Spain Explained

Understanding embargoes in Spain

The use of the word ‘embargo’ in Spain is a lot more widespread than it is in many other countries. Whereas it’s often associated with a ban on trade between different countries, in Spain it can refer to an action taken against your property or Spanish bank account.

If you have an embargo on your Spanish bank account, then what it means in practice is that your account will be frozen without your permission. Again, a concept that is unusual for those coming from many other countries. Who would do such a thing?

Why you might have an embargo

An embargo might be placed on your Spanish bank account when you have an outstanding debt. It could be a missed mortgage repayment, a loan you’ve defaulted on, non-resident taxes or IBI property tax in Spain that remain unpaid. 

It comes either in the form of a court order or from a government public administration office in Spain, such as the tax office (Agencia Tributaria). A private individual or a company can take an outstanding debt to court. Whilst a decision is made about how the debt will be settled, the judge will freeze your account. In the case of a Spanish government department, there is no need to go to court. Your account can be frozen and you may not even realise that you owe any money!

The debt might be settled by money being taken out of your bank account in Spain directly. If there is insufficient money there to cover the debt, then assets can be seized, including property, pensions or even jewellery.

What you can do

It sounds harsh, and it is. Even more so when you consider that if your account is frozen your bills in Spain will not be paid. This can lead to services being disconnected with all the additional costs and inconvenience that can cause.

If you should be in the unhappy situation of your account being embargoed your first action is to identify why. On the embargo itself there should be a reference number and an indication of which department has placed the embargo.

You should then contact this department to find out what the embargo is for. You will then have opportunity to agree a method of clearing the debt enabling your account to function once again as normally.  

Of course, if you make it your business to ensure that your bills are paid and taxes are up-to-date in the first place then it is much less likely that this will happen to you.

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61 comments

john

16 September, 2014 4:41 pm

It should be mentioned that
It should be mentioned that if your penion or salary has been paid into the account that has been frozen. The first 640 euros is untouchable and the remaining balance , lets say it is 640 euros for example . only 30% will be embargoed

Shirley

6 September, 2015 4:39 am

Hi, I only have 600 euros in
Hi, I only have 600 euros in the bank from my husbands pension ,and my account has been frozen we have no money now for food petrol etc we have an illegal home with no services ,shared electric and we buy water in by the tanker been in the house for 12 years ,I think they have found a way to collect money by changing their goal post ,I don’t get post so did not recieve any mail or warnings so they freeze all your money Shirley mills .

Suzanne O'Connell

29 September, 2015 7:55 am

It is likely that your

It is likely that your account has been frozen because the banks are asking for documentation and if you cannot present it they freeze your bank account. What is important in these cases is that you talk to your bank and ask them what has happened. 

michelle

29 September, 2014 8:34 am

I have experienced this and
I have experienced this and they took all my salary from the account I spoke to the bank and said that they must give me money to live and the bank advised no they have no control over the embargo the account is frozen and nothing they an do. they can only take a percentage from your actual salary which the company stops and pays them direct, 640.00 is untouchable this is true and a percentage paid but if then you money goes into the bank they can take that too!!!!

Mark Fisher

10 November, 2014 11:22 am

Hi, a quick question. .it
Hi, a quick question. .it seems my account has been embargoed with limited funds in Ithat I can’t access I.e. 30 € and my employer says that he has to pay into my account and can’t pay me cash, is this correct?

admin

10 November, 2014 8:28 pm

Hi Mark, I’m afraid it’s not

Hi Mark, I'm afraid it's not possible for you to be paid in cash and they will continue to take money out of your account until the debt is paid. Depending on what the debt is for there might be alternatives that could be explored on your behalf. 

stephen thomson

9 January, 2015 11:15 pm

I have an embargo on my
I have an embargo on my account which has more money than the embargo is for the tributaria has on the case 1 can I appeal the case 2 can I agree to pay the outstanding by installments rather than them take the lump sum from the account hat can I do

admin

13 January, 2015 12:40 pm

Dear Stephen

Dear Stephen

Normally, once an embargo has been placed on the account, it will be lifted once the funds have been deducted from the account and paid to the Tax Office. However, if the sum to be paid to the Tax Office is higher than the funds in the account then the Embargo stays in place until all funds are paid. To make any stage payments you would need to contact the Tax Office and negotiate and arrangement. 

