Moving to Spain can open up so many doors: a relaxing retirement, a post-uni gap year, a new job abroad, or just a change of scenery.

Aside from having fun in the sun, your top priority as an expat should be keeping your money safe – which might seem daunting in an unfamiliar country, but we’re here to help.

One key way to do this is to open a bank account in Spain – although, a multi-currency account is likely to be an easier and more affordable option.

Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about both of these processes.

If you’re moving to Spain, you’ll want to make sure you have money when you get there.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise. Formerly known as TransferWise, this service offers an unbeatable multi-currency account that allows you to use your card in 200 nations, take payments in 10 currencies, and convert 56 currencies.

Join more than 7 million people and start using Wise today.

Park Guell in Spain

You too can visit Spain’s historic attractions, like Parc Güell, but it’ll cost money

What are the requirements for opening a bank account in Spain?

Unlike some other countries, having a bank account in Spain is not a legal requirement. However, if you are a long-term resident in Spain, it might be both costly and complicated to manage your everyday finances overseas.

If you’d like to open your own Spanish bank account, there are a few things you’ll need to prepare. The documents and identification will vary, depending on the type of account you’d like to open, as well as the policy of the bank you go for.

The three main banks in Spain, for example, have slightly different requirements. We’ve listed them below.

 

Banco Santander

  • Two forms of identification:
    • Primary ID – A valid, government-issued photo ID
    • Secondary ID – Including bank-issued ATM or debit cards, major credit cards, utility bills, and birth certificates
  • Social Security Number (non-residents can use their individual tax reporting number as an alternative)
  • Valid address
  • Phone number

 

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (BBVA)

  • Personal ID – For example, a government-issued driver’s license, a state-issued ID with a photo, or a valid passport
  • Social Security Number – For primary and joint account holder, if applicable
  • $25 Minimum deposit

 

CaixaBank

If you are a Spanish citizen you’ll just need your documento nacional de identidad (DNI) – Spanish ID card – to open a bank account.

If you are not a Spanish citizen you’ll need the following:

  • If you’re an EU citizen: Your country’s ID card or passport, along with the European Union residence certificate
  • If you are not an EU citizen: A número de identidad de extranjero (NIE), which is a tax identification number in Spain

Do you need a Spanish address in order to open a bank account in Spain?

If you’re already a registered Spanish citizen, you’ll have to apply for a bank account as a resident – which means proof of address is, indeed, required. 

In some instances, you’ll be able to open a non-resident account with a Spanish bank before you move there. Although, this will depend on the bank you choose to open an account with, so make sure to double-check your options.

Opening a bank account in Spain as a non-resident

With most banks in Spain, you can open a bank account as a non-resident either online or over the phone – although, you’ll most likely be required to submit paperwork by post or email for security reasons.

The requirements for non-residents will vary from bank to bank, but generally you’ll need:

  • to be over 18 years old
  • a valid proof of identity document with a photograph from your country of origin
  • proof of your professional status or activity, e.g. employment contract, payslip, student card
  • proof of address issued within the last three months
  • a certificado de no residencia (certificate of non-residence) – this must be given to the bank within 15 days of opening the account and can be obtained from a local police station

It’s best to weigh out the pros and cons between resident and non-resident accounts before you move. Bear in mind that resident bank accounts often come with better perks. However, if you’re not planning to stay in Spain for too long, a non-resident account might be the easier option.

How much does it cost?

We won’t beat around the bush – banking in Spain isn’t the cheapest. You can expect to pay around €15–20 in annual fees for a current account – but this will fluctuate between banks.

For a debit card, you’ll pay around €12–15 annually – and potentially more than €30 a year for a credit card with many Spanish bank accounts. Although, again, it varies between banks.

Foreigners living, working, or studying in Spain will also want to consider international transfer fees, which can range from €3-15 for each transaction if you’re sending less than €50,000. And don’t forget about exchange rates.

These hidden fees can make transferring your funds pretty pricey. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise, which offers an unbeatable multi-currency account that allows you to use your card in 200 nations, take payments in 10 currencies, and convert 56 currencies.

So if you’re looking to save a few pennies on your move abroad, start off by using Wise – it’ll make your adventure less stressful, and more affordable.

A view of the Spanish coast

Like most things in life, travelling the breathtaking coast of Spain will cost you

How long does it take?

The actual process of signing up and opening a bank account in Spain will only take a matter of minutes.

The time it takes to get your bank account up and running, however, can take anywhere between 1-5 working days. This will depend on a number of factors, including whether there are any issues with the documentation.

What are the best banks in Spain for expats? 

Good news for expats relocating to Spain – the nation has plenty of reliable banks to choose from for both resident and non-resident accounts.

The three main Spanish banks that benefit expats include:

 

Banco Santander

Many UK customers will already be familiar with Santander, which automatically gives this bank the edge.

The bank’s new Santander One account allows residents to carry out transactions at the bank’s ATMs worldwide, and doesn’t add payment fees for basic services.

Non-residents will be best starting off with the Cuenta Mundo account, which is tailored to newcomers. It offers everyday banking services, including free debit card withdrawals at all Santander ATMs in Spain.

For any young people setting their sights on Spain, consider the Cuenta Smart account. Anyone between the ages of 18-31 can benefit from the zero-opening fees, along with no maintenance fees along the way.

 

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (BBVA)

This is one of Spain’s largest banks – popular due to its fee-free current accounts. Both its Fee-Free Online Account and Young Person’s Online Account for students are open to residents and non-residents.

Both of these accounts come with no monthly fee to pay, a fee-free debit card, no pay-in requirements, and free use of all BBVA ATMs in Spain.

 

CaixaBank

CaixaBank’s HolaBank Club is a dedicated service for people moving to Spain, providing access to a range of relocation services, including translations, and help with paperwork.

Both residents and non-residents can open a CaixaBank HolaBank Account, and will benefit from free debit and credit cards, free withdrawals at CaixaBank ATMs throughout Spain, and access to HolaBank Club services.

Opening a multi-currency account in Spain 

If you find yourself making frequent purchases in a different currency, or use your Spanish bank cards outside the eurozone, you’re probably overpaying bank fees.

If this sounds familiar, you’ll be better off with a multi-currency account and card – and we recommend choosing Wise.

This Financial Conduct Authority-regulated account makes it free for you to receive pounds and euros, and charges a small flat fee to send money. For instance, to send £250 to Spain from the UK it only costs £3.73.

Of course, you can also open a multi-currency account with popular banks in Spain, but it comes at a price. Each bank has a list of complex fees, but in general, these are the charges you’ll be looking at for a foreign money transfer:

  • Banco Santander charges between €20 and €25 per transaction
  • BBVA charges between €3 and €10 per transaction
  • CaixaBank charges €30 per transaction

With this in mind, it’s worth considering Wise. It offers an unbeatable multi-currency account, which will allow you to save money on your adventure abroad – plus, it’s super easy to set up!

Just think, that extra bit of cash can go towards tasting traditional tapas, exploring the must-see attractions, or making your way through the list of Spanish wines.