How To Open a Non-Resident Bank Account in Spain For Free
Monito's Managing Editor, Byron has spent several years writing extensively about financial- and migration-related topics.
A writer and editor at Monito, Jarrod is passionate about helping people apply today’s powerful finance technologies to their lives. He brings his background in international affairs and his experiences living in Japan to provide readers with comprehensive information that also acknowledges the local context.
Links on this page may earn us an affiliate commission. This does not affect the opinions and recommendations of our editors.Read more
Opening a Spanish bank account online as a non-resident can be complicated and can involve a fair amount of bureaucracy. In addition to applying for a certificate of non-residency, you'll also have to deal with monthly maintenance fees, transfer fees, and other everyday charges once the account is finally opened.
In this guide, we explain step-by-step how to open a bank account in Spain as a non-resident. We also provide high-street banking alternatives, such as Wise and N26, which are free to open and can provide non-resident foreigners with access to checking accounts in Spain.
Best Spanish Bank Account For Non-Residents
If you're looking for a free online bank-like account, open a Wise Multi-Currency Account, which gives you EU bank details (eligible in Spain), among others, as well as a debit card to spend in multiple currencies. You can open an account before arriving in Spain, and you do not need a Spanish residential address.
On the other hand, if you're an EU resident looking for a fully-fledged but low-cost bank account, we recommend mobile bank N26, which gives you Spanish bank details, a checking account, and a debit card for no monthly fee.
How to Open a Non-Resident Bank Account in Spain
- 01. What is banking like in Spain?
- 02. Can a foreign non-resident open a bank account in Spain?
- 03. Can I open a bank account in Spain from the UK?
- 04. Opening a bank account with a Spanish high-street bank
- 05. Opening a bank account with a digital bank
- 06. Open a Wise account for free as a non-resident
- 07. Opening a basic account in Spain as an EU resident
- 08. How to send money to your Spanish bank account cheaply
- 09. Frequently asked questions about banking in Spain
Banks in Spain: How They Work
Spain has a large and well-established banking sector with several big-name multinational banks calling the country their home, most notably Santander and BBVA. Regulated by Banco de España, Spain's banking and financial services industry is largely dominated by traditional big-name players, although in recent years there has been a rise in digital-only banks, non-bank e-money fintechs, and other bank-like solutions in Spain (much like in the rest of Europe).
Spanish banks adhere to the Deposit Guarantee Fund for Credit Institutions, protecting deposits up to €100,000.00¹. Combined, these two protections make Spanish banks extremely safe and secure for customers.
Types of Spanish Bank Accounts
When people talk about opening a bank account in Spain, they're generally referring to one (or a combination) of the following types of accounts:
- Cuenta bancaria: Also known as a Cuenta corriente or current account, this account is synonymous with standard checking accounts found in most English-speaking countries and is used to process cashless payments geared toward everyday use.
- Cuenta de ahorros: A basic savings account in which funds can be deposited and stored. This account time generally comes along with a card to process withdrawals and cashless transactions.
- Cuenta nomina: This account is designed to receive income — usually in the form of a salary, pension, or unemployment benefit — by charging lower fees on deposits.
- Cuenta de depósito: A more specialised type of savings account that allows funds to be deposited while restricting withdrawals and (historically) accruing interest.
Like most banks worldwide, Spanish banks frequently offer debit cards (tarjetas de débito) and credit cards (tarjetas de crédito) to customers alongside standard account packages.
While these cards can typically be used for free withdrawals within the issuing bank's ATM network, they usually come with fees for withdrawals at other ATM networks and higher fees still (sometimes as high as 4.00% per transaction) for ATM withdrawals outside of Spain. See Monito's guide to saving money while using ATMs abroad to learn more.
What Documents Are Needed To Open a Bank Account in Spain?
While the paperwork and requirements can differ slightly depending on your circumstances (e.g. the requirements will be different if you're a student or a non-resident homeowner in Spain), the following documents are commonly requested to open a bank account in Spain:
- A valid passport or government-issued ID;
- Proof of residence in Spain or a certificate of non-residency
- Your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) number;
- Proof of your employment status or Spanish student card.
What Is a Certificate of Non-Residency?
A certificate of non-residency (and the associated NIE number) is a formal declaration that a person is not living in Spain but still involved in the country. It is used to identify non-residents who have personal affairs or business in Spain, such as a bank account, registered business, or property. They can be obtained through the Spanish police via overseas consulates at a fee of around €10.00.
Can a Foreign Non-Resident Open a Bank Account in Spain?
