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MONEY

Can I close my Spanish bank account from abroad?

Closing a Spanish bank account from overseas can be challenging, but it's not impossible. Here's everything you need to know about the banks that tend to allow it and those that don't, as well as the different potential ways you could cancel your 'cuenta' from outside of Spain.

how to cancel bank account from abroad
Closing a Spanish bank account from abroad usually depends on the conditions of your specific account. Photo: Kredite / Pixabay

There may be several reasons you need to close your Spanish bank account from abroad.

Perhaps you moved away and forgot to close it or you had to move away quickly and didn’t have time.

According to the Bank of Spain “an account can always be cancelled at any time and without notice. And within 24 hours of the request, the entity must have closed it”.  

In practice however, it’s not always that easy, since there is no regulation that says what the specific procedure is to cancel an account. This gives individual banks the freedom to choose how it’s done.

So what does this mean for you when it comes to closing your bank account from abroad?  

It generally means that it will entirely depend on which bank you opened your account with and what type of account you have as to whether you can close it remotely or not.  

The Bank of Spain’s Banking Client Portal clearly indicates that if a bank has specific requirements for its clients to be able to close an account, “these particularities must be included in the contract, and signed by the client, after having been informed”.  

This means that it should have been stated in your original contract when you opened the account whether you need to close it in person or not.  

READ ALSO: How to avoid paying hidden fees when closing your bank account in Spain

The banks that generally do allow the closing of accounts remotely are those that  do not have customer service offices or very few of them, so-called neobanks such as N26, Revolut, Bnext, EVO Banco or Openbank, even through the latter belongs to Santander.

But most other traditional Spanish banks with branches around the country do tend to require all account holders (more than just one if it’s a joint account) to go into the bank in person to close an account, sometimes at the specific branch at which the account was opened.

As bothersome as this can be for customers who have moved to another part of Spain or abroad, the banks’ reasoning for this is that each account opened is a performance indicator for a particular branch and therefore they must handle the most important operations, such as the closure of an account.

If you are banking with a Spanish bank that lets you close it remotely, then there are several ways you can do this.

Online

If you have online banking, you will usually be able to request to close your bank account online. This is likely to be the case for accounts that were opened exclusively online too.

However, be aware, that if you close it online, some banks may also request that you come into the branch in person in order to sign the cancellation of the account and give in your cards and checkbooks.

This means that you may not be able to fully close your account online, so you may want to call afterward to make sure it’s been done correctly. 

By phone

If you can’t close your account online, then it may be possible to close it over the phone by calling customer service. In this case, you may be required to provide extra details such as passwords and signature keys.

According to Ibercaja, it’s more common for banks to allow a cancellation by phone if the account was opened via the phone too.

Send a letter

If you’re not able to close your account online or by phone, the most recommended way to do it remotely is by sending a letter.  

To do this, you should send a certified letter, which states your desire to close the account and explains that you’re not in the country. With the letter you must also include:

  • Your full name, address and a copy of your ID number such as green residency certificate or TIE
  • The name of the bank, branch number and the account you want to close.
  • Any cards, checkbooks or other payment methods that you need to return.

Here is a template which gives you an example of the correct wording for this letter in Spanish. 

Once you receive the certification that the letter has been delivered, you should follow up and request that they send you an account cancellation certificate. 

In fact, however you close your account, even if it’s by phone or online, you still request your cancellation certificate to make sure that it’s definitely closed.  If it’s not properly closed, you could carry on incurring charges and not be aware that you still owe the bank money.

Note, that if the account has more than one holder, it is likely that you will have to go into the branch in person and will not be able to close it remotely, as both parties are required to sign the forms. 

What if my bank won’t let me do it remotely and there is no way I can return to Spain?

If all of the above methods have failed and your bank still won’t let you officially close your account without physically coming into the branch and signing the necessary paperwork, it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer.

They will be able to advise you on the next steps to take if necessary.  

If the problem you face is that you moved to another part of Spain and your bank wants you to close the account where it was originally opened, before you attempt to cancel you should first go to a nearby branch and make it your reference branch (sucursal de referencia), although not all of them will necessarily allow this.

Others like Santander may suggest that a current account be changed to an online account, which would allow you to cancel over the phone. 

READ ALSO: The hidden costs of opening a Spanish bank account 

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PROPERTY

What the Euribor rise means for property buyers and owners in Spain

The rise in the Euribor interest rate, used to calculate mortgage payments in Spain, is causing big changes in the mortgage rates.

What the Euribor rise means for property buyers and owners in Spain

Looking to buy property in Spain? Already a homeowner here? Well, you may have heard something about rising interest rates recently.

Or perhaps changes to the terms of your mortgage. Or the Euribor – but what is it, and what’s going on?

What is Euribor?

In Spain, Euribor is the interest rate most often used to work out mortgage payments and to calculate both variable and fixed rates.

It is anchored to the interest rate set by the European Central Bank, and, as we are now seeing, quite responsive to global economic events.

It’s the interest rate that banks in the Euro Zone use to lend to each other, so when the base rate goes up, the Euribor does too, which sends mortgage interest rates across the Eurozone rising. 

Rising rates

Most Spanish mortgages with variable rates normally vary based on a variety of factors, but this number has been rising and in May 2022 saw figures of 0.240 percent (Tuesday May 17th), well above the average. 

The rises throughout May are leading many in Spain, and indeed across Europe, to wonder how high their mortgage rates can go, and when the rises will stop.

Banco de España has estimated that the increases could range from anything between €35 a month to an additional €400. Bankinter predicts the Euribor rate will finish the year at a staggering 0.40 percent, but, more encouragingly, Caixabank’s prediction puts it at just 0.13 percent by the end of 2022.

On Euribor.com.es, a website that tracks the index on a daily basis, they suggest that the market consensus predicts the Euribor will finish at around 0.3 percent at the end of the year, but could reach as high 0.8 percent in 2023.

All of them agree, and most other economic indicators suggest, that whatever the figure at the end of the year, it will remain positive, so it seems almost certain that mortgages will continue to rise throughout 2022 at the very least.

This instability, in addition to global inflation and supply chain problems, could mean that mortgage rates will be affected at least until 2023, with some predictors even signposting 2024 as the possible end of a rise in mortgage prices.

With things uncertain in the mortgage industry, and the world economy more broadly, perhaps you’re thinking of ways to try and insulate yourself from the climbing interest rates.

How to protect yourself from the rising rates

One way to weather the storm of interest rate increases is to change your mortgage from a variable to a fixed rate, either by negotiating with the your bank or by changing bank altogether – a process known as subrogation.

According to data from MyInvestor, during March and April the number of subrogations has started to rise.

Subrogation basically means switching the mortgage from one bank to another to change its interest rate. Although it does involve certain charges in order to do so – you pay the valuation of your house, which normally costs a few hundred euros, and a fee charged to the bank you are leaving, which can cost up to 2 percent of the outstanding amount – it could, and probably would, work out cheaper than paying the hiked interests rates over time.

You could also try and take out a new mortgage with another bank and use the borrowed money to settle the loan. This is, of course, a more expensive option as you have to pay the appraisal, the commission for early repayment of the current credit (again, up to 2 percent of the outstanding amount) and the expenses associated with its cancellation of registration, which normally runs to around €1,000.

READ ALSO: Spanish mortgages – Ten things foreigners should know before getting one

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