Frances Carroll

30 March, 2015 12:08 am

We have ambargo how do we no
We have ambargo how do we no if its our house or our bank im worried as we wont be able to make our house payments ours is council tax if I go and talk to them will they except instalments we have 3 kids so im concerned about not been able to pay other bills would our bank loan us to clear the debt and if they except instalments how soon will we be able to use our account

Suzanne O'Connell

31 March, 2015 3:20 pm

Firstly you need to establish

Firstly you need to establish what the embargo is for and how much the total debt is. It could be a mortgage, tax payment or traffic fine. 

Usually by the time it gets to an embargo on an account it is difficult to get a stage payment plan in place as the debt will be taken from the account before any payment plans are in place. 

A bank loan would normally involve some expense using a notary and it might also be difficult to get credit for this. You would need to discuss it with the bank. 

If it is council tax that wasn't paid on time if you complete the payment then the embargo will be cleared. 

Sometimes, provided there is money in the account to do it, it is better to allow them to take it off from there rather than trying to paying the original bill in the first place that caused the problem. 

Anthony ellis

19 April, 2015 6:56 pm

Hi I am a resident of spain
Hi I am a resident of spain now for 12yrs. my villa is being repossessed next month, I have tried to negociate with bank to no avail. My question is will the bank embargo my account (it is in a different bank) and if this happens does my account get frozen ?
I have no assets and I only earn 400€ per month plus 360€ invalidity
I understand that the the first 640€ cannot be touched and 30 percent of the remainder will be took. How can I withdraw my invalidity 360€ if my account is frozen ? Thank you very much Tony

Suzanne O'Connell

6 May, 2015 12:10 pm

Hi Anthony

Hi Anthony

I am sorry to hear of your predicament. It is difficult to give a specific answer to this because every case is different. It is perhaps most important, if you haven't done so already, to clarify this with your bank. It is possible that they will take the house and then consider the debt paid off. This wasn't usually the case but there has been a great deal of pressure for banks to do this, rather than the alternative. The alternative being, that they sell the house but the money the house makes is not sufficient to cover the mortgage. If this is the case then in some instances they have continued to chase the money, either through bank accounts in Spain or even in the UK. However, every case is different and you will need to check what the bank's intentions are. 

Chris hardy

17 June, 2015 1:59 pm

Hi I have had a letter about
Hi I have had a letter about an account embargo although not from this year as have done my tax return. Is there a way I can see how much I owe without going to the hacienda as this is difficult for me with work commitments/ or a company that can do this on my behalf? I just need to know how much I owe so ican pay immediately to clear

Suzanne O'Connell

17 June, 2015 2:16 pm

Hi Chris

Hi Chris

If a fiscal advisor has done your tax return this year then I would approach them. They should be able to sort this out for you. If not, it might be an idea to get one. 

Daniel H

29 June, 2015 11:32 am

Hello,
Hello,

My lawyer is applying for an embargo to be applied on the accounts of a Spanish plc who owe me for non-payment of services. We took a court case against them which we won, with costs added.

My lawyer does not give a straight answer when I ask how long should it take for the courts to grant an embargo once it is applied for?

Can you advise?

Thanks.

Suzanne O'Connell

7 July, 2015 9:04 am

Hi Daniel

Hi Daniel

I'm afraid that the courts are very slow here and it also depends on whether the company has any assets to embargo such as cars, property etc. and that then starts another process. It really is anyone's guess as to how long it might take. 

fred

6 July, 2015 6:04 pm

hi, if my car has an embargo
hi, if my car has an embargo on it can it be seized by the Police, i am guessing that it can

Suzanne O'Connell

8 July, 2015 7:13 am

Hi Fred

Hi Fred

I believe that it can be seized by the police but it depends what the embargo is for. 

