How to transfer money to and from Spanish bank accounts…

It is very easy to set up a direct debit (domiciliación de recibos) or standing order (traspaso) on an account. The branch can provide the required forms. Most utility companies supply a template when subscribing to their service; the subscriber simply adds their signature and bank account details to the form.

These payments can also be created and managed via most Internet and telephone banking services. Some banks offer deals on monthly direct debits, such as discounts or paying back a limited percentage of money spent at the end of the year.

Note: direct debits from an account will remain in force until they are cancelled by the account holder. The direct debit should be cancelled with both the bank and the company concerned. Even if a subscriber cancels a service being provided by a utility company, (such as telephone/electricity/gas) the company may continue processing the direct debit, even though the service has been cancelled. Any claims for the return of incorrectly charged direct debits will usually be returned without question within 30 days of the debit being made on the account, but after 30 days the matter can become very complicated.

When cancelling a utility service or transferring the “ownership” of the service to someone else, remember to cancel the direct debit straight away.

Domestic and international transfers to/from an account

Domestic transfers (transferencia) can easily be made from an account, either from the cashier’s desk in the branch, via the Internet/telephone banking service or from an ATM.

It is also easy to send and receive international transfers, which are treated in more or less the same way as domestic transfers. The only extra requirement is the IBAN number of the account in Spain, which must be provided for inward transfers, or the IBAN of the receiving account for outward transfers. It is important to note that some banks charge considerable fees for international bank transfers and exchange rates may not be transparent. Transfers can also take up to 3-5 working days. Account holders of banks with international branches can usually transfer money free of cost or at a lower rate and in a faster time period.

SEPA (Single European Payments Area)

In 2006 the European Central Bank started work on the SEPA initiative, with the collaboration of most of the major banks in the European Union.

The ultimate goal of the SEPA initiative is to implement a transparent mechanism for making cross-border payments between countries of the European Union. However, this will depend on whether the bank is a subscribed member of the SEPA initiative. For example, a small regional bank with only several local branches may have chosen to opt out of the SEPA implementation, which means that the cost of international money transfers will be passed on to the customer (and will therefore be more expensive).

  • For more information, visit