Opening a bank account in Spain

Banking in Spain
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Updated 2021-07-20 11:41

Moving to Spain to start a new life involves a lot of planning, paperwork and patience. Your to-do list could run for miles. One of the most important and straightforward tasks to complete is opening a bank account in the country. Spain has a very well-established financial sector with a wide variety of accounts and financial products. You'll be spoilt for choice. For foreigners in Spain, two types of bank accounts are available: resident and non-resident accounts. The process to open either account is relatively simple, provided you have all your documentation ready. This article covers all the basics you need to know about opening a bank account in Spain.

To open a bank account in Spain, you will need the following documents:

  • Proof of identity such as your passport
  • Your foreigner identification number (N.I.E.)
  • Proof of employment status (such as employment contract, payslips, student card, and pension statement)
  • Proof of address in Spain or, equally, your local residency registration (empadronamiento) may be helpful

Many banks will ask you to visit a branch to open a bank account, but if this is not possible, you will probably be able to set up an account online. 

Opening a non-resident bank account in Spain

When opening a bank account in Spain, you can take your pick from resident and non-resident accounts. To open a non-resident account, you will need your valid passport, a document to prove your address and a document to verify your employment status. Some banks may also require you to present a Certificate of Non-Residence, a letter that confirms you are a non-resident. 

To apply for a non-resident certificate, 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 it is issued, you can go ahead with opening your bank account, which will be immediately activated. You can find more information about the Certificate of Non-Residence at the website of the National Police.

If you later become a Spanish resident, remember to tell your bank so they can upgrade your account. 

Bank transactions and charges in Spain

The cost of banking is relatively high in Spain compared to other countries. Free banking is rare. Fees can also vary markedly from bank to bank. Most current accounts will incur maintenance fees which can be around 40 euros or more per year. If you use your bank account to transfer money, you could be charged, and you will also pay a fee if you use a cash machine not linked to your bank. Charges are also levied on international transactions, but you may find your bank offering to do a set number of these for free or at reduced rates.

Banks in Spain

The banking sector in Spain comprises several large banking entities such as Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Bankia and Banco Sabadell as well as many smaller provincial banks.

Important:

When choosing your bank, it is worth spending time researching and comparing account features and monthly fees, cash withdrawal fees and transaction fees. You might also want to consider borderless accounts with features commonly used by expats, such as sending and receiving international transfers and currency conversions. Many of these accounts are cheaper to operate than Spanish equivalents, and they'll give you a Spanish IBAN. This means you'll be able to use it to pay direct debits as you would with any Spanish bank account.

Good to know:

Since the pandemic, more people are paying for goods and services by contactless cards and mobiles. 

Opening hours in Spain

Regular bank opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. Some banks open up for a few hours one evening a week and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m.

Useful links:

Banco de España

List of banks in Spain

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.