I’ve had enough concerned enquiries now to warrant a post about a looming deadline that seems to have been talked up to induce panic. As a result of money laundering legislation introduced in April 2010, banks have until 30 April to verify the ID of any customers they haven’t already got confirmed ID for. This is all banks in Spain, and on 1 May, or the 2nd really because the 1st is a public holiday, they are saying that accounts will be frozen in any cases where ID remains unconfirmed.

Please note that the requirement only applies to bank customers for whom the bank does not already hold digital copies of their documentation, i.e. passport for British account holders, Certificado de Registro for resident accounts, and possibly confirmation of economic information (perhaps the last tax return, or confirmation of autonomo status, depending on what is requested). There is a great deal of annoyance among both public and commentators that the banks have had the past five years to organize this, and that having left it until the last minute, they are now working flat out, into the evenings often, to get everything done in time – and if they don’t manage to achieve that, it will be the public who suffer.

Anyone who is in any doubt as to whether their bank has their confirmed ID should contact their bank urgently, but if it is a relatively new account, within the last few years, there will be no need for concern because all accounts opened since the legislation came into force have required digital ID in any case. Moreover, it is the banks’ responsibility to chase this up, not the customer’s, so if they haven’t been in touch, there really is little cause for concern. The only people with a potential problem are those whom the bank needs to contact but cannot because their contact details are not correct or are not up to date.

The main thing for everyone to bear in mind given the hype is that if an account is frozen on 2 May for lack of confirmed ID, it will be reopened immediately on presentation of the documents needed. The situation is not one that a concerned bank customer should ignore, but it is not cause for worry either. I hope this helps clarify the situation.

This article has 40 Comments

  1. I visited Banco Sabadell yesterday with our documents and some of my Clients documents and the Manager said quote “he could kill whoever printed this in the paper” as they have been inundated with people bringing in documents, emailing, telephoning! He did check all our documents and they did already have all the required copies!

  2. Thanks for that Janet, have been here more than 8 years, and have produced ID when I changed my address, eg last October, but I was planning to go and queue up today, just in case. I don’t think I need to do that now, after your advice.

  3. Thanks Janet, I’ve lived here 8 years, and showed ID when I moved house, eg last October, but was preparing to go to Bank and queue today, as was concerned. I won’t bother now, so thanks for info.

  4. Not so! My account was blocked 1stApril. Bank has digital ID and all current contact details plus passport. I even have a letter confirming the details I gave about my status last year is valid for two years. No letter asking for information was sent out. No contact made, account was blocked. I have again provided the information as requested but still having problems with direct debits, even though bank says it is not blocked. Its very frustrating and causing problems as the electric company cannot process payment and I run the risk of being cut off. Thanks Bankia!

  5. The account will not have been blocked for this reason, and in fact the bank seems to be saying it is not blocked. I’m afraid your situation has nothing to do with this issue.

  6. What can I say? My bank told me that is the reason. Certainly there was money in the account (and still is). When I asked why no letter requesting information was sent out, the cashier replied ‘This is Spain’ and shrugged his shoulders. This is my experience, sorry it does not meet with your expectations! I certainly wish it did and that my bank adhered to the 1stMay deadline.

  7. It’s not a question of my expectations, it’s a question of the law. No accounts can be frozen in respect of this issue until 1 May. If you are being told differently by your bank, they are misinforming you. Having said that, you mention Bankia, so nothing would surprise me, and for that reason I would seek legal advice.

  8. I think this may be more of a problem for non-residents, who have had their accounts for more than 10 years in which case their passport number will have changed. The problem arises if, as Janet says, the contact details are not up to date.

  9. Thanks Janet!

    As one of the people presently sitting in the bank working late for no extra pay in order to phone clients for whom we do not yet have their ID….

    Anyone with a Santander account who has access to their accounts online or through the mobile app should see a notice when they log in only if their ID is not already scanned, with a link to upload their own photo of their ID directly through the app or website.
    Just because you have not heard from us unfortunately does not necessarily mean your account is ok. We still have a very long list of clients to get through…

  10. Also worth noting that while accounts will be unblocked upon digitalisation of the ID, the nature of the block means that no transfers or direct debits will be honoured during the block.

  11. Its a pity that the bank did not inform us instead of our cleaning company sending us a email informing us of the facts, but then this is Spain

  12. your bank cannot inform anyone else on behalf of your personal account unless you have given them power of attorney …

  13. We have been with Santander for 15 years as non residents but have not had any notification from them to my knowledge. We are in the UK.
    I am rather anxious that my direct debits may be affected, does anyone have the phone no. please for the Santander Las Americas branch? Unfortunately, unlike other banks, Santander doesnt have a website in English

  14. Dazzler, Santander left it especially late and only began their campaign two weeks before the deadline. This is not enough time for us to notify everybody. The main branch in Las Americas can be contacted on +34 922 793962. I expect the English helpline will also be able to assist and they operate until 7pm our time: 91 273 7090.