Geraldine King

25 August, 2015 4:44 pm

Hi, I’ve just received an
Hi, I’ve just received an embargo on our Spanish Bank Account.
We thought there would be enough funds In to cover the bill when we left March.
If we transfer enough funds to cover whatever bill it is will we be ok?
It can’t be much as we usually have it all covered.
Just an oversight as my husband has had cancer and recovering from the op.
Kind regards

Geraldine King

Suzanne O'Connell

29 September, 2015 8:11 am

Hi Geraldine

Hi Geraldine

Thanks for your enquiry. If you transfer sufficient money to cover the bill then they should pay it and your account return to normal. You should contact your bank to check though that this is the case. 

Chris

30 September, 2015 6:55 pm

Is it possible for an
Is it possible for an individual to take out an embargo on a property, like putting a charge against a property in UK ?
If so, is it possible to take out an embargo on a property that you have part ownership of ? I basically want to ensure that I receive the correct amount should the property be sold.

Suzanne O'Connell

7 October, 2015 10:51 am

Hi Chris

Hi Chris

I believe it is only authorities that can embargo a bank account. As long as you are on the title deed then you must be involved in the sale. 

 

ken

1 October, 2015 5:42 am

my house is under embargo
my house is under embargo what do i have to do since my house is not yet paid full we r still paying monthly

Suzanne O'Connell

7 October, 2015 10:58 am

You must contact your bank

You must contact your bank about this and let them know the situation. You would also benefit from taking legal advice from someone who knows the full picture. 

Roger Lines

15 October, 2015 8:02 pm

We had an embargo placed on
We had an embargo placed on our property, car and bank account because we refuse to pay black money concerning the purchase of our villa here in Spain in 2009. This year we decided to pay up – 52000 euros – but now there is a requirement to pay a further 8000 euros to have the embargo discharged. We cannot understand why because all we want to do is pay the embargo and get out. But it seems we are not allowed to make a settlement ourselves and must employ lawyers barristers and land registry. The receiver of the black money will not suffer tax charges nor fines for cheating the tax man – we will.

Suzanne O'Connell

22 October, 2015 9:19 am

Dear Roger

Dear Roger

This does sound like a rather unusual case and with such large quantities of money involved I think it is important that you seek legal advice. 

Sue Doran

10 November, 2015 7:46 pm

Today I found out We have an
Today I found out We have an embargo on our bank account . There is an amount witheld showing of 120euros. Abatement amount 59.00. We have more than the amount witheld. What happens now? Is our account frozen or will they just take one of those amounts!! I’m confused

Suzanne O'Connell

17 November, 2015 8:58 am

Dear Sue

Dear Sue

Normally, where the embargo comes from a  tax collector such as SUMA, then they just block the amount in the account that is owed and you can use the rest of the money that is there. You should contact the bank and check if this is the case. 

ANDREW

22 December, 2015 8:42 pm

hi i have an embargo from the
hi i have an embargo from the city, they told me my name is in the BOE..HOW DO YOU LOOKUP A NAME IN THE BOE??

Suzanne O'Connell

23 December, 2015 8:40 am

Hi Andrew

Hi Andrew

The BOE (Boletín Official del Estado) is published daily in Spanish and consists of lists of names. It is very difficult for a non-Spanish speaker (or Spanish speaker) to realistically find their name. You can access the Boletin by using google and searching for Boletin official del Estado. However, I don't think this will be of much help to you. You could try applying directly to the Spanish Tax Authority who may have made the embargo. There should be a reference number on the embargo that you can use.

