Make your online presence fit in with the Spanish market

A guide to localisation for Spain

1 Overview

We’ve created this guide to help you get closer to your Spanish customers. A web presence that is in tune with Spain’s culture will make your customers feel well disposed to you, and give them confidence in doing business with you. Get the little details right, and you'll be in a good position right from the start in your new market.

2 The main language

Spanish is the main spoken and written language in Spain.

There are three additional languages in Spain:

  • Catalan
  • Galician
  • Basque

Almost 75% of online search queries are in Spanish, and 15% of online searches are in English, according to recent Whirlybird data. Approximately 28% of Spanish people speak English as a second language, with varying degrees of proficiency.

3 Formality

Should you be formal or informal when addressing your customers?

In Spain, most communication is informal. Your customers should be addressed in a formal, friendly way in most modes of communication.

Spanish people use the informal form of address “tu.”

If you have a financial product, a legal service, or are talking about money, you should always adopt a more formal tone and style.

4 Numbering systems and formats

Numerals

Decimal separator

This is a comma (,)
e.g. 1,5 hours.

Thousands and decimals

The thousand separator is a full point (.),
e.g. 1.524 people.

Telephone numbers

The country code is +34. Telephone numbers are usually in the format of country code, city code, and a unique seven digit number,
e.g. (+34 ) 12 345 67 89.

Freephone numbers from land lines have the prefixes 800 or 900.

5 Currency format

The Spanish trade in Euros. This is represented by the euro symbol €. Its trading three letter code is EUR. The € is placed after the figure with a space. The coin denomination is the cent represented by a c.

The note denominations are 500 € 200 € 100 € 50 € 10 €. The coin denominations are 2 €, 1 €, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c.

6 Dates and Times

Date and time formats

In Spain the date format is DD/MM/YY,
e.g. 24/03/17.

7 Hour formats

The Spanish use both the 12-hour clock in speech. The 12-hour format is also used in literature, journalism,

Written and official time is always given in the 24-hour format The colon is used to separate the hour and the minutes,
e.g. 14:24.

The Spanish do not have a p.m. or an a.m notation. The time between 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock are assumed to be post meridiem (p.m.) past noon.

After midnight, hours are labeled de la noche ("at night") until 5 o’clock, which then becomes de la madrugada ("at early") before sunrise and de la mañana ("at morning") after sunrise.

When a p.m. hour is labeled explicitly, it is de la tarde ("at afternoon") before sunset and de la noche ("at night") after sunset.

8 Working days

Standard working days are Mondays to Friday.

9 Things to avoid in the Spanish market

Every culture has different superstitions and traditions which are always worth noting, especially when entering a new market.

The Spanish consider the number 13 to be unlucky.

10 Important rules

Here are the top translation tips that will make you sound like a local in no time:

  1. Translators should use their best judgement to make individual translation decisions, depending on the context. This could mean omitting words from the source material, and substituting these with more relevant, local words or phrases

  2. Adapt the tone to fit with the purpose of the communication and your target audience. A term which can be left in English for a certain audience, may have to be translated into Spanish for another audience

  3. The use of bad grammar in a source text can cause an incorrect translation

  4. Use native translators and avoid automated translations as this will give more of a local flavour to your communications

  5. Give your translators as much context as possible. Who the audience is, what the purpose of the communications is, what visuals are going to be used, and so on

11 Additional guidelines

Discover how to ensure your website is local in tone and language in our website localisation guide.