How to open a bank account only with a passport?

Opening a bank account in Spain as a Spanish citizen and resident of legal age is not a problem. But if you are not a resident in the country, the process is a little more complicated. It is convenient that you are familiar with its particularities and that you are clear about the documents you may be asked for.

This article discusses the non-resident accounts offered by some banks and explains whether it is possible to open a bank account with just a passport. In addition, we present Wise, an alternative solution that allows you to perform similar operations and that can be opened online.

When is someone considered a non-resident in Spain?

Although both residents and non-residents can open bank accounts in almost all Spanish banks, the formulas and conditions vary greatly depending on tax residence. That is why it is very important to know beforehand where yours is as it determines where you will have to pay your income tax.

Although in other countries it may be different, in the case of Spain in order to be a resident in the eyes of the law, specifically as specified in article 9 of Law 35/2006, it is sufficient that you meet any of the following criteria.
  • Spend at least 183 days in Spain without counting sporadic absences or absences to tax havens, unless you can prove your tax residence in that country.
  • Have your main economic activities in Spain
So, can I open a bank account with a passport?

Currently, there are some banks that allow you to open a bank account with your passport if you are not a resident in Spain. Please note that you will be asked for additional documents, as indicated in the following sections.

Some of the banks that offer an account to a non-resident are Santander, Bankia, Caixabank, BBVA, Sabadell and ING. Each of them has different requirements and documentation.

Steps to open a non-resident account in Spain

The problem with being a non-resident in Spain is that, when you want to open an account in this country, you will have to complete a series of steps that can make the process more complex:
  • You will have to research which account and bank best suits your needs.
  • You will have to go to one of the bank branches in Spain or find a bank that allows you to do the formalities remotely.
In most cases, you will be able to have your non-resident account in the same day. But first you will have to present all the necessary documents and sign the contract.

Documents required to open a non-resident account in Spain

The documents you will be asked to provide to open a non-resident bank account in Spain vary from one bank to another. It is usual that you will have to present several of the following:
  • Declaration of Economic Activity (DAE): this document is not a big problem, as it is provided by the bank itself to comply with Law 10/2010 against money laundering. In it, you only have to specify what your economic activity is.
  • Non-resident certificate¹: this is a document issued by a Consular Office abroad or a Police Station or Immigration Office in Spain. It certifies that you are not a resident in the country and enables you to carry out certain administrative procedures. To apply for it, you must fill in form 790 - 012 or 790 - 052: Epigraph 6.6 and pay 7.31 Euros.
  • Identity document from your country: in addition to your passport, some entities may ask you for extra documentation to prove your identity.
  • Proof of the origin of your income: the bank may ask you to prove that your money comes from legal sources. Pay stubs, a copy of your last income tax return or proof of payment of your taxes are valid.
Can I open the account online?

Unfortunately, opening an online account with a passport is usually not possible if you are not a resident in Spain. Most traditional banks require you to go in person to a branch and do not allow you to open your account online.

Wise: an online account for citizens of the world

If you want to save travel and headaches, Wise allows you to open an account with your passport and requires no additional documents. In addition, the process is 100% online.

If you are a person who travels, works or lives in more than one country, this account is for you. It allows you to manage your money in more than 40 currencies. In addition, you can also have account details to receive transfers in euros and 9 other currencies. This way you will avoid the high commissions that international transfers have.

Oh, and you will always receive the average exchange rate when you make international transactions or conversions between currencies. This is the same as you can see when you do a Google search - it's only fair!

Most frequent fees for non-resident accounts

Some banks allow you to save commissions if you direct deposit your salary or pension. With non-resident accounts this is unrealistic. Your employer will not be willing to make an international transfer to pay you or it could cause problems in their accounting.

The most common fees you will face with your non resident account are:
  • Account maintenance²: from €140 to €196 per year. Usually charged on a quarterly basis
  • Sending transfers abroad³: around 0.7%, with minimums of between €20 and €35, depending on the entity.
  • Receiving transfers from abroad³: around 0.4%, with minimums of around 20 €.
  • Issue and maintenance of your debit card⁴: around €35 per year. Some accounts, such as Santander's, offer you a free card.
  • Issuance and maintenance of a credit card⁴: varies greatly depending on the card contracted. The cheapest ones start at €30 and can go up to €130 per year.
  • Cash withdrawals at ATMs⁴: 4.5% with minimums of between €3 and €4.
  • Exchange rate surcharge⁵: conventional banks do not use official exchange rates when converting from one currency to another. They use their own rates with a surcharge added. In the case of Caixabank, for example, it is 2.5% and in the case of Sabadell it is 3%.