Bank account holders in Spain face identity crisis

Photo of Angeles Muñoz, the mayor of Marbella. Credit: Twitter

MANY bank customers have until the end of the month to prove who they are or face having their accounts frozen.

A law first passed in 2010 aimed at preventing money laundering and funding of criminal and terrorist organisations is finally coming into force from April 30.

It requires banks to hold digital ID of their customers to pass on to the authorities. But despite having had five years to get their act together some banks have only recently started notifying their customers to provide identification. For many it has come via a message in Spanish when withdrawing money from cashpoints, something that may have left English-speaking expats in the dark.

Those who have opened accounts since 2010 may not need to take action as the information should have been recorded when they signed up. Many more, however, who have held accounts longer may face having their accounts frozen without receiving any notice, leaving them unable to honour direct debits, pay bills or withdraw cash.

That is because accounts opened years ago before digital information was filed are likely to need clarification of identity.

A valid NIE (or DNI for Spanish nationals) or a valid passport will be necessary. In addition you could be asked for a contract of employment, an income tax return, an IVA receipt, a utility bill, a recent payslip or a DAE, which is a statement of economic activity.

One bank employee told Euro Weekly News: “You wouldn’t believe the chaos this has caused, both for the bank and for our clients. We face so much anger and criticism from our customers but the freezing of accounts is conducted by the Bank of Spain and our hands are tied. We cannot legally delay matters while clients collate their documents.”

Anyone unsure of their position should check with their bank.

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