Dive into an in-depth exploration of Remitbee, understanding what it is, its service offerings, associated fees, and how it stands out in the online money trans
Spain is famous for its culture, cuisine and climate — and popular among tourists and expats alike.
If you’re moving to Spain to work, study, or for a prolonged period of travel, you might be wondering how to open a bank account in Spain from abroad.
This guide is for you. We’ll cover all you need to know about how to open a bank account in Spain for an American, including required documents and some top banks to look at.
Yes. As an American you can open a bank account in Spain in a few different ways, depending on your situation. We’ll look at options in more detail in a moment. Normally you'll be able to choose between:
- A non-resident bank account with a Spanish bank¹
- A resident account in a Spanish bank if you have the right paperwork
- An expat banking service from a global bank
- An online or digital account from a specialist provider
You can open a Spanish bank account with a USA address. If it’s important to you to have an account from a brick and mortar bank with Spanish branches, you’ll normally need to visit a bank in Spain with a Certificate of non-residency, which you can get from a Spanish police station.
This certificate comes with a fee, but acts as proof of your eligibility for a non-resident account.
Alternatively, use your US address to open a multi-currency account with a specialist online provider which offers account services and bank details in euros.
This can be cheaper, and far more convenient compared with setting up a non-resident account on arrival in Spain.
Spanish bank accounts from traditional banks are available to both residents and non-residents of Spain. Which suits you may depend on your situation — and of course, there are also online alternatives you may prefer, too.
Resident bank accounts tend to be more flexible and have more perks. On the other hand, if you’re new to Spain or do not plan to live there on a permanent basis, a non-resident bank account will be easier to open.
It’s possible to open a non-resident account and then switch your account once you obtain residency. To do this you’ll have to make an appointment at your local branch and take the necessary documentation with you.
|Moving to Spain? Check out our guide on buying property while you’re there
To open a bank account in Spain you’ll usually need to visit a branch in person. It’s worth noting that banking hours may be fairly limited — especially in smaller branches.
Expect to need to schedule an appointment on a weekday, often during core banking hours of 9 AM to 2 PM.
In larger city branches and areas with large expat populations you’ll probably be able to find an English speaker — but it’s worth checking in advance, or taking a Spanish speaking friend if your language skills aren’t up to the task.
The exact process for opening your Spanish bank account will vary from bank to bank — but in general terms the steps will be the same:
Step 1. Research banks and account options to find one that suits you
Step 2. Double check you’re eligible for the account and gather the required documentation
Step 3. Visit a bank branch — you may need to make an appointment in advance
Step 4. Complete the required paperwork and show your documentation
Step 5. Your account will be verified and you’ll be able to start transacting — this may take a day or 2
Some Spanish banks allow you to start the application process online, for both resident and non-resident accounts.
However, you’ll usually still need to visit a branch in person to show your documents, before you can get your account fully up and running.
This means in effect, it’s usually tricky to open an account with a traditional Spanish bank without being physically in the country.
As an alternative, look at specialist online providers which offer online and digital onboarding processes — these can often be more flexible as they’ve been designed specifically with online applications in mind.
The documents you’ll need in order to open a bank account will vary depending on whether you’re applying as a resident or non-resident.
Some banks may also require more documentation than others, so it’s a good idea to check your bank’s requirements ahead of time.
To open a bank account as a non-resident, you'll have to provide a set of paperwork which can vary depending on the specific bank. It’s common to need documents which can include the following:
For the documents to be acceptable, you’ll have to get them officially translated into Spanish by a sworn official translator, called traductor jurado.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find an official translation service and get your documents translated before you move.
Some banks may also require a so-called ‘Certificado de No Residente’ — a letter that confirms you are a non-resident.
You can get this letter by going to a police station and showing your passport. Some banks may also offer to get this for you against payment of a fee (normally in the region of 15 EUR).
Different police stations have different responsibilities, so you should check ahead of time whether a police station near you offers this service.
The documents needed to open a resident bank account can vary. For basic account you may simply need a passport and a proof of residence — but for many accounts you’ll need the following documents:
You should apply for your NIE first, as you’ll need it to do anything that requires an official process. This includes getting a job, renting or buying property, getting connected to utilities and paying taxes.
Yes. Some Spanish banks will let you open a bank account without an NIE number — although your options may be limited.
