How to open a bank account in Spain

There are many reasons people choose to move to Spain: the lovely weather, amazing food and high quality of life. If you are planning on moving, you will have a long list of “to do’s” to complete but opening a bank account should be high on your list of priorities. Here are the steps we suggest you take to open a bank account in Spain.

This country is home to a huge expat community of around 300,000 people. For this reason, banks have specific services for foreigners that want to enjoy the warm climate and everything the Spanish lifestyle has to offer. Spain has an internationalised banking system, so opening a bank account will be much easier than you think.

You should know that having a bank account in Spain is not a legal requirement for you to reside in the country. However, it will give you certain advantages when it comes to day-to-day finance management. For example, transactions such as cash withdrawals and direct debiting of your utility bills will be cost free if you have an account with a local bank.

Opening a bank account in Spain: documents and requirements

Each bank has different offers which vary according to your residential status. If you are already living in Spain and you have an address, you can open a residents account. Check out the requirements and documents you need to open a bank account and start your new life in Spain. For residents, most banks require you to present the following information:

  • A valid ID such as a passport
  • Proof of address
  • Your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) which is the code that accredits your residential status in Spain
  • Proof of income – whether that is a contract of employment or documentation that proves you are unemployed or retired

Please be advised each bank might have slightly different requirements and you should contact them beforehand.

The most frequently asked questions when opening a bank account in Spain

You might have many questions going through your head, so here are the answers to some of the FAQs when it comes to opening a bank account in Spain:

  • Can I open a bank account if I am not a resident?
    Yes, most banks have an international service that allows you to open a bank account as a non-resident. You will, however, need a certificate that proves your status, but it is an easy process you can complete even if you are not in the country.
  • Can I open a bank account from the UK?
    Yes, you can open your account the same way any foreigner does. You just need to prove your residential status through a certificate.
  • Can I open a bank account if I don’t speak Spanish?
    If you have any Spanish-speaking family or friends, ask them for some help. If not, staff at the bank are usually very accommodating and will be willing to help you. Some banks even offer services in different languages, so you can ask to have a call or in-person meeting with an English-speaking agent. Just make sure to request this before the appointment.

Can I open a bank account in Spain online?

If you are not in the country or planning a trip soon, you have different options to open an account or at least start the process with their online services. Many banks offer this service, but some may ask for at least one in-person visit, so you should make sure to contact the company of your choice before applying.

If you are finding it hard to open a bank account in Spain through an online service, there are also a number of international online banks you can choose from which will allow you to have an account and debit card. These types of online banks usually work through an app and are quite easy to set up. You will be able to carry out transactions and even send money abroad from your phone. This is a great option to have while you get settled in the country.

Can I open a bank account in Spain without a Spanish address?

If you are not a resident yet, you are also allowed to open an account but under non-resident status. Spanish banks offer international services for non-residents and these accounts are usually easy to open. If you are planning on moving here full time, you can always switch to a resident account, which usually offers a fuller range of services, once you are settled in. But first you will need to present the following documents:

  • A valid ID, usually a passport will be enough
  • A certificate of non-residency. If you are already in Spain, you can request the certificate by going to your local police station with a valid ID. There, you will fill out the required forms and pay a fee. If you are not in the country, you can still request the certificate by contacting a Spanish consulate.

Certificates usually take a few days to be issued, so make sure you have enough time before your bank appointment. And remember this process may vary from bank to bank but the minimum requirement is that you present a valid form of photo-ID and your certificate of non-residency. There are many banks to choose from plus a variety of cooperatives and local or regional banks that offer great services for temporary or permanent foreign residents.