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It is now possible to receive Spanish VAT refunds in a foreign bank account. The Spanish tax authorities recently amended the VAT form to include a section where taxpayers can provide the IBAN details of a SEPA bank account. Marosa received a confirmation of these changes in our Twitter account from the Spanish tax authorities.
Before this change, VAT registered companies had to open a Spanish bank account to receive a refund. They could also request a cheque via a long administrative procedure. Companies can now use their bank account in any another SEPA country for their Spanish VAT refunds. SEPA stands for Single European Payments area and it covers all EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland (there are a few exclusions like overseas territories).
The conditions and reporting obligations to receive VAT refunds in Europe change from one country to another. Some jurisdictions automatically transfer VAT credits to the taxpayer. Other countries like France require an additional form to be submitted together with the VAT return. UK, for example, only refunds the amount into a UK bank account (a cheque can be requested) and certain jurisdictions tend to carry an audit before accepting a VAT refund request. The frequency in which refunds are allowed also changes in each jurisdiction, Spain only allows VAT refunds once a year (with exceptions) whereas in Norway you can get weekly VAT refunds by filing your VAT returns once a week.
Read more about VAT refunds in our article EU VAT Refunds. Recover VAT through your VAT return or separate refund claims?