In recent years, the Spanish banking system went through a severe crisis but things are starting to get back in order. If you decide to come live in Spain, one of the first things you will need to do when you get here is to open a bank account. There are a number of different accounts you can choose from and a number of procedures you will have to go through to get this done. To make things easier for you, ShBarcelona has created this how-to guide for opening a bank account in Barcelona.
Types of accounts
Checking account (corriente)
The are two types of checking accounts. One for people who live in Spain, have a certificate of empadronamiento and pay their taxes here, and the other one for people who don’t actually live in Spain but may be staying here for a period of time or performing some sort of work in Spain, while paying their taxes elsewhere. The commissions for this second type of checking account are a little higher. This type of account is the most common one, allowing you to perform withdrawals, money transfers, and other basic banking operations. If you open a checking account, ask your bank about the charges associated with withdrawing money from ATMs that belong to different banks.
Savings account (ahorro)
A savings account is an account that allows you to earn money. You place a certain amount of money on your savings account and after a determined period of time, you will start earning interests on it. Ask your bank about the different types of savings accounts they have to offer.
Account for workers (nómina)
If you work in Spain and have a contract to prove it, you can open a nómina account. This is the account where your salary will go every month. If you happen to lose your job, you will receive a penalty for each month your payment does not get deposited in your account. Having a nómina account can be very useful because it prevents you from having to pay other commissions the bank charges users who have regular accounts.
Related article: How to find a job and get your NIE number in Barcelona
Opening an account
Only people over 18 years of age can open bank accounts in Spain. You cannot open an account online, via the bank’s website. You must go directly to the bank. If you do not speak good Spanish, it is best to come with a Spanish interpreter or friend to facilitate understanding and ensure a clear interview.
Documents to bring
The documents may vary depending on the bank and account you wish to open but it is better to come prepared and bring more than you need than to find that you are missing essential documents to open the account.
- Passport or identity card
- Depending on the bank, you may be asked to present a certificate of residency or certificate of non-residency, depending on your situation. The certificate of residency or empadronamiento has to be obtained at the town hall. The certificate of non-residency can be obtained in a National Police Station. These papers may take some time to get, so you should plan your visit to the bank accordingly. If don’t want to wait until you have one of these documents, look for a bank that does not ask for them. It is mandatory to renew your non-resident certificate every 2 years or to inform the bank when you become a resident.
- Proof of status or professional activity may be requested (employment contract, payslip, letter from an accountant, student card …).
You can be considered a resident in Spain if one or more of the following is true for you:
- You have been living for over 183 in Spain
- You have family members or work is based in Spain.
- You have a spouse or child who is a resident in Spain
Documents required (individual)
- The NIE (Foreign Identification Number)
- Identity documents
You will need a different types documents if you want to open a bank account for a company. Make a call to the bank you have chosen and ask them what documents you should take with you to open a company bank account.
Opening a bank account is free. An initial deposit of 100€ should be enough to cover any running costs, although no minimum deposit is obligatory, except in the case of foreign currency. If you are not resident in Spain, any cash value over 6010€ has to be declared. Check deposits require a fairly long period (between 20 and 40 days). If you deposit more than 3000€ in cash, a declaration will be made to the Bank of Spain.
People in Spain tend to use debit and credit cards much more than checks. In fact, many stores and supermarkets do not accept checks. Most bank accounts come with a debit card, but you can easily ask for a credit card, if you are interested in one.
Related article: How to transfer money internationally in Barcelona
Which bank to choose?
When it comes the time to choose your bank, have in mind the kind of transactions you will be performing. If you think you will need to transfer money abroad, perhaps to a family member or even to another account you have in your name, try to find a bank in Barcelona which has branches in the country you will be transferring money to.
Some of the most popular banks in Barcelona are La Caixa and Caixa Catalunya (which has recently merged with BBVA). But there are a variety of international banks such as Santandaer, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, and Citigroup.
Whether you are a student, a young professional or a company manager, do not hesitate to compare the different banks and what they offer to make sure that you have a service adapted to your needs.