Opening a bank account in Spain – Quick Guide

Despite some of the stories going around about opening a bank account in Spain, it can be a relatively simple process. When it comes to finding work, paying bills, and settling in, it’s essential to open an account. For those of you who don’t speak much Spanish, here is a quick guide to opening a bank account here in Spain.

Types of bank

There are two types of bank, the regular banks (banco) which offer full banking services, and savings banks (cajas or caixas) which also offer many of the same services as a regular banco. Unlike the UK, there is not much difference between the two. Cajas have tended to be more popular due to the fees being generally lower, and there seems to be more branches in smaller villages which can be very helpful. When choosing which type of bank to open an account with, it all comes down to price and preference so weigh up your options with the banks in your area.

Accounts

As a foreigner, there are two types of account you can open, a resident account and a non-resident account. If you have your NIE number, the banks are legally obliged to open up a resident account for you and will withhold a portion of interest earned to cover taxes. To open this account you will need your NIE number, passport, proof of address, and a deposit. If you rent long-term in Spain, this is likely to be the one for you.

If you don’t have an NIE number and still want to open an account, you will just need to take some ID with you like a passport or driving license. The non-resident account does not withhold a portion of interest for tax purposes, but the transaction fees are usually higher. Every 6 months, the bank is required by law to establish your residency status. This requires no input from you, but is likely to cost you in fees on your account.

These days, the banking system in Spain is quite modern. If you have an account with a regular banco, you are likely to receive an ATM card as usual, and with cajas, you are likely to receive a bank book. Like the UK, many banks here offer online banking services, which is a popular choice when living in more rural parts of Spain and the nearest branch is miles away.

So opening a Spanish bank account can be one less thing off your mind. Do your research online as to what the banks are offering, then just pop in to the branch with your ID, and tell them you want to open an account. You will find in areas popular with tourists, the majority of banks will have staff who can speak English and other languages, so don’t worry too much if you don’t speak much Spanish yet. There are also banks which specialise in foreign residents such as Solbank and even British banks such as Barclays in expat hotspots.

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