How to Open a Bank Account in Spain

Opening a bank account in Spain is an important step if you plan on relocating to the country long-term.

After all, you won’t be able to get much done work-wise using your bank account from home.

Luckily, Spain has a rather large expat community. Since the expat community’s initial growth spurt, the country’s banks started making their services very expat-friendly. Therefore, opening a bank account in Spain is a fairly simple process.

In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about getting your banking needs in order once you finally move to Spain.

Read on to learn more.

Do You Need a Bank Account in Spain?

The most common question regarding moving and working in Spain is whether or not you need an official bank account within the country.

Spain does accept most major types of foreign bank and credit cards, as long as they’re Mastercard, Visa, or American Express. Of course, they may incur foreign transaction fees, which will cost you a lot more in the long run. These cards are also usually limited to regular purchases, like clothing, food, entertainment, etc.

Although it’s not a legal requirement, having a Spanish bank account is a necessity. It is possible to get by with your home country account, however, long-term residents in the country will come to find that over time, not having a bank account in Spain makes everything much more complicated and costly.

For example, when it comes to paying your taxes, utility bills, rent, or even a mortgage, it’s arguably a thousand times better to have a Spain-based bank account to simplify the processes. In fact, most of these payment can only be debited from a Spanish bank account.

The Different Types of Bank Accounts in Spain

types of different bank accounts

One of the most convenient things about Spain is that the country offers a variety of banks and account types to accommodate a wide range of customers.

The main types of banks accounts you’ll come across in Spain include:

Current Accounts

Current accounts are for everyday baking and financial needs. Most banks will offer some form of a current account, usually targeting a specific group of people—like students and younger people.

Savings Accounts

In addition to current accounts, most banks also offer savings accounts. These savings accounts range from your basic savings to services that link to investment funds and shares.

Many regional Spanish banks—cajas—offer these types of savings accounts as well.

Digital Accounts

Everything has gone digital these days, including Spain and its banking system. Now you can download one of the many Spanish banks’ mobile apps to take care of all your banking needs online.

Of course, digital accounts are essentially current accounts—they’re just on your phone

Non-resident Accounts

Several of the primary Spanish banks also offer accounts specifically aimed at residents of Spain. However, these are typically Euro-based accounts, which means they’ll get you by with ease throughout the entire European Union (EU).

Off-Shore Accounts

Many expats find that using an international offshore bank account is the best way to manage their financial responsibilities. Offshore accounts are especially beneficial for anyone working abroad, spending copious amounts of time in multiple countries, and making frequent money transfers between different countries.

Offshore bank accounts are typically located outside of the account holder’s country of residence and offer lower taxation on funds as well as certain cross-border services.

The Different Types of Spanish Banks

The Spanish banks that cater their accounts and services to expats include the following:

BBVA

BBVA is one of Spain’s most commonly used banks among expats. This bank, in particular, offers several commission-free accounts, such as a current account, a “young blue” account for young people between the ages of 18 and 29, and a payroll account for employee income management.

They also offer a global banking app that allows you to make mobile payments via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and a range of debit, credit, and prepaid cards.

Banco Sabadell

Banco Sabadell is another population bank among expats because they offer a free translation service including in their “Key” account for all foreign residents. They also offer an “Expansion” account which comes with free unlimited deposits and withdrawals, a “Primera” savings account for young people, and the “Higher Sterling” savings account for everyone else.

Lastly, they offer a variety of low-cost international money transfer options.

Santander

Santander is Spain’s biggest bank, and it’s probably one that you’re familiar with if you live in the US. Santander offers a wide range of current accounts from basic, to non-resident, to their “Classic” account, which caters to younger people.

They also offer several credit and debit card options to choose from as well as a baking app for those who require digital banking services.

There are also other options for those who don’t want to open up a Spanish bank account. Spain also offers international options, including:

  • Barclays
  • Citibank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • HSBC
  • ING

All of the above offer basic current accounts, savings accounts, mobile apps, and more.

Choosing a Bank in Spain

When it comes to choosing a bank in Spain, it’s important to think about your financial needs in terms of the products and services each bank offers.

Here are some things to consider:

  • The costs. It’s pretty rare to find banking services that are 100% free in Spain, however, there are plenty of low-cost current accounts. The costs usually depend on the services, so think about the services you need.
  • The services. The services won’t just determine the cost, but the type of bank you’ll end up choosing as well. For example, maybe you’re looking for a bank that you can use to open an account and take out a Spanish mortgage. In this case, you’ll have to choose a Spanish bank.
  • Ease of use. If you’re looking for a bank that offers access to services 24/7, your best bet is to go with a mobile account. Whichever bank you choose, make sure you can access their services when needed.
  • Translation services. International banks typically offer services in English or other commonly spoken foreign languages. However, the regional banks usually only have Spanish-speaking staff and information.

