Spain Explained

Embargoes on Spanish bank accounts

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 05:50 pm.

You know that minute when you first realise that your wallet or purse is missing. The shock that runs through you to be replaced by a vague hope that you didn’t bring it with you in the first place.

In that second of realisation you’ve already flashed up how much cash was in it, which cards and how many telephone calls you have to make. If it was your bag that’s gone and phone along with it, there’s another list of implications for you to work through.

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You often hear people saying, it’s not the cash they’ve taken that’s the problem. Many of us don’t carry much cash with us and it’s the implications that we most dread. The nuisance of contacting card companies and getting new cards issued and all to the benefit of no one. You can even catch yourself thinking, ‘I’d rather have just given them the cash.’

Having a Spanish bank account embargoed can have a similarly knock-on nuisance effect. It’s not so much that you can’t get your hands on your money (although that’s pretty annoying too) as the fact that no one else can either. The electricity and water boards in Spain don’t hang around. If your bills aren’t paid, you won’t be receiving your service for long after the event. Don’t expect clemency.

Why would anyone freeze my Spanish bank account?

In case you are blissfully unaware, the Spanish Tax Authority are able to put an ‘embargo’ on your Spanish bank account if you owe them money. In some cases, people are not even aware that they are in arrears at all until they get the news that their bank account is frozen.

There are many reasons why the Spanish Tax Authority might feel that they are justified in taking this action. Perhaps one of the most frequently encountered is the recovery of non-resident taxes in Spain. It can come as quite a blow to a non-resident who has come out for a relaxing two weeks in the sun to discover that their bank account is frozen, their electricity cut off and the tax man on their trail.

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Non-resident imputed income tax is payable by all non-residents who are not renting out their Spanish holiday home. This is in addition to the IBI council tax that all property owners, including non-residents, must pay.

If you don’t keep up with your taxes, then ultimately The Spanish Tax Authority has the power to make their presence felt by other means. In Spain, an embargo on your Spanish bank account is an accepted method of settling arrears.

Non-residents who can be difficult to contact and are unaware of the systems here are particularly vulnerable. Faced with the inconvenience and upheaval of getting your bank account functioning again, you’re likely to have wished you’d taken a more direct route and paid your taxes in full in the first place.

To help navigate the bureaucracy of the Spanish tax system, our dedicated advisers are on hand to help at every step of the way. Contact us and we will offer you a free consultation without obligation.

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2 September, 2014 3:50 pm

Hi, I am a Spanish resident,
Hi, I am a Spanish resident, for 10 years, and today I found out that my account is embargoed. How can it be legal that they take everything? There was only a few hundred euros in there but they have taken it all. How do I eat? by food for my child? pay my bills? It can’t be legal?


2 September, 2014 4:07 pm

Unfortunately it is legal

Unfortunately it is legal here and we do see it happen quite often, as is explained in this article. You should be able to see from the embargo on your account a reference number and an indication of which department it is that has placed the embargo. You can then contact that department to find out what the embargo is for, If you have a fiscal representative they should be able to do this for you. I am sorry to hear about your predicament and hope this helps a little. 


23 January, 2015 11:11 am

my bank account has been
my bank account has been embargoed. i have no means of paying my tax bill so will i lose my house?


29 January, 2015 8:29 am

The embargo on bank accounts

The embargo on bank accounts is usually only for the amount of the unpaid bill. Once that has been paid then the embargo is lifted. If you do not settle the account then the Tax Office will eventually proceed with the next asset that you have in order to obtain the funds. Your best option is to pay the bill as soon as possible. If this is not possible, you should contact the Tax Office and explain the situation but you should be aware that your property could be at risk.  


10 September, 2015 11:49 am

can a company make a payment
can a company make a payment to a supplier whose bank account has been embargoed by the Spanish authorities?

Suzanne O'Connell

22 September, 2015 9:49 am

The account is blocked for

The account is blocked for the sum that is owed. The Tax Office is paid first and then other payments are made. This should not affect money entering the account but only that going out. 


8 October, 2015 4:17 pm

Hello, I’m just about to sell
Hello, I’m just about to sell my house in Spain and have two embargoes on it from 2010.
Can I use the 3% retention tax to pay or offset against these embargoes as I am in dispute with the authorities at the moment.Or do I just pay them out of the sale of the house.Hopefully there will just be enough money left.

Suzanne O'Connell

14 October, 2015 11:06 am

Hi Kevin

Hi Kevin

Thanks for your enquiry. The 3% cannot be used for other purposes such as settlng an embargo. The embargoes need to be cleared before the property changes hands so you won't be able to use money from the purchase for them. If you have a solicitor helping with the sale they should be able to assist you with this. 


