How to open a bank account in Spain?

International students, coming to Spain and staying there for a longer period of time, may ask theirselves: How to open a bank account in Spain? For foreigners in Spain, there are two types of bank accounts: resident and non-resident accounts.

All rules, regulations and banking procedures vary from bank to bank and country to country. Please get the necessary information!
Thus, Before you go abroad, you should go to your own bank in your country and inform yourself about the issue of opening a bank account in a foreign country, if there is any particular procedure and so on.

Once you are abroad and want to open a bank account, you should first choose one bank. Here a listing of the most famous banks in Spain:

Santander alt

Positive for expats: free bank transfers and extremely low fees when withdrawing from other ATMs

Negative for expats: little bit more difficult to open an account with Santander as a non-resident (but you can easily obtain NIE)

Documents you need to open a bank account: Passport or NIE, certificate of non-residency (if applicable), proof of home address (utility bill letter or rental contract), proof of employment

Sabadell alt Positive for expats: Cuenta Expansion (with overdraft services available), 24/7-phone service with English-speaking staff available, really easy online banking.

Negative for expats: fairly difficult to set up a deposit account for those trying to save money, for online purchases you receive a code through Sabadell app on your phone

Documents you need to open a bank account: NIE + proof of employment, sometimes proof of home address

ING DIRECT alt Positive for expats: allows you to open a bank account online, Online banking available, no fees or charges, Cuenta Naranja – you don’t need to deposit your salary into this account and can easily use ING as your secondary bank

Negative for expats: no English-speaking services

Documents you need to open a bank account: NIE, proof of employment, proof of home address

Bankinter alt La Caixa alt Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) alt Ibercaja alt Unicaja alt Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa alt

Consider choosing a bank that has a branch near your place of residence/study, or several branches throughout your city or the whole country Spain. In Spain you could be charged 1-3€ each time you withdraw money from the ATM of a bank that is not yours.

Other factors to consider when choosing your bank:

Internet Banking
Telephone Banking
Multi-Lingual Service, online or/and in person

If you found a bank, you need to make sure that you have a valid piece of ID from your home country (like passport or ID card). Most banks accept a valid (non expired) passport as a means of identification to open the account, but there are others, which ask for the Spanish NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero i.e. Foreign Identification Number).
Foreigners, who open a bank account without having the NIE, will have the account status of “non-resident” which is subject to certain tax charges on any interest earned on the account. Non-residents have to justify their non- resient status by providing “acertificado de no residencia” within 15 days after opening the account.
You can apply and collect this certificate (NIE) at a local police station! Every two years thereafter, the bank is supposed to perform a check on your non-resident status. In the event that you do become a resident after opening the account, you must notify the bank and give them a copy of your “tarjeta de residencia”.

Requirements for opening an account: various documents to show like your Visa, proof of entry into Spain, Registration Letter from your School or Internship Agreement from your Job, photographic proof of identity, proof of occupation or status (employment contract/payslip, letter from accountant/lawyer, pension or disability payment confirmation, student card), residents also need to produce their Foreigner Identification Number and certificate (NIE), confirmation of address. After the opening of the bank account, you get your debit or credit card normally 5-10 days later. It is not mandatory to have NIE, but it makes a lot of things easier with the issue of having a bank account in Spain.

In terms of fees and services, non-resident accounts are virtually the same as resident ones. It is possible, that the bank may not be willing to issue you a credit card or provide you overdraft protection as a non-resident. Should the bank charge significantly higher fees for being a non-resident, you should change the bank! Another advise: if you make the initial deposit in a foreign currency, make sure the currency will be converted into Euros immediately to avoid any potential problems later. The bank should charge you no more than their typical foreign exchange commissions for this operation.

Good to know

In Spain, it is still widespread that domestic transfers require commission (of around 0,25%)

The credit card is the most popular method of payment, but you can also use a foreign credit card to pay at the cash desk without problems.

Be careful at ATMs in Spain, some people try to illegally manipulate the machines to have access to you card number, PIN etc. Constantly check your account!

Useful words

credit card – la Tarjeta de Credito *bank – el Banco *transfer – la transferencia *bank account – la cuenta corriente / nomina *ATM/cash machine – el cajero

Check out our website and facebook page for more information about Spain/Valencia.