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BANKING

How to open a bank account in Spain if you’re not a resident

Which banks in Spain allow non-residents to open accounts? What are the requirements and the paperwork? Here’s what you need to know if you’re in Spain for extended periods of time or you own a second home here and you want to open a Spanish bank account.

non-resident bank account spain
Opening a Spanish bank account if you're not a resident is possible, although the documentation you'll be asked to provide will vary depending on the bank. Photo: Jorge Fernández Salas/Unsplash

Opening a bank account in Spain can be a daunting process.

Whether it be navigating the office hours, language, or different rules and regulations, trying to open a bank account can be difficult at the best of times.

Even for residents with the appropriate paperwork, access to a wide range of accounts often depends on whether they have a job or are self-employed.

So how about for second-home owners in Spain and other people who spend extended periods of time in the country without being residents? Many of them may need to open a Spanish bank account to pay bills or to avoid high commission fees with a foreign card. 

Is it possible for them to open a bank account in Spain? The short answer is yes. 

Accounts for residents are usually more flexible and have better terms and lower fees, but if you’ve just arrived in Spain and won’t be living here permanently, or perhaps have a second home you spend some time in, there are banks that offer accounts specifically for non-residents.

Although things can be more difficult if you aren’t a resident, you can still open a bank account in Spain without a NIE or residency card.

It’s worth noting that having a NIE number does not mean that you are a resident in Spain.

A NIE is the Número de Identidad de Extranjero (a foreigner’s ID number, effectively) and is different from the small green residency document which is often mistakenly referred to as a NIE because it includes the NIE number, when it actually called the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión. A NIE is also different from a TIE, which is the foreign photo ID card for non-EU residents.

The Local explains below what the requirements are to open an account as a non-resident, what you need to do, and which banks will and won’t allow you to open an account without either:

Which Spanish banks allow non-residents to open an account without a NIE?

BBVA is the second largest financial group in Spain and offers non-resident bank accounts, although you can’t apply online so must go to a branch in Spain with your documents. The Basic account accepts non-residents, although you must be an EU citizen.

SABADELL also offers the non-resident ‘Key account’ and a particular advantage is its English-speaking options. Commissions are fairly low on international transactions and Sabadell online banking allows you to keep on top of everything from abroad.

SANTANDER is the biggest bank in Spain offers non-resident accounts and like with the other banks, only needs a few documents to get you set up. Santander also has English speaking staff to help you through the process, and the Cuenta Mundo seems like the best bet for non-residents.

CAIXABANK offers the HolaBank Account for non-residents, only requires a passport and gives you a free debit and credit card.

BANKINTER also offers the option of opening a bank account for non-residents, as do UNICAJA and BANKIA, all of which require the same documents as the traditional bigger banks. 

New and online banks

In the twenty-first century there are now endless new and online banks and apps offering services across the world with minimum fees. With no need for physical branches, low fees, and the ease and availability of international transactions overseas, using an online or app-based bank might be an option for many looking to open non-resident accounts.

REVOLUT -The Revolut Spain online bank is a banking app that offers advantages for those who travel often or work abroad while being non-resident. Revolut Spain is a good option for foreigners as it gives the user a bank account with an internationally minded approach, no hidden fees, and you get an IBAN number that is required in Spain for money transactions.

N26 ONLINEN26 Spain Bank does not have physical branches but that’s why it’s a great choice for non-residents that need a Spanish bank account for travel, work, or second home purposes.

Banks that require a NIE number to open non-resident accounts

ING and N26 Mobile Bank both require customers to have a NIE number to open an account. 

It is possible that some of the other banks listed above may end up asking you to get a NIE number, either because they’ve changed their conditions or, as often happens in Spain, bank managers have their own interpretation of the rules and requirements from customers. 

Getting a NIE number in Spain is a straightforward process which basically just involves you being assigned a foreign identity number, filling in a few documents, paying just €10 and waiting a few days (in some places longer).

Again, it does not mean applying for residency, the NIE is a just an identity and fiscal number for a foreigner.

