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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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For members

MONEY

How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Spain's government recently confirmed it will slash the cost of public transport tickets to help people deal with rising inflation. Here's how much bus, train and metro tickets are likely to cost you in some of Spain's main cities from September 2022.

How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Spain’s annual inflation rate reached 10.2 percent in June, the highest since April 1985, according to a statement released by the Spanish authorities on Wednesday. 

To help its citizens and residents save money and make ends meet at a time of rising inflation, the Spanish government recently announced a 50 percent discount on the cost of multi-journey tickets on RENFE services such as Cercanías, Media Distancia and Avant. 

A 30 percent discount will also be applied to the cost of passes and multi-trip tickets for regional and local transport services, including city metro, bus and tram systems, bought between September 1st and December 31st 2022.

So far it hasn’t been revealed exactly how the reduction will work and it is up to each region to decide on how they want to implement it.

For example, they could just reduce the cost of the tickets or ask people to apply for money back on the tickets they’ve bought over the four months.

Some cities and regional authorities have also said that they will reduce the cost of transport tickets further by applying an extra 20 percent discount on top of the central government’s 30 percent, taking it to 50 percent.

In order to finance the new measure, the government has confirmed that €221 million will be allocated to regional governments and transport authorities across the country. 

Here are the savings you’ll be able to make on transport tickets in Spain’s major cities:

Barcelona

The regional government of Catalonia has announced that it will aim to add further deductions by applying a total 50 percent discount for services run by the Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM ), which includes Barcelona city and the metropolitan area.  

The mobility councillor for Barcelona City Council Laia Bonet said ATM is “aiming to guarantee a 50 percent reduction”. 

This means that if the 50 percent discount is applied, the T-Usual ticket, which allows you unlimited journeys over 30 days, will go from costing €40 to just €20 and the T-Casual ticket which gives you 10 journeys will go from €11.35 to €5.67.  

Madrid

Madrid has not yet confirmed if it will apply more than the 30 percent discount announced by Pedro Sánchez’s government, as public transport tickets there are already subsidised by 60 percent. Authorities in the capital have also said that they still don’t know how much of the €221 million they will receive.

If the national government’s 30 percent reduction is applied, the standard 30-day metro season ticket for zone A will be reduced from €54.60 to €38.22 and the regional pass all the way to Toledo will drop from €131.60 to €92.12.

Seville

Seville City Council also hasn’t yet decided if they will apply a 50 percent discount on transport passes to stick with the 30 percent. However, IU-Podemos has requested that they apply the 50 percent reduction. 

Currently, TUSSAM, the body responsible for urban transport in Seville, has set the price for a 30-day bus pass at €35.50.

With a 30 percent deduction, this will drop to €24.71 and with a 50 percent discount, the cost will go down to €17.65.

With regards to the Seville metro system, a 30-day Bono Plus 45 ticket which allows you to make 45 journeys of a similar type, costs between €30 and €50, depending on how many zones you jump through.

With the 30 percent reduction, a simple pass without jumping through zones will cost €21, while the one-jump pass will cost €29.40.

Valencia

As of yet, there is no concrete information on the reductions that will be applied to transport tickets in Valencia city, but based on the national government’s discount a 30-day SUMA ticket pass for the metro, bus and local train services for zones A and B will go from €35 down to €24.50.  

Málaga

Like Seville, no decision has been made yet in Malaga as to any further reductions other than the government’s 30 percent. Based on this, an unlimited monthly bus pass will be reduced from €39.95 to €27.96.

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