Either credit institutions or non-credit institutions may undertake consumer credit activities in Spain.
Credit institutions: reserved activity
Spanish credit institutions are subject to a special regulatory regime, which is much stricter than in other economic sectors, and to the supervision of the Bank of Spain (Banco de España). Law 26/1988 of 29 July 1988, on Discipline and Intervention of Credit Institutions provides the general supervision framework for credit institutions. Pursuant to this legislation, credit institutions must comply with a set of standards concerning transparency in operations and customer protection, among others.
According to Royal Legislative Decree Number 1298/1986 of 28 June 1986, credit institutions (Entidades de Crédito) are business entities related to the indirect intermediation of credit, subject to prior authorization and further supervision by the Bank of Spain. They are obliged to provide funds to deposit guarantee funds (Fondo de Garantía de Depósitos) and register with the Bank of Spain’s Register of Entities (Registro de Entidades del Banco de España). The following entities are considered credit institutions:
- Banks (public limited-liability companies)
- Savings banks
- Credit cooperatives (which also are regulated by the Autonomous Communities)
Non-financial institutions: non-reserved activity
However, in the case of non-credit institutions carrying out Consumer Credit Activities, these institutions are not registered with the Bank of Spain and fall outside the Bank of Spain’s supervision. These institutions are subject to Consumer authorities and in particular to the following legislations:
- General regime: Law 1/2007, of 16 November 2007, on Consumers and Users Protection (the Consumer Protection Law)
- Special regime: Law 16/2011 of 24 June 2011, on Credit Consumer Agreements (Consumer Credit Agreements Law or CCA Law)
- Supplementary regime: among others, (a) Law 34/2002 of July 2002, on Information Society Services and Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce Law); (b) Law 34/1988 of 11 November 1988, on General Advertising (General Advertising Law); and, (c) Law 7/1998, of 13 April 1998, on Standard Terms (Standard Terms Law).
This article is not considered as legal advice
 Law 16/2011 derogated the previous legal regime (dating back to 1995) and transposed Directive 2008/48 of 23 April on credit agreements for consumers (the Directive) into Spanish law. Law 16/2011 basically reproduces the provisions of the Directive. Furthermore, where the Directive has failed to include specific provisions, the old regime has been maintained or even extended to new scenarios, with the aim of increasing the protection granted to Spanish consumers.