What is a NIE?
A NIE stands for "Número de Identificación de Extranjero" or "Foriegner Identification Number and if you're living here is a legal requirement to have one! This identification number is what you need to:
- Register for Social Security
- Become enumerated as a citizen in your area
- Opening a bank account
- Start a business or go self-employed (if you're brave enough to do that in Spain with high monthly costs)
- Work in Spain
- Buy a car or home
- Declare taxes
As you've probably noticed after skimming that list, despite the hardship needed to get a NIE you'll need one to do pretty much anything during the long run of your stay in Spain. Think of it as the Spanish version of a passport, but without the travel part. If you don't have a NIE, you certainly won't have an easy life in Spain!
For more information about living in Barcelona visit this page!
Who needs a NIE?
If your stay is less than 90 days, a passport is a sufficient form of identity and you won't need a NIE. The NIE is an essential document for any foreigners looking to live in Spain, which is legally defined as "more than 3 months". You need a NIE if you are:
- Working in a Spanish business or being self employed in Spain.
- Studying in Barcelona.
- Meeting or accompanying a family member in Spain over more than 3 months.
- If you have just obtained a visa to come to Barcelona.
Remember though; a NIE is a form of identification and it doesn't grant you legal residence in Spain.
What are the necessary documents to get a NIE?
Documents you will need include in all circumstances:
- Passport or the identification used in your country of origin. (Copy and original).
- An EX-15 Form (Solicitud de Número de Identidad de Extranjero) or "(NIE Request)"
Documents needed depending on specific circumstances:
- To work in a Spanish business: Work contract OR Document certifying registration with Spain's Social Security as a worker.
- Self-employed worker in Spain: Registration in the Census of Economic Activities OR Registration in the Commercial Register OR Document certifying registration with Spain's Social Security as a worker as self-employed (Autónomo).
- Student: Proof of enrollment in a Spanish university, EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) AND Proof of sufficient financial resources. (Erasmus students simply have to provide documentation proving their participation in the program).
- Meet or accompany a family member in Spain:Proof of family ties, Evidence that the family member works in Spain, AND Proof of sufficient financial resources.
Steps to get a NIE
If you are already in Spain:
- Get an appointment online here - https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/index.html
- Bring all necessary documentation to the appointment
- Pay the inscription fee at a local bank keeping in mind they are open in the mornings if you want to do everything in one day
- You should receive a NIE within 5 days.
The site will tell you what you'll need to do to get your NIE after you'll have booked the appointment (in Spanish). But to summarize, they're telling you to prepare for an inhumanely complicated way of presenting paperwork. To complicate things, documentation supporting your cause should be legally translated into Spanish (if it's necessary to understand it) and the translation be legally recognized by the Consular Office.
- If you're outside of Spain:
In the case that you don't find yourself within Spanish territory when it comes to asking for NIE, you can ask for one from the Comisaría General de Extranjería y Fronteras through the Spanish Consular Office closest to you and they can guide you through the process.
- Always go as early as possible. There are normally lots of people going through the process and the normal closing time for these processes is 14:00. Why? Well that's a mystery.
- The fee for processing the application is €11, but it goes up from time to time. Various banks, like La Caixa for example, will not accept payments after 10:15, so try to time your appointment keeping this in mind if you want to do it in one day. Yet another mystery.
- Bring photocopies of all the documentation... And a positive attitude! Officials working these jobs tend to love these.
- If you don't have an appointment then you're not guaranteed to be seen. If you can't wait the 10 days for an appointment you can certainly give it a shot by going early.
Got all that? Well then you're now ready! Luck be with you and have patience one your first quest against the evil force of Spanish bureaucracy ;P