Mike Smith

27 February, 2016 6:04 pm

About 20 years ago I was
About 20 years ago I was involved in a court procedure which dragged on for more than 12 years. During this period papers were submitted and statements were presented but there were long periods when nothing happened. Things dragged on, no one actually appeared in the court and then out of the blue in 2007 I had a letter from my lawyer to say the case had been dropped.
Throughout the duration of the case I paid my lawyer every year or so in cash which usually coincided with some development in the proceedings.However, when it was all over my lawyer asked me to come to his office and bring €5000 as an on account payment. I could not afford to pay this, and asked him to produce a bill because although it had been a long time and bearing in mind what I had already paid, as far as I could see he had done very little work. I never received a bill, and shortly after left Spain.
I had no letters or contact since then but then yesterday my Spanish bank account was embargoed by the court. They deducted €1000 and left me with a negative -€400 balance, however the total amount of the Embargo was €40,000.
I keep this account open in order to pay the utility bills and also receive a small Spanish pension.
If I do nothing I imagine each month they will take my pension until it is paid, I calculate it will take 15 years or longer, by which time I will 80 years old if I am lucky to live that long.
I do not have the strength of the money to fight this. What do you think?

Suzanne O'Connell

2 March, 2016 9:10 am

Dear Mike

Dear Mike

What a dreadful situation. You might try speaking to your bank to find out as much as you can about the embargo. This is a very large sum of money. No doubt you have had enough of lawyers, however, you might need to consider finding another one who can look into your case and give you some advice. 

mike thraves

28 February, 2016 9:13 am

Hello , I saw in my account
Hello , I saw in my account that 394 euros had been taken and it was titled embargo.
I have no idea what it is for as every year we do our renta, we did have a problem with council tax, but we have an agreemnet in place of 50 euros a month to pay the outstanding amount.
If they have taken 394, would that be all of it?
I do not know who has taken it, there is only a number at the bottom ,no info as to who took it, I asked the bank and they did not know either, how can i find out?
Thank you for any help that you give

Suzanne O'Connell

2 March, 2016 8:52 am

Dear Mike

Dear Mike

Your bank should be able to say whether the embargo is from Hacienda or Suma or give you some idea where it comes from. Then you need to contact a lawyer or tax advisor to contact the authority who has organised the embargo to find out what it is for and how it can be settled. 

Nick

1 March, 2016 12:49 am

Hello I need an advice
Hello I need an advice urgently, I discovered that I have an embargo on my bank account in Spain, I have 4.300€ which is for the up keep of my family, but the money is still in my account but it’s placed on reteinido (hold) which means I can’t have access to the money. Am confused and feel like dieing I don’t have a cent now

Suzanne O'Connell

2 March, 2016 9:01 am

Dear Nick

Dear Nick

I am very sorry to hear about your predicament. You could begin with finding out from the bank what the embargo is for. Then you need to approach whoever it is who has ordered the embargo to find out exactly what it is for and how the situation can be resolved. Depending on who has ordered the embargo you might need to ask for a tax advisor or lawyer to take up your case. 

Peter Watts

3 March, 2016 5:59 pm

I am normally resident in the
I am normally resident in the UK, but have owned a property in Spain for ten years. All my periodic bills are paid by direct debit. Last month, for the first time, my Spanish account was subject to a sum withheld on account of an embargo issued by the State tax authorities. Previously, my tax obligations have been met without any problems. I have received no correspondence whatever regarding any tax owed, and the bank has no information other than the amount to be arbitrarily deducted. There is no phone number quoted on the ’embargo notice’ for enquiries. What on earth is going on?

Suzanne O'Connell

8 March, 2016 10:47 am

Dear Peter

Dear Peter

You must try asking your bank exactly which authority is claiming the money and then contact them. It could be Catastro, SUMA or the tax office themselves. It might have something to do with your taxes when you bought the property. If you have a tax representative you should ask them to take a look and try and find out what's happening to your account. 

