It is not difficult for an expat to open a bank account in Spain provided you fill in related formalities. Here is some useful information on the steps to follow.
European citizens and holders of residence permits can easily open a bank account in Spain. All they need to do is select a bank, complete the necessary forms, submit a valid identity document such as their passport, proof of funds (employment contract, payslips, student card, pension statement), a national identification number in the case of residents, as well as proof of address in Spain.
Non-residents can also open bank accounts in Spain provided that they submit a non-resident certificate delivered by the "Dirección General de la Policía" (local police station). To apply for a non-resident certificate, simply go to the nearest police station and submit a copy of your passport. You will then be called to collect your certificate within 15 days. Once the certificate is issued, you can go ahead with the opening of your bank account, which will be immediately activated. Note that a minimum deposit is not required by most Spanish banks.
If you're not in possession of your non-resident certificate, some banks will agree to open your account provided that you submit your certificate within a prescribed period of time. Your bank account will only be activated upon receipt of the certificate. In this case, additional charges apply.
If you turn into a Spanish resident afterwards, make sure to inform your bank regarding your change of status. Moreover, the bank will make necessary checks every two years.
A debit card and a checkbook will be delivered without difficulty. Please note that checks are seldom used in the country. Credit cards are delivered upon conditions. For more information about credit cards, contact your bank in Spain.
Spanish banks charge current operations and maintenance of bank accounts for around €30 per year. You'll find many banks in Spain (provincial or national), and you can choose among more than 150 of them.
In general, Spanish banks allow you to make national and international bank transfers by producing your IBAM which is found on bank statements. You may also request for direct debit to settle your electricity and phone bills.
You can also find ATMs everywhere in Spain. However, make sure to check on which network is the most appropriate for your card, else additional charges will apply on cash withdrawals.
Good to know:
Paying cash is very common in Spain; at the same time, the rate of payment by credit card is one of the lowest in Europe.
In general, banks are open from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am or 9 am to 2 pm or 2.30 pm. Some of them remain open till late once a week or on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm.