As a New Zealand/Irish passport holder I have previously had no issues opening bank accounts in both Australia and the UK. Granted I had to pay £50 for the privilege of opening an HSBC UK bank account from and Australian HSBC branch but, I figured as it was so straight forward, it was worth the fee. Spain will turn out to be another matter entirely…

When the idea was hatched in early 2016 that we would definitely at some point move to Barcelona, on a short 3 day visit I made an attempt at opening a Spanish bank account.



So along with my trusty interpreter Nina, I decide to approach the Caixa Bank [“CaixaBank financial group is the leader on retail banking in Spain”, their words not mine] to open an account. After being ignored for 5 or 10 minutes we are acknowledged and directed to a woman at a desk. Now I’ve done my homework and I have arrived with a statement to show how many thousands of Pounds I will be transferring [as a non-national you are now required to deposit 6000.00€ into a bank account if you do not have a work contract] I have my NIE number, my Número de Seguridad Social and my Irish Passport. The fly in the ointment despite the amount of money I can prove I can transfer, appears to be that I neither have a work contract or rental agreement. Apparently only either of these documents will make me an appropriate candidate for a Caixa Bank Account. All this is said to Nina in Spanish and I am virtually persona non-grata. I’m on a time limit and Nina’s after this negotiation to ‘no-where’ is on a short fuse. On our way to meet friends as we pass two more Caixa banks, Nina makes enquiries but the answer is always the same…No account unless I either have an employment or rental contract. We have an appointment with friends, it’s Friday and tomorrows the weekend and we’re returning to the UK Monday morning so I have to resign myself to the fact that I won’t be opening a bank account on this trip.

Had I persevered would I have opened an account? ‘Probably not’ the experiences to come would confirm this.



Jump forward to November 2016 and I hold in my hands our rental agreement. I’m being stubborn about Caixa Bank, if they weren’t either interested in me or civil to me in the beginning I’m not interested in going for a second round with them.

Several people including Nina have recommended ING Bank. So with Nina in tow we make our way. I’m prepared…I have all my documentation in hand and my perceived ‘trump card’…my rental agreement. Nina has other bank business so Philip and I approach a male member of staff. We sit at his desk and I ask if he speaks English as I would like to open a bank account. “Catalan only” is his response. I then attempt to converse with him in my very limited Spanish and his response again is “Catalan only” I cannot believe I am hearing this. We leave the desk and wait for Nina to finish her transaction. When she has finished we join her and she in Spanish tells the female staff member that we would like to open a bank account. I hand over my documentation and the ‘trump card’ only to have said ‘trump card’ shoved back across the desk to me with a hand indication telling me she’s not interested in the document. She then goes through the rest of my documents and through Nina tells me that I do not have ‘something’ [I never did find out what it was] to open a bank account there. A discussion ensues between Nina and the staff member when suddenly I’ve had enough…I stand up grab my documents off this woman and tell Nina we’re leaving…

SUCCESS with an added twist:


Fortuitously two days prior we had attended a gathering at a retro furniture store where we had mentioned my prior bank experience to an attendee who suggested that we try her contact at band Sabadell…So on leaving ING I thought OK this is it, let’s ring this contact and see if we can’t make an appointment to see her. And just like that we had an appointment for the following morning. ‘Vanessa’ turned out to be wonderful. She was incredibly courteous, professional and helpful. Not only did she open a bank account for me but she also sorted out our Contents and Indemnity insurance at an extremely good price.

Ah but the fun doesn’t stop there…

The bank cards were sent to our address, but as the entrance way to our apartment complex was under renovation there were no post boxes and the mail was being left in the entrance with the door unsecured and tradesman coming and going. About 10 days later and not having seen my bank cards, I receive a phone call in Spanish, I can’t understand and I hang up. I get a second call and this time catch the word Sabadell so I recognise it’s my bank trying to contact me and I ask to be put through to Vanessa…She asks ”Have I tried to use my cards” Me: ”No I haven’t received them” Vanessa: “Someone’s trying to use your cards, because they weren’t activated it appears they have not been successful, I’ll stop your cards and send new ones” I ask that this time they go to the bank. 10 days later I receive mail to say my credit card is at the bank but nothing about my debit card. I ring Vanessa and it seems the debit card was mailed out and it too has disappeared. I request a debit card also be sent to the bank. 7 days later I receive in the mail the confirmation to go to the bank and collect my debit card. So almost one month from opening my account I finally have access to my money at a cash point machine.

It’s been another very ‘Spanish’ experience…

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