Tim Henry

1 April, 2016 5:35 pm

Hi
Hi
My partner and I stayed in a rented property for 5 1/2 months,we left 15 days ago. During that time all utilities etc were in the name of the Landlord who we paid upon him producing the bills, I paid for 1 year of Garage and Garbage. We were not working, we had no accounts in our name, not mobiles, absolutely nothing, today, I have seen an embargo on my account for 763 Euro, it is blocked from my account until April the 21st. How can there be any embargo when we owe nothing to anyone and received no letters, no requests from anyone for any money in the whole time we were there. All I can imagine is that is an unpaid bill from a previous tenant or that maybe the landlord did not pay the utilities with the money I sent him and I have been stuck with the bill having registered with the Padron. There is no reference on my Bank statement as to what the problem is. Is it possible for this all to happen, How can I default on a payment I was never asked for in the first place. If indeed it was the landlord it does not bode well for him to return the 7500 Euro that I paid as a deposit and am due back in the next 11 days. Completely bemused by it all.

Suzanne O'Connell

6 April, 2016 7:37 am

Hi Tim

Hi Tim

This does sound very strange. All you can do really is to ask the bank, even though there is nothing on your bank statement, the bank should be able to say where it comes from. When you know the source then you can apply to that authority to find out exactly what the embargo is for. 

Jo

13 October, 2016 4:11 pm

I’ve received correspondence
I’ve received correspondence from agencia tributaria demanding payment for more than €6000 with regards to I property I bought in good faith 2years ago. It is in Spanish , unfortunately I don’t understand most of the letter but do realise my property must have been under valued. I’ve tried without success to contact thedepartment which is several miles from my home, no one speaks English, I have limited mobility and ill health, I only want to ask the longest term of repayment they would allow me as i have limited income, I’m so worried.

Suzanne O'Connell

18 October, 2016 8:57 am

Does someone you know speak

Does someone you know speak Spanish? They could perhaps call and find out on your behalf. You can appeal against the payment but must do so within a specified window. You might consult a tax expert to find out if this is a service they offer and if you still have time. 

Roy Hall

27 October, 2016 8:45 pm

I have paid back tax during
I have paid back tax during an amnesty in 2015. All payments have been made to Tributeria. However, immediately after they sent me a late payment fine and ignored the amnesty facility. When my agent approached them they told her they did send a notice for the penalty but they used my Residents address which does not have a post delivery. I had given them both location address and Postal box No. They were informed that this was void or should be for the period of the amnesty. They have still ignored this approach and sent an even extra penalty for ignoring the amnesty period that was never delivered at all. So they sent another penalty to the correct postal POBox. Waht a mess.

owrn

5 January, 2017 10:38 am

Can any one answer if there
Can any one answer if there is an embargo on a property I’m looking to buy is it advisable to stay clear of buying this property even though seller states it’s still legal to buy the property thanks

Suzanne O'Connell

5 January, 2017 11:42 am

Hi

Hi

It will depend upon what stage the embargo is at. In some cases an embargo can lead to a public auction so we would advise that you get a solicitor to check this out before you commit any money to this property. 

Sandra isaac

24 March, 2017 10:15 pm

My suma arrived and I was not
My suma arrived and I was not in a position to pay it. The bill was 303€. Eventually they sent me several reminders and I notice the bill was now 342€. I started paying instalments; 3 payments in January, 2 payments in February and one payment of 20€ beginning of March. I estimate that I still owe 160€. Today my Spanish bank account was embargoed with 42€ going out of my account to Suma. The amount owed on the PDF attached to the payment stated I owe 184€. Can they embargo my account even though I have made regular payments? My account is now overdrawn. Will Suma just keep taking money out until the debt is cleared?

Suzanne O'Connell

28 March, 2017 7:25 am

Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra

Thank you for contacting us. The best thing to do is to contact Suma and ask them. There should be a Suma office in your local town. Suma can take money out of your accounts so it is important that you contact them directly and clarify how much you still owe. 

