NIE  Spanish Residency FAQ’s


What is a NIE Number and do I need one?

An NIE number is a “Número de Identificación de Extranjeros” ie  a “foreigner’s identification number” in Spain. If you wish to open a bank account, buy a car, set up a mobile phone contract in Spain, you will require an NIE. An NIE number is also required to work in Spain, take out private Spanish health insurance and apply for Spanish state health cover. The Decree (Real Decreto 338-1990) March 9th, establishes that anyone, of whatever nationality, resident or non resident, who has any “official business” in Spain, must have a fiscal number (NIF/NIE). To avoid confusion, if you apply for an NIE only, you will be issued with a white certificate that will assign you your unique foreigner’s ID number that is in the format of : A-1234567-Z  (ie  letter-7 digits-letter) Previously, foreigners arriving in Spain had to firstly apply for an NIE and then later apply for residency. However, rules are often changing an applying for an NIE may not now be the right decision for you.

Should I apply for NIE or Residency?

There is one simple question to ask yourself, which will provide you with the correct answer to this question. That is “How long do I intend to stay in Spain?” If you intend to stay in Spain for more than three months then you should apply directly for Residency, using the EX18 application form (accurate at the time of writing this article). If you plan to stay in Spain for less than three months, then you should apply for a NIE number, using the EX15 application form (accurate at the time of writing this article). The “NIE or Residencia ?” question is no more complicated than that.

How to apply for an NIE…

As the application process may differ slightly in different areas of Spain, it is always a good idea to check out the procedure with your local Police station (Comisaría de Policía) or foreigners department (Departamento de Extranjería) The general steps are:

  1. Complete the EX15 form. (NOTE: Ensure you print out the form once you have completed it. You cannot save the data.)
  2. Take the completed EX15 form with a good, clear copy of your passport and the original. (NOTE: British passport holders must take an additional copy of the front of the passport)
  3. Follow the procedures indicated at your local police station.

Since 2012, the NIE certificates are only valid for 3 months, for administrative purposes. Please note, however, that your personal NIE will never change.

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