How to open a bank account in Spain as an expat


Updated on Jun 24 • 3 minute read

Opening a bank account in Spain as a non-resident might sound like a time-consuming task, but it shouldn’t be. Spain is home to a great number of internationals. The banking system's used to offering its services to internationals. Let's break down how the Spanish bank system works and how you can open your own Spanish bank account in no time.

Can a foreigner open a bank account in Spain?

Although it isn't compulsory to have a Spanish bank account when you’re (temporarily) living in Spain, it’s useful to have one. You can use a Spanish bank account to pay your rent and utilities in Spain.

The banking system in Spain is comprehensible, even when you’re a foreigner.

There are 2 types of bank accounts in Spain:

  • a residents account (for people who live in Spain)
  • a non-residents account (for people who live abroad)

It’s up to you to decide which account you prefer. Keep in mind that a resident’s bank account gives you more flexibility, where the non-residents’ account is easier to open.

When opening an account you can choose the following:

  • Cuenta bancaria o Cuenta corriente (current account) – the most standard account that you can use for your everyday expenses, like groceries or going out for dinner.
  • Cuenta de ahorros (savings account) – the account to put your savings on as it offers interest on your money.
  • Cuenta nomina (salary account) – this account's meant to receive your paycheck from your employer.
  • Cuenta de depósito (deposit account) – this's like a savings account, but with fewer options for accessing the money. For funds that need to be held securely.

In all cases, feel free to contact your bank to understand what type of account suits you best.

What do you need to open a bank account in Spain?

To open your resident account, you need the following documents:

  • A valid identity card (e.g. your passport)
  • A valid Spanish address (your empadronamiento)
  • Your NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), as a proof you’re officially registered in Spain
  • Proof of your employment status (e.g. employee contract or student card)

Be aware that your documents need to be in Spanish. So make sure to make some Spanish friends to help you or learn Spanish yourself.

Open a Spanish bank account online

Wouldn’t it be great if you can already tick off opening your Spanish bank account from your to-do list, while you’re not even living there yet? !

The good news's that most Spanish banks offer you the possibility to open an account online. Opening your bank account's just a few clicks away!

The best Spanish bank accounts for expats

Which bank works best for you depends on your personal situation. The Spanish banking system offers around 140 different (online) banks, so there’s plenty to choose from!

Here are some popular banks that you can consider:

  • BBVA Bank Spain: Being the 2nd-largest bank in the country, opening an account at BBVA bank might be the right fit for you. The bank operates in over 30 countries and offers easy-to-use services through its mobile app.
  • Santander bank: The largest bank in Europe, Santander Bank has a leading position in Spain. Santander offers many convenient services online, like opening new accounts and making money transfers. As the bank has a high amount of English-speaking workers, opening an account at Santander should be easy for expats.
  • N26: Although it may not be a typical Spanish bank, the online bank N26 might just be what you’re looking for. The bank offers both regular accounts and credit cards. You can apply for your N26 account online, all you need's your phone number and a valid ID.
  • La Caixa Bank: La Caixa is another big name in the Spanish banking market. The bank offers a dedicated service for internationals moving to Spain: the HolaBank club. They will help you with your paperwork, discounts, and more.

How much does opening a bank account in Spain cost?

The costs of opening a bank account in Spain vary per bank. Some banks even have fee-free basic accounts or student accounts with a discount. On average, you will pay:

  • €12-€15 for a debit card
  • €30 for a credit card

Withdrawing cash at the ATM is free, in most cases.

Can I open a bank account without a NIE?

Yes, depending on the type of bank you are able to open a bank account without your NIE number. Some banks that offer the possibility to open a bank account without a NIE number: LaCaisa, Bankinter, Santander and Sabadell.

Get in touch with the bank of your preference to see what the possibilities are.

Now, are you ready to spend (or earn) your money in Spain? Explore what are the best places to live in Spain.

Please reach out to if you have any suggestions or inquiries about the content on this page.

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