In an ever-more digitized world, it’s of vital importance to have a functioning bank account. Gone are the days when we can operate only in cash. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a shop, bar or other institution that actually doesn’t accept cash, especially post-Covid.
If you are living in Spain, and if you want a telephone contract, use numerous apps, rent accommodation, or get paid from an employer you are going to need to open a Spanish bank account. I have witnessed people trying to use an alternative – Paypal, for example, or trying to get by with a foreign bank account from their home country. However, while this may work for some, at best you’ll find yourself encountering poor exchange rates, and very possibly unable to complete many every-day tasks and comply with requirements. The vast majority of reputable employers will refuse point-blank to pay you that way, and to be honest, often prospective employees asking to be paid any way other than into a Spanish bank account are inadvertently flagging up problems in their paperwork.
When moving to Spain, many people think that they won’t be able to open a bank account because they’re not Spanish and don’t have an NIE. Think again. In Spain, you can open a bank account whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, though there are differences depending on your residential status.
Bank accounts for residents offer more benefits and greater flexibility. Therefore, we recommend you change your bank account to a resident’s account when you obtain your Spanish residency.
What documentation is required to open a bank account in Spain?
The requirements vary by bank, but in general you only need to present:
2. NIE or TIE residence permit – or certificate of non-residence
If you’re a non-resident, you will need to present your certificate of non-residence to open a bank account. You can get this certificate from your consulate or any office of the General Directorate of Police by presenting your passport and requesting the certificate of non-residence (this usually takes about 10-12 days). Once the non-residence certificate has been obtained, you can go to the bank and open the account. Bear in mind that not all financial institutions offer accounts to non-residents. Check out this list of banks that do offer banking services to non-residents in Spain.
It should be noted that it can also be a pre-requisite to have a valid health insurance policy, which, let´s be honest, you should have anyway as a non-resident, as this means you are covered medically in case of emergencies or ill-health. At Caser, there are six policies you can choose from which give a range of cover which you can select to suit your own personal situation. You can compare the key policies and the extensive benefits they give you, and once confirmed you will receive a certificate of insurance, a copy of which may be required by the bank upon opening an account. For example, the Adapta policy with dental cover, and no copayment provides official certification which is accepted for a host of legal procedures, including NIE, residency and visa applications.
If you are already an official resident, and have obtained your NIE or TIE card, and have your personal identification number, you will need to show the original document and perhaps provide a photocopy of this document when applying for an account. Some banks will just scan the original document, but some may ask for a copy of this to retain with the application (and this also applies to your passport) so it is always worth having copies of these official identification documents with you, just in case, when trying to do anything involving applications and paperwork.
3. In some cases, a bank may request a document to give proof of your Spanish address. You could use your empadronamiento document, or rental contract for the property. Some banks may also accept a copy of a bill/invoice at your current address, however, depending on your circumstances, you may not have such copies – for example, you need to have a bank account before you can apply for a mobile phone contract.
4. You may also be asked for proof of income, such as a payslip or summary of annual income if you are self employed. Many accounts with better services (such as no-monthly fees or transfer fees) are called “Nómina” accounts, as these are the accounts you will have your monthly salary paid into by your employer.
How much will it cost to open a bank account in Spain?
Opening a bank account in Spain doesn’t usually have a fixed cost, in fact, as a general rule, there’s no such charge. A very small number of financial entities do charge for opening an account.
The maintenance of the account itself is another matter. Spanish banks charge you for having an operational account, although in many cases they waive the charges as long as a series of conditions are met, such as paying in your monthly salary (nómina), keeping a set minimum balance in the account, or performing a certain number of operations in a given time period.
I recommend investigating the different options before choosing a bank, to be sure of selecting the option that fits your situation and way of life, but just to give you an idea the more traditional types of institutions such as BBVA or Santander will generally have monthly charges to maintain your account and order transfers to other accounts, especially international transfers, unless you complete certain conditions. More modern institutions, such as ING Direct or EVO Banco, don’t usually charge those commissions.
Steps to follow for opening your account
1. In an office
Opening a bank account directly at the branch is very easy, just follow a few simple steps:
Go bank branch which is relatively convenient to get to. This has traditionally been quite an important choice, since you’ll probably have to carry out some transactions in person at the branch at some point. This is the big difference between some of the suppliers of accounts. Some banks only have a couple of branches in the whole city, and others have offices on every corner. To be honest though, the banks on every corner are the more traditional institutions I mentioned above, and the maintenance costs are the price you pay for the convenience of having offices guaranteed to be nearby. However, service is often slow, and opening times are limited, so consider this, and weigh up the need for a physical branch in this day and age.
Submit the required documentation. If a joint account is to be opened, all the account holders must go to the office and take their individual documents.
Passport and Certificate of non-residence; the latter can be requested at the General Directorate of Police, either directly or through immigration offices or police stations. There are financial entities that can do this for you, but they charge for the service.
In some cases, a small opening fee will be charged (this depends on the bank).
Provide the information the bank requires to open an account. This information will depend on the entity itself, but usually includes: proof of address, proof of income, references from your bank in your home country...
2. By Internet
Opening an account through the Internet is even simpler, and more convenient. Without needing to leave home, go to the bank’s website. There you’ll find the steps to follow:
The conditions are given, such as what types of accounts there are, the commission, the cards... Comparing the offers from the different banks is very easy if it’s done through the Internet, because you don’t have to go from one place to another.
Complete the personal data: in addition to giving your NIE, you must provide the bank with a postal address, a telephone number and an email. If one or more of the account holders has a job, they must provide their employment details.
You’ll be asked to set up a security code, with passwords and security questions. This serves to identify you each time you access the account.
After confirming the data, the account is created. But before you can use it, you’ll have to receive a contract from the bank and send the necessary documentation (usually a photocopy of your NIE). After you’ve reviewed and approved the contract and the bank has approved the documentation submitted, the account is activated.
Banking in Spain doesn't have to be complicated, and hopefully this has given insight into how to open a bank account and what documentation you need to obtain in advance. However, if you're still feeling confused or unsure of the next steps to take for, we've created a handy free guide on how to open a bank account in Spain.
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