How to open a bank account in Spain: Full Guide 2023
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.
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 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.
How to open a bank account in Spain as a foreigner
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
What do I need to know before opening a bank account in Spain?
Bank accounts are offered by Spanish banks which can be opened by non-resident customers. However, you’ll still often need to visit a branch - either immediately when you apply for your account, or shortly after - to actually get full access to your non-resident account. You may also need to provide more documentation than is typically needed for resident accounts, such as proof of employment or a certificate confirming you are not a resident of Spain.
Can I open a bank account in Spain only with my passport
You can not open a Spanish bank account with only a passport. In Europe, as in the UK, banks must verify customer identity and this is almost always done with additional documents such as a proof of address or information about your employment or income.
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.
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.
|Currencies covered||40+ currencies including EUR, GBP, USD and AUD||25+ 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 £45/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 free in many currencies
Exchange rate markup applies
*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 accounts are designed for use online and in app, and come with the option to hold 40+ currencies, send payments to 160+ countries, and get local bank details to get paid conveniently from a selection of 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.
How to open an account with Wise
To open a Wise account:
Download the Wise app or open the Wise desktop site
Click Sign up and create an account with your email, Facebook, Google or Apple ID
Follow the prompts to enter the details needed
Upload a snap of your ID and address documents
Once your account has been verified you’re good to go
Both personal and business customers in the UK can open Revolut accounts which can hold and handle 25+ 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 £45/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 <18 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 £45/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
How to open an account with Revolut
To open an account with Revolut:
Download the Revolut app
Enter your phone number and set a PIN - you’ll get a verification message from Revolut
Use the verification code to access the app and enter the details needed to create your account
Upload the required documents for verification
You can deposit funds and use your account once verified
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
How to open an account with Santander
To open an account with Santander:
Choose the account you want online
Gather the documents needed
Visit a Santander branch to show your paperwork in person and apply
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
How to open an account with HolaBank
To open an account with HolaBank:
Choose the account you want online or in the HolaBank app
Gather the documents needed
You can apply online by completing your information and uploading images of the documents
Sign the required documents electronically
You’ll need to visit a CaixaBank branch within 3 months to show your paperwork in person to complete the process
What is a bank account in Spain needed for?
Many Brits may find a Spanish bank account useful if they travel frequently to Spain, own a holiday home there or even live full time in the country. However, a Spanish bank account can be useful for other customers too, including people who spend in euros frequently or anyone who needs to send or receive payments from the eurozone.
Benefits of opening a bank account in Spain
Using a Spanish bank account can mean transacting in euros is cheaper as you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary currency conversion. Here are a few important benefits:
No foreign transaction fees when you spend in euros
You can receive payments from others in euros and hold the balance without converting
Sending money to others in EUR within the SEPA zone is often cheap or free
How much does it cost to open a bank account in Spain?
There’s not usually a fee to open a Spanish bank account, but you’ll often find monthly, quarterly or annual fees apply, particularly to accounts which are designed for non-resident customers. If you’re looking for an account you can open for free with no ongoing charges, you may want to check out non-bank providers available from the UK, like Wise and Revolut, which both have accounts with no monthly fees which can hold and exchange both GBP and EUR.
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
Is it possible to open a fee-free account in Spain?
Spanish non-resident bank accounts usually have maintenance fees to pay. If you’re a resident in Spain with a proof of address you may find you have a better choice of accounts where there’s no monthly fee, or where the fee can be waived if you meet eligibility criteria. However, even in this case transaction and service fees may apply, depending on how you use your account.
Can I open a bank account online
You can’t often open a bank account online in Spain, particularly if you’ve not got standard Spanish ID documents.
It’s common for Spanish banks to ask you to visit a branch as part of the application process - even if the account you want is designated for non-residents. Santander requires a branch visit to start the account process, and HolaBank will let you initially open an account online, but you’ll lose access if you don’t get to a branch with your ID documents within 3 months.
To get a euro account that’s completely digitally opened and operated, try a specialist service rather than a Spanish bank - Wise and Revolut both offer accounts you can open online and in-app.
How long does it take to open a bank account in Spain
How long it takes to open your Spanish bank account can vary between providers. If you’re in a bank branch and have all the documents needed, you may be able to get verified instantly to access your account. However, online applications may take a bit longer as you need to wait for your card to arrive in the post.
Tips for sending money between the UK and Spain
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can apply for a Spanish non-resident account from HolaBank online, but you’ll need to visit a branch to show your documents within 3 months of opening. Other banks may ask you to visit a branch to complete the entire application - making alternative non-bank providers a good option if you don’t want the hassle. Check out Wise and Revolut to see if either suits your needs.