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LIFE IN SPAIN

Spain’s €400 culture voucher for young people: What you need to know

Here's what parents and young people in Spain need to know about the Spanish government's €400 youth culture voucher, from who can apply, to what it can be spent on and how to apply for it.

girls at the theatre
Spain's youth culture voucher Amit Kumar / Pixabay

In October of last year, the Spanish government announced that they would launch a Bono Cultural Jóven or a Youth Culture Voucher, giving young people a grant of €400 to spend on culture. However, it wasn’t until March 2022 that it was finally approved.

In total, this aid represents €210 million of Spain’s General State Budget and it’s estimated that almost 500,000 young people throughout Spain may end up benefiting from it.

What is the Youth Culture Voucher?

The voucher is a €400 grant approved by the Spanish government, to be spent on cultural products.

It was conceived as a way to promote and help revitalise the Spanish cultural sector after the difficulties it suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to help young people to benefit from cultural products that they may have missed during this time.

Who can benefit from the culture grant?

Currently, only those who turn 18 years old in 2022 will be able to access the grant. Unfortunately, if you are 18, but you had your birthday in 2021, you will not qualify.

It’s open to those with Spanish nationality, as well as legal residents and refugees. All you will have to do to prove you qualify is to show a document that includes your date of birth and residency status, such as a DNI, TIE or green residency document.

What can I spend it on?

Your grant must be distributed and diversified across three different cultural sectors, meaning that you can’t just blow it all at once on one big purchase. In each of these sectors, a limit will be set. 

  • A limit of €200 can be spent on performing arts, cultural heritage and audiovisual productions. This includes items such as theatre tickets, live music concerts, cinemas, museums, libraries, exhibitions, as well as music and literary festivals.  
  • A maximum of €100 can be spent on physical cultural products. This will include products such as books, magazines and periodicals, as well as video games, vinyl records or any other physical form of music and movies such as CDs and DVDs.
  • A maximum of €100 can be spent on digital or online culture. This includes subscriptions to companies such as Netflix and Spotify, digital music, audio and e-books, as well as podcasts, online video games and digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. Keep in mind that any subscriptions will be limited to a maximum of four months.

    Items such as computer hard or software, textbooks, musical instruments, gastronomy, sports equipment or tickets and fashion will not be included.  

Where can I use it? 

The grant can only be used in establishments or institutions which have signed up for the program and which operate within Spain. You will be able to find a full list of places once you have been approved for the voucher.  

How can I apply for it?  

The Spanish government is set to launch a special website for the culture voucher, where you will be able to fill out an online form to request the grant. As soon as this is launched, we will let you know and update this article with a link.   

The website will also be available for companies to sign up and offer their cultural products and services.  

Once approved for the grant, you will receive the money in one lump sum put onto a virtual prepaid card. You may also request a physical card if your phone is not compatible with the virtual one. It will be linked to your name and identity, so you will be the only one able to use it.

Finally, you will have a total of 12 months in which to spend the money from the time you receive it.

The Spanish government hopes to repeat the aid program in 2023, so if you’re not old enough to receive the grant this year, then you may be able to try next year. 

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ENERGY

How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

When you move into a new property in Spain you will need to change the account or contract holder over, so that any future water, electricity or gas bills will be in your name. It's not as easy as you may think; here's how you go about it.

How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

Changing the name on your utility bills and the payment details should in theory be relatively straightforward, however you may come up against some common problems which can make the change pretty complicated.

Firstly, you will need to find out which energy companies have been contracted for your property.

You can do this by asking the previous owner themselves, contacting your landlord if you’re renting or asking your estate agent to find out for you.

When it comes to water, this should be provided by your local council or city, so you won’t need to contact the previous occupant for this one. 

How do I change the title over?

When you first move in, remember to note down the numbers on the gas, electricity and water meters, so you can give these to the utility companies and they can record how much you should owe, instead of having to pay for the previous occupant’s consumption as well.

Next, you will then need to contact the energy company supplying your property or water provider and ask for a cambio de titular a nombre del arrendatario o comprador (ask for a change of ownership in the name of the renter or buyer).

The process should be completely free for electricity and gas, but in some cities, you may need to pay a deposit for changing the title of the water bill, which you should get back when you vacate the property. The deposit can be anywhere between €50 and €100.

Contacting the energy company by phone may be the best way to make sure everything is done correctly, but some companies also have online forms where you can request a title change. When it comes to water, most cities will have water offices you can visit or specific e-mail addresses if you can’t contact them over the phone. 

There are a few pieces of information you’ll need to have on hand before you contact the company. These are:

  • The full name of the previous person who had the bills in their name
  • Your NIE / DNI
  • The address of the property
  • The date you moved in
  • The CUPS code (not needed for water)
  • Your padrón certificate (for water only)
  • A copy of the deeds of the property or rental contract
  • Your bank details

With all this information, they should be able to change the name over on the account relatively quickly, so that any future energy bills will go directly to you.

At this time, you can also change your tariff or amount of energy contracted to suit your individual needs.

How do I find the CUPS code?

The CUPS code or Código Unificado del Punto de Suministro (Universal Supply Point Code) is a number that identifies each individual property that receives electricity or gas. The number doesn’t change, so you could ask the previous occupant for this as it will be written on their energy bills.

Alternatively, if this isn’t possible you can contact your energy distributor – these are assigned by area and stay the same. By giving them your name, address and ID number such as NIE, they will be able to give you the CUPS code associated with your property.

What if I want to change to a new energy company?

If you’d prefer not to contract the energy company that the previous owner had, you can also choose to go with a new one. In this case, you will still need all of the same information and numbers as above, but you will contact the energy provider of your choice and the type of tariff you want to pay.

How long will it take to change the name over?

It can take between 1 and 20 days for the bills to be changed over into your name. The previous occupant will receive their final bill and then you will receive the new one from the date you moved in.

What are some of the problems I might come up against?

The most common problem is when the previous occupant is not up to date on paying their bills and has some outstanding debt. In this case, if you try to change the title over into your name, you will also be inheriting the pervious owner’s debt.

In this case, you will have to get the previous occupant to pay their outstanding bill before you can change it over into your name. If you have problems getting them to pay their bill, then you can show proof of the date you moved in by sending in a copy of your deeds or rental contract. This should in theory allow for the transfer of ownership without having to take on the debt, however it can be tricky process, often calling the energy company multiple times and waiting for verification of the proof.

What if the energy services have been cut off?

In the case that the property has been uninhabited for some time, the previous owners may have deactivated or cut off the utilities. If this is the case, then you will need to call the energy providers to activate them again. This will typically involve paying several fees to be able to get them up and running. The amount you pay will depend on the energy distributor and where the property is based in Spain. 

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