How to open a bank account in Spain: Full Guide 2022

Spain is a hugely popular destination for people from all around the world - looking to travel, live or retire overseas. As a result you’ll find many Spanish banks have some options for non-resident bank accounts which cater to many foreigners who live part time in the country. However, non-resident accounts do come with relatively high fees - and to open a full account with a Spanish bank you’ll usually need to be a resident with a suite of paperwork.

The good news is that there are a few different options for EUR accounts - whether you’re in Spain already, planning a move, or just love to travel there. You might even find that you can cut your costs - and get a more flexible account - if you ditch banks entirely and choose a specialist online provider like Wise or Revolut instead. More on that later.

Open Your Wise Account

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What documents do I need?

The exact documents you need to open a Spanish bank account will depend on the bank itself, and whether you’re looking for a regular account as a Spanish resident, or a non-resident account aimed at people in the country part time.

For a full resident account in Spain you’ll usually be asked for:

  • Government issued proof of ID

  • Proof of address

  • Número de identidad de extranjero (NIE)

  • A recent payslip to show the source of your funds

  • Other information based on the account type:  a tax return or employment contract for example

Proof of address may be a recent utility bill in your name, a bank statement or some official government correspondence. Your own bank will let you know exactly what documents are required to open the account you’ve chosen. It’s common in Spain to need to visit a branch to present your paperwork and get your account organised - although more banks do let you open accounts online these days. Check with the bank you select to see if this is possible for you.

Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut

If you can’t find the right Spanish bank account for you - or if you simply don’t have the right paperwork to get a low cost resident’s account set up, there are alternatives. 

To get a free or low cost account with a Spanish bank you’ll usually need to present a Spanish proof of residence. Instead of going for a fee paying non-resident account with a traditional Spanish bank you could open a free multi-currency account online with an alternative like Wise or Revolut, using your UK proof of address. Just create your account and register using your UK address, to hold dozens of currencies, including euros for spending in Spain. Easy.

Read more about Wise in this review and about Revolut here.

How to open a bank account in Spain

It’s common to open your bank account in a branch in Spain - although some banks do let customers get set up online. Check with the bank you prefer, to see if online account opening is an option. If not, remember to ask for an English speaking customer service representative - or take along a translator - if your Spanish isn’t great.

Whether you’re applying in person or online, the basic steps to open a bank account in Spain are typically:

  • Research banks and pick the right account for you

  • Check eligibility and gather all the required paperwork

  • Apply online or in branch

  • Hand over or upload your documents to complete the verification process

Open Your Wise Account

Go to Revolut

Can I open a bank account in Spain before arrival?

It’s not often possible to open a full account in Spain before you’re physically there. Even with the non-resident accounts offered by  major Spanish banks, you might need to physically visit a branch in Spain to get started. You’ll also usually have to apply for a certificate of non-residency from a police station in Spain - making it even more complicated to access an account.

If you’re looking for an easier, more flexible alternative to manage your money in euros before you get to Spain, check out an online specialist like Wise or Revolut.

Open Your Wise Account

Go to Revolut

Which account is best in Spain for foreigners? 

Let’s look at a review of the best bank accounts in Spain for foreigners, featuring a couple of the biggest banks in Spain and a couple of online providers for comparison.

Service

Wise

Revolut

Santander

CaixaBank

Currencies covered

54 currencies including EUR, GBP, USD and AUD

30+ currencies including EUR, GBP, USD and AUD

EUR

EUR

Non-resident accounts available 

Yes

Yes

Specialist non-resident account options

Specialist non-resident account options

Open online

Yes

Yes

Non-residents usually need to visit a branch. Online opening is not usually an option

Online opening is not usually an option

Maintenance fee

Free

Up to £12.99/month

16 EUR/month for non-resident account. Other account fees vary

35 EUR/quarter for non-resident account. Other account fees vary

International transfers

Low fee, varies by currency

Fee varies by currency and payment value

Standard online transfers are usually free


In branch transfers cost up to 0.7%, with a minimum of 6 EUR - 20 EUR


Exchange rate markup applies

Up to 0.4% for SEPA transfers


Non-SEPA transfers up to 0.7% (minimum 27 EUR)


Currency exchange charge of 2.5%

*Profiled accounts are Santander Non-resident Mundo Account and CaixaBank’s HolaBank Account - other account options are available from these providers, which have their own fees and features 

Wise

Wise accounts are designed for use online and in app, and come with the option to hold 50+ currencies, send payments to 80+ countries, and get local bank details to get paid fee free from 30+ countries, including Spain and the UK.

Get a Wise account for yourself or your business, and use your linked debit card for easy spending and withdrawals. Whenever you need to switch between currencies you can do so within your account using the mid-market exchange with no markups and no hidden charges.

Account types: Both personal and business customers can open a Wise multi-currency account with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay. You just pay a low, transparent fee for the services you use.

Eligibility: Wise offers accounts to customers in the UK and a broad range of countries - simply use your UK proof of address to get your account open and access EUR bank details to get paid fee free, hold a EUR balance and spend with your card. 

Is it safe? Yes. Wise is registered with the FCA in the UK and a range of other global bodies in the other countries it trades in.

