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LIFE IN SPAIN

Driving in Spain: How to find out if you’ve been fined or points taken off your licence

If you have committed a traffic offence in Spain, you will typically receive a fine or have points taken off your driving licence, but what happens if you don't receive the notifications? Here's how you check.

Driving in Spain: How to find out if you’ve been fined or points taken off your licence
How to check if you've got points on your licence in Spain. Photo: CESAR MANSO / AFP

If you have committed a traffic offence in Spain, such as speeding, you will usually be fined or have points taken off your driving licence, however sometimes not everyone will receive the notifications and therefore not know when to pay the fine by. 

This could be because you have changed your address and did not update it with the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), you were travelling at the time, or the notification simply did not arrive.

Even if you weren’t notified, there is a simple way to find out if you have a fine or a point on your licence, which was published in the Official State Gazette (BOE).

READ ALSO: Driving in Spain: The five new fines traffic authorities want to roll out in September

An edict will be published on an electronic bulletin board – the Unique Edictal Board of the BOE (TEU), where you will be able to look up any points taken off your licence or recent fines. You can access it HERE.

Access to the TEU is free for all residents in Spain and you can consult the notice board whenever you want, in order to stay up to date with the penalties and other traffic violations you may have committed.  

To see if you appear in the edicts published in the TEU, you need to access the DGT’s electronic headquarters. To this, you wont need your digital certificate but will need to enter your ID details, such as NIE, TIE or similar.  

READ ALSO: Access all areas: how to get a digital certificate in Spain to aid online processes

“In case that the address of the offender is unknown, the law also establishes that the notification of the sanction can be done by publishing the details on the TEU”, the BOE states. 

After the notification has been published on the TEU for 20 days, the law considers that notification has been made and the procedure has been completed.  

The publication will be available on the BOE website for a further three months, after that period the notification details will only be accessible by means of a verification code, the CVE, which you must request from the DGT. 

The Driver Safety e-mail Address – DEV

Another easy way to check is by signing up to Driver Safety e-mail Address or DEV. The DEV is an electronic notification system, which was created to contact vehicle owners by e-mail instead of by post.

You can register for this on the DGT website HERE. Once you are registered for this service, you will stop receiving paper notifications and will only get digital ones instead.

This means that won’t need to worry if you do not receive a paper notification in time. You will also receive an SMS every time you receive a digital notification on the system, meaning that you’ll know exactly when you’ve received an e-mail too. 

The electronic system allows you to prove the date and time you received the notification and when you opened it, proving that you’ve actually received it.

If the notification is sent to the DEV and you do not access it within 10 days, the notification will be considered as rejected and they may try to contact you via other means or it may be published on the TEU. 

Even if you sign up to the DEV, the DGT stresses that it’s still important that you update all your details with them, including your current postal address.

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MONEY

Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.

READ MORE:

Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 

 

Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.

Santander

Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.

BBVA

The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.

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