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Opening a bank account in Valencia can range from highly difficult to immensely simple and smooth. One issue is finding someone among staff in any bank able to speak fluent English. Add to that an, at times, certain lack of desire for agreement and haphazard knowledge of what is and what is not legally permitted.

Recent years have seen large changes with through mergers and closures in the banking landscape in Spain. Some brands have consequently disappeared from the market, even if numbers of branches across the city are still quite formidable.

In your writer’s experience, some banks refuse offering an account to a foreigner who is not registered while others give misleading information on the conditions of opening an account.

The proficiency of a young woman with whom I spoke to at Santander was exceptional. She stated categorically that I can open an account with my British passport and use my UK address. A so-called certificate of non-residence, certificado no residencia would be required though.

A hunt began for the correct police division, national or local, and which station. Finally, armed with that info, I was able to apply for the paperwork at the police station located behind the Estacio del Norte railway station. Interestingly there was no need to acquire a NIE.

Armed with my paperwork it took perhaps an hour of excellent service in fairly fluent English until I was issued with documents concerning the account that were printed in English. The online banking provided by Banca Sabadell is available also in English, French and German. Typically, I was not asked to show the certificate of non-residence that I had hunted down.

Banking Options

Other big players are Caixa Bank, Bankia, BBVA and Banco Santander. Expats report varying degrees of satisfaction and all manner of issues with most. Online banks include independents Wise, N26, Revolut and Nickel or Bunq. Others such as Openbank belong to Spanish entities.

Issues can arise twofold. Utilities in Spain demand a Spanish IBAN on the account number. Secondly, the online banks can require residency to acquire that elusive Spanish account.

The luxury of a legal right to hold free account that UK residents are used to or the brutal competition for US residents is non-existent in Spain. The main banks will offer “free” banking if a certain amount is moved every month. This is usually € 600. Some try to find ways to bill something unusual but remind when stern approached. They will all attempt to link services such as a credit card, overdraft facility of loan to opening home insurance. This can often be a good deal but not necessarily.

When I did not receive the services I requested from my bank and threatened to close the account, the employee merely shook her shoulders. Needless to say, I no longer hold a Spanish bank account.

By Vincent Green, Updated Mar 15 2024

CECA, Confederación Española de Cajas de Ahorros

Calle Alcalá, 27
28014 Madrid

+34 917 451 530


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