Yes, if you are a foreign non-resident in Spain and you want to open a bank account, it's definitely possible.
1. Apply For an NIE
One option is to visit a physical bank branch with your ID document (usually a passport) and a certificate of non-residency (NIE). Depending on the specific account you want to open, there might be some additional documents required. To obtain a Certificate of non-residency, you will need to visit your nearest Spanish Police Station or Foreign Office with your passport and the necessary forms, and pay the required fee. If you're not in Spain at the moment, you can apply for the certificate at a Spanish Consulate. It usually takes about a week to get the certificate, and it's valid for three months.
2. Open a Wise Account
On the other hand, if you prefer a hassle-free and free option, you can sign up for a Wise Account. With a Wise Account, you'll receive an IBAN that allows you to receive euros through direct deposits from employers and use a debit card for spending like a local. We recommend it as the most efficient way to access European banking services in Spain as a non-resident.
Opening a Bank Account in Spain From the UK
To open a bank account in Spain from the UK, you'll need to make sure you either have an NIE number ready (which confirms you don't live in Spain but still wish to maintain business — such as a bank account — in the country), or proof of residence.
Some banks allow online registrations if you want to stay in the UK and open a non-resident account. These include BBVA, which offers its Basic Payment Account to new customers who complete the application process and video call online. (We'll learn more about basic accounts and their pros and cons later.)
Option 1 — Opening a Spanish Bank Account With a High-Street Bank
Opening a bank account in Spain — whether as a non-resident or as a resident expat or foreigner — is generally very easy, with most Spanish banks accommodating newcomers and widely available in English.
On the downside, maintaining a bank account with a high-street bank in Spain tends to be slightly costlier than banks in most other European countries. While there's been a trend in recent years among Spanish banks to embrace fee-free accounts, it very much remains the norm in Spain to pay rather hefty fees for maintaining an account, withdrawing at certain ATMs, using a chequebook, using an overdraft, sending and receiving bank transfers, speaking to agents in-branch or over the telephone, and other everyday financial services.
Fortunately for expats from other parts of Europe in particular, most major Spanish banks charge no or very low transfer fees on bank transfers and bank deposits to and from other EU/EEA countries and currencies. (However — even if they don't make it explicit — you'll still be paying an exchange rate margin whenever you transfer to another currency, and we therefore recommend comparing services on Monito to find the cheapest money transfer provider and save money instead.)
Take a look at the offerings of these banks below:
One of Spain's oldest and largest banks, BBVA has an international reach, with 75 million customers in over 30 countries, predominantly in the Spanish-speaking world. In Spain itself, BBVA offers the following account packages relevant to expats and foreigners (all of which require proof of residence):
- Fee-Free Online Account: An everyday current account for residents in Spain, this account is completely fee-free, so long as the applicant is a new BBVA customer. It comes with a virtual Visa debit card that's accessible in-app. The only major fee comes in when you withdraw from foreign ATMs, which is a rather high 4.50%, charged at a minimum of €3.50 per withdrawal.
- Young Person's Online Account: For resident students in Spain between 18 and 29, the fee-free account offering above is also available, including additional discounts and exclusive deals geared toward students.
- BBVA Va Contigo: A standard salary account that comes with a virtual Visa debit card. The account is fee-free, so long as at least €800.00 per month is deposited as a salary, €300.00 per month in pensions or employment benefits, or €2,500.00 every three months in savings.
A prominent and popular bank in the Spanish banking scene, Banco Sabadell has around 12 million customers and a strong presence throughout the country. While most of the bank's services are only available in Spanish, Banco Sabadell offers translation services to non-residents alongside the following major account offering:
- Key Account: A non-resident current account package that comes with free credit and debit cards, free transfers in the EU/EEA up to €20,000.00 and deposits up to €50,000.00 and, most uniquely, an agent who will help you translate bank documents from Spanish to English (a service that's free up to 5,000 words).
In addition, Sabadell also offers several account offerings for Spanish residents, which include Expansión Premium, geared toward salaried workers and Expansión Plus, geared toward savers who're looking for an interest-bearing account package combined with transactional functionality.
A familiar name to most expats from the UK, Santander is a Spanish bank with a global reach, boasting 125 million customers globally and 14 million in Spain, and being ranked as Spain's safest bank in 2020².