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Documents usually required to open a non-resident bank account in Spain

When trying to open a bank account without a NIE or as a non-resident, you need a few different documents.

You’ll need a valid passport or national identity card, something to prove your address like a bill, and often a document proving your employment status like a payslip or contract. This last point may be an obstacle for some retirees or people who aren’t working, but you may be able to get round this by showing another source of income, pension or similar.

There are also accounts in Spain that don’t require a nómina (payslip) where you might need to meet other conditions such as deposit a certain amount of money in the account every quarter.

Please note as well that some banks may ask you to have documents translated officially, and this can’t just be by your bilingual neighbour: you’ll have to find a sworn translator to do it for you.

Some Spanish banks also ask for a ‘Non-Resident Certificate’ (Certificado de no Residente) – a document proving that you aren’t resident in Spain.

This isn’t overly complicated to get hold of; you can get it by going to your local police station but be aware of the infamous cita previa system: many police stations require you to make a prior appointment online beforehand, and they go fast online.

There’s also the option of getting it at your local foreign office (extranjería) or, if abroad, at the Spanish consulate.

Conclusion

As you now know, not having a NIE or residency does not mean you can’t open a bank account in Spain.

In fact, there’s a whole host of traditional and online banks that allow you to open an account with a few basic documents.

It is worth noting however, that as with almost all bureaucratic processes in Spain, rules and regulations can be open to interpretation and your success in opening an account may depend on how that particular clerk is feeling on that particular day.

Give yourself the best possible chance and arrange all your documents, get them translated, and make sure the bank you’re applying to accepts non-resident accounts. But remember, as many Spaniards say themselves: bureaucracy in Spain is personalised, just not for you.

By Conor Faulkner.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

How much does it cost to raise a child in Spain?

How big is the financial commitment parents have to make in Spain to pay for their offspring’s needs and expenses until they’re grown up and independent? 

How much does it cost to raise a child in Spain?

Anyone who’s familiar with how Spanish society works will know that in most cases families are close-knit and young Spaniards tend to leave the nest later than their European counterparts. 

So it’s no surprise that a study conducted by the German savings platform Raisin has revealed that raising a son or daughter in Spain until their emancipation costs an average €300,000 for parents.

That figure represents around €90,000 more than two decades ago.

It’s €8,000 more expensive for parents who have a son rather than a daughter, as women in Spain tend to become independent earlier (28.8 years old compared to 30.7 years for men).

What does the money get spent on? 

In the case of a male child, feeding him until emancipation amounts to €121,605 on average; education adds up to €38,316; clothing and footwear costs €32,729; celebrations such as baptisms, communions or birthdays amount to €27,815; health expenses come to €19,119; pocket money adds up to €12,480; hygiene expenses average €8,426, and €48,887 are splashed out on travel costs.

The money that goes towards covering a baby’s first year of life has increased from €7,254 in 2002 to €10,610 in 2022, which represents 38 percent of the salary of a father and 40 percent of the mother.

To support a child during the first year, Raisin’s study found that a man with an average net monthly salary of €2,315 would have to save 5 percent of his wages for seven years and eight months; and a woman with an average salary of €2,182 would need eight years and two months, six months more.

By the time their son or daughter has turned 24, the cost to parents is reduced by half to an average of €4,594 a year.

The report, titled ‘The cost of having a child in Spain’, found that having a baby continues to have a negative impact on a woman’s employment opportunities, even though this is improving gradually.

So how does the cost of raising a child in Spain compare to that in other European countries? 

It depends on the study, the help available to parents, the costs of living in each country, whether they’ve factored in rising inflation in 2022 and many other factors particular to each set of parents.

In the UK for example, different studies have found the cost of raising a child until the age of 18 was anywhere between £160,000 and £230,000. In France, it was around the €150,000 to €180,000 in 2020.

But in Spain, where around 65 percent of young people aged 25 to 29 live at home with mum and dad, in large part as a result of the poor wages/work opportunities available to them and higher living costs, it’s no surprise that parents continue to help their children financially until a later age.

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