So, before you open any bank account in the country, make sure it suits all of your needs first. Otherwise, you could end up with limited services and high service fees.

How to Open a Spanish Bank account

When you finally choose which bank you want to open an account with, it’s best to open the account in person. Most banks in Spain are typically open between 8 am and 2 pm, Monday through Friday.

If you require someone who speaks English, you’ll need to book an appointment with an English-speaking staff member or someone who can translate for you.

Accounts don’t take long to open, usually between one and five days with the proper documentation. You can usually get debit cards on the premises, however, credit cards take up to two weeks to be sent out.

To open a bank account, you’ll need to bring the following with you:

  • Your passport as proof of identity
  • Your NIE number and número de identificación de extranjeros (certificate)
  • Proof of your address
  • Documents for compliance that each bank will detail but basically proof of the origin of the funds, bank statements of the bank of origin of the funds, tax returns, etc.

Remember: Any documents that are not in Spanish must be translated. Nonetheless, major banks accept documents in English, and even sometimes in French, as well.

Opening a Bank Account in Spain as a Non-Resident

If you wish to open a non-resident account, it’s possible to do so before moving to Spain in case the bank doesn’t require to meet you in person first.

Non-resident accounts are typically opened by individuals who spend a significant amount of time in Spain but reside elsewhere.

Opening a Mobile Bank Account in Spain

Digital banking is typically reserved for residents only, however, some digital banking service providers such as bunq and N26 offer their services to just about anyone.

All you need to do is download your mobile banking app of choice, which is usually available from the bank’s website. You’ll need to provide your address, an email address, and a phone number to link to the account.

Opening a Business Bank Account in Spain

If you’re starting a business in Spain or plan to work as an autónomo (freelancer), you can start a business bank account with most of the big-name Spanish banks. These banks also offer business products in terms of loans and insurance.

Aside from the standard documentation, you’ll need to provide a business address. For limited companies, you’ll need to provide official company documentation.

Depending on the type of business, you may have to meet minimum deposit requirements and have to pay a few extra fees. Make sure you ask for this type of information upfront before signing anything.

Opening a Bank Account in Spain for Children

Most Spanish banks offer special accounts for children, such as “junior” savings accounts. If you’re relocating with children and you want to open up an account for your child, you’ll need to do it at a regular Spanish bank branch.

The process is pretty straightforward. Usually, all you’ll need to do is provide your ID and an ID for your child. However, the process and requirements will vary from bank to bank.

As the child’s parent, you’ll be acting as the legal representative for the account until he or she turns 18.

Banking Services in Spain

The banks in Spain aren’t much different from the banks in the rest of the European Union. They offer a range of products and services outside of the traditional current and savings accounts, such as:

  • Overdraft allowances
  • Loans and mortgages
  • Insurance
  • Credit and debit cards
  • International money transfers

Of course, these services will vary depending on the bank.

Switching Banks or Closing Accounts

When you want to close an account or move your money to another bank, you’ll need to do a bit more than simply withdraw all of the funds from your account. Primarily, you’ll need to make sure that the account in question is officially closed.

The best way to go about ensuring your account is 100% closed is to visit your bank’s branch and do it in person. You’ll need to bring your passport or a valid ID with you to prove that it’s your account.

Depending on the type of account you have you may have to fill out and sign a few forms. If you’re able to carry out the closing process online—which is an option that will also depend on the bank—you’ll still need to request confirmation from the actual bank to ensure the account is closed.

When it comes to switching to a different bank or bank account, it’s best to open your new account before you close the existing one.

Here are a few other things you’ll need to do before closing your bank account:

  • Make sure there aren’t any “strings attached.” For example, some banks offer accounts with special offers that may require the account to remain active for a certain amount of time. Closing an account before the required time expires may result in a costly penalty.
  • Make sure you’re not obligated to any outstanding payments from the account you’re trying to close. Otherwise, you could end up with a negative balance. Make sure to cancel any direct debits or other standing order payments on the account.
  • Make sure you notify your employer or anyone else making regular payments into the account that it’s no longer active.

Opening a banking account in Spain and managing it is quite a simple process. Of course, if you’re trying to take out a mortgage loan or make investments, you may need a little extra help. That’s what we’re here for—contact us today to consult with our team of experts about all of your financial needs in Spain.