Due to its huge size and scope, it should come as no surprise that Banco Santander offers a range of services for non-residents and foreign residents in Spain, many of which are available in English. Here are a few of the main offerings geared toward expats and non-residents:
- Cuenta Mundo: Exclusively for non-residents in Spain, the 'World Account' is a current account package that charges €16.00 per month and comes with a debit card (offering free withdrawals at Santander ATMs worldwide), as well as internet and mobile banking. For expats, a major perk of this account is that it offers fee-free bank transfers and deposits in Euros and most other European currencies³.
- Smart Account: An account package for students and residents in Spain between the ages of 18 and 31 years, this mobile-only current account gives customers a debit card and an optional credit card, and charges €0.00 per month and is fee-free on mobile transfers, making it an attractive option for younger residents in Spain.
- Santander One: An extensive account package that includes a debit card, credit card, and a salary account, Santander One is Santander's flagship account offering. Monthly fees are either €0.00, €10.00, or €20.00, depending on criteria such as whether the account holder uses the account for his/her monthly salary, and whether or not they maintain a daily minimum account balance (a rather high €6,000.00 is required for the lowest fee) consecutively for one year.
With around 16 million customers in Spain alone, CaixaBank is a large multinational banking corporation and holdings company. It is one of the youngest major banks in Spain, having been founded as recently as 2011. Today, CaixaBank offers the following unique offering to non-residents in Spain:
- HolaBank Account: An English-language account package offered through HolaBank (a CaixaBank online banking service), this current account costs €35.00 every quarter and includes a credit card, internet and mobile banking and 24 fee-free electronic transfers in Euros per year (up to €20,000.00 per transfer).
If you're a Spanish resident and comfortable with the Spanish language, CaixaBank's Cuenta Corriente is another good option to consider, offering a flexible checking account, two credit cards, internet and mobile banking, and the ability to have your salary deposited — all in one place and for €0.00 in monthly maintenance fees.
A much-loved financial services platform in Spain, Bankia was founded in 2010 to combine regional savings banks in Spain and quickly rose to become one of the largest banks in Spain by revenue. In 2021, Bankia was acquired by CaixaBank⁴, but the development didn't much affect the day-to-day of its 22 million customers in Spain.
Bankia offers the following two accounts relevant to non-residents and foreigners:
High-street Spanish banks are well-suited for the following types of customers:
- New arrivals who already have proof of residence or plan to get one soon;
- Those looking for fully-fledged financial services (e.g. overdraft, investments, credit card, etc.) and don't mind paying more in fees for them;
- For new arrivals who don't speak Spanish, we recommend BBVA and Santander, as most account services are available in English.
Option 2 — Opening an Account With a Digital Bank
In place of traditional banks, digital or mobile-only banks have been on the rise in recent years across much of Europe, offering lower fees and a generally better user experience than their high-street competitors. Some digital banks are fintechs without a full banking license, while others are fully-fledged banks offering all or most of the usual banking services. The main difference is that they don't operate out of branches, and banking services are online instead.
Let's take a look at two of the major digital bank offerings in Spain:
Arguably Spain's best-known mobile-only bank, N26 is a widely-used and much-loved challenger bank with 7 million customers not only in Spain but across the Eurozone, the US, and Brazil. Moreover, N26 is also partnered with transfer service Wise, allowing in-app international money transfers at some of the best exchange rates on the market.
N26 requires an EU proof of residence (not necessarily a Spanish one) to open an account. It offers customers the following three types of accounts in Spain, all with a dedicated Spanish IBAN:
- N26 Standard: A checking account available online and in the N26 app which allows mobile payments and includes a see-through debit card for a €10.00 delivery fee. The account costs €0.00 per month.
- N26 Smart: The upgraded checking accounts allow one extra debit card, spending statistics, and phone support. The account costs €4.90 per month.
- N26 Metal: A premium tier account option that includes travel and lifestyle insurances, bespoke rewards, and unlimited free ATM withdrawals. The account costs €16.90 per month.
Amsterdam-based Bunq is a rapidly expanding European challenger bank that has become a popular alternative to high-street and traditional Spanish banks in recent years. The bank is well-known for its slick user interface and flexible features geared toward young people, travellers, and others frequently on the move.
Like N26, all of Bunq's bank accounts are integrated with Wise, making international money transfers very cheap. The bank offers the following three current account options to customers across the EU:
- Easy Bank: A low-cost current account with a Dutch, French, or German IBAN that comes with a debit Mastercard and money transfer capabilities. The account costs €2.99 per month.
- Easy Money: An account with added features and functionalities, including spending statistics, four free ATM withdrawals per month, budgeting features, unique deals, a metal debit card, and bookkeeping software. The account costs €8.99 per month.
