Abandoned bank accounts, what to do with them?

Many people manage more than one bank account. They have a principal, in which they move the bulk of their money, they can have others for various reasons (a credit, a mortgage, some investment) and perhaps some more that have been “stopped”, in which they have little balance and that They usually use for nothing.

The problem may arise when the account, instead of being simply “stopped”, is abandoned, because, then, we can lose our money.

What is an abandoned bank account

According to the Law 33/2003, of November 3, of the Patrimony of the Public Administrations:

The General Administration of the State is responsible for the securities, money and other movable property deposited in the General Deposit Fund and in credit institutions, companies or securities agencies or any other financial entities, as well as the balances of current accounts, savings accounts. or other similar instruments opened in these establishments, for which no management has been carried out by the interested parties implying the exercise of their right to property within 20 years.

This means that if we have a current account over which we do not make movements in 20 years, it becomes the property of the State.

In addition, not only money is included, but all movable property deposited in credit institutions, securities agencies and other financial entities (which can include shares, investment funds, fixed income securities …).

What requirements must be met

The Law indicates that it refers to those goods in respect of which the interested parties have not practiced any management. Therefore, the simple charge of periodic commissions by the bank is not sufficient for the account not to be considered abandoned.

The entities must communicate annually to the Ministry of Economy the existence of these abandoned accounts.

Three months before it reaches 20 years, the entities must send a certified mail to the owner of the account that is going to be considered as abandoned so that it has the opportunity to know this situation and remedy it.

In any case, this communication is sent to the last registered address, so if the person has not updated it properly and now resides in another site, he will not receive it. In this case, an announcement will be published in the BOE (which, on the other hand, is unlikely to be read by the interested party) and, finally, if it does not appear within the stipulated period, it becomes state ownership.

How much money passes each year to the State

Although it may seem that it is not very usual for this to happen, the fact is that adding a little money here and another little there (tacita tacita, which said the ad), the State pockets a nonnegligible figure every year.

Thus, in the last ten years, the State has entered this concept almost 83 million euros.

What does that money do?

Recently, the Public Sector Information Reuse Law has introduced a modification in this sense, so that the money paid for this concept goes to the Royal Board on Disability to finance the development of the Program for the Improvement of Educational Conditions of the People with disabilities.

What bank transfers are now.

For some years now, we have all become accustomed to the fact that, in order to make a bank transfer, we no longer need only the CCC (Client Account Code) but also our IBAN code. But do we really know why?

The appearance of a new identification of the bank account through the IBAN – composed of our current CCC preceded by the country code and a control digit – dates back to the entry into force in February 2014 of the so-called SEPA Zone (Single Euro Payment Area = Single Euro Payment Area). It involves the 28 EU members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, and Switzerland, and allows all transfers between accounts of these countries have the same conditions, obligations, and rights. This means that since SEPA was created, a transfer between an account in Paris and another in Madrid or between one in Berlin and another in Lausanne is just as easy and quick as one between an account in Madrid and another in Bilbao. Hence, the identification of the bank account must also provide information on the country code and hence also that the distinction between national transfers and international transfers has become obsolete to make way for a new division between SEPA transfers and non-SEPA transfers.

To apply SEPA in Spain, the instruction SNCE (NATIONAL SYSTEM OF ELECTRONIC COMPENSATION) / CE / 13/005 published by iberpay (Spanish Society of Payment Systems) says the following:


  • “All entities participating in the SNCE 13 subsystem must be prepared, at least as beneficiary entities, to be able to process the transfers they receive from the rest of the entities that will be liquidated on the same day of their presentation.” This means that all Spanish banks have the obligation to pay the transfer into the customer’s account on the same day it arrives.


  • “The SEPA transfers must be presented at their scheduled exchange time, that is, between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm, so that they can be settled on the same day.” This means that all Spanish banks should be able to offer the SEPA transfer modality on the same day, establishing a cut-off time prior to the cut-off time of the SNCE (3:00 PM) so that it has time to present them.


At present, there are some entities that propose this modality of transfer on the same day, but most charge for this service. At Self Bank, if the client makes his SEPA transfer before 13:00, he will arrive at the destination entity on the same day, at no cost. Transfers made after 13:00 are paid the next day.

Leaving aside the SEPA transfers, let’s now talk about the non-SEPA transfers, which are those that include transfers to non-SEPA countries – also known as SWIFT transfers – and Urgent transfers – also known as OMF (order of Movement of Funds). ) or transfers via Bank of Spain. In reality, both – both SWIFT and Urgent – pass through the Bank of Spain. They do not travel through the SNCE, but through TARGET 2, a system of movements between treasury accounts of the Bank of Spain among financial entities. To process them, it is, therefore, necessary that the bank has an account with the Bank of Spain.

Transfers that travel to non-SEPA countries also do so through the SWIFT inter-bank messaging system. As for the urgent, they continue to be used, albeit less, due to their cost (between 0.25 and 0.35%, generally of the amount) and to the appearance of the new modality of transfer on the same day for SEPA transfers.