How to open a bank account in Spain
If you’re relocating and need an account to hold, spend and receive euros, you may be wondering how to open a bank account in Spain. Spain is one of the more straightforward places to get a non-resident bank account, which means you may have options available to you even if you’re not living there just yet. However, you’ll need to pull together some extra paperwork to support your application.
This guide walks through account opening options and requirements for some major Spanish banks – and some alternatives like Wise and Revolut as a more flexible comparison. More on that, later.
What documents do I need?
The exact documents you need to open an account with a traditional Spanish bank will vary a little based on the account type. However, in most cases here’s what’s required to open a Spanish bank account:
- Proof of ID – like a passport or National identity card
- Proof of Spanish address – or a certificate of non residency for a non-resident account (more on the certificate of non residency – and how to get one – later)
Other documents like a proof of income – pay slip or tax statement – or a student ID may also be needed based on the account type you select.
It’s helpful to note that there are some banks – like N26 which we’ll look at in more detail later – which accept proof of ID from some other European countries as well as Spain. If you’re already a European resident you might find you have more choice for your Spanish bank account – but if you’re still in the US you may find it trickier to get started. More on a smart solution, next.
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
If you’re trying to set up a euro bank account before you move to Spain you may be better off with a modern online alternative like Wise or Revolut, instead of a traditional Spanish bank.
Providers like these offer multi-currency accounts which can hold, send, spend and receive euros, alongside a range of other currencies. You’ll be able to open your account with a US proof of identity and address, which means you can access EUR bank details even if Spain isn’t your home just yet.
Set up your account online or via the provider’s app and complete the verification process digitally before you travel.
How to open a bank account in Spain
If you’re already in Spain and have a proof of ID and local address, you’ll often be able to open a Spanish bank account online or by simply walking into a bank to get your account up and running. If you’re looking for a non-resident account with a traditional bank you’ll need to take an extra step and get a certificate of non-residency.
To get a certificate of non-residency you’ll need to visit a police station in Spain, or your local Spanish Consulate if you’re living outside of the country, complete some forms and pay a fee. You’ll get a certificate in a week or so, which is valid for 3 months.
If you’re not in Spain yet and want to skip this step, you may find it easier to get your EUR account set up using digital alternatives like Wise or Revolut.
Can I open a bank account in Spain before arrival?
If you’re happy to get a certificate of non-residency from your local Spanish Consulate in the US you’ll be able to apply for a non-resident account in Spain before you live there.
It’s also useful to know that some banks offer euro accounts to customers with a residential address which is also in the EU or a Eurozone country. If you’re not in Europe yet you might find it easier to get set up using a specialist account service – we’ve got a couple coming up to kickstart your research.
Which account is best in Spain for foreigners?
While there’s a huge choice of local, regional and global banks in Spain, you’ll need a local proof of address for standard accounts, or a certificate or non-residency for a non-resident product. If you want to skip the hassle and costs of getting your non-resident certificate, digital specialist services may be a better option.
Let’s take a look at a few examples, including a couple of specialist account providers, digital bank N26 and Spanish banking giant Santander’s non-resident account:
|Service||Wise||Revolut||N26||Santander (non-resident account)|
|Currencies covered||50+ currencies including EUR||Typically around 28 currencies including EUR||EUR||EUR|
|Open before you arrive in Spain||Yes||Yes||Open with proof of residence from one of 22 European countries||Yes, as long as you have a certificate of non-residence|
|Open an account online||Yes||Yes||Yes||Call Santander to learn more about application options|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Fee free standard plans are available – or customers can upgrade to accounts which have a monthly charge||Fee free standard plans are available – or customers can upgrade to accounts which have a monthly charge||16 EUR/month|
|International money transfers||Low fee, varies by currency||Fee varies by currency and payment value||Incoming and outgoing EUR payments to EU countries are usually free|
Receiving a SWIFT payment: 12.50 EUR + 0.1%
Outgoing international payments are processed through Wise – low, variable fees apply
|Standard online transfers don’t have a fee (exchange rate markups may apply)|
Instant SEPA transfers – 6 EUR
In branch payments attract extra fees
We picked out N26 and Santander as a couple of the more flexible Spanish banks – N26 will let you apply with a proof of address from a range of European countries, and Santander has a non-resident account on offer.
If you’re still in the US and don’t want to have the cost and hassle of getting a certificate of non-residency, an online account provider like Wise or Revolut can be a smart choice, to access low cost banking services in euros alongside USD.
Wise offers multi-currency accounts which can be used to hold, exchange, send, spend and manage 50+ currencies including both US dollars and euros.
You can open your account while you’re still in the US and get bank details for up to 10 currencies – including USD and EUR – to receive payments, as well as having the option to send money to 80+ countries and spend internationally with a linked Wise international debit card.
Wise is a specialist in low cost currency conversion which uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup. Use your Wise account as you transition from the US to Europe, to get low fees and great rates every time you need to switch from one currency to another.
Account types: Both personal and business customers can open a Wise multi-currency account from the US with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay. Check out our Wise Fees article to learn more.
Eligibility: Accounts are offered in most countries around the world – you’ll need a government issued ID and in some cases a proof of address or tax number to apply. Full details of availability by location available on the Wise website.
Is it safe? Yes, Wise is safe. Wise is also overseen by a range of global regulatory bodies around the world.
Revolut describes itself as a financial super app. Accounts are offered to customers based in the US and a range of other countries, and can hold and exchange around 28 currencies including euros.
You’ll be able to spend on your linked debit card, get some fee-free currency exchange depending on your account type, and even earn interest on your account balance.
Revolut offers free standard accounts, or if you want to unlock more features you can upgrade to a paid plan for a monthly fee.
Account types: Standard account plans are free or you can upgrade to a paid plan on a variety of different tiers – if you’re in the US, plans range up to 16.99 USD/month.
Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.
Is it safe? Yes. Revolut operates safely in the countries it serves, with oversight from a range of global bodies.
N26 is a European digital bank which offers accounts to customers in 20+ countries around Europe, including Spain. It’s free to get a basic standard account, or you can choose to pay a monthly fee of up to 16.90 EUR to upgrade to a premium account tier.
It’s worth noting that at the time of writing, N26 has some limitations on the number of accounts that can be opened per month, due to overwhelming demand. This may mean some or all products are limited based on your country of residence. Restrictions change based on demand – check the latest before you choose N26 for your euro account.
Account types: Standard, Premium and Business accounts are available. Standard accounts are free to open, with no monthly fee.
Eligibility: Available to residents of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Spain, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Is it safe? Yes. N26 is a reputable European bank with a full banking license for the EU.
Santander – one of the largest banking groups in Spain – is a solid place to start if you’re looking for an account from a local provider. There’s a good range of account options, including specialist products like the non-resident Mundo account we profiled earlier. Account features and fees vary widely – in the case of the Mundo account you’ll pay a monthly account charge, but you can get a linked card issued for free. Transaction fees apply based on how you use your account.
Account types: Range of account options with some English speaking customer service offered.
Eligibility: Non-resident accounts are available for customers with a valid proof of their non-resident status.
Is it safe? Yes. Santander is a reputable global bank with banking licenses everywhere it offers services.
What are the costs?
Opening a bank account in Spain will not usually involve paying any specific fee, but you may be asked to deposit a set minimum amount of money. You may also find there are monthly or annual account and card fees, as well as transaction costs. Because banking in Europe can come with significantly different fees compared to the US you’ll want to review the fee schedule carefully before you start using your account.
Tips for transferring money
If you’re moving to Europe you may well need to manage your money across both EUR and USD for a while, which will mean sending transfers internationally. Overseas payments can be pretty costly, with fees that are often confusing. You’ll need to compare both the transfer fee and the exchange rate being applied whenever you send money to make sure you get a good deal.
Here are some tips to avoid costs on international wire transfer fees:
- Compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the mid-market exchange rate to see if a markup is being used
- Review the terms and conditions of your specific account to see the transfer fee which will apply
- Check if there are third party fees associated with the SWIFT network – these can push up the overall costs
Spanish banks commonly ask for a proof of address from Spain, from another EU or EEA country, or a valid certificate of non-residence for specialist non-resident accounts. That can make it a bit of a hassle to open a Spanish bank account with a regular bank before you relocate, or if you’re only planning on being in Spain on a temporary basis.
If you need a euro account with more flexibility, check out specialist providers like Wise or Revolut, to get an account opened and verified online, with EUR banking details and a linked payment card.
- Can a foreigner open an account in Spain?
Yes, foreigners can open Spanish bank accounts. However, you’ll often be asked for a proof of address from Spain, from another EU or EEA country, or a valid certificate of non-residence for specialist non-resident accounts. If you’re still based in the US a flexible multi-currency account from a specialist provider may be a better option.
- How much do I need to open a bank account in Spain?
It’s usually free to open a Spanish bank account, but there may be a minimum initial deposit, monthly or annual card fees, and there are always some transaction fees to consider, depending on how you use your account.
- Can I open a Spanish bank account online?
Some Spanish banks do allow online account opening, but you’ll find this easier if you’re a local resident in Spain and have a proof of address document.
- Can I open a bank account in Spain before landing?
You’ll normally need a proof of address from Spain, from another EU or EEA country, or a valid certificate of non-residence for specialist non-resident accounts. That can mean opening a bank account before landing is a bit of a hassle. However, online and digital specialist services like Wise and Revolut may be more flexible, with accounts you can open online, with proof of address from your home country instead.