Explained: Why Might Your Spanish Bank Accounts Be Blocked

Having your Spanish bank account blocked can be a real nightmare: especially if this is the primary account you use for all of your banking, and your primary direct debits or savings are linked to this account. Unfortunately, it is possible for your bank accounts to be blocked in Spain. Here’s everything you need to know about why your Spanish bank accounts might be blocked, and how you can prevent it from happening to you:

Not Updating Your ID Documentation

If your ID documents expire, or you renew them for any other reason (for example, if they are lost or stolen), then it’s important that you inform your bank of your updated ID information as soon as possible. Spanish banks are legally required to keep updated information about their clients, meaning they need your ID information at all times, rather than just when you open your account. If your ID expires and you don’t inform your bank then they will email you to remind you that it’s time to present new documentation to them. Ignore this email, however, and you risk your account being blocked.

It’s important to be aware of this as it is a legal requirement. According to the bank of Spain: “The European Union’s legislation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing requires banks to request the documentation they deem necessary to identify and monitor the account holder and their operations, so if the holder does not comply with the request, the blocking of the account is considered justified.”

Not Providing All Required Documents

The banking industry in Spain is heavily regulated and as well as providing updated ID documentation, your bank may also that you provide other documents including evidence of your residency, tax status, or employment information. These documents may be needed to prove that you are eligible to open a bank account in Spain. If your bank requests this information, and you do not provide it, then they may block your bank account. Expired documentation such as an outdated NIF tax identification number can also be a reason for an account to be blocked. The reason you may be asked to provide these documents is so that banks can comply to EU legislation surrounding money laundering and terrorist financing, and therefore banks have no choose but to block the accounts of account holders who don’t comply with these rules by providing the required documentation.

To Protect Your Account

If you are trying to access your online bank account and you repeatedly type in the wrong password then your bank may block your access to your bank account in order to protect it: this is to ensure that your account is not being accessed by someone else. You will usually be given three attempts to enter your password, and if you input it incorrectly three times then your bank will freeze your access to your account. It’s important to note that this won’t necessarily freeze your account, only how you are able to access it. You can override this security measure by contacting your bank either online or via the phone to reset your password and sort out the issue.

If An Account Holder Dies

When an account holder dies, their heirs or other inheritors cannot continue to use their bank accounts on their behalf. Instead, the bank must be immediately notified of the death, and any transactions and payments from the account should be stopped. This is one of the most common reasons for a bank account to be blocked in Spain. Once the heirs have notified the bank and provided a death certificate, the bank will block the part of the money in the account that belongs to the inheritance (in most cases, 100 percent). If there is no obvious heir who presents themselves then the account will still be blocked but the bank is legally required to maintain the account for 20 years until someone claims the money on it. If this money isn't claimed after 20 years then it reverts to the state.

If you bank is informed of the death of an account holder but that holder has a joint account then only 50% of the money in the account is subject to a block, until inheritance proceedings are clarified and completed.  In the event of a dispute amongst living joint bank account holders, the bank may block the account until the dispute is resolved, as the bank will be impartial and protect the interests of both of the parties involved.

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