- Easy Green: A premium tier, Easy Green's unique feature allows users to track the progress of the reforestation initiative already linked to other tiers (i.e. a tree planted for every €100.00 spent). Costing €17.99 per month, we've found in our Bunq review that this initiative is not worth it for most users.
Due to their flexibility and lower costs, direct banks are best for the following customers:
- Those who only require the standard range of banking services (e.g. current account, card, etc.);
- Those who're looking to save money;
- Those without proof of residence in Spain.
Option 3 — Opening a Wise Multi-Currency Account
Another option for opening a bank account in Spain as a non-resident is Wise's Multi-Currency Account, which is free to sign up. Wise provides customers with a European IBAN. This allows you to set up local direct deposits to receive euros, and to send and spend money like a local in Spain and across the Eurozone with its accompanying debit Mastercard.
Can I Open an Account in Spain Without a Spanish Address?
Fortunately, after opening your account online, you'll only be required to verify your identity through their interface. You won't need to show proof of residence in Spain or an NIE to signup and access the service (although you will need to show proof of residence in the EU/EEA, US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, or New Zealand to sign up). Here's what Wise has to say about opening an account without proof of residence in the UK, although the same applies in Spain: "You can then choose to either supply proof of address from a standard list of documents, or to send in a selfie, in which you’re holding your proof of ID. This can be a great alternative if you’re still waiting to move to the UK or haven’t yet got bills and other paperwork registered in your name."
Once you're signed up, and your card has arrived (which takes up to 2 weeks in Europe), you'll be able to take advantage of the following unique features with the Wise Multi-Currency Account:
- Local bank details in the US, Eurozone, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Canada, Hungary, and Turkey;
- Hold, exchange, and top-up up to 56 currencies;
- A multi-currency Mastercard debit card that's handy for paying in foreign currencies without the hidden fees;
- Access to Wise's powerful international money transfer service right from your account balance.
|Wise Multi-Currency Account|
To get a sense of how useful Wise can be for expats, let's say that you've just moved from the UK to Spain and you'd like to spend in Euros before you've gotten your residence sorted out. With the Wise Multi-Currency Account, you'll be able to:
- Send British pounds from your bank account to your Wise Euro account;
- Convert to Euros at a low fee (e.g. if you'd like to add €1,000.00 to your account, the total fee* will be around 0.35% or £2.98);
- Pay with your Wise debit card, make or receive SEPA (and SWIFT) payments, and set up direct debits.
You'll also have a dedicated set of Belgian bank details to share with an employer. Belgian IBANs are fully eligible in Spain and across the Eurozone, and rejecting the payout or receipt of funds based on the origin of an IBAN is illegal. Note that this account does not offer an overdraft, and you won’t earn interest on any in-credit balances.
* Conversion made on 05/08/2021
Speedy and versatile, we recommend Wise's Multi-Currency Account for the following types of users:
- New arrivals in Spain looking to spend and withdraw cash without a local bank card;
- Those looking to make low-cost money transfers to the Euro from foreign currencies abroad;
- Those looking for a dedicated European IBAN without having to show proof of residence.
Option 4 — Opening a Basic Account as an EU Resident
The final option for opening a bank account in Spain as a non-resident is to open a basic payment account (known as a cuenta bancaria básica in Spanish). These bank accounts offer basic banking services for free or at a low cost and are available if the applicant is an EU resident. This means that both EU nationals and holders of EU visas (including those with refugee status) are eligible to open one⁵.
Major Spanish banks offer basic payment accounts, such as Santander's Basica Payment Account, BBVA's Basic Payment Account, and CaixaBank's La cuenta de pago básica. These accounts typically include the following day-to-day financial services:
- Deposit processing: Top-up money into your bank account.
- Withdrawals: Withdraw cash at ATMs.
- Direct debits: Set up recurring payments where funds are automatically deducted from your bank account.
- Payment card: Use a bank card to make cashless payments and withdraw money.
To open a basic account with a Spanish bank, you'll be required to show an NIE to prove you're a non-resident in the country.
Following EU law, basic payment accounts are also insured of up to €100,000.00 in deposits for individual accounts and €200,000.00 in joint accounts, making them a very secure option. Banks in the EU cannot refuse EU residents from opening an account in another country solely based on not living there.
A very accessible option, we recommend opening a basic payment account in Spain to the following types of customers:
- Cross-border commuters working in Spain but living in another EU country;
- Those otherwise living in the EU outside Spain looking to open a bank account there.
