During your time in Madrid,, you will no doubt notice that Spanish people are very sympathetic, and they will be even more friendly and helpful if you take positive approach:

– Smile ūüôā

– Always say ‚ÄúGracias‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúmuchas gracias‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúpor favor‚ÄĚ, etc.

– If you want to enter somewhere, and see a queue, join at the end, asking, “¬ŅEs la cola para entrar ‚Ķ(the name of the place)?‚ÄĚ

РPlan and practice what you want to say before say it. Write down phrases or sentences you have difficulty with, ask your teacher about them, and learn them as soon as possible. This is a great habit for learning any new language.

Opening bank account


You will need a copy of your passport and visa or a resident card if available. Some banks also request other information, such as your bank account in  your country, an initial deposit, an annual fee to maintain the bank account, etc.

In Spain, there are 170 institutions where you can save and withdraw cash from ATM’s (cash machines). 120 of them are Caja and 50 are banco (banks).

Choosing the best bank depends on your needs. You might choose a relatively small, locally-known caja, and that offers many branches in your region such as Caja Canarias, Caja Galicia etc.

In the case of large institutions, you can easily find locations in any city and use their services anywhere in all of Spain, for example: La Caixa, BBVA, Santander, Bankia.

Last, global banks have great options in Spain. ING, Barclays, Deutche Bank are just a few examples.  We personally recommend the service of La Caixa, BBVA, Bankia and Santander.

The standard currency for Spanish banks is the Euro. There is no minimum amount to open an account in Euros. You can also open an account in other currencies such as dollars, but will probably need to make an intiial deposit.

Documentation required to open a bank account.

The documentation required to open a banking account is the same across all financial institutions. You need to present your identity card. Locals present their DNI (National Identity Card) while non-nationals present their passports. Before you can open a savings or current account, though, you must first  decide if you want to open the account as a resident or a non-resident of Spain. The only difference between the two is that you don’t have to pay capital gains tax if you open an account as a non-resident of Spain. To open a resident account, you will need to prove that you are a resident. For locals, their ID is enough, as it states their local residence address, but non-nationals need to present their residency card (NIE) to the bank.

People applying for the non-resident account need to prove that they are non-residents. To do this, go to the main police station and ask for a certificate of non-residency. This procedure has to be done in person, as there is no pre-filled form or online procedure. After 10 days, return to the police station to collect the signed certificate.

However, you can leave the entire procedure to your bank. All you need to do is to sign a form giving them permission to act on your behalf. Be careful, though, since this is a slower process that can take up to several weeks. Every two years, the bank has the duty to re-confirm non-residency status. This means a similar form will be required every two years and you will need to obtain a new certificate from the police or give permission for the bank to act on your behalf.

Types of accounts

According to your daily needs, you can open a savings (cuenta de ahorros) or a current/ checking account (cuenta corriente). Savings accounts normally offer a better interest rate. This percentage varies, though, and you should keep track of it to avoid disappointment  at the end of the year. The current account is used for your direct debits (domiciliaciones bancarias). The current account charges a few euros for transactions and cards, but also offer deals on the monthly direct debits, such as discounts or rebates of a certain percentage (up to a certain amount)of the money spent in a year through card payments or from the direct debits.

Banks also offer other types of accounts for specific purposes such as mortgages (cuenta hipoteca), fixed deposit accounts (cuentas de depósitos a plazo fijo), credit accounts (cuenta de tarjeta de crédito) or investment accounts (cuenta de fondos de inversión). People working in Spain can apply for the pay-slip, or direct-deposit, account (cuenta nómina) so your employer can pay your salary via the account. These accounts are less restrictive about withdrawals and offer savings in credit card costs and transactions.

Students and people¬†under age 26 can apply for ‘the under 26’ account which comes with many deals and discounts such as free credit cards, free subscriptions to a range of teen magazines, invitations, and raffles for¬†shows¬†and concerts. The perks depend on the bank, so ¬†ask what they offer. If you qualify for ‘the under 26’ account, ¬†inform the bank when you open the account and provide documentation, such as your student ID card or National ID card as proof of age.

Payment methods


Most businesses allow MasterCard, Visa Electro or Maestro debit cards (tarjetas de débito) as methods of payment.

You can also use credit cards (tarjetas de crédito) to pay, although terms and conditions for credit cards will vary according to your personal situation and your bank. The most common credit card in Spain is Visa.

Otherwise, you can withdraw money from your own account through cheques or at the branch or office.

Cheques used to be an option of payment for business transactions, but they are no longer used. Most businesses in Spain don’t accept payment by cheque, as they do not want the risk of the cheque bouncing. Cheque-books are no longer issued automatically in most banks, and you will need to request one if you need it.

To transfer funds into your account, you can use cheques or cash at a branch office or bank transfers from another bank account. Also some banks allow you to deposit cash directly at cash machines.

Withdrawing money from a cash machine from a different banking institution will incur¬†an¬†additional charge, but¬†some banks have joined networks to waive these costs. The two mayor networks are ‚ÄėEuro6000‚Äô and ‚Äė4B‚Äô. Ask your bank if they are part of these networks and learn about the benefits¬†they offer.

Banking hours and online banking

Traditional bank hours of operation are:

Monday-Friday: 9am-2pm.

Almost all banks offer online banking without you having to request for it, and provide a username and password.

Registering to Residence

The right of a person to live and work in Spain depends on their citizenship as follows:

  1. European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Citizens: All EU and EEA citizens and their family members have the right to live and work in Spain. However, if remaining in Spain longer than three months, a Residence Certificate as a EU resident is required. In addition to the Residence Certificate, as of July 10, 2012 all EU citizens who wish to remain in Spain for longer than three months may be asked to prove that they have sufficient financial means to support themselves and any dependents. They may also be required to provide proof of private or public healthcare insurance.
  2. Non-EU/EEA Spouse and Dependent Family Members: The legally registered partner and dependent family of an EU citizen in Spain are entitled to the same rights as an EU citizen to live in the country, however within three months of arrival, application must be made for an EU Family-member Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar de Ciudadano de la Unión).
  3. Non-EU/EEA Citizens: Any non-European Union citizen staying in Spain for a period longer than three months requires a Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia).

The Ministry of Territorial Policy (Ministerio de Politica Territorial, also known as the Ministerio de Administraciones P√ļblicas – MAP), has a website with some information in English: www.map.es

  1. http://www.metromadrid.es
  2. emtmadrid.es
  3. crtm.es
  4. http://www.expatica.com/es/finance_business/banking/How-to-open-a-bank-account-in-Spain_14886.html
  5. http://spain.angloinfo.com/moving/residency/