An NIE number, or “Número de Identificación de Extranjero”, is the essential number you need to work legally in Spain. Even if you don’t need a work visa, you need an NIE number to be legally employed. An NIE number is also required if you want to study, register with social services (such as the doctor), apply for a driving license, open a bank account, or even just get internet installed in your apartment.
Unfortunately, getting an NIE number in Barcelona can be an overwhelming task. It’s the first real encounter with Spanish bureaucracy for many people, and there’s plenty of potential for frustration and wasted time. Follow this guide, however, and you’ll be the proud owner of an NIE number in Barcelona in no time.
The process is different depending on your situation.
Staying for less than 3 months
If you’re only here for a short time, you’re in luck! The process is slightly easier – you just have to complete the relevant form, make an appointment online, and bring the form and two photocopies of your passport to the foreigner’s office.
Staying for more than 3 months
Getting your NIE number for more than 3 months requires showing that you will have sufficient funds to support yourself. You must prove one of the following:
• that you are employed, selfemployed, or have a job offer
• that you have sufficient funds, including private health insurance
• that you are a student with sufficient funds, including private health insurance
• that you are here to join a family member (European Economic Area)
If you came to Spain looking for work, you might find yourself in a bit of a chicken and egg situation; the NIE office requires that you have employment or a job offer, but employers require that you have an NIE. You can solve this by applying for an NIE for less than 3 months, and then renew it once you’ve found work.
Does an NIE number expire?
An NIE number is for life. Once you have an NIE number, the number itself will not change. However, depending on your situation (for example, if you said you were staying for less than 3 months), the registration may expire. At this point, you will have to renew it.
Applying for your NIE number: gathering the documentation
There is a list of application forms on this page, – the one you need to print out and fill in is Solicitud de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) y Certificados (EX15).
The official PDF file currently doesn’t work on some operating systems/browsers. If this is the case, or if you don’t have access to a printer, simply go to the nearest office and pick up a physical form there. Make sure you print off and fill in the form twice.
The form is in Spanish. Part 1 requires you to enter your personal details, like name, address, parents’ names. When entering your sex, be aware that “H” stands for “Hombre”, or male, and “M” stands for “Mujer”, or female. Part 2 asks for the details of your representative if you’re filling out the form for yourself, you don’t need to write anything here. Part 3 allows you to enter a correspondence address that is different from your current address. Part 4 asks for your document details: 4.1 is document type (tick “NIE”); 4.2 is motive (economic, professional, or social); 4.3 is place of submission (wait until you’ve made your appointment to mark this); 4.4 is length of stay (“Estancia” is less than 3 months, “Residencia” is more than 3 months). Make sure you check the box marked “Consento” and enter the date as “(Barcelona) a (day) de (month) de (year)”. Sign your name in the box marked “Firma”.
Before you make your appointment, make sure you have the following documents:
• 2 filled in copies of the EX15 form
• Passport, plus two photocopies
• Proof of your address in Spain (for example, an apartment contract)
• 2 recent passport photos
• NIE application fee (about 12 euros, but check online as it may have increased since this article was written)
If you’re applying for an NIE number for more than 3 months, you also need:
• Documents showing why you need an NIE number: normally a job contract or acceptance letter from a school, but could also be proof of funds that you can live in Spain without working, or a contract showing you’re about to buy something that requires an NIE number.
If you’re a non-EU citizen, you also need:
• 2 photocopies of every page of your passport
• Proof of legal entry into Spain (such as a declaración de entrada, or landing card)
Applying for your NIE number: making your appointment
Once you have the required documentation, you must make your appointment online, here. Be aware that your appointment could be for several weeks after your actual application. To make the appointment, visit this page.
Note: Your browser may tell you that the website is unsafe – this is due to a misconfiguration of the websites security certificate. Unfortunately, if you want an NIE number, you’re going to have to continue on. On Chrome, select “advanced” and then “Proceed to sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es (unsafe)”.
To make the appointment:
1. Click “Acceder al Procedimiento” at the bottom of the page
2. Select “Barcelona”
3. When “Barcelona” is selected, a box should appear with a list of links. Select “Certificados UE.” if the box doesn’t appear, click “Aceptar”
4. Select “Certificados UE.”
5. Click “Entrar” at the bottom of the page
6. Fill in the form with your passport number and name, click “Aceptar”
7. Click “Solicitar Cita”
8. Select the office you want your appointment in. Be careful! You can only apply for your
NIE from the office in the same area as your address. If you live in Barcelona, this is
Rambla Guipuscoa 74, and you should mark “Oficina de Extranjeria” on part 4.3 of your
9. Click “Siguiente”
10. Fill in the form with your contact details and click “Siguiente”
11. You will be giving up to 3 choices of time and date for your appointment – choose the one that is most convenient for you
12. Click “Siguiente”
13. Check the information you provided, and check the boxes marked “Estoy conforme con la información mostrada en pantalla.” and “Deseo recibir un correo electrónico con los datos de mi cita en la dirección que he proporcionado.”
14. Click “Confirmar”
15. You now have an appointment number, or “No de Justificante de cita”. Write this number down, or print the web page. Your appointment details should also have been emailed to you.
During peak months (September to November) you may find it very difficult to find an appointment; most of the time there will be no appointments available to make. Various rumours claim that new appointments are released at certain times, such as Sunday at midnight, or Monday mornings, but you’ll find that the website is very unresponsive at these times as everyone tries to make an appointment. There’s nothing you can do except keep trying – or, if you can, apply outside of these peak months.
Applying for your NIE number: going to your appointment
Your appointment confirmation should have the details of exactly which foreigner’s office you need to go to, and at what time. You may have to wait for several hours after your appointment time, but it’s still worth arriving 30 minutes early in case there is a queue at the reception desk. Don’t bother arriving before 9am, however, as this is when the offices open.
Make sure you have the documents in the checklist above, as well as something to write with.
When you arrive for your appointment, you may find that the receptionist gives you two forms to fill out. If these are identical to the forms you have already filled out, then don’t worry about them.
If they are different, you will have to rapidly fill these new forms out while you wait (good thing you brought a pen). You will also receive a ticket with your number in the queue.
Once your number is called, present your documentation. The person handling your case may not speak great English, but don’t worry, they are used to processing NIE numbers – you can just put everything on the table at once and they’ll figure it out. After processing everything, they will give you a piece of paper that you must now use to pay for your NIE.
To do this, leave the building and visit any nearby bank. Present the document to the bank teller and pay the NIE fee. They will give you a receipt proving you have paid. Take this receipt back to the foreigner’s office. