How to Cancel Contracts in Spain

contracts_spainWhen you want to cancel a contract, whether it be a monthly subscription, phone or utility contract, it can often be a big hassle, especially if Spanish is not your first language. We’ve put together a guide to help ensure you get it right first time and avoid any additional expense.

General Guidelines

First of all you should check if you have any obligatory minimum period with your supplier. This is a normal clause with phone contracts but sometimes utility contracts or magazine subscriptions can have them too. If the minimum period hasn´t expired, check how much you would have to pay to cancel and then consider if it’s worth waiting instead.

The length of time required to cancel a contract can vary considerably from two days for mobile phones to up to two months for some insurance policies, so even if you cancel a contract today you may still have to pay some additional amounts.

Another trick used by companies is to get you to sign up for multiple products under a single payment, so if you only cancel one of them you may find that you’re still paying for the other services (such as phone insurance or payment protection plans).

Telecoms Services (Landline, Mobile, Broadband)

You can cancel your contract either in person, online or by phone. If you do it by phone you’ll be asked to agree to record the conversation; this is essential to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about what you require. If you change to another company the new company must send you the corresponding paperwork for your signature, which will include the reference number of the recording.

After a couple of days it’s a good idea to call your old company to make sure that all services you no longer require have been cancelled, for example you may still have a maintenance or insurance contract.

If you have any problems, see our article from July with full details about what to do when things go wrong.

Premium Rate SMS

Many people get caught out with premium rate SMS messages and often don’t realise that they have been charged until the monthly bill arrives. Some websites offer free downloads and request your mobile number to send a code for downloads; once they have your number you’ll be sent the codes by premium SMS at up to 10€ per message!

If you receive an SMS message from a number that starts with 79 you should answer only with the word BAJA (in capitals) – this message is free to send. Then it’s a good idea to get in touch with your mobile company and get them to deactivate premium rate SMS messaging services. Even if you haven’t been caught out yet, it’s probably a good idea to deactivate this service anyway; some companies allow you to do this online otherwise call the customer services department.

Insurance Policies

Normally you’ll have to let your company know two months before your policy renewal date that you don’t want to continue and this should be done in writing (registered letter, burofax or email requesting a reply from the company acknowledging receipt).

Remember that if a company has sold you an insurance policy over the phone or online, in most cases if you change your mind when the paperwork arrives you have 14 days to cancel.

Utilities Contracts

If you have the Tarifa de Ultimo Recurso (TUR) contracted, you can cancel at any time, with other tariffs you’ll have to check your contract in case a penalty charge is applied.

Take special care with any maintenance you contracted with a utility company – even though this is invoiced normally together with the monthly consumption, you should make it clear that you want to cancel both the maintenance and the supply contracts. Additionally maintenance contracts often have an obligatory 6 or 12-month minimum payment period, meaning that you could be liable for paying more months without being able to use the service if you cancel early.

It’s therefore a good idea before cancelling to call your utilities company and ask exactly what you have contracted and when you could cancel before incurring any additional charges. Most utilities companies will take between 15 to 30 days to deal with your cancellation request.

Bank Accounts and Bank Cards

Normally if you visit the branch where you opened your account and request to close it, as long as you take the necessary documentation that identifies yourself (and anyone else named on the account) this should be sufficient. Remember to keep a copy of the cancellation form that you will be asked to sign.

Watch out with direct debits that go to the account you want to close. If you’re changing banks, even though your new bank will offer to take care of swapping over your direct debits, it’s usually a good idea to keep your old account open for a month or two just in case.

If you want to cancel a credit card, double check in case you also signed up for a payment protection plan – if so you’ll have to cancel this as well.


European legislation allows consumers a period of up to 59 days to return a direct debit once the bank has debited the money from your account, which is useful if once you’ve cancelled a contract the company accidently requests payment from your bank. For this reason it’s generally easier to pay for subscriptions such as magazines, gyms, donations to NGOs, etc via a direct debit rather than a regular credit card payment as these can be more difficult to cancel.

But watch out if you return a direct debit by mistake and the company has to issue it again as you’ll be charged up to around 10€.

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