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What you need to know about cashing cheques in Spain

The Local Spain
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What you need to know about cashing cheques in Spain
People walk past the Bank of Spain (Banco de Espana) in Madrid. Here's what you need to know about cashing cheques in Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

What type of bank cheques are there in Spain? How and where can you cash them? What about if it's an international cheque? And most importantly how long until you get your money?

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In the online world of the 21st century and near total digitalisation of the banking sector, bank cheques are becoming less and less common and can seem like a thing of the past.

In 2023, almost all payments we make are made by debit or credit card, often done on our smartphones, which in Spain is through Bizum, or in cash.

READ ALSO: Bizum: Why you probably need this free payment app for life in Spain

So what happens if someone gives you a cheque in Spain? What type of bank cheques are there in Spain? How and where can you cash them? What about if it's an international cheque? And, most importantly, how long until you get your money?

The Local has broken down the essentials you need to know about cashing cheques in Spain.

Cashing cheques in Spain

As a general rule, banks can cash cheque in one of two ways in Spain: either the bank will cash it and pay it to you when it has completed all the checks, or it will advance the amount to your account.

Technically speaking, you can cash a cheque in the post office in Spain, but only a cheque from your own bank, so if it is a cheque from another bank you cannot cash it directly at a post office.

For certain types of domestic bank cheques, always bear in mind that although the payment, even though it appears in your account, is not final and could theoretically be withdrawn from your account at a later date if there is a problem with the cheque.

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How to cash a cheque in Spain

First, before anything else, check that the information on the cheque is correct.

For you to be able to cash it without any problems, there is a whole host of information that must be correct, such as the details of the person or company paying out the cheque, the name of the bank from which it is issued, the signature of the payer.

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Don't forget that the word "cheque" must appear somewhere on the document, and double check that your name and details are spelled correctly as certain types of cheques in Spain (and certain amounts) require identification.

Cash it as soon as possible. Get down to the bank that appears on the cheque and go to the counter and explain you want to cash your cheque.

If there are two bars on your cheque, then you have been given a crossed cheque that cannot be cashed, but the amount will be paid into your account.

According to Banco de España, the established term for cashing a cheque issued and payable in Spain is 15 days from when the cheque was written (the issue date), according to Spanish banking law.

Foreign cheques

Though cashing cheques in Spain is a relatively simple process, it can be a little more complicated (and lengthy) for foreign cheques, and the uncertainty is greater because return deadlines are different depending on the country.

In some cases, receiving the money can take weeks.

If the amount to be cashed is equal to or greater than €1,000, you will have to identify yourself with some form of official identification such as your NIE, TIE or passport.

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Different types of bank cheque in Spain

Cheque cruzado

The crossed cheque (cheque cruzado) mentioned earlier does not allow immediate cash collection, as the money must be deposited in the payee's current account. These cheques are identifiable by the two parallel red lines vertically across the front of the cheque. It is also endorsable, i.e. it can be cashed by a third party if the payee authorises it.

There are also two more specific types of crossed cheques: the ‘general’ crossed cheque in general and the crossed cheque ‘en particular’. The latter includes the name of the bank between the cross lines and can only be cashed at that specific bank.

You cannot not modify or delete a crossed cheque in any way.

Cheque al portador

A bearer cheque (cheque al portador) does not bear the name of the payee, so it can be cashed by anyone. In fact, it is the most common type of bank cheque in Spain and in most countries.

Unlike other cheques, instead of the name of the payee, only the word "bearer" has to be written in the payee section. It is normally used to pay small amounts of money or when the beneficiary of the cheque funds is unknown.

The main disadvantage is that in case of loss or theft, the person in possession of the cheque will be able to cash the money. Therefore, it is recommended that the person signing the cheque does not sign it without giving it directly to the payee.

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Cheque bancario nominativo

A nominative bank cheque bears the name and surname of the payee and can only be cashed by the person to whom it is addressed.

Technically speaking, endorsement is also possible, that is to say, the cheque can be passed on to another person and the full amount of the cheque can be cashed by that person without any conditions.

There are two ways of cashing a nominative cheque: in cash, by identifying the collector, and by clearing the cheque, by depositing it in a bank account held by the payee.

It is important to know that if the cheque is cashed at a branch office and not at the issuing branch, the beneficiary will have to bear the fees for checking the cheque, such as verifying whether the signature on the cheque corresponds to that of the account holder and the available balance on the account, and so on.

Bank cheque

The bank cheque is a payment instrument used by banks. It is a document bearing the signature of the issuing bank, which is a guarantee for cashing the cheque.

A distinction must be made between the bank cheque and the personal cheque: in the case of the bank cheque, the issuing bank is the bank, and therefore guarantees the collection of the cheque. In the case of a personal cheque, if there are no funds in the issuer's account, the cheque cannot be cashed.

To cash a bank cheque, you can do so at a bank, at a cash point, and many banks now even allow you to cash bank cheques via their online banking apps and services.

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