If you’ve just landed in Spain and plan on putting down roots here, we recommend opening a bank account. But before you do, we’d like to walk you through some of the ins and outs of banking in Spain. We’ll tell you what documents are required, fill you in on banking hours, types of accounts, fees and what to do when sending and receiving international transfers. Here is our go-to guide to Spanish banks.
All banking activity in Spain is controlled by the Banco de España (Bank of Spain), which is headquartered in Madrid and has branches all over the country’s provincial capitals. Aside from the central bank in Spain, there are also many foreign banks that operate in the country.
Different Banks for Different Needs
There are over 165 different banks and are categorized into two types: bancos (private or publicly owned banks) and cajas (state owned banks, which tend to invest in local projects). If you’ve just landed, make sure to visit both to get a clear idea of the most convenient option for you depending on your needs. When we say convenient, we mean: choosing a bank that is close to your place of residence, one that offers internet banking, free ATM services and an extensive network of branches nationwide.
Once you open your account, you’ll be given a debit/credit card (which may be subject to an annual fee depending on the bank you choose), with which you’ll be able to take cash out of ATM machines (cajeros) or pay in most restaurants, shops and supermarkets. It’s important to keep in mind that cheques are rarely accepted in Spain and not all ATM transactions are free. Make sure the bank informs you of what ATM you can use to avoid surcharges. Otherwise, most cash machines will inform you of the charge, if any, before you go ahead and confirm the transaction. Tip: always read the information given on the screen, and if you’re not yet confident with your level of Spanish, you can always change the language before carrying out any transaction.
As is the case in most banks in your home country, you can also ask for a service known as domiciliación bancaria, which allows companies, such as the phone company or the electric company, to directly debit your account for any monthly or bimonthly bills.
Opening hours in Spanish Banks
Opening hours for Spanish banks tend to be from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday, but don’t forget that there are many fiestas (local and national holidays) and the majority of banks reduce their working hours during the summer months. If these hours are inconvenient for you due to your working schedule or kids, perhaps it would be a good idea looking into 24-hour online banking services. If you don’t speak Spanish, we suggest you can ahead and request an appointment with an English-speaking member of staff. If they do not provide this services, bring a Spanish friend along. In most cases, it shouldn’t take more than 5 days to have your account activated and up and running.
What documents are required
For EU citizens, most banks require you provide the following documents in order to open an account:
- NIE – if you haven’t had the chance to read up on the process to apply for your Foreigner’s Identification Number, check out this post.
- Proof of address – You’ll need to get your empadronamiento sorted through your local town hall (ayuntamiento).
- Proof of employment status.
Don’t forget that you need to have all non-Spanish documents officially translated and that some must be authenticated with an Apostille.
For Non-EU citizens, these are the documents you will need to provide when opening a bank account in Spain:
- Passport and consular inscription in Spain or NIE and proof of address.
- Title deeds or lease agreement for a Spanish property.
- Proof of income (most banks require a minimum of 600 euros, but this may vary).
Please make sure you ask for an appointment or check online to go over all necessary documents you will need before opening an account.
Domestic and International Transfers
Both types of transfers can be done from the bank, ATMs and via the internet or over-the-phone service. You’ll need to ask the bank for your IBAN an BIC number if you want to receive money transfers from an international account. Fees will apply when transferring money in and out of your account.
Although not obligatory for short-term stays, opening a bank account in Spain is necessary when you are employed in the country so that your employer can easily pay your salary. The options are endless, and it all depends on your individual circumstances. Just remember that although you’re in Spain, you will always have someone on hand to explain the conditions and benefits of each account in English, but we hope we’ve at least walked you through the ins and outs of banking in Spain. Do you already have an account? If not, check our free guide on opening a Spanish bank account here.