All you need to know about opening a bank account in Spain


Open a bank in Spain

One of your first priorities is opening a bank account in Spain. Even if you’re not planning to live permanently in the country, having a bank account will make life easier.

And if you buy a property in Spain, you’ll need one to pay your utility bills and taxes such as local council rates. Read on to find out all you need to know about opening a bank account in Spain.

Choosing where to open your bank account in Spain

You’re certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to opening a bank account in Spain because there are literally dozens of banks. Spanish-owned banks dominate the market, but you’ll also find foreign banks, particularly in resort areas and the largest cities.

Like the UK, Spain has had its fair share of banking troubles – Bankia was bailed out by the Spanish government aided by the EU – but the vast majority of banks currently enjoy solidity as financial institutions. The choice of banks can make it difficult to decide where to open your bank account. To help you make a choice, consider the following:

Location – even if you do most of your banking transactions online, you’ll need to withdraw cash. Banks provide free cash withdrawals only from ATMs that belong to their network so it makes sense to have an ATM belonging to your bank’s network nearby. And if you do need to go into the bank, having a branch close to your home or business is handy.

English-speaking – in resort areas and large cities, most banks have staff who speak English (and other languages). Not all, however, provide telephone or online banking services in English.

Do your research before you commit.

Bank charges – Spanish banks love charging commission so check and compare rates before opening a bank account in Spain. Most banks have commission-free accounts providing you fulfill certain conditions such as paying your salary into that account, maintaining a minimum balance or taking out insurance policies with the bank.

Recommendation – another excellent way of finding a good bank is to ask around. Even if you don’t get a tip for the best bank, you’ll probably find out which banks to avoid!

Top tip – don’t expect a foreign bank in Spain to work as it does in its country of origin. All banks operating in Spain must comply with Spanish regulations so don’t be surprised if things are done differently.

How to open a bank account in Spain

When opening a bank account in Spain you need to fulfil the following conditions:

•    Be at least 18 years old.
•    Provide proof of identity (passport or national identity card, note that a driving licence isn’t valid proof).
•    Provide a foreigner’s identity number (known as a número de identificación de extranjero/ NIE) if you’re opening a resident’s bank account.

Some banks in Spain, particularly online banks such as ING Direct and EVO Banco, allow you to open an account online as long as you confirm your identity via post. It’s much easier, however, to open an account in person at the bank of your choice.  You provide the required documentation and the bank usually opens your account instantly for you.

Banking online in Spain

All Spanish banks have online portals, some of which are available in English. The majority also have apps for smart phones and tablets meaning you can carry out banking transactions on the go.

Top tip – don’t do any online banking transactions via public wifi networks. Only carry out bank business on your phone or tablet through a secure internet connection.

Bank opening hours in Spain

Banks in Spain open Monday to Friday only. They don’t generally open at weekends with the exception of branches operating in shopping centres, which may open on Saturday mornings.

Typical bank opening hours are 8.30am to 2.30pm. Some banks, particularly the newer banks such as EVO Banca, open for longer during the day, e.g. until 8pm, but only for non-cash transactions.

All banks close on public holidays in Spain, including local public holidays. During the local area’s festivities, banks may have reduced opening hours.
Top tip – find out more about Spanish opening hours here. Link to getting to know Spanish timetable