If you're an expat, opening a bank account in Spain will make banking and payments much easier. Here's a look at how Spanish bank accounts and payments work.
If you plan to stay in Spain for a long time, you should open a Spanish bank account. As a result of the large expat community in Spain, numerous banks specialize their services to expats. Although rules have tightened after the 2008 financial crisis, opening a bank account in Spain is rather simple.
Banking System in Spain
Spain has a well-developed banking system that is both interconnected and internationalized. There are currently 141 private banks (including around 80 foreign-owned banks), as well as a number of regional cooperative and savings banks.
The Banco de Espaa is Spain's central bank and also functions as the banking sector's regulator. For a more in-depth look at Spanish banking, consult the Expatica guide to banking in Spain.
Types of Bank Accounts in Spain
This is a great place to begin. A resident account and a non-resident account are two different sorts of bank accounts to consider. Resident accounts are for persons who live in Spain, whereas non-resident accounts are for people who live elsewhere but still want to have an account in Spain.
If you're buying a home in Spain but won't be living there for the foreseeable future, a non-resident account may be the best option for you.
Even though you're not a Spanish national, a resident account is the best way to go if you're going to Spain and want to open a bank account for day-to-day spending.
These are the most common types of bank accounts you'll come across:
- Cuenta bancaria o Cuenta corriente (current account) — this is the standard, everyday account that you’ll use for the basics.
- Cuenta de ahorros (savings account) — this is where to put your savings, to gain a little extra interest on your money.
- Cuenta de depósito (deposit account) — this is like a savings account, but with fewer options for accessing the money: it’s for funds that need to be held securely.
- Cuenta nomina (salary account) — this account is specifically designed to receive your paycheck from your employer.
As you can see, accounts in Spain are used for very specific purposes, and some people have multiple accounts depending on their needs. What you need to know is which one(s) you require. That will depend on your circumstances and what your preferred bank has to offer, but make sure you have a bank account.
Do You Need a Bank Account in Spain?
It is easy to control your funds from an overseas account if you do not have a bank account in Spain. However, if you are a long-term resident of Spain, managing your funds can be costly and hard.
It is advantageous to have a bank account in Spain for a variety of reasons, including paying Spanish utility bills and obtaining a Spanish mortgage.
Before You Open a Bank Account in Spain
You can manage your funds from your overseas account if you move to Spain without having opened an account. Spain accepts Visa, Mastercard, and American Express credit cards from most major foreign banks and credit card companies. You may, however, be charged.
For further information, consult the Expatica guide to banking in Spain. If you're concerned about this, many Spanish banks provide non-resident accounts, so you can open a Spanish bank account before you move.
Best Banks to Open an Account in Spain
The following banks and financial institutions in Spain provide accounts and services to expats.
BBVA Spanish Bank
BBVA, one of Spain's largest banks, offers a variety of commission-free accounts, including a basic current account, a young blue account for those between the ages of 18 and 29, and a payroll account for managing income.
There's also a global banking app with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay compatibility, as well as a variety of debit, credit, and prepaid cards to pick from.
Banco de Sabadell, S.A. is a Spanish multinational financial services company headquartered in Alicante and Barcelona, Spain. It is the 4th-largest Spanish banking group. It includes several banks, brands, subsidiaries and associated banks.
The Key Account, which offers a free translation service for foreign and temporary residents, the Expansion Account, which offers free unlimited deposits and withdrawals (suitable for retirees), the Primera savings account for young people, and the Higher Sterling savings account are among the products available. There are a number of low-cost international money transfer methods available as well.
Santander Bank, N. A., formerly Sovereign Bank, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Spanish Santander Group.
A basic account, a classic account, a young person's account, and a non-resident account are among the current accounts offered by this Spain's largest bank. For individuals who prefer to handle their funds via their smartphone, there are many debit and credit cards to select from, as well as a downloaded banking app.
If you don't want to open an account with a Spanish bank, you can choose from a number of well-known international banks in Spain. These are some of them:
- Deutsche Bank
There are also online and mobile banks that let you manage your finances remotely. These include:
How to Choose a Bank Account in Spain
Spain has a large number of traditional banks as well as modern, digital banks. It's ultimately up to you to decide which kind of account to open, but you should keep the following criteria in mind:
- Costs — not many bank accounts in Spain are completely free but basic current accounts are usually low-cost. There may be a trade-off in terms of services available, though;
- Range of services — if you think you may want to access loans, Spanish insurance, Spanish mortgages, or a Spanish pension plan at some stage, many Spanish banks offer these as well;
- Ease of access — if you want 24/7 access to your account, then an online account or a mobile bank account in Spain may be the best option;
- English-speaking services — international banks in Spain are most likely to offer this, while the regional cajas will usually have only Spanish-speaking staff and Spanish-language information.
What do You Need to Open a Bank Account in Spain?
The requirements for opening a bank account in Spain vary depending on the bank.
You may be required to present proof of some or all of the following when opening a typical bank account:
- ID, such as a passport.
- A valid Spanish address.
- Your Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE) – this is the code that proves you’re officially registered in Spain.
- Proof of your employment status – a student card if you're a student, a contract if you're employed, or some official documentation to confirm you’re unemployed.
This is, of course, only the minimum requirements for a resident account. If you're opening a non-resident account, you'll almost certainly need to provide documents from your actual country of residence to prove that you're not a resident.
At What Age Can You Open a Bank Account in Spain?
The minimum age to open a full bank account in Spain is 18 years old, with the exception of an account that your parent or guardian authorizes off on.