  15. Thank you Nova! For those who don’t know, Nova is a Santander employee, so is inside guaranteed information.

  16. Nova we sent our docs to the email provided by santander when they emailed us one week ago about this. We received no confirmation that they had even received or accepted our documents. I did therefore take copies in to our branch yesterday and these were put on a pile. Why did santander leave it until one week before the deadline when they have had 5 years to sort it out? A friend of mine who lives in uk received an sms and thought it was a phishing scam, he didn’t understand the Spanish

  17. Hi Carol, I wish I could answer that! I know what I suspect the reason is for leaving it until the last minute but it wouldn’t be good PR for me to say it here ☺ Only yesterday were we sent notices to stick around the branch about this and today it was announced that some branches will be provided with a dedicated “smartphone” with an app to photograph and upload customer IDs directly. That might have seemed like a clever idea 6 months ago…

    If you have sent your scans to the email address provided, they will be on their way into the system. I think the central digitalization department has a bit of a backlog due to the saturation… and no, no confirmations are being sent.

  18. Unbelievable what a farce typical thanks for your Replies Nova you did used to work at my branch before being moved!

  19. We sent the copies of our passports to the bank by e-mail almost a month ago, we didn’t hear back. After several times trying to reach the bank we repeatedly sent the documents and finally, 28th of April we get the answer that not all the information is in place and we need to send more documentation (Contrato laboral. Declaración IRPF, Justificante otros ingresos, Mod.verificación de actividad economica, Certificado de haberes). And now I am confused-I read about the need to present copies of ID, should I worry about all other documentation too? As we are not residents in Spain, our work contracts are in different than Spanish or English language. Really, why do they need work contracts from other counties in foreign language?

  20. Thank you Nova, I will phone them to check then. As you work at Santander I wonder if you know why they refuse to have an English website, as many other Canarian banks do so? I am unable to carry out any on- line banking and am seriously considering changing to Banca March.
    I do realise I should really speak the local language, but most northern europeans including the Dutch, Norwegians etc speak English fluently so it would help them also.
    I asked an English employee at Santander once if they would consider a multi lingual website and he said he quite agreed with me but Santander had an entrenched attitude, it was a question of “we are Spanish so that is the language we carry out business in”

  21. i have accounts with both Barclays and La Caixa (becoming one entity in May) at different branches and a quick EMAIL to both confirmed they had what was required from us to avoid an embargo.
    I bank both online and with the mobile app and there is no doubt that frequent checking of your relevant accounts is a good way to ensure that you are always up to speed with any communications from the banks.

  22. I have a Santander.es bank account and online access with an option to logon to the English version of the santander.es website for online banking. I accept the main part of the website is in Spanish. I also have a Banco Popular bank account and they too have a english online option.

  23. Hi Sniff -thanks for that info, I have looked at their website and can only see an option for espanol or catalan? Can you point me in the right direction? I typed in bancosantander.es. Thank you

  24. Dazzler, as I mentioned its only in English for the online banking aspect, everything else is in Spanish.

    To use the online bit you will have needed to gone into your Santander branch in Tenerife to arrange for it to be setup for you and receive your password etc and be given a quick demo on how to logon ! and to sign the multitude of forms that come with online banking.

    Without being able to logon online you will be underwhelmed by the bit in English

    However, to see something in English, on the front page to the righthand side, click on the white area that has ‘accesso clientes’.

    This takes you to the online banking area, top right on this page you will see ‘English’, click here and hey presto something in English !

  25. Just to add a bit to sniff’s instructions, the “English” option is only available before you actually log in, that is on the log in page. Once you’ve logged in you can’t change to English without logging out.
    Once logged in you are presented with the big warning about the ID, in Spanish. Unfortunately this warning is actually an image (picture) and not “real” text so copying and pasting into a translation tool is not possible.

  26. Just thought I would share my own experience of this saga. I arrived back in Tenerife after a three month holiday in the Far East, at the beginning of March and attempted to withdraw cash from a local ATM -the card was rejected! After contacting the bank (Sabadell) I was told to bring my documents to my local branch which I duly did. The person in the bank was very apologetic and said I should have received notification. I did ask then, why I needed to present my documents as the account had been transferred from Lloyds International with the takeover by Sabadell). I was then told that during the transfer “many client files were lost”!!!
    What more can I say??

  27. Thanks to everyone for the advice. Once last thing, I thought I saw an email address somewhere where I could forward scanned documents to Santander, now I can’t find it!
    Nova thanks for the two phone no. you gave me, unfortunately they are so busy I am permanently left in a queue so going to email instead.

  28. IP, interesting what you say about a big warning re the ID when you logon to Santander online banking.

    I dont get this but have already sorted out the ID issue so maybe they are targetting those that are still to be processed ? Have you sorted your ID out ?

  29. The santander image when you login isn’t specific it is exactly the same as,email we got from them. Just says email documents to the special email address, sorry can’t remember what it is. We have emailed and taken document s in and was still presented with this warning

  30. The email to send your scans directly to Santander is the delightfully short and memorable documentacionidentificacion@gruposantander.com.

