Whether you are going to start your new life in Spain or you are about to carry out any kind of economic activity, opening your bank account in the country will become a fundamental task. And the reality is that for most foreigners this ends up becoming especially difficult.
Spanish banks do not make it easy for foreigners, and not encountering problems along the way ends up being a miracle.
Day after day, clients from all around the world ask us the same questions: How to set up a bank account in Spain? What are the differences a resident or non-resident? Can I open a Spanish bank account without a NIE? Can it be done from abroad?
In this article, we will answer all these questions and make things clearer for you: the process step by step, the requirements depending on your situation, and the fees that come with having a bank account in the country.
Can foreigners open a bank account in Spain?
Yes, foreigners above 18 years of age can have and open a bank account in Spain. In fact, it is recommended that you do it if you are planning to stay in the country for the long-term, as things can get a bit difficult and costly if you keep on managing your money from your origin country.
Things like paying the utilities of your property or getting a mortgage get much more complicated without a Spanish bank account.
Plus, foreign credit cards may suffer a commission fee for every payment done inside the territory.
Nevertheless, if you really prefer not to open a bank account in Spain, it’s not necessary, as the law does not require it. Meaning, you can still manage your finances and money from an overseas account perfectly fine.
You can also easily navigate your day-to-day life in Spain using your Visa, Master Card, or American Express credit cards.
How much do I need to open a Spanish bank account?
There is no minimum deposit to open an account in euros (€), which makes the process even simpler. Other currencies, however, may require a minimum amount; so make sure you double-check beforehand.
Opening a bank account is really easy, whether you are a resident or non-resident in Spain.
As we will see in just a few moments, the procedure is a bit longer in the non-resident case, but, both options are really straightforward.
You just need to go to the bank, present the required documents, and start transferring your money there. As simple as that.
You submit your documents and then you instantly have your account operative.
It is worth considering that resident bank accounts are more flexible than non-resident ones and can offer better conditions.
Nevertheless, if you are not planning to stay permanently in Spain, a non-resident bank account will be enough for you.
No matter the option you choose, you can always switch from one type to the other once you get your residency. You just need no notify the bank, bring your residency card, and the change will be done.
So, how do I open a bank account in Spain?
As we said, this is a really straightforward process.
It slightly varies depending on whether you are a resident or not, but by following these steps, you shouldn’t have any problem:
How to Open a Bank Account in Spain as a Resident
The best option is to go to the bank yourself. Bear in mind that not all the personnel will speak English, so try booking an appointment with someone who does.
It might help a lot to bring a Spanish-speaking friend whom you trust with you. Things will be much easier.
You will just need to go to the specific bank you choose, show your resident ID, and have your account ready and open, instantly!
How to Open a Bank Account in Spain as a Non-Resident
As a non-resident and non-European citizen, the process is exactly the same, but it includes an extra step: you will be required to submit a non-resident certificate. In order to obtain this document, you have two different options:
The first option is for those who would like to save some money, and take an extra step themselves:
- Go to Dirección General Policía with your passport and photocopy
- Ask for a non-resident certificate
- You will be able to pick it up after 10 days
- Once you have obtained this document you will then be able to go to your chosen bank with your passport and have your account open. The account immediately operative at the moment of opening it
On the other hand, you can also skip this step and have the bank request the non-resident certificate for you.
You will go directly to the bank with your passport, and the bank will sign an authorization in order to request the certificate on your behalf, but with an associated cost of €15. Bear in mind that the account won’t be operative until they receive that certificate.
How to Open a Bank Account in Spain as an EU Citizen
If you are an EU citizen, you just have to go to the bank and present your identity document from your country of origin with your EU Citizen Registration Certificate.
In the next section we will list the documents necessary for non-EU citizens, whether they are residents or not.
Can I open a Spanish bank account without a NIE? (Requirements)
Yes, you can open a Spanish bank account without a NIE. There are many banks that won’t require you to have or present your NIE number, as a valid passport is usually enough. Nevertheless, the process can be faster and simpler if you have one.
(Having a NIE would also be essential for a new life in Spain, as it is necessary in order to buy a property, get a car, or apply for a residence permit).
But what documents DO you really need to set up a bank account in the country? Depending on the bank, some may request more documents than others, so it’s important to check requirements specifically with the bank. But, generally, these are the required documents:
Requirements for Non-Residents
- Valid passport or ID card
- Proof of your address. For this, you can use a utility bill that can’t be more than 3 months old.
