Explainer: Opening a bank account in Spain and the documents you need

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Many of us who have made the move to Spain will know about the endless to-do lists, paperwork to be gathered, documents to be signed and fees to be paid. Another essential task is to open a bank account in Spain. So, whether you’re here to study or work, here’s our explainer guide to walk you through the process for a simple way to open a bank account in your new home.

Although there is a lot of conflicting information on websites and various expats in Spain groups, and many people who have had bad experiences with different banking entities, opening a bank account in Spain shouldn’t be a difficult process. But if you need some guidance, keep reading to find out all of the information you need to know before you make an appointment.

What do I need to open a bank account in Spain?

First things first, what documents do you need to open a bank account here? Like much of the details in this guide, the requirements to open a bank account in Spain will vary slightly per bank.

With many traditional bank accounts, you might need to show proof of some or all of the following:

  • ID, such as a passport.
  • A valid Spanish address.
  • Your Numero de Identificacion 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.

The above list are the required documents for a resident account. If you’re opening a non-resident account, you’ll likely have to prove that you’re not a resident with documents from your actual country of residence, such as a passport.

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What are the types of bank accounts in Spain?

There are two types of bank accounts in Spain: a resident account and a non-resident account. If you are planning to get your residency here, or you already have residency status, you’ll be applying for a resident account. You will need this for bills, day-to-day spending, to rent an apartment etc.

If you are buying property in Spain as an investment but don’t plant on getting your resident, you may be best to apply for a non-resident account since you won’t be living here most of the time.

The main types of bank accounts are:

  • 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 an account for your savings, to gain a little extra interest on your money.
  • Cuenta de depósito (deposit account) – 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 wages from your employer.

Bank accounts in Spain tend to have specific purposes, and some people have more than one account for their various requirements. The account you need will depend on your circumstances and what your bank of choice is offering. We highly recommend you make sure you have a cuenta bancaria for basic day-to-day needs.

open bank account spain
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How to choose a bank account in Spain

Spain has a lot of banking entities, so it pays to do your research. There are also an increasing number of online banks which have many benefits. The type of account you choose depends on your circumstances but these are some things you might want to consider:

  • How easy it is to open the account.
  • Do they have banking services in English (or other languages, if you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker)?
  • What are the fees? The fees will also likely affect the services available to you.
  • Do you want to have an account with a branch and is there one close to you?

What are the major bank accounts in Spain?

The major bank accounts in Spain are:

  • Banco Santander
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA)
  • CaixaBank
  • Banco Sabadell
  • Bankinter
  • Kutxabank
  • Abanca
  • Banca March
open bank account spain
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How to open a resident bank account in Spain

Now that you know the types of accounts available in Spain, here’s how you get your account set up:

  • It’s best to do this while you are already living in Spain, and much easier to do by making an appointment and going into the branch. There is usually one English-speaking member of staff that you can book an appointment with if you don’t speak fluent Spanish.
  • If you don’t speak fluent Spanish and haven’t made an appointment with an English-speaking member of staff, you will need a translator to make sure everything is understood.
  • Have all of your documents in our list above ready and with you.
  • Bear in mind that any documents that aren’t in Spanish may need to be officially translated. If they’re from abroad, they may need to be authenticated using an Apostille stamp.

Accounts are typically opened almost immediately (within 1–5 days) with documentation and credit cards dispatched within two weeks. Again, it helps if you are already in the country so you can receive the card and account details in the post!

How to open a digital or mobile bank account in Spain

Online bank accounts are usually only available for residents, however, there are some that allow you to open an account without needing to be a resident. If you have a bank account already and want to go mobile, all you need to do is download the mobile banking app which is available from the bank’s website.

Opening up a mobile-only account usually only takes a few minutes and can usually be done from your smartphone. You will need to provide an address, an email address and a mobile phone number to link to your account.

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How much does it cost to open a bank account in Spain?

The cost of bank accounts in Spain can vary considerably and, on average, bank fees are higher on average here compared to other European countries. Costs can also include regular maintenance fees, charges for using your card or withdrawing money, and possibly a fee to actually open the account.

Discounts are sometimes given to the elderly and young people.

Types of bank account fees in Spain:

With a standard bank account, you might find yourself facing the following fees:

  • Maintenance fee – this could be charged monthly, quarterly or yearly.
  • Credit/debit card fee – there might be an additional charge, simply for owning one of these cards.
  • Cash withdrawal fee – check with your bank provider to see if there’s a cost for using ATMs. You might be charged if you use an ATM that’s outside your bank’s ATM network.
  • International transfer fees – if you’re likely to be sending money back and forth between countries, some banks charge variable fees for this.

It’s definitely worth shopping around and asking trusted friends for advice on which bank account is best for you and to find a competitive offer, as not all banks will  charge these fees. Be sure to read all of the documents you receive with your account to avoid any charges for going overdrawn, withdrawing money etc.

How much does it cost to cancel a bank account in Spain?

We have looked at opening your account, but what about if you want to close it?

It’s worth finding out how easy this will be and if it will incur any fees for you. It’s actually surprisingly complicated to close an account in Spain with traditional banks and often involves paperwork. There may be fees to pay, depending on the bank.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories. Remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.