How to open a bank account in Spain

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How to open a bank account in Spain

Spain is a great country. Its weather is lovely. Its people, warm. Combine these with a rich history, a thriving modern culture, and fantastic architecture, no wonder it is one of the world's best places to live and a top destination for students, workers, retirees and investors.

How to open bank accont in spain as non-resident

If Spain is a place you just recently recolated to or currently considering as your destination, here is our guide on how to open a bank account in Spain.

Documents required to open a bank account in Spain

Here are the documents necessary to open a bank account in Spain

  • A valid passport or - if you are an EU citizen - your ID card
  • Proof of address such as a recent bank statement of utility bill
  • Proof of employment such as payslips, tax returns or unemployment benefits documentation (for students, their student cards)
  • Some banks will require - albeit optionally - a non-resident confirmation (certifcado de no residente) which is a document stating that you are in fact a non-resident. You can get one of these by simply visiting a local police station with your passport in hand. Before you pay a station a visit, check first which police stations offer this service as not all stations include this certificate issuance as part of their services.

Documents are only accepted during the process if they are translated into Spanish by an official translator which in Spain is called a traductor jurado. It is possible to find sworn in language translators anywhere in the world before you arrive in Spain and expedite the process.

Can I open a bank account in Spain as a non-resident

Yes, it is possible to open a Spanish bank account as a non-resident as Spain has specific legislation for the matter and allows non-residents to easily open accounts. The process of opening bank accounts above is for non-residents only. When you become an official resident, you can easily switch over to a resident account and there won't be much paperwork involved if at all with exception of you having to present your new NIE number.

Best banks in Spain

There are many large Spanish banking institutions and all of them offer comparable packages for expats. ATM networks are ubiquitous and generally talk to one another even though there are fees if you take cash out of one that is not your bank's or its partners.

Best banks in Spain for foreigners

There will be plenty of options available to you when it comes to free accounts, online applications, mobile banking, phone service and many other perks if you choose from any of the four largest banks in the country: Bankia, BBVA, La Caixa and Santander.

  • Bankia: This Spanish bank has excellent account options including the Cuenta Facil which is the most basic current account which includes a free Visa debit card and you can apply online. They also have an account for youths which is the Cuenta Joven aimed at people between the ages of 14 and 26 years old. This account does not have a monthly fee. There are various business accounts available and many ATMs and branches to choose from
  • BBVA: BBVA is a great choice because of its large network and thanks to its various accounts without monthly fees. Their website is in English which is helpful. Their top 2 accounts are online only and are the BBVA Online Account and the BBVA Blue Online Account with easy registration. Various business banking options are also available and includes all the perks that you would be accustomed with such as overdraft protection and business financing. Its mobile application was named the best banking app in the world for the third time according to Forrester Research's 2019 report.
  • La Caixa: Their current bank account for non-residents is also a good choice because it comes with a series of extras such as legal advice emergency services and something that may prove very useful: a free interpreter that you can use for anything you want. Additionally their Cuenta Estrella is also free and comes also with a credit card. If you use this account to deposit your salary, you get a tablet, TV or smartwatch. Their network is pretty comprehensive.
  • Santander: This bank is known for its 1|2|3 account which comes with 3% cashback on certain bills and 3% interest on balances between 3 and 15 thousand euros. Unfortunately, Santander's main focus is with residents and their website is in Spanish so unless you know Spanish or have a friend to help you out, it would be difficult to start the process. Their network is one of the largest in Spain.
  • Banco de Sabadell: The fifth largest Spanish banking group has a special page for foreign nationals offering 2 types of accounts for non-residents: Key Account and Expansion Account. The Key Account is tailored to help international customers manage their daily finances. It offers debit and credits card and transfers that are free of charge, and provides a translation service to make life easier for non-Spanish-speaking expats. The Expansion Account also comes with debit and credit cards and charges no administrative or maintenance fees. It does not charge banks fees when the customer directly deposits their pension, salary or makes a regular deposit.

Opening a bank account in Spain is easy because the country is highly attractive to foreigners looking to live or invest in the country. Options are wide, ATM networks cover the whole country and banking should be as easy as any other modern nation. It has its perks: bank hours can be odd as Spaniards like to take a second breakfast starting at 10:30 which means lines are longer. Lunch breaks are also 3-hour affairs starting at 1:30 and ending at 4:30 which points out how in Spain life is slower than what you may be accustomed to.

The virtual bank account option

International money transfers can be expensive in Spain

If you want to use your new bank account in Spain to transfer money back to your home country, chances are, that you will spend too much in the process because banks do not adhere to the mid market rate when performing transfers on your behalf. This rate, which is the currency conversion rate use when a bank transfers money to another, is very low and therefore in order to make a profit banks charge over this rate plus they add the SWIFT fee for you to pay.  You end up paying as much as 10% of the total transfer in fees in some markets. This is a reality for transfers with any bank.

The exception is a virtual bank account with B2B Pay. With it, you get a European IBAN which you can use to perform transfers straight to your home country for only a flat fee of 1%. Moreover, the transfers are much faster and to some countries you get your money the same day instead of days or weeks. If you need to do international remittances the best way there is, try a virtual bank account with B2B Pay.

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How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

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