- Employment status proof. Valid proofs are payslips, tax returns or government letters confirming that you are unemployed or receiving financial help from them.
- Non-resident certificate.
If you are a student, pay close attention. There may be a bank at your campus with a special agreement with your host university. You should check with them which documents are requested, as you may be able to open an account without the certificate by just showing your university ID.
Requirements for Residents
- Valid passport or ID card
- A document that confirms the source of your income: like your student card, employment contract if you are employed, or unemployment paperwork otherwise.
- Spanish address proof, like a recent utility bill, bank statement or rental contract, for example.
- NIE (foreigner identity number)
- For some cases, like Golden Visa holders, the bank can request the property reservation agreement
Remember that all the documents you submit must be translated into Spanish. If you would like to translate them in your country of origin, you can do so. But make sure that they are all notarized with the Hague Apostille.
There are many banks that won’t require you to have or present your NIE number in order to open an account. Nevertheless, the process can be much fast and simple provided that you have one.
Can I open a Spanish bank account online from abroad?
Yes, you can open a Spanish bank account online from abroad. You have two different ways of doing so:
First, if you aren’t planning to visit Spain anytime soon, you can do it by designating a representative. You will need to provide notary powers to a law firm so they can open the bank account for you. What they do is they request a tax ID number on your behalf, and then open the account with it.
At Balcells Group we can manage the whole opening a bank procedure and do it for you.
The second option is for those who already have the NIE, but are not currently in Spain. Some banks, such as BBVA, allow you to begin the process online with the NIE. However, you will still need to go to the office eventually to identify yourself.
Some banks, such as N26, are even completely online, free, and can be done without a NIE. The whole verification process happens online through a video call, and when everything is confirmed, they mail you your bank card.
Can I do it while I’m on a tourist visa?
Yes, you can create a bank account on a tourist visa if you would like to visit the country short term, and take advantage of that moment.
However, if you are planning to transition from a tourist visa to a residence permit in the near future, you can apply for a temporary NIE while you are in the country, then go to a bank and open your bank account.
Once you obtain your residence card in the future, you can submit it to the bank, so that they can change your account to a resident account.
What are the costs of having a bank account in Spain?
In general, you will find that banking costs in Spain can be a bit higher than in the rest of the European countries. Nevertheless, the exact costs will depend and vary from bank to bank, so doing your research and comparing the perks and conditions each offer will be a crucial step.
In general, the different costs that holding a bank account generates are:
Opening charges and maintenance fees
Even though some won’t include this expense, many banks will charge you a small fee when opening a bank account. Yearly maintenance fees can be also added. We are talking about a modest €10 cost.
ATM withdrawal fees
When withdrawing money from your own bank account in Spain you won’t be charged any withdrawal fee. You can do it at no cost provided that you do it at your bank’s ATM.
If you withdraw money at an ATM that belongs to a different bank, you will be charged around €2. You shouldn’t have this problem, though, as every single city has plenty of ATM’s evenly distributed.
Finally, transfer fees. Here you should really dig deep and analyze all the different banking options in the country. Then, depending on your future plans, choose one accordingly.
Because some banks have free international transfers. But some can charge you a percentage even when transferring money to another Spanish account. So make sure you have that into consideration when choosing the bank that best suits your situation.
But you will also enjoy important discounts
Not everything is as bad as it may seem: there are also several discounts.
The ones presenting more discounts are current accounts. These accounts are usually offered to specific groups such as students or young people. They offer various discounts, so, again, make sure you compare banks.
But, in many cases, if you would like to benefit from those conditions, you need to deposit your salary there. (You can access more information on payrolls here).
Furthermore, banks usually have special discounts for under 26 individuals.
Which is the best bank in Spain?
The best banks in Spain are the ones that offer security. The 4 biggest (and main ones) are BBVA, Banco Santander, CaixaBank and Sabadell. Banco Santander (the biggest in Spain) and BBVA are the more international ones.
Which one should you choose?
Even though our advice would be to go with one of the big ones, like Sabadell, at the end the best strategy is to analyze and find the bank that offers you the best deals and perks.
In order to help you out with the comparison process, click here in order to access a current account comparison.
Get Special Offers With Us
We hope you now have a general overview of the banking system in Spain, and that you have a deep understanding of how should you operate.
Nevertheless, if you would like to receive help to open your expat bank account and enjoy some of the special offers we can get you due to our partnerships, do not hesitate to contact us! We would be glad to guide you through.