Spanish banks applying Brexit charges on international transfers to and from the UK?

News has reached me of some banks applying post-Brexit charges to international money transfers to and from the UK. Has anyone had this problem?

International transfers are hard to avoid if you live as an expat in Spain, or own a second home here. So charges on international transfers are an extra cost you don’t need, especially if they are unjustified.

I was recently sent an email saying “In contravention of EU law Spanish banks are ignoring the instruction that IBAN transfers between countries of the Eurozone up to €12,500 between private citizens should be free. Of course, the UK is not in the Eurozone, but the general idea is pettifogging action against British citizens.”

Another source points out that “The UK is still in the SEPA zone and part of the SEPA agreement is no charges.” This means that any banks applying transfer charges “are unilaterally acting in breach of European Council Regulations.” In theory, “any charges that are applied should really be refunded on complaint.” But most people don’t complain, so they get away with it.

I have seen articles and discussions online suggesting this problem is not limited to Spain. Second-home owners and expats in France and Italy are reporting similar charges.

I’m also seeing reports of Spanish utilities rejecting direct debits to UK Euro accounts, which could cause a huge headache for British owners of second homes in Spain, forcing them to open Spanish bank accounts, and potentially get hit by charges on international money transfers. 

Now that the UK is finally out of the EU, I’d like to get a better picture of what is going on with international transfers, and direct debits to Euro accounts in the UK. If anyone has been hit by new charges or problems with direct debits, I’d love to hear from you. You can use the contact form below to send me a message.

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Thoughts on “Spanish banks applying Brexit charges on international transfers to and from the UK?

  • Hi Mark,
    Yes you are correct. Since early December I have been charged by Sabadell for making Euro credits to my bank account. I have euros sat in my account with Smartcurrency, which is essentially Barclays but it is located in Ireland. I made two transfers this month of 1500€ and 500€ to our current account. Each one cost me 18€ in fees and as they say taxes! What taxes? Never before had they done that. Also I have a UK Teachers pension paid direct to the same account and for just over 325€ credit they charged me 15€ for that! That was way before Brexit happened in November and came out of the blue. I have emailed them 3 times for explanations and they garble some message about all account having certain annual / monthly charges now and it depends what type of account we have. I made sure that I upgraded to an account in 2018 whereby as long as you made a 77€ a month credit you had no fees. That’s clearly not the case now. They told me to go see the local manager. But you cannot get in the door for long queues, even in a tiny village here. Time to start keeping cash under the bed again I think. So if you have any ideas on any new fee free bank accounts, I would be really grateful.
    Thanks for all your great information. Sally

  • I have been charged by LaCaixa 15€ for two transfers, one from MoneyCorp and another from TorFX. To be fair LaCaixa did warn me it might happen due to ‘tariffs’ but I’m still not happy with it

  • This isn’t, unfortunately, unusual for transfers coming into Spain from outside of the EU. Our bank, Sabadell, hits us with similar charges on transfers from the USA.

    The alternative is to use something like Transferwise. Great service, convenient to use.

    The issue of payments, on the other hand, and not following the SEPA regulations, is not surprising. I have had Spanish entities tell me I *must* use a Spanish bank, even though the SEPA regulations are quite clear.

    Even the Spanish healthcare system in Valencian Community violates this; on one form that is TITLED “SEPA transfers” the funcionarios insisted that it must be a Spanish IBAN number/bank!

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