How to act if you are a victim

IBAN Discrimination in Spain

06 / May

If you have a EURO IBAN account set up in the UK or any other SEPA country and any bank or company in Spain has refused your bank details for direct debit or charged a beneficiary additional fees for receiving money from your EURO IBAN account, you should know that you have just fallen victim to IBAN discrimination – which is not only inconvenient to you but also illegal (specifically a violation under Article 9 of the SEPA Regulation).

Companies, other banks or governments cannot discriminate against your Euro IBAN because of its country code, length or any other reason. If you face similar situations like any of the below, then you’re facing IBAN discrimination:

  • You want to set up direct debits on your Spanish home electricity bill but they refuse to accept any IBAN that doesn’t start with ES
  • If for online bank payments are required to input 24 characters, the domestic Spanish IBAN length and they won’t accept any other lenght
  • The Tax Authority based in Spain, refuses to allow direct debits on an IBAN which doesn’t start with ES
  • The Spanish bank of the Community charges additional fees if the transfer is coming from a different country than Spain, whilst not charging for domestic transfers

The International Bank Account Number, or IBAN for short, is a unique combination of up to 34 letters and numbers used to identify a bank account from millions around the world. Since 2014, banks across Europe adapted the IBAN as a way to standardise Euro payments. IBANs begin with a 2 digit country code which denotes where the account is based. The SEPA agreement ensures that regardless of where you are within the SEPA zone, you can use that IBAN to send and receive EUR payments and set up EUR direct debits without discrimination, meaning that if a bank charges for transfers, receipt of funds or direct debits, they cannot differentiate these charges as long as the transactions take place between Euro IBAN accounts from SEPA member states.

Your EURO IBAN account details should be accepted everywhere in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) without additional charges

If you’re experiencing IBAN discrimination, you can take a few simple steps to resolve it. First, send them a formal written complaint, explaining that it is against the law. You can translate the text to Spanish with Deeple:

To whom it may concern,

My Euro-denominated IBAN [insert your IBAN] is a valid account that supports SEPA payments.

[Explain the situation you faced with as much detail as possible, including the transaction you are trying to complete and how you were refused]

Please authorise my details in your systems to allow direct debits and credit transfers to my account. IBAN discrimination is a violation of Article 9 of the SEPA Regulation and refusal to comply will be reported to the relevant authority.

Kind regards,
[Your name]

If they still do not comply following your formal complaint, report them to the relevant authority  in your country, providing as much detail as possible. The relevant authority in Spain is:

Banco de España
E-mail :


Consumer Authorities
Subdirectorate-General for coordination, quality and cooperation in consumer affairs
E-mail: subdirecció

To whom it may concern,

[Insert company committing IBAN discrimination] continues to refuse my Euro-denominated IBAN following a formal compliant I submitted.

[Explain the situation you faced with as much detail as possible, including the transaction you are trying to complete, how you were refused, and attach your formal complaint]

Please order them to stop this IBAN discrimination.

Kind regards,
[Your name]

Also, inform your local bank about the discrimination you are suffering from companies or other banks and ask them to act, or report it on


Roeland van Passel