Do you intend to open a bank account in Spain? This might be because you're planning to emigrate to the Iberian peninsula with your family, to start a new life in Marbella or the Costa Blanca. Alternatively, this could be because you want to buy a Spanish holiday home, to enjoy year-round escapes to sun, sand and sangria in Valencia or Alicante.
Whatever your reason for moving to Spain, there are clear advantages to opening a Spanish bank account. After all, if you're relocating to Spain permanently, this will enable you to manage regular payments for living expenses, and to carry out day to day tasks like shopping and withdrawing cash without having to worry about the fees associated with using your UK debit or credit card. If you're buying a Spanish property, having a bank account in Spain will make it far more convenient to pay the deposit, plus your mortgage.
With this in mind, please find below our tips to open a bank account in Spain, both for non-residents and residents. Once you've sorted your bank account, or cuenta bancaria española in Spanish, you'll be one step closer to putting up your feet on your Spanish balcony, with a wide-brimmed sombrero, to enjoy a siesta!
How to open a Spanish bank account if you're non-resident
You might be attracted to the idea of opening a bank account in Spain for non-residents, because you think it will involve less bureaucracy and visits to the Spanish administration. However, even for those not resident in Spain, it's a bit more complex than simply going to the bank and opening your account. Rather, you'll still need to deal with Spain's public administration to obtain some legal documents first.
Also, if you plan to emigrate or buy property in Spain, it's highly recommended to become a legal resident, and obtain your NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero, or Foreigner's Identification Number.) This is because, as an expatriate in Spain, you need a NIE for most things, like obtaining a social security number or paying taxes. A NIE is also a legal requirement to buy a property.
That said, as I mention, it's possible to open a Spanish bank account as a non-resident. To do this, you need to go to your local police station in Spain, where matters about foreigners' residence are resolved, and ask for a "Solicitud de Certificación de No Residente" ("Application for Non-Resident Certificate".) You'll need to provide:
- Your passport.
- Proof of income, such as a bank statement.
- Proof of employment, such as a letter from your company.
- Proof of address, such as a gas bill or rental contract.
- At least two photocopies of all the above.
Once you've provided these, you'll receive your non-resident's certificate. With this, you can open a bank account in Spain as a non-resident.
It's worth bearing in mind that many Spanish banks won't issue credit cards to non-residents. Also, if your bank account goes below €0.00, Spanish banks may charge higher levels of interest to non-residents. Lastly, a non-resident certificate must be renewed every two years, without which your Spanish bank may close your account.
Open a Spanish bank account for residents
It's far easier with a NIE to open a bank account in Spain. After all, your NIE is permanent, so you won't have to renew it, and the Spanish banks offer better bank accounts to residents. Plus, you'll need to be a resident to do everyday tasks, like pay taxes, or even to buy a property in Spain. Given this, it's highly recommended to get your NIE to open your Spanish bank account. This will make life in Spain much simpler. So, to obtain your NIE:
- Go to your local Spanish police station, and fill in an EX-15 form.
- Bring your passport, proof of income, proof of address, and photocopies.
- Pay the administrative fee.
- If you've hired a gestor to manage your application on your behalf, they'll need to provide proof of attorney, in Spanish.
Once you've provided these documents, you'll receive your NIE there and then. This will be a green credit card-sized piece of thick paper, laminated on one side. It will say your name, date of birth, and the place and date where your obtained your Foreigner's Identification Number. As I say, you'll need this document countless times during your life in Spain, so guard it carefully!
Tips to open a bank account in Spain
Once you've got your NIE, you're in a great position to open your Spanish bank account. To open a bank account in almost any bank in Spain as a resident, you'll need to do the following:
- Go to the bank's local branch or online portal.
- Choose the type of bank account you want to open. Please see below for some tips on how to do this.
- Fill in your name, NIE, address, and email address.
- If you've opened your account online, you'll receive your legal documents and debit and credit cards in the post in a few days. If you've opened your account in person, they may give you these there and then.
It’s that simple! So which Spanish bank do you choose? Well, find below some helpful tips:
- The level of service between Spain's banks varies greatly. So it's worth comparing which Spanish bank has the best customers reviews, before you open your account.
- If you don't yet speak Spanish, it's worth making sure that your Spanish bank offers English service. This includes both in your local branch, by email and over the telephone.
- Check that your Spanish bank has a branch where you're planning to live. This is because, unlike in the UK, Spanish banks frequently charge commission to withdraw money from other Spanish banks' cash machines. So to avoid paying fees every time you take out money, make sure you've got a branch nearby. Also, Spanish banks' presence varies widely across different parts of Spain.
- To transfer your money to Spain from the UK, consider using a specialist currency broker such as Foreign Currency Direct. We offer competitive exchange rates, and can send funds directly to an account of your choice.
- Spanish banks frequently change their minimum deposit requirements, commission structures and interest rates. So look for a bank that requires a low minimum monthly deposit, doesn't charge fees for transfers or credit cards, and offers a higher interest rate. Also, Spanish banks often charge fees if you fall below their minimum conditions, so be sure to follow your bank account’s rules.
For more information, click below to download our buying in Spain guide. It contains lots of additional handy information, to help you stay on track with your moving abroad plans.