Basics of banking in Spain



Opening an Account in Spain

Foreigners in Spain can open two types of bank accounts: resident accounts and non-resident accounts. There is no difference in the fees and services of these two types of accounts, except that banks may not issue credit cards or provide overdraft protection to non-resident account holders. Shop around and compare fees and services of different banks before opting to bank with one. While banking in Spain, a personal relationship with a bank official proves to be very helpful and asking a friend or colleague to introduce you to a director-sub-director at a bank if possible is a good idea. In case you make the initial deposit in a foreign currency ensure that you ask that the currency is converted into Euros immediately as this could become a problem later.

Documents required to open an account if you are non-resident are a valid document of identification such as a passport or ID card (driving licenses may be accepted depending on the bank's policy). You are additionally required to justify your non-resident status by providing a certificado de no residencia within 15 days of opening the account. You can apply and collect this certificate at a local police station. Every two years thereafter, the bank is required to check on your non-resident status. If you become a resident after opening the account, you are required to notify the bank and give them a copy of your tarjeta de residencia. In practice most banks do not ask for the certificado de no residencia. If a certain branch bank asks for this you could go to another branch of the same bank or to a different bank.

Normal banking hours are from 8:30-9:00 in the morning until 2:00-2:30 in the afternoon (Monday to Friday). Some banks also work longer hours once a week and/or are open on Saturdays from 9:00-13:00. Business hours during the summer months June-August are shorter.

The most common types of account that you can open in Spain are: a non-interest bearing current or checking account (cuenta corriente) and a savings account (cuenta de ahorro).

Cards, Payments & ATM's in Spain

Most banks will offer you a debit card with which you can make payments in shops and withdraw from cash machines. Cheques are rarely accepted commercially by Spanish shops and establishments. 

Most banks in the country run a system called domiciliación whereby companies can directly debit your account for billing purposes. If you choose not to pay your bills through this route, you will have to go to a bank anyway to pay it personally at most banks usually between 8:30 and 10:30 and sometimes only on certain days of the week. 

A number of cash machines/ATMs (cajeros) in Spain operate on either the ServiRed or the 4B network (also known as Telebanco). You should (depending on your bank's affiliation) be able to withdrawal cash from all cajeros under at least one of these networks.


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Banking Guide