How To Send Money to a Spanish Bank Account
Once you've opened a bank account in Spain, you'll need to consider how to move your funds across, a process that can be especially costly if you're depositing money from a currency other than Euros. To deposit money into your new Spanish Euro account from your home currency before you move, you'll need to go to your online banking and choose between one of two options:
- Sending a wire transfer through your bank directly;
- Sending a bank transfer via a money transfer specialist.
In general, we don't recommend using your bank to transfer money internationally, as the fees can be exorbitant and the waiting times can be lengthy. This is mainly because banks wire funds over the SWIFT network, which adds many timely and expensive steps to the money transfer process.
Send Money to a Spanish Bank Account Online
Instead, if the amount you'd like to send to Spain is in the order of several hundred or thousand Euros or equivalent, then we recommend you use a money transfer specialist service (Wise is one among many.) To compare which services are cheapest for your transfer amount and home country to Spain, run a search on Monito's real-time comparison engine below.
On the other hand, if you're moving large amounts of money from your home currency to your new bank account in Spain, (i.e. anything upwards of €30,000 or equivalent), then services such as Wise may not be your cheapest bet. Instead, we recommend exploring your options among the foreign exchange brokers that support transfers from your country to Spain. These services specialise in negotiating favourable exchange rates on your behalf and are the most cost-effective option for transferring large sums of money (such as life savings or liquid investments) across borders.
By analysing tens of thousands of searches on Monito's comparison engine over the course of 2021, we found that, on average, Wise, MoneyGram, and Global66 (for transfers from Latin America) tend to offer the cheapest transfers to Spain for small- and medium-sized transfer amounts. For large transfers (defined here as €42,000 or above), the forex brokers OFX and Halo Financial tend to be the three most cost-effective services of all.
To find out which service will offer you the best deal in real-time, run a search on our comparison engine below:
Send Money Cheaply to Spain From Abroad
Frequently Asked Questions About Opening Non-Resident Bank Accounts in Spain
How easy is it to open a bank account in Spain? 🏛
In general, it is very easy to open a bank account in Spain. Whether you're a resident or a non-resident newcomer, you'll have several options to choose from, including opening a basic bank account, opening a fully-fledged account with a high-street bank, opening an account with a digital or mobile-only bank, or using a bank-like solution such as Wise's Multi-Currency Account to send money to and spend money in Spain just as you would with any other current account.
What is needed to open a bank account in Spain? 💼
While the nuts and bolts can differ depending on your circumstances and the type of bank account you're looking for, in general, the following documents are needed to open a bank account in Spain:
- A valid passport or government-issued ID;
- Proof of residence in Spain or a certificate of non-residency
- Your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) number;
- Proof of your employment status or Spanish student card.
Can I open a bank account in Spain without an NIE? 📝
You cannot open a formal bank account in Spain without an NIE. However, if you don't have an NIE, you can still open a bank account with Bunq or a bank-like current account with Wise's Multi-Currency Account — both of which are considerably cheaper than a traditional bank account and neither of which require an NIE to register.
Can I open a bank account in Spain without a Spanish address? 🏡
Yes, you can open a bank account in Spain without a Spanish address. To do so, you'll first need to obtain an NIE to prove that you are indeed a non-resident in Spain. From there, along with your passport, you'll be able to open basic accounts and other non-resident bank account offerings at all major Spanish banks, including Santander, BBVA, and CaixaBank.
Can I open a bank account in Spain from the US? 🗽
Yes, you can open a bank account in Spain from the US. To do so, you'll first need to obtain an NIE to prove that you are indeed a non-resident in Spain. From there, along with your passport, you'll be able to open basic accounts and other non-resident bank account offerings at all major Spanish banks, including Santander, BBVA, and CaixaBank.
How can I learn to speak Spanish fluently?
If you are planning on moving to Spain, read our guide on how to learn Spanish fast and at your own pace.
Can I open a bank account in Spain without a Spanish address?
Yes, you can open a Wise Multi-Currency Account to get access to an EU IBAN for local banking in euros. You will just need to show proof of residence in the EU/EEA, US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, or New Zealand.
Other Banking Guides for Non-Residents
Notes and References Used in This Guide
3. Fees waived for CHF, CZK, DKK, NOK, GBP, HUF, and PLN transfers and deposits.
4. Spanish regulator approves Bankia-Caixabank merger with conditions (Reuters, 23/3/21)
5. Bank accounts in the EU (Your Europe, 9/3/20)
6. Can a foreign non-resident in Spain open a bank account? (Santander, Accessed 24/07/23).
Why Trust Monito?
You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.
Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.
Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.
Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.