If you're frequently outside Spain, then you're going to need a good online banking service. Most banks now offer online banking in English, as well as customer support in English. Note that the Bank of Spain requires your signature to clear an incoming transfer of over 12,500 euros, so make sure you either work near a branch office or that your bank accepts a signature by fax. Some bank branches focus on companies; others focus on personal banking. Finding someone knowledgeable in the branch you choose can make all the difference in whether that money you've wired to your Spanish account arrives quickly and smoothly or gets tied up for weeks.
Our personal comments:
Since the EU instituted the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), which transformed Spain's 16-digit bank account number to the 20-digit IBAN numbers beginning with "ES", direct debits from Spanish banks can now be charged to banks in the rest of the EU. This includes VAT payments to the Spanish tax office. This means that the new "borderless" bank accounts created in the EU by fintechs such as Wise, Payoneer, and Azimo can also be used to pay the Spanish tax office.
A sample Spanish IBAN is ES12-1234-12-1234567890, where:
Please read our separate article on bank commissions in Spain.
Checks are not used often in Spain. Bank transfers are easy. If you charge clients on a periodic basis, ask your bank for software to do this automatically. Your bank will also have a platform to automate payments to your employees.
The credit card terminal to charge your customers is called a TPV (Terminal punto de venta) in Spanish. Spanish banks will often charge an annual fee or monthly fee for use of a TPV, plus around a 2.75% charge on each sale, but of course, this should also be negotiated. Depending on how much you use it, you should get this down to at least 1.5%.
Banks that do not follow the AML directives may be hit with large fines, so it has become harder for foreigners to open bank accounts in Spain. Nonresident entities, even large multinationals, that have had a bank account open for years may also receive notification from their bank to either have the company owner come in person to sign or their bank account will be closed. Understand that banks are under pressure from AML laws on one side that make it a bank's responsibility if they receive dinero negro, and competition on the other side from "fintechs" (who may not yet have all the regulations of a bank). The Spanish bank must understand your business. If you have to open an insurance account to keep your banker happy, then maybe it's worth it.
Years ago, Spain was unique in having cajas, a non-profit alternative to banks. Cajas were very common until the crisis of 2008 caused most of them to falter. The government stepped in and created Bankia out of the wreckage of the failed cajas. The few cajas who survived either converted to banks or were bought out by banks.
If you are having problems banking in Spain, we can commiserate with you. Here is a sample of our experience with Banco Santander:
After blocking the reception of client funds from our corporate account for two weeks without warning, we decided to switch banks. So I tried to close our bank accounts. By phone they said you must go in person. In person, they told me you must close the account in the same branch where you opened it. In the end, I visited the branch 3 times: each time they gave me an excuse to why they couldn't close the accounts. On the third visit, I asked the employee to dictate a letter requesting the closure of the last account. I signed it, left it with her to file, and said I would not return. At that point, the account had 0 euros in it. Six months later, I started getting calls that we owed money. Apparently, they added fees to the account for being open with no funds. I explained what had happened to no avail. More calls. Another six months passed and we started getting calls from a debt collector (they use various phone numbers so you can't block the caller). Large companies sell packages of indebted clients to debt collectors. The debt collectors have no access to the client history. One year later, I started getting calls from a second debt collector. How to respond to debt collectors in Spain if you believe you don't owe any money? Just stay calm, ask for their name, say put me on the "Lista Robinson", and hang up.
Use of a company credit card in Spain
Doing business in Spain: tips for the business traveller
Company formation in Spain
How to search for information about a company in Spain
Spanish ID numbers: NIE, CIF, VAT#
Government offices in Spain, with links
Tips on renting business premises in Spain
Types of business entities