Opening a bank account in Barcelona, or Spain in general, when you move abroad is like trying to ride a bicycle with no handlebars – not impossible but not the easiest or most comfortable ride! We’ve written a simple guide to help you work out how to open a bank account in Spain and compare the different options available to you.
You can open a Spanish bank account as either a resident or non-resident.
Non-residents will need:
*A ‘certificado de no residencia’ must be given to the bank within 15 days of opening the account. This can be obtained from a local police station (though be sure to check online beforehand as not all stations will offer this service). However, in practice, this is not always necessary, so be sure to check with the bank that it is needed rather than going through the hassle of obtaining a ‘certificado’ for no reason.
Residents will need the exact same documents but will need an NIE (Número de Identificatión de Extranjeros) in place of a ‘certificado de no residencia’. If you’re looking to open a residents bank account but don’t have an NIE it is worth taking a look at our guide to obtaining one as it can be a very complex process!
Resident bank accounts will often have better perks but, considering that opening a non-resident bank account is slightly easier, it may be worth just opening a non-resident account if you don’t intend to stay in Spain for too long. However, its worth being aware that non-resident accounts may not allow you to have a credit card or overdraft so make sure you look into this with each bank if it is essential for you to have them.
Banks charge fees for their services across the world and Spanish banks are no different. In fact, fees here are often higher than in many other countries. Here’s a list of some of the most common hidden fees you’ll have to look out for:
Some banks will have better fee rates than others and some will charge for various other services apart from those mentioned above. We recommend that you take the time to really compare accounts and get a good picture of the fees and charges each bank requires so as not to get caught out unexpectedly.
The ‘Big Four’ of Spanish banking are Bankia, BBVA, La Caixa and Santander but there are, of course, other banks available who may suit your needs better. Here is a breakdown of some of the accounts offered by the ‘Big Four’ to point you in the right direction:
BBVA also has a variety of business banking services and some include free transfers and free cheque deposits. The website is written in excellent English so may be a good choice if you haven’t yet got to grips with the language.
Other accounts tailored to students and businesses are available, Unfortunately, Santander’s products are mainly targeted at residents. In addition, while it is possible to apply online, the website is not in English so basic Spanish is necessary.
Now that you’ve got an idea of how to open a bank account in Spain and the different types of bank accounts available to you there’s nothing left to do but go for it! Remember: shop around, watch out for fees and make sure you have all your documentation ready to go. Happy banking! OH! And if something wasn’t clear, you have questions, or would like us to elaborate on part of this blog let us know and we’d be more than happy to!