Open A Wise Account Online

Revolut

Both personal and business customers in the UK can open Revolut accounts which can hold and handle 30+ currencies including GBP and EUR. Get a free account or upgrade to a paid tier for more features and higher transaction limits. Personal plans run to £12.99/month for the top tier of account.

Revolut accounts have a lot of helpful features aside from multi-currency functionality. You’ll be able to earn interest on savings, open Junior accounts for your kids, and even more if you upgrade to a paid plan.

Account types: Standard account plans are free or you can upgrade to a paid plan for up to £12.99/month.

Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

Is it safe? Revolut is registered with the FCA in the UK, and is a trustworthy provider to choose

Go to Revolut

Santander

You’ll probably already be familiar with Santander as a familiar presence on the British high street. As a large Spanish bank, Santander has a full range of account and card options for Spanish residents with proof of ID and address, and a non-resident account for people who don’t call Spain home.

The Non-resident Mundo Account is a good option if you’re not a resident in Spain full time, but do need a handy euro account. This account comes with a 16 EUR monthly maintenance fee, but gives you access to a debit card and the option to pay in cash, by bank transfer or cheque.

Account types: Accounts available for both Spanish residents and non-residents

Eligibility: If you’re not a Spanish resident you’ll need to open the Non-resident Mundo Account - if you’re a resident you’ll be able to take your pick from a broad range of account options

Is it safe? Yes. Santander is one of the biggest banks in the world and overseen by regulators in all the regions it trades in globally

CaixaBank (HolaBank)

CaixaBank is another large and popular Spanish bank which has specific services for non residents and new arrivals in Spain. If you’re in Spain  as a long term resident, and have a full set of paperwork to hand you can choose a CaixaBank account directly - and if you’re a non-resident you’ll be directed to HolaBank which has multi-lingual services for non-residents.

HolaBank’s signature current account has a fee of 35 EUR a quarter, plus some transaction fees, and comes with a debit card, digital banking, and the opportunity to deposit Spanish cheques if you need to.

Account types: CaixaBank has a full range of accounts for residents in Spain, while CaixaBank’s HolaBank has non-resident options

Eligibility: Available to Spain residents, or eligible non-residents via HolaBank

Is it safe? Yes. CaixaBank is a regulated and trustworthy bank

What are the costs

While Spanish banks are pretty good at offering non-resident account options to foreigners in the country part time they do typically come with fairly high fees compared to your regular UK current account. Double check the fees which apply to your account before you get set up - paying extra attention to costs like these:

  • Monthly maintenance fee

  • Out of network ATM fees

  • International transfer fees - these often vary depending on how you arrange them and whether they’re in the SEPA area or not

  • Receiving fees for domestic and international payments

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Cheque fees if you have a chequebook linked to your account

Tips for transferring money

As a Brit who lives, works or travels a lot to Spain, the chances are that you’ll need to make international transfers from time to time. If you’re moving your money across borders check out these tips to save:

  • Banks typically use a marked up exchange rate - compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the rate you find on Google to check

  • International transfer fees can vary depending on whether you arrange the transfer online or in a branch, and whether or not you’re sending within the SEPA area

  • Review the terms and conditions of your specific account to check if it’s cheaper to send your payment online - this is usually the case

  • Don’t forget that third party fees may be deducted as the payment is processed, and can mean your recipient gets less than you expect

Compare the costs of sending money with a traditional bank against the fees and rates available from an online specialist provider. Often specialists have lower fees, a better exchange rate, and a faster delivery time compared to your normal bank.

Conclusion

Spain has a huge number of foreign full- and part-time residents - so it’s no surprise that the Spanish banking system has adapted to offer non-resident accounts alongside the full accounts on offer for people living in the country all the time.

The good news is that this means you’ll almost certainly be able to open an account with a Spanish bank. The bad news is that if you’re opening a non-resident account you’ll probably run into a relatively large number of fees - and you’ll need to open your account in a physical branch, too.

A simpler option - which doesn’t require any waiting in queues at a bank branch - is to opt for an alternative account with a provider like Wise or Revolut. Specialists can often offer lower overall costs, a better exchange rate, and an account more tailor made to people who live an international lifestyle. Use this guide to compare some options and find the right one for you.

Open Your Wise Account

Go to Revolut

FAQ

Can a foreigner open an account in Spain?

Yes. If you’re a Spanish resident you can probably open an account with any Spanish bank. As a non-resident you’ll also have options, but these accounts can be more restricted and expensive. Check out alternative online providers as well to make sure you get the best available deal.

How much do I need to open a bank account in Spain?

Non-resident accounts from Spanish banks usually have a monthly fee. Online specialist providers can often offer accounts with no monthly fees, no minimum deposits, and low transaction charges.

Can I open a Spanish bank account online?

Most Spanish banks need you to visit a branch to open your account - check with the specific bank if you’re unsure. Or you can choose an online provider, which will let you apply and complete verification from the comfort of home.

Can I open a bank account in Spain before landing?

Usually you’ll need to be in Spain already to open an account with a regular bank. Instead look at account specialists like Revolut and Wise for an account which can handle EUR which you can open in advance.

By Ileana Ionescu
Updated 28 April 2022