    As far as I know the warning on the online banking welcome page is targeted at those whose ID is still missing (I don’t see it), however, there seems to be a delay of a week or so between receiving the documents and updating the “who’s missing” database, so if you have already sent your documents but are still getting reminders, no need to worry. Sending documents a second time will only add to the backlog.

  31. sniff, Nova
    Have I sorted my ID? – good question….
    I don’t visit the branch very often but had occasion to do so twice in March, both to withdraw funds and so had to show my passport. On the first occasion my passport was scanned – I never asked why but in retrospect it might have been for this purpose.
    On the second occasion I was told my passport details didn’t match those on record but I still got my money. I assumed that the reason was the recorded details were 12 years old and so it was an old passport. This had never happened before but, again in retrospect, perhaps the detailed were being checked for this purpose.
    Having read this thread I assumed that my ID had been sorted at my first visit but emailed a scan on 28th April, just in case.
    The warning image is (was?) in a position that is usually used for promotional adverts and if you ticked the “don’t show me this again” box then it won’t. I didn’t and I was still seeing it yesterday but not today. Perhaps it’s mow gone because the due day has gone or because my emailed scan has been recorded but, if it’s the latter, the branch scan in March mustn’t have been on the system.

    (I don’t get emails from Santander and so never got an email warning – I can’t find a way to give the bank my email address.)

  32. Sounds like you’re ok then, InterestedParty. When you were in the branch your passport may just have been photocopied to be filed with the paper copy of your transaction, and not actually scanned. However, anybody who has made a cash transaction of €1,000 or more since December should have had their ID scanned as part of the operation, meaning they will already be in the system.

    You can add an email address after you are logged in to internet banking. There’s a link across the top that says “Personal Area” (Area Personal on my Spanish one, anyway) which takes you to a page of other links, one of which is add new contact details. You can add an email address there.

  33. IP, there is a way of advising your email address by logging into Online banking, clicking on ‘personal area’ which is one of the options at the top of the screen after logging in and going to ‘add new contacts details’.

    However, you will need to be able to receive a code on your spanish mobile to then input the code to your online banking account to complete the verification process.

    I’m off to Spain tomorrow so will be able to add my email address, not sure what the benefit will be – maybe get loads of junk mail in Spanish that I wont be able to understand !

  34. Nova, sniff, I’ve already tried that but when I try to access the add new contact details I always get the following error message:
    El identificador y/o la clave no son válidos.
    Por favor introduzca de nuevo el identificador y la clave de acceso.
    Obviously this does not make any sense (to me) because I correctly entered my username and password to log into online banking and onwards to this section in the first place.

    Nova, both transactions in March were over €1000 so, as you say, I should be OK.

  35. IP, sadly can’t help with your issue but I’m sure someone will be looking in and be able to help but thanks for the prompt re the add a contact. I have just done it and thankfully without a problem.

    After selecting ‘add a contact’ it went into the email/mobile number request, then input of selected characters from my ‘electronic id’ and then input of code sent to my mobile phone. Good luck and hope your problem gets resolved asap.

  36. We live in U.K. and have a property which we visit in the Canaries only once a year. Banco Santander failed to contact us regarding the ID of passports they required. (although they have all our email addresses and home address and tel. no. and online contact details.) What more did they need!!!
    Unknown to us they blocked our account and returned 5,000 euros to the payee.
    This deposit was from a debtor & had taken over a year for him to pay the money. Now we cannot get it back and six months down the line, the Bank does not seem to care.

  37. RENE2, the same has just happened to us even though I sent an email last April with attached scanned passports to the address given by Nova at the time. A bank transfer – GBP to EUR – was returned indicating that the bank details were incorrect, even though they were stored in the system. The amount returned in GPB was about £90 less then I sent. I tried again with re-entered bank details and the same happened, including the GBP loss.

    By chance we were in Lanzarote so called into the bank to ask if they had indeed returned the transfers. They said they had because they needed scanned passports and they scanned them, took my email address, and said try again in 3 days, which I did. A couple of days later I got an email from the bank to say I urgently needed to provide scans of the passports. I replied to say that they had just scanned them and then telephoned the person who sent the email. She said “no problem” and everything would be OK and the transaction would be approved, which is was. But we are now about £180 down.

  38. I fear that having left it until so late in the day, banks generally have caused umpteem people many problems … and will now say that their hands are legally tied and that they can do nothing. I understand from Santander that there are people who have tried unsuccessfully six or so times to validate their information – despite this being the bank’s responsibility ,,,

    The bank’s response to anyone who was waiting for a significant sum will be – I guarantee – that the client should have been more proactive, despite this being the bank’s responsibility …

    The only recourse I can see is to engage a lawyer to chase the debtor directly, and forget trying to get anything sensible out of any bank …

  39. It seems also that SEPA is not accepted by the administrations and suppliers (water, electricity, telephone). They are nevertheless obliged by the law to do it.

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