When sending money to or from Spain, you’ll need a Spanish bank account in order to receive the funds, and to make transactions whilst in Spain (avoiding potential charges from your UK bank). It will also enable you to set up Direct Debits to pay for various utility bills, solicitors’ and agents’ fees, taxes etc.
The Spanish banking system is as sophisticated as that in the UK, so whichever bank you choose, you can expect to find a large network of branches and ATMs that you can use located across the country, and online services allowing you to operate on a 24/7 basis. As in the UK, charges and tariffs
can vary significantly from bank to bank. Free banking is a rarity in Spain.
Don’t just plump for the first bank you see. There are a number of considerations to bear in mind before making your choice.
According to Spanish law, a person must meet at least one of the following criteria in order to be considered a resident:
Spanish banks offer accounts tailored to residents and non-residents. Residents will usually have access to a wider range of products and tend to get better interest rates and lower commissions and charges.
Residents must prove their status by presenting the bank with their residence identity certificate/card, which contains details of their NIE and home address. They must also submit an annual tax return.
Non-residents are not liable for capital gains tax or submitting tax returns though they do need to provide an NIE number and complete a Declaration of Fiscal Residence (‘Declaración de Residencia Fiscal’) form when opening an account. The bank should provide this Declaration form when the applicant first visits the branch to open the account and sign the paperwork, and the bank will submit it to the tax authorities once it has been signed.
The Declaration of Fiscal Residence is valid for up to two years, after which a new Declaration must be signed. The bank should contact the account holder when this renewal is due. If the account holder decides to become a permanent resident at any time, they must advise the bank, which in turn will inform the tax authorities of the change in status.
There several different types of bank account available, but the main ones you’ll be considering are:
To open a bank account in Spain, applicants must be aged 18 or over and present the following documentation at a branch of the bank:
Presenting all these documents at once should ensure that the account is opened almost straightaway. A cheque book (though cheques are not commonly used in Spain) and ATM/debit card should follow within a few days, though some banks with provide a temporary pass book (‘libreta’) to allow withdrawals until the ATM/debit card arrives.
For security reasons, most banks will not send cheque books and ATM/debit cards to overseas addresses. If you don’t yet have an address in Spain to send them to, they will need to be collected from the branch.