Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Spain

bankatmIf you plan on coming to Spain to study Spanish for a handful of weeks or just a couple of months then I doubt you would have banking issues.
However, if the course of your studies will endure for at least 5-6 months or longer, then I suggest that you open a Spanish bank account.
Depending on the sort of debit/credit card that you have from your home country-you could survive just fine in Spain without a Spanish bank account.
But if your bank card from home proves to be expensive due to high ATM withdrawal and money transfer fees, and-or complicated in doing daily mundane tasks, then I suggest you read on on for some practical information regarding opening a bank account in Spain and general banking tips for your move to Spain.

Before Departure
Get informed. Go to your bank and talk to a counsellor.
State that you will be going to Spain to study Spanish and would like to know if there is any particular procedure that you would need to do before you go abroad.

Topics to Discussbeinformed

  • ATM withdrawal restrictions
  • Potential overseas banking blocks
  • Overseas ATM withdrawal fees
  • Traveller’s Checks
  • International Bank Cards
  • Partners of the home Bank in Spain

NB All rules, regulations and banking procedures vary from bank to bank and country to country. Please get the necessary information before you go to Spain so that you are informed and can avoid any mistakes that will cost you money!

After Arrival
Go to the Spanish bank of your choice (see our list below) and start the paperwork to open the account as soon as you can. It should take about a week or so to put everything in order and procure your actual bank card. For students who come to Spain for an internship or a with a work contract, the process is usually quite straightforward. For students who come strictly to study Spanish, the process may be slightly more demanding in terms of paperwork. I suggest you get information directly from the bank in questions and follow their specific instructions.

Opening a Bank Account
open_accountAs a general standard, you will need to present a valid piece of ID.
Most banks accept a valid (non expired) Passport as a means of identification to open the account. Certain others may also ask for the Spanish NIE (Número de Identificatión de Extranjero i.e. Foreign Identification Number).
For advice on how to procure the NIE read here.
Foreigners can generally open bank accounts without the NIE with the main difference being that the account will have the status of “non-resident” which is subject to certain tax charges on any interest earned on the account. Rates vary-clarify the factors concerning your specific situation. There could be other various documents to show; your Visa, Proof of Entry into Spain, Registration Letter from your School or Internship Agreement from your Job etc.

Although many banks will permit you to open an account without an NIE, I would advise that you get one, if you can, and open your account with that instead of your passport number. It could make your life go a lot smoother with inter-navigating the information systems of Spanish establishments eg. applying for a phone contract online while having an NIE number that matches the ID number on your bank account – so much simpler!

NB Remember to bring all the documents that you had to show in order to obtain your visa. Better to be safe than return another day because certain documents are missing.

Depending on your needs, you could decide to go with:

  • a bank that is locally recognized in your city
  • a bank that is nationally recognized in Spain
  • a bank that is recognized within the European Union
  • a bank that is internationally recognized

Consider choosing a bank that has a branch near your place of residence or study, or several branches throughout your city or throughout Spain.In Spain you could be charged 1-3 euros each time you withdraw money from the ATM of a bank that is not yours.

Other factors to consider when choosing your bank:

  • Internet Banking
  • Telephone Banking
  • Multi-Lingual Service, online or/and in person

List of Spanish Banks

Banco Santander
La Caixa
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA)
Banco Popular
Banco Sabadell
Caixa Catalunya
Caixa de Galicia
Barclays Bank S.A.
Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa


Happy Banking and remember to budget!

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