25 November, 2015 9:57 am

Hi I have had 2 amounts taken
Hi I have had 2 amounts taken from my account 72€ and 6 months prior 104€ both said notification embargo. I have no idea what this is for. My account hasn’t been frozen and the bank have said its from the treasury. I haven’t lived in Spain for 4 years and pay all my bills.
Thanks in advance Louise

Suzanne O'Connell

26 November, 2015 11:35 am

Hi Louise

Hi Louise

You should ask at the tax office to find out what the embargo is for. There has to be some kind of reference number for it and they should be able to tell you. 


8 December, 2015 7:22 pm

Hi i am losing my villa to
Hi i am losing my villa to the bank it will be repossessed within 1 month. I do not want to save it as i cannot afford it and have tried all ways for the last 3 yrs to prevent it. my questions are
1/ there eventually will be an amount i owe to the bank which i cannot pay so can the bank freeze my account with another bank (i have no money in it i also have no assets i sold them to live on)
2/i cannot work due to illness and live on a pension of €340 per month if they can freeze my account how do i live i am 56 yrs old
3/ can i offer the bank €30 per month so the don’t freeze it
4/ do the other embargos (electric and water) just stay in my name
or can they pursue me
5/is it better to go bankrupt is it better for me and how

Thank you Anthony watson

Suzanne O'Connell

22 December, 2015 11:51 am

Dear Anthony

Dear Anthony

I am very sorry to hear about your predicament. Every case such as this is different and it is difficult to give a generic reply. The best thing is to try and talk to your bank or perhaps see if you can engage an organisation to help mediate. There are some that specifically support those at threat of eviction such as PAH. It does depend where you live but, for example, PAH Torrevieja are quite a strong organisation and they have representatives who speak English too. They can sometimes help to negotiate an agreement I believe. 

jayne Johnstone

27 January, 2016 7:38 pm

Hi, today I received
Hi, today I received notifications from the bank that my account has an embargo placed on it (132 E) by the tax office. I haven’t lived in Spain since 2012. I have written to them asking what it is for, but I am not optimistic that I will get an answer within the 20 days. Am I right in thinking that in 20 days they will take the money and that is the bill paid, as I am not sure how I could pay it from here.

Suzanne O'Connell

16 February, 2016 10:52 am

Hi Jayne

Hi Jayne

You don't have to do anything. You are right, as long as there is money in the account they will just take the money to pay for the bill. 



1 March, 2016 10:51 am

Hello, I live in Gran Canaria
Hello, I live in Gran Canaria and had a significant amount transferred to my bank account. The account has been blocked and I was advised by a tax advisor that it is because there is a 21% tax I have to pay. Is this a flat income tax rate? Is it possible to have this paid from the amount in the bank as there is no other way I can put together money for this to be paid outside of the funds on the account.

Suzanne O'Connell

2 March, 2016 9:05 am

Dear Silvia

Dear Silvia

Arrangements vary according to region and we would advise you to go back to the tax advisor who told you about the 21% tax as this may be something that is local to Gran Canaria. If there is sufficient in the bank then they will be able to take that to pay the outstanding amount. In fact, this is usually what happens. 

Wendy Jillian Mottaz

30 March, 2021 1:32 pm

I have tried everything I can to pay my Spanish Basura for almost two years but there is no email address and they are not answering the telephone. My apartment is in Vera Playa and the tax area is Consorcio A.L Vera Almeria Province.
Please can you help me, a friend has told me that they will place an embargo on my account which would mean the direct debits would not be paid for water/elec etc.
Wendy Mottaz

Oscar Paoli

30 March, 2021 2:20 pm

Hi Wendy,
If you can email all information regarding the Basura to the following email we will see if we can assist you in the matter.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Leslie Welburn

2 April, 2021 6:22 am

Hi ,I’ve hit this problem,I had my account embargoed in December by the Spanish Tax Office,they took 6100 euros from my account,they say for taxes not paid in Spain for the year 2015 .I did not live in Spain in 2015 so paid my tax in the UK,also had move addresses,have an accountant,who pays my taxes here and has been trying to get my money back for 3 months so far ,without success

Oscar Paoli

5 April, 2021 6:52 pm

Hi Leslie,
Thank you for contacting us and sorry to ready about your situation.
We woule recommend to hire a specialized attorney who could assist you in the matter.
Sorry for not being able to assist you in a better way.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers