Show me the money! How to close a Spanish bank account quickly, easily and safely from the UK

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As part of tidying up your affairs in Spain, you may find yourself frustrated with attempts to close a Spanish bank account and repatriate any remaining balance to the UK. You might typically be looking to do so having owned property in Spain for several years or recently inherited a Spanish estate.

If it’s not practical to visit the branch in Spain, then you may attempt to get the ball rolling by e-mailing the bank. You’ll need to supply the bank with copies of a recent statement to identify the Spanish account and recent statements for UK accounts to which you want the funds sent. Your UK bank statements will need to show the specific numbers (BIC and IBAN) required for efficient international transfers. If you’ve inherited the funds in the Spanish account and the account is still in the deceased’s name, then you will also need to prove that i) you are entitled to the funds, and ii) Spanish Inheritance Tax forms have been filed, whether or not there was any Spanish inheritance tax to pay. Occasionally, your e-mail instructions to the bank will be followed. Much of the time, e-mail instructions get ignored.

Most branches of Spanish banks in popular coastal areas will have English speaking points of contact who can process a request. However, if language is a problem or your e-mail instructions are ineffective, you might want to consider hiring professional help. The instruction to a Spanish bank to close an account and repatriate funds to the UK is usually more effective when carried out by a local representative who can make a personal visit to the local Spanish branch managing the account. You’ll need to appoint local representatives under a Spanish Power of Attorney and your representatives should be trustworthy.

In certain circumstances, Spanish banks are also insisting that the UK accounts to which you want funds credited are held in your sole names and will want your UK bank to issue a Certificado de Titularidad document. The document required translates literally as a ‘Title Certificate’. What Spanish banks don’t realise, however, is that it’s not typical for UK banks to issue them and, when you ask Spanish banks for more help, things can go very quiet. Spanish banks may also refuse to send cash directly to the UK from a deceased’s account and insist that the transfers be made to beneficiaries’ sole accounts in Spain. If you are inheriting without a bank account already open in Spain, this can create more difficulties.

Requests from personal representatives administering a Spanish estate governed by English law are another problem area requiring further documentation to bridge gaps between differences in English and Spanish procedure.

If any of this is sounding familiar and you or your clients need help with closing a Spanish bank account more quickly and easily from the UK, speak to Dennis Phillips on 0115 985 3473 or another member of our Spanish team at Buckles Solicitors on 01733 888888.