K hartley

2 April, 2017 11:21 am

I owe the bank €2000.00 in
I owe the bank €2000.00 in credit card debts. I have always paid my bills since 2013. I have lost my income and cannot afford the high monthly payment plus life insurance linked to the credit card. I approached the bank to try and negotiate monthly payment of the debt but they were not interested in helping me. Please advise

Suzanne O'Connell

4 April, 2017 10:40 am

Hi

Hi

You have done the right thing by approaching the bank and the decision about what happens next is down to them. You could try approaching them again or asking to speak to the manager if you didn't do so before. Take with you a clear plan so that they can see you are really committed to clearing the debt. 

Mary teresa

29 April, 2017 8:20 pm

Hi.July 2015 I went to bank
Hi.July 2015 I went to bank to pay my refuse …basura ..the girl in bank wouldn’t accept my money as she said there was no bill that year due to local elections. Kind of a carrot. So they take all my money in my account last November. My account went to nil. I went up the council ..Had to pay the bill with interest. Why couldn’t they deduct my money they seized. Surely they font just keep itthsnks

David brown

2 May, 2017 11:49 am

Hi,
Hi,
I have recieved a big tax bill 2 years after selling my apartment in spain.How can the spainish tax people persue me for this,when i am not living in Spain.

Suzanne O'Connell

3 May, 2017 8:25 am

Hi David

Hi David

Yes, they can follow up any unpaid tax. In this case, as you are the seller, it is likely to be either capital gains tax or plusvalía which are the seller's responsibility. If you used a solicitor during your sale they should have arranged for payment of these and you might want to follow this up with them. 

WENDY KELLY

5 May, 2017 10:29 pm

I am currently going through
I am currently going through a gestor about unpaid tax dating back to 2014. I have a contracted job,& thought tax was paid at source,unfortunately it turns out, it wasn’t. I have had several letters from the Hacienda,which I have passed to my Gestor,the bill currently stands at 2.300 euros. I have paid the fine of 500 euros,however, I keep asking for a breakdown of how they reached this figure,& nothing has been returned. Plus,I cannot afford to pay this all in one go,I will pay but need a payment plan. The latest letter received today,says ‘premio’ which I assume means they are going to embargo my bank account. Can they also send Bailliffs ??..I’m pretty worried,as I cannot pay this bill in one hit… many thanks wendy kelly

Suzanne O'Connell

11 May, 2017 7:13 am

Dear Wendy

Dear Wendy

Thanks for contacting us and I'm sorry to hear this. You need to speak to your gestor and ask him to request the file from the tax office. You then need to apply for staged payments to repay the debt. 

Wendy Wesley

6 June, 2017 12:32 pm

Hi I cancelled my banco
Hi I cancelled my banco Popular account over 16 months ago, I now have a debt collector chasing me on their behalf. Can they put an embargo on my current account with another bank! I have not accessed the account with Banco Popular since closing it in February 2016.

Suzanne O'Connell

14 June, 2017 8:32 am

Hi Wendy

Hi Wendy

It sounds as though some part of the account wasn't closed down fully or correctly. You need to speak with Banco Popular to find out what the problem is. 

Maureen Mckay

19 July, 2017 3:51 pm

Does anyone know if you can
Does anyone know if you can renter Spain without being arrested for owing tax?

What about entering other Spanish islands? Will the same rule applied?

Thanks

Ann Kelleher

7 December, 2017 5:48 pm

The tax office have taken 4
The tax office have taken 4 payments out of my account. I don’t know why. The bank just say it’s the tax office. Statement says Estatal admin Tributaria AEAT. I don’t know who to contact. Can you help me please

Suzanne O'Connell

13 December, 2017 1:42 pm

Hi Ann

Hi Ann

The only way to find out is to go to the tax office. There will be a reference number on the payments. It could be either for tax or the tax office collecting money on behalf of another government body. 

freija Paterson

7 November, 2019 8:19 pm

I have had a large amount embargoed and I have always kept my accounts in order so I cannot understand why. What is the best way to contest it?

Oscar Paoli

12 November, 2019 4:30 pm

Hi,
In order to know the reason of the embargo, you must contact your bank to clarify this matter.
Kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers