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David Rowe Spain

My thoughts and experiences on living in Spain

How to Open A Bank Account In Spain
04 December 2016 @ 06:52

Whether you’re looking to relocate permanently or even just for a few months, you’re bound to love Spain. Not only does it have great weather and stunning architecture, it also boasts some of the best quality of life in the world.

What’s more, opening a bank account is very easy, even if you’re a non-resident.

Read on to find out how to go about it.

Should I open a Resident or non-resident bank account?

Spanish bank accounts are available to both residents and non-residents of Spain.

Of course, resident bank accounts tend to be more flexible and have more perks. On the other hand, if you’re new to Spain or do not plan to live there on a permanent basis, a non-resident bank account will be easier to open.

In any case, you can always switch your account once you obtain residency. Switching to a resident account is a relatively simple procedure - just make an appointment at your local branch and take the necessary documentation with you.

What documents do I need?

The documents you’ll need in order to open a bank account will vary depending on whether you’re applying as a resident or non-resident.

Some banks may also require more documentation than others, so it’s a good idea to check your bank’s requirements ahead of time. This will ensure you have all the necessary paperwork before you open your account.

Opening a bank account as a non-resident

In order to open a bank account as a non-resident, you’ll need the following documents:

  1. your valid, unexpired passport or national identity card (if you’re an EU citizen);

  2. a document to prove your address, such as a recent bank statement or utility bill (less than 3 months old); and

  3. a document to prove your employment status (such as a payslip, tax return or a government letter confirming that you’re unemployed or receiving state benefits).

For the documents to be acceptable, you’ll have to get them officially translated into Spanish by a sworn official translator, called traductor jurado. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find an official translation service and get your documents translated before you move.

Certificado de No Residente / Non-resident confirmation

Some banks may also require a so-called ‘Certificado de No Residente’ - a letter that confirms you are a non-resident. You can get this letter by going to a police station and showing your passport. Some banks may also offer to get this for you against payment of a fee (normally in the region of €15).

Different police stations have different responsibilities, so you should check ahead of time whether a police station near you offers this service.

It’s also a good idea to avoid going at certain times of the day.

Life is slower in Spain than you may be used to in your home country, and Spaniards sure know how to live well. People often enjoy a secondo desayuno (second breakfast) at around 10.30am, so there may be bigger queues and longer waiting times during this period. It’s also customary to have a three hour long lunch break, starting from around 1.30pm to about 4.30pm.

Opening a bank account as a resident

In order to open a resident bank account, you’ll typically need the following documents:

  1. your valid, unexpired passport or national identity card (if you’re an EU citizen);

  2. a document to prove your Spanish address (such as a lease, a recent utility bill or a recent bank statement;

  3. your Spanish NIE number; and

  4. proof of your employment status (such as an employment contract, a student card or unemployment paperwork).

You should apply for your NIE first, as you’ll need it to do anything that requires an official process. This includes getting a job, renting or buying property, getting connected to utilities and paying taxes.

Can I open an account remotely or online?

Yes, you can apply for a resident bank account online. In some cases, you can also apply for a non-resident bank account online. Either way, you’ll need to visit a branch or meet with a customer representative in order to hand over your documentation.

If you’re not particularly fluent in Spanish, it’s probably a better idea to apply for a bank account in person.

While most banks do have English versions of their website, translations often tend to be clumsy and a bit confusing. Opening an account in person can help you avoid possible misunderstandings.

If at all possible, it’s also a good idea to take a Spanish-speaking friend with you to your appointment. Talking to an English-speaking employee may be more challenging than you might think, even in Spain’s major cities.

What are the bank fees?

Even though the market is quite competitive, the cost of banking in Spain is relatively high compared to other EU countries. Fees can also vary quite significantly from bank to bank, so you should shop around for the best deal.

As a general rule, current accounts are cheaper to open than other types of account. However, you must deposit your salary into the account to benefit from the more advantageous rates. Some banks run special offers from time to time, so you may be able to get a better deal.

With that being said, you should expect to pay at least some of the following fees and charges.

Account opening and maintenance fees

While some banks do offer free products (or waive the monthly fee if you meet certain conditions), most of the time you will have to pay a monthly fee simply for holding a bank account, called a maintenance fee. Depending on the bank, this fee can be upwards of €8 a month.

You may also be required to pay an account opening fee and to make an initial minimum deposit in order to activate your account.

ATM fees

Withdrawing from an ATM is usually free if you use your bank’s ATM machines. However, you can expect to be charged in the region of €2 per transaction when you withdraw money from another bank’s ATMs.

Transfer fees

Many banks offer free international transfers (or transfers at advantageous rates) on their non-resident accounts.

That said, in most cases you’ll either have a limited number of transfers (after which you’ll start being charged the normal rate), or you’ll be limited to a maximum amount per transfer. Either way, the foreign bank may still charge you a hefty fee.

More importantly, favourable transfer fees normally only apply to non-resident accounts. Making an international transfer through your resident account is rarely the best deal.

You may also be charged a fee for transferring money between two Spanish accounts. Quite often, this charge is a percentage commission with a minimum amount payable, often in the region of €1.50 to €3.50 per transaction. You should read your bank’s schedule of fees carefully so you can know what to expect.

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