Opening a bank account in Spain is perhaps one of the most crucial requirements when moving to the country.
This, for sure, generates many questions regarding its requirements, if you can do it entirely online, which are the best banks to open your bank account, etc.
And that is exactly what we will explore throughout this complete guide, including the main differences between residents and non-residents, and crucial tips you can’t miss.
Why should you open a bank account in Spain
You can use your credit card from your home country and navigate the country with an overseas account. That is no problem.
But if you are staying for a long time, or you need to carry out any of the procedures we will see next, then you must open a local bank account in the country.
Many times this will not be ideal, as the process can be quite tedious, but it is necessary nonetheless (as it will turn out to be critical to living in the country).
And that is because many institutions and many procedures require you to have a local Spanish bank account, for example when:
- Obtaining your residence permit in the country
- You purchase a property (so that you can transfer the money to the local account for the final payment)
- To receive a pension
- To pay your rent in Spain
But that is not all. There are many other day-to-day needs that will also require a Spanish bank account, for example:
- Paying for your gym membership
- Paying your monthly utilities (internet, electricity, water, etc.)
- Paying your health insurance
- Mobile purchases
- Other local expenses
Can foreigners open a bank account in Spain?
Yes, both foreign residents and non-residents can open a bank account in Spain. But the process, and especially the requirements, differ depending on the group you are in (as non-residents have a bit more difficult).
Let’s explore these differences between resident and non-resident accounts:
Opening a bank account a resident
If you are a resident (you stay more than 183 days per year in the country), good news. Your bank account will offer more perks and services, and you will usually experience lower overall fees.
The process to open your account is much more straightforward, and will require you to submit:
Opening a bank account as a non-resident
Opening a non-resident bank account may be the right option in case you are not living in Spain on a permanent basis, or when you have just moved in (as you can later on transfer into a resident account).
The downside is that the opening process is more complex, fees tend to be higher and you will enjoy fewer perks.
Even though it is not possible to do it online, opening a bank account as a non-resident is completely possible (even though not all banks and branches will accept non-residents)
You will need the following documents:
- Many banks will require you to demonstrate you are a non-resident. That is done by obtaining the “non-resident certificate” at the police station, which typically takes 10 days (even though you can also do it at the Spanish consulate if you are abroad) and costs around 15€.
- Passport or national ID card
- Document to prove your address, like a utility bill (no more than 3 months old) or bank statement
- Employment status/proof of income, like a payslip or tax return
- Lease agreement or title deed if you have or are purchasing a property in the country
Apart from that, additional documents may be requested depending on the type of product you wish to hire at the bank.
Bear in mind that foreign documents must be translated into Spanish and properly notarized (apostilled)
Is it possible to open a bank account online?
It depends. At many banks, you can complete the vast majority of the process online, but you must visit your branch office at the end to finalize the process.
For that, bear in mind that banks tend to open from Monday to Frida, 9 am to 2 pm; and bringing a Spanish-speaker friend or relative will be much recommended to enjoy a hassle-free procedure.
But, while that is true for traditional banks like BBVA or Santander, online banks operating in Spain won’t require you to visit in person and will allow you to complete the whole process online from your smartphone.
How long does it take to open up a bank account?
Opening a bank account is quite fast, as typically your account will take from 1 to 5 days to get activated.
Where you will experience greater delays is in preparing all the documents you must submit, especially if you must obtain a non-resident certificate (which takes about 2 weeks), or if you need to apostille any foreign documents.
Don’t be surprised about this (costs when opening and maintaining your account)
When you open a bank account in Spain, bear in mind that you will face different fees, which many times can be high and non that transparent as compared to other countries:
- There are maintenance fees (usually around 50€ per year)
- There are also transfer fees (2-3€ per transfer)
- Finally, you will also face fees for holding your debit card (which usually range between 15€ per year)
It is really important that at the very moment you sign all contracts, make sure to ask and double-check for possible fee increases in the future, which tend to happen without notice.
What it the best bank for foreigners?
In Spain, you have plenty of options, and choosing one or another will depend on your preferences and needs in the country, as conditions change depending on the product/s you want to hire.
We can divide the different banking options into 2 main groups: traditional banks and online banks.
When it comes to traditional banks, the main options are:
And if you prefer an online banking solution, you can find:
And, of course, you also have international banks to choose from:
- Deutsche Bank
Can students open a bank account too?
Yes, students can open a bank account in Spain; and in fact the vast majority of banks do have special conditions for students and branch offices within campus universities.
Those special conditions range from lower enrollment fees, the possibility to pay fees in installments, and even eliminating many online payment fees.
In order to proceed, you must first obtain your student visa/student residency card, and with that document and your NIE, you will be able to open your bank account.
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