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How to Open a Bank Account in Spain
Now that you've learned about the different types of resident accounts (and are ready to open one), here's how to get your Spanish bank account set up:
- Open the account once you are already living in Spain. It sounds obvious, but it's really easier to do this once you're already here. Unlike finding jobs and apartments, this isn't always a process you can do ahead of time, since you'll likely need to include details such as your home address in the country.
- Have your documents ready.
- Choose your bank if you can find an English-speaking service, or alternatively, make use of digital banking to avoid language barriers. (For instance, N26 is available in five languages).
- Once you're registered, you'll need to wait a few days to receive your account details and card in the post. Again, it helps if you're already in the country for this!
How to Open a Bank Account in Spain Online
Residents normally have access to Internet-only banks, although anyone can open an account with mobile-only providers as bunq and N26. If you already have a bank account and wish to go mobile, all you have to do is download the bank's mobile banking app from their website.
It normally just takes a few minutes to set up a mobile-only account, and you can do it from your smartphone. To link your account, you'll need to enter an address, an email address, and a mobile phone number.
How to Open a Bank Account in Spain from Abroad
Because many Spanish banks offer non-resident accounts, you can open an account before you move. You may be required to provide a certificate of non-residency (certificado de no residencia) in addition to the regular papers to verify that you are not a resident.
You must apply for one at a Spanish police station, and the process usually takes ten days.
As a result, this option is best suited to those who spend a large amount of time in Spain but are otherwise based elsewhere.
For a little price (about €15), some banks will handle the paperwork. If you become a resident, which is defined as spending 183 days or more per year in Spain or holding a bank account in Spain business or employment-based in Spain or a spouse or minor child who are resident in Spain, you must notify the bank.
How to Open a Business Bank Account in Spain
Most of the major Spanish banks provide business banking services to both small and large businesses, including loan and insurance products.
If you're beginning a business in Spain or working as a freelancer, you might look into the many account alternatives available on Spanish bank websites.
In addition to regular documentation, you'll need to give a business address, proper company documentation, and at least two signatories on the account if you're a limited company.
Some accounts, particularly those for larger organizations, may need minimum deposits, and business accounts may be subject to additional fees. To avoid unpleasant surprises, inquire about fees up front.
How to Open a Bank Account in Spain for Your Children
Children's accounts, such as junior savings accounts, are available at many Spanish banks. It's better to open an account for your child at a Spanish bank branch; nevertheless, some banks allow you to do it online.
The procedure is similar to that of opening an account for yourself. Both you and the youngster will need to show identification. Parents operate as the child's legal representatives as account holders until the youngster reaches the age of 18, at which point they become the account's sole owner.
Depending on the bank and the account, the exact method and conditions will differ.
How Much Does it Cost to Open a Bank Account in Spain?
The cost of a bank account in Spain, as in any other country, varies significantly. In comparison to other European countries, bank fees in Spain are on average greater.
Regular maintenance fees, as well as an account opening charge, may be included in these expenditures. Discounts are sometimes available for the elderly and children.
Types of Bank Account Fees in Spain
You might be charged the following fees if you have a standard bank account:
- Maintenance fee — Monthly, quarterly, or yearly fees may be imposed.
- Price for using a credit/debit card — there may be a fee just for using one of these cards.
- Fee for cash withdrawals — check with your bank to determine whether there is a charge for using ATMs. If you use an ATM that is not part of your bank's ATM network, you may be charged.
- International transfer fees — if you'll be sending money between countries frequently, some banks will charge you a variable fee.
Managing Your Bank Account in Spain
With Spanish banks, you have a lot of flexibility in how you manage your money and finances. Many provide a comprehensive range of customer service solutions, such as:
- Face-to-face banking — Spain still has over 27,000 bank branches, so there are plenty of options if you need to make a manual payment or schedule a meeting to discuss a loan. Check ahead or travel with an interpreter because not all bank branches have English-speaking employees.
- Online banking — Online banking, which is a standard feature of most modern banks, allows you to access your account at any time of day or night. Even services like getting a loan can often be done without having to go to a bank office these days, with customer assistance available via live chat on the bank's website or through social media platforms. For additional information, see the Expatica guide to digital banking in Spain.
- Mobile banking — banking through smartphone via mobile banking apps is becoming more prevalent, and for today's youthful clientele, it is the ultimate in convenience banking. Mobile-only banks provide all of their services via an app and do not have any physical locations. At the touch of a screen, you may manage your funds, access services, and make a variety of payments. For additional information, see the Expatica guide to mobile banking in Spain.
Changing Banks or Closing a Bank Account in Spain
Closing an account or transferring funds to another bank in Spain is more complicated than just withdrawing all of your funds.
You'll need to double-check that the account has been formally closed. The best approach to do this is to go to your local bank branch and provide your passport or valid ID.
You may be required to fill out and sign some forms, depending on the type of account you have.
If the account can be canceled electronically, it's a good idea to have confirmation from the bank that the account has been closed.
If you're simply switching banks, it's advisable to open the new account first and then close the old one.
Before canceling a bank account in Spain, double-check the following:
- There are no conditions attached to cancelling the account before a certain date. Some special deals may include a requirement that the account be active for a certain amount of time, so double-check to prevent any penalties.
- You don't have any outstanding payments from the account that will result in a negative balance.
- You must also tell your employer or anybody else making payments into the account that the account is no longer in use by canceling all direct debit and standing order payments.
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Moving overseas comes with the world's longest to-do list. Organizing all of the paperwork, learning the language, and locating a place to live... Even before you start thinking about your finances, you'll have a lot on your mind when you relocate to Spain.
Opening a Spanish bank account may look to be another arduous process, but it should not be too difficult if you follow the process outlined in this guide.