Personal recommendation is also good. If they’ve done well for someone you know, they will almost certainly do the same for you.