You can also consider online alternative providers which offer flexible euro accounts for Spanish residents and non-residents alike.
There are dozens of banks in Spain, all of which offer broadly similar products. However, the four largest banks are Bankia, BBVA, La Caixa and Santander.
This is what they each have to offer.
Bankia and CaixaBank merged relatively recently, to create Spain’s largest domestic banking group. If you’re an American in Spain and need international support including multi-lingual service online and in person, this may be a good choice.
The Hola Bank³ service is specifically designed for international clients, with web and support services across multiple languages including English. Here are some features to look out for:
- Full range of account products and services including online banking
- English language support and international products for expats
- International mortgage and insurance products
- Some branches have extended opening hours outside of summertime
BBVA is one of the largest multinational financial groups in the world — with a huge presence in Spain, as well as South America and beyond.
It’s got a long history of over 150 years, and serves over 74 million customers around the world. Unsurprisingly, there are a great range of products and services available from BBVA — here are some highlights:
- Great website including comprehensive English language coverage
- Fee free accounts, mortgages, loans, business accounts, and more
- Digital first accounts for convenience
- Basic banking accounts available without an NIE number⁵
Santander is another global banking giant with a huge presence in Spain and Europe, and a foothold elsewhere including Asia, North and South America.
In the US you may have heard of Santander from their consumer loan division⁶, although there are Sandander bank branches⁷ across some US states, too. In Spain you’ll find all the banking accounts and products imaginable under the one roof.
- Resident and non-resident accounts plus banking for businesses
- Expat banking services
- Loans, mortgages, card products and more
If you already bank with Santander in the US, you may be able to get a Spanish Santander account more easily thanks to your existing relationship with the group.
Call into your local branch, or contact the support center to see if they’ll be able to help — the options may depend on your specific situation and account type.
While one of the banks above is probably your best bet if you plan to settle in Spain permanently, it’s also worth checking out Sabadell, or some of the newer challenger online and digital bank services which are growing increasingly common in the EU and around the world.
Even though the market is quite competitive, the cost of banking in Spain is relatively high compared to other EU countries.
Fees can also vary quite significantly from bank to bank and depending on whether you have a resident or non-resident account, so you should shop around for the best deal.
With that being said, you should expect to pay at least some of the following fees and charges:
|Spanish bank account costs
|Account maintenance fee
Basic bank accounts may have no maintenance fees
Resident accounts may have a fall below fee if you don’t maintain a set balance amount
Non-resident accounts are more likely to have a monthly fee, which may be in the region of 16 EUR/month⁸
In network withdrawals are often free
Out of network and international fees will apply, including charges levied by the operator of the ATM rather than your own bank
|International transfer fees
Fees can vary — non-resident accounts may offer lower transfer fees, but you’ll still have to pay an exchange rate markup and any applicable third party fees
Sending euro payments is considerably cheaper — or even free — compared to sending other foreign currencies
Wise international payments are arranged online or in the intuitive Wise app, with low, transparent fees⁹ and the real mid-market exchange rate.
That can mean you save significantly compared to using your normal bank — with a faster delivery time, too.
In fact, over 45% of low cost, secure international payments with Wise arrive instantly, with the vast majority being delivered within 24 hours¹⁰.
Lower fees, less time to wait, and an easier, more transparent service compared to your normal bank. What’s not to love?
- Santander — can a non-resident open a bank account?
- CaixaBank Hola Bank
- BBVA — basic account
- Santander Consumer USA
- Santander Bank USA
- Santander — non-resident bank fees
- The speed of transaction claim depends on funds availability, approval by Wise’s proprietary verification system and systems availability of our partners’ banking system, and may not be available for all transactions
Sources checked on 08.22.2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
In this article, delve into our MAJORITY review. Explore insights and opinions about its services, features, and alternatives.
Learn about Deriv Currency Accounts, their features, benefits, and how to open one. Discover a new way of participating in forex trading with Deriv.
Learn about foreign currency savings accounts, their benefits, drawbacks, and how to open one. Discover the best banks for these accounts and how to manage fore
Explore the process of opening a foreign bank account, the advantages, the required documentation, and important considerations.
Learn the intricacies of US foreign currency accounts, how to open one, and the advantages they offer. Find out which US banks provide this service and their fe