Banking in Spain – The Go to Guide

12 October 2015 0 Comments Category: blog, Just Landed

If you´ve just landed and plan on living here, we suggest you open a bank account. But before you do, we´d like to walk you through some of the ins and outs of banking in Spain. We´ll tell you what documents are required, inform you on banking hours, types of accounts, fees and what to do when sending and receiving international transfers. Here is our go-to-guide to banking in Spain.

All banking activities in Spain is controlled by Banco de España (Bank of Spain), which has its headquarters in Madrid and branches all over the country´s provincial capitals. There are also many foreign banks that operate in the country.


Different Banks for Different Needs

There are over 165 different banks and two types: bancos (private or publicly owned banks) and cajas (state owned banks, which tend to invest in local projects). If you´ve just landed, make sure to visit both to get a clear idea of what will be more convenient for you. When we say convenient we mean: choosing a bank that is close to your place of residence, one that offers internet banking, free ATM services and many branches nationwide.

Once you open your account, you´ll be given a debit/credit card for an annual fee, with which you´ll be able to take money out of the ATM machines (cajeros) or pay with in most all restaurants, shops and supermarkets. Please remember that checks are rarely accepted in Spain and not all ATM transactions are free. Make sure the bank informs you of what ATM you can use to avoid surcharges. Otherwise, most cash machines will inform you of the charge, if any, before you go ahead and confirm the transaction.

You can also ask for a service called domiciliación bancaria, which allows companies, such as the phone company or the electric company, to directly debit your account.


Banking Hours

Bank hours in Spain are 9am to 2pm Monday to Saturday but remember there are many fiestas (local and national holidays) and most banks reduce their working hours during the summer months. If you do not speak Spanish, we suggest you call ahead and request an appointment with an English-speaking member of the staff. If they do not provide this service, bring a Spanish friend along. It won´t take more than 5 days to have your account activated.



What Documents are Required

For EU citizens, most banks require you provide the following documents in order to open an account:

  • Passport
  • NIE – if you haven’t had the chance to read our post informing you on how to get yours, this would be a good time.
  • Proof of address – You´ll need to get your empadronamiento sorted through your local town hall (ayuntamiento).
  • Proof of employment status

Remember you must have all documents that aren´t in Spanish, officially translated and some must be authenticated with an Apostille.

For non-EU citizens, these are the documents you will need to provide when opening a bank account in Spain:

  • Passport and consular inscription in Spain or NIE and proof of address
  • Title deeds or rental contract to Spanish property
  • Proof of income (most banks require a minimum of 600 euros)

Please make sure you ask for an appointment or check online to go over all necessary documents you will need before opening an account.


Domestic and International Transfers

Both types of transfers can be done from the bank, ATMs and via the Internet or phone service. You´ll need to ask the bank for your IBAN number if you are to receive money transfers internationally. Fees will apply when transferring money in and out of your account.

We hope we´ve walked you through the ins and outs of banking in Spain. Do you already have an account?

Photo Credits: Shutterstock



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