Spanish Bank Accounts

In Spain, having a local bank account is crucial for managing utilities, mortgages, and taxes, making it practically unavoidable for long-term residents or those planning to invest or start a business. Opening an account, whether as a resident or non-resident, is straightforward, but conditions may vary between the two types of accounts.

Introduction

While opening a bank account in Spain isn’t mandatory, it’s practically essential for managing various aspects of life here. From utilities to taxes, having a local account streamlines many processes. Whether you’re a resident or non-resident, the process is relatively straightforward. However, be prepared for some paperwork and potential language barriers. Plus, be mindful of banking commissions and charges, which can vary widely between institutions. Despite the bureaucratic nature of Spanish banks, having an account with one of them is advisable for handling fiscal and social security matters effectively.


Do you need a Spanish Bank Account?

Opening a bank account in Spain is not compulsory but, in the end, unavoidable. You can theoretically manage your finances from an overseas account and pay with your Visa, Master Card or American Express credit cards, but other aspects of life in Spain are difficult to manage without a local bank account.

Issues like paying utilities, getting a mortgage, or paying taxes and social security contributions are virtually impossible without a Spanish bank account. Besides, foreign credit cards may suffer a commission fee for every payment realized within the Spanish territory.

So, yes, if you are here for the long term, want to invest or set up a business, you need a Spanish bank account. Modern international internet banks like ING, Revolut and N26 can be an alternative, but for the moment they do not have a license to represent the Spanish administration, so functionality for business is limited and not recommended (yet).

Resident or Non-Resident?

Opening a bank account is easy, no matter if you are a resident or a non-resident in Spain. The procedure in the nonresident case will be a bit longer but both options are relatively straightforward. You just need to go to the bank, present the required documents, and you instantly have your account operative.

It is worth considering that resident bank accounts are more flexible than non-resident ones and can offer better conditions. Nevertheless, if you are not planning to stay permanently in Spain, a non-resident bank account will be enough for you. No matter the option you choose, you can always switch from one type to the other once you get your residency. You just need no notify it to the bank and bring your residency card, and the change will be done.

There is no minimum deposit to open an account in euros (€), which makes the process even simpler. Nevertheless, for other currencies there may be a minimum amount; so, make sure you check it out beforehand.

If you are a nonresident and not physically available to come and sign the papers, we can assign a representative or prepare a Power of Attorney and can open the bank account for you remotely. We will request a Spanish tax ID number and open the bank account with this number.


How to open a bank account in Spain as a Resident

The best option is to go to the bank yourself. Bear in mind that not all the personnel will speak English there, so try booking an appointment with someone who does. We have bank relationships that have English speaking operators and will be happy to make introductions and to accompany you if needed.

This is also important for later, as having access to a real person that understands your language and needs and that can help to shortcut the bureaucracy can be crucial. For opening the bank account, you only need to bring your resident ID, but we recommend to also bring your passport, census certificate or utilities invoice with your name and address on it and property deed or rental contract just in case.

Some banks will also request proof of employment status. Valid documents are pay slips, tax returns or government letters confirming that you are unemployed or receiving financial support. You should bear in mind that all the documents you submit must be translated into Spanish and notarized with the Hague Apostille.

If you are opening a bank account for a company, bear in mind that the bank will require information from all the shareholders of the company and that the account will not be activated until you present them with the registered deed of constitution and the census declaration of start of operations. If the shareholders are foreign individuals or companies, sworn translations and apostille will be necessary.

How to open a bank account in Spain as a Non-Resident

The process is the same, but it includes an extra step: you will be required to submit a non-resident certificate. To obtain this document, you have two different options:

  • Go to Dirección General Policía with your passport and copy and ask for a non-resident certificate. You will be able to pick it up after 10 days. Once you have obtained this document you will then be able to go to your chosen bank with your passport and have your account open. The account operative in the moment of opening it, immediately.
  • Go to the bank and bring your passport. The bank will sign an authorization to request the certificate on your behalf, but with an associated cost of 15€. Bear in mind that the account will not be operative until they receive that certificate.

Resident or Nonresident, be patient and be prepared to sign a bunch of papers in duplicate as the process is still very manual and paper based in most Spanish banks.


Bank Commissions

In general, you will find that banking costs in Spain can be higher than in the rest of European countries. Nevertheless, the exact costs will depend and vary from bank to bank, so do your research and compare conditions.

There are a variety of charges that are not always clear and transparent so you should ask explicitly. These include opening charges and maintenance fees, ATM withdrawal fees, transfer fees (national and international) and exchange rate fees.

Often there are different levels of fees and benefits depending on the number of other services you contract with the bank like salary deposits, insurance, pension plans etc. It is also still quite common that the bank offers you some towels or pots and pans if you open an account but that is definitely not what you should be looking for.

Make sure to check your bank statements and establish a personal relationship with the manager of the bank office that is handling your account. It is not unusual for extra charges to magically appear, and in those cases only a call to your office manager will get them removed.


What are the best banks in Spain?

There are no good banks in Spain. Period. All of them have bureaucratic structures, are not proactive and very conservative in terms of credit. Internet sites are usually unfriendly and helplines can be frustrating.

Still, we do recommend getting an account with one of them as they are licensed by the Spanish authorities to handle fiscal and social security operations and know their way around in this sense. Here is the list of banks accepted by the Spanish Tax Agency AEAT and here are the ones acknowledged by the Social Security services TGSS.

The 4 biggest ones are BBVA, Banco Santander, CaixaBank and Banco Sabadell. Banco Santander and BBVA are the most international ones.

We have collaboration agreements in place with most of them and are happy to guide you through the process.

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The information contained herein is of a general nature, and subject to changes. Applicability to your specific situation should be determined through consultation with our tax or legal advisors.