Hopefully you will never have need to. However, chances are that at some point during your time in Spain you will be unhappy with some aspect of service, some goods you have bought or perhaps will be at the receiving end of a criminal offence.

The good news is that the routes for complaint are quite clear here.  If you have a complaint about a business or retail premises then you can ask to complete their ‘hoja de reclamaciones’. If it is a more serious complaint that may require the attention of the police, you should make a denuncia.

Hoja de reclamaciones

You’re in a shop or a restaurant and feel that you just haven’t received the service or the goods that you expected. You’ve made your views clear and it doesn’t look like your concerns are about to be met any time soon. What can you do next?

Every business must keep a ‘hoja de reclamaciones’ or customer complaint form as a legal requirement.

Each form has three pages:

  • A top (white) copy which is the original
  • A middle (green) copy which is for the consumer
  • A bottom (pink) copy which stays where it is

In some cases, just asking for this will see your complaint cleared up without having to go through the process.

If it doesn’t then you should enter in the hoja:

A straight forward account of the cause of the complaint and how you would like it to be resolved e.g. refund, exchange or repair

  • The date and time
  • Personal details so that someone will be able to get in touch with you

Of course, there are two sides to every story and the business will complete their version of events on the form as well. Once you have completed it then you should sign and attach to it any other evidence that might be needed such as the receipt.

You should now take the green form with the original to the consumer’s office. In most areas this can be found at the Oficinas Municipales de Información al Consumidor or the town hall.

The form will be stamped to acknowledge when and where you brought it in and you will be given a copy. Then you must wait patiently to hear from them. It won’t be an immediate response and you must expect to wait between two weeks to four months, but they will respond.

If your complaint lies with a larger organisation such as Iberdrola, a bank or an insurance provider you should take your complaint to their customer complaint section first.

A denuncia

If your complaint is a more serious one and you feel that a crime has been committed then it is the police who will need to deal with it. You will need to attend the local police station or Guardia Civil station and take a translator with you if you do not speak fluent Spanish.

You should also take:

  • Your passport
  • NIE (foreigner’s identification number)
  • Spanish residency form (if you have one)
  • Any documentation, photographs or details of witnesses who could support your complaint

You are always better in Spain to take more than what you think you need rather than less. If you have had items stolen take any details you have of make/ cost and ideally photos if you have taken these as a precautionary measure.

When you arrive at the police station you will need to wait your turn. In busy holiday periods this can be quite a long time and you should go prepared. Eventually you will be ushered into a room and will make your report.

If someone has made a denuncia against you then the process will happen in reverse and you will be asked to attend the police station to make a statement. Prior to this you can make a denuncia yourself with your own version of events if you would prefer.

An alternative way of making your denuncia is through calling the ‘servicio de Denuncias Telefónicas para Turistas Extranjeros’ on 902 102 112. This service covers the language of English, French, German and Italian. Not all denuncias can be made this way but it is an alternative if you have been subject to a theft but haven’t been personally attacked. You must, however, still attend a police station in order to sign the form.

Both the systems here are have been in operation for many years and provide a tried and trusted means of recording your concerns. With this record in place, decisions will be made about any action that needs to be taken. At this point you’ve handed over the information and now it is down to them.

More information