Opening a Bank Account in Spain for Expats

April 22 , 2021 by: Kim Walker

Thinking of moving to Spain longer term? Well, you will probably want to consider how to set up a Spanish bank account, as well as any of the potential pitfalls which can occur during the process. Luckily, Spain has a pretty big expat community, and as a result there is actually a larger than normal offering at the banks which caters towards expats. Opening an account is Spain is actually relatively simple, however, there are some regulations which have become tighter since the 2008 recession which has made it a little more difficult.

Spain is within the Eurozone, and therefore their primary currency is Euro, which should be considered if your native currency is not Euro. Setting up a bank account with multi-currency optionality is always recommended if this is not the case. The banks will be able to talk you through these options when you first meet them.

It is always recommended to set up a bank account as soon as you arrive, if possible. However, if you do move to Spain without having opened up an account quickly, there is a stronger ability to manage your finances from your overseas account than in some other countries. Spain accepts most major types of credit and debit card, as long as they are under the usual tier or Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Something to consider though is the potentially high fees, and unfavourable foreign exchange rates when converting from your native currency to the Euro in order to pay for something. It can get expensive, and it can get expensive fast. In order to avoid this, most major Spanish banks will allow you to set up a ‘non-resident’ account prior to arriving in Spain. Therefore, once you arrive, you will be able to hit the ground running.

Once arriving in Spain, it is always recommended to visit your bank of choice in person to request the opening of an account. Banks are conventionally open quite short hours in Spain, and close at 2pm. If that wasn’t hard enough, they also do not tend to have many English-speaking staff. Therefore when booking your appointment, it is worth specifying that you require an English speaker, or alternative bring a friend who is a fluent Spanish speaker.

The turn-around time for opening a Spanish bank account for an expat is minimal. You will likely have it activated within the working week. Receiving the actual card for your account may take slightly longer though.

In order to set up your account, you will need to bring the following documentation:

Also worth noting that any documentation which are not in Spanish will need to be translated, and may need to be authenticated.

Alternative options within Spain are the rise of digital and mobile banking. N26 and bunq are very popular in Spain, and more of the population are using them each year. These are often simpler to set up than conventional banks, and provide some easier options for expats. Multi-currency accounts are normally a standard option on digital banking platforms, which can really help expats who wish to change between their native currency and Euro regularly.


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