How to Open a Bank Account in Spain

Your Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Spain:  

When moving to Spain, opening a bank account is important. With a local bank account, you can have easier bill payments and transactions, and access to a wider range of banking services while abroad. Whether you are going to Barcelona, Madrid, or anywhere else in Spain, here is your simplified guide open a bank account, ensuring a smooth experience from start to finish.

In recent years, the process of opening a bank account in Spain has become easier for foreigners. Banks are now more accommodating and have dedicated services for non-residents. However, the procedures for opening a bank account may differ slightly depending on the bank you go to, so make sure to check with the bank you choose for all of the updated information.

Why would you want to open a bank account in Spain? 

Opening a bank account in Spain as a foreigner offers several advantages. One major advantage is the convenience it provides in managing your finances. With a local bank account, you can easily pay bills, receive and send money, and make transactions within Spain. Additionally, having a bank account in Spain can help you build a financial record in the country, which may be beneficial in the future if you are planning to stay in Spain for an extended period of time and apply for loans or mortgages.

Moreover, having a bank account in Spain can save you money on currency conversion fees. If you are from outside of Spain, such as the US or UK, you may have a high currency exchange rate. So if you frequently transfer money, having a local bank account will allow you to avoid those extra charges. 

Choosing the Right Bank for You: 

You will want to research all of the different banks in Spain so that you choose the right bank for you. There are many things to consider in this step as you want to ensure you choose the right bank for you. One major factor to think about is the language of services offered. While major banks in Spain typically provide services in both Spanish and English, I recommend confirming this before you make your final selection. This will make sure that you can effectively communicate and understand the terms and conditions associated with your account. Additionally, you should research the services offered by different banks. Some may provide more relevant services, such as discounted fees for international transactions or special savings programs. It is also essential to consider where the bank locations are and the availability of ATMs, especially if you frequently withdraw cash or visit the bank in person. 

Spain has numerous different banks, but several well-known banks cater to nonresidents better than other banks. Banco Santander, one of the largest banks in Spain, offers a wide variety of services and has an extensive network across the country. BBVA, another major player in the Spanish banking sector, provides various account options tailored to different customer needs. CaixaBank and Bankia are also reputable choices, with a strong presence throughout Spain. 

Choosing the Right Type of Bank Account: 

You will want to choose which type of bank account you want to open. If you are studying abroad in Madrid or Barcelona, or any other city in Spain, you will need to choose a non-resident account, instead of a resident account. A non-resident account allows people living abroad, such as those from the US or UK, to have an account in Spain. There are four main types of bank accounts available:

  • Cuenta bancaria o Cuenta corriente: This type of account is ideal for day-to-day transactions and for your basic financial needs. 
  • Cuenta de ahorros: If you want to accumulate interest on your funds, a savings account would be suitable for you.  
  • Cuenta de deposito: Similar to a savings account, this deposit account prioritizes the security of your money, though you are unable to access your money as frequently.  
  • Cuenta nomina: Specifically designed for receiving your salary from your employer, this salary account is a good option for managing your paycheck. 

These accounts have such specialized functions that it is common for people in Spain to have more than one bank account and you may want to consider this as well. 

Going to the Bank: 

After you have done your research, you can make an appointment at the bank of your choosing. Then, you will need to gather the required documents. Make sure you check with the bank for which documents you will need. However, these are some common forms you will probably need: 

  1. Valid identification document: This typically includes your passport or national ID card. 
  2. Proof of address: It is important to provide documentation, such as a recent utility bill or rental agreement, that verifies your address in Spain.  
  3. Proof of income or employment: Depending on your bank’s policies, you may be required to submit pay stubs, an employment contract, or in the case of being a student, proof of enrollment. 
  4. Residence permit: For a non-resident account, you will likely need this card. 

Then, you will need to visit your chosen bank. The bankers will guide you through the application process. This usually includes having to fill out an application form and giving them your documentation. Some banks require an initial deposit to open an account, so make sure you have enough money with you.

After submitting your application, the bank will review and process it. It might take some time until you know if you are approved, so be patient. Once you get approved, you can get your bank account details and you will be able to use your new card. Congratulations, you are done and you will now have a bank account! 

Opening a bank account in Spain as a foreigner can be extremely helpful. With this new bank account, you can enjoy a lot of services offered by the bank. These services often include online banking, ATM access, customer support in various languages, and more. Whether you plan to stay in Spain, having a local bank account will provide you with a solid foundation for managing your finances.

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Student Financing

Written By

Isabella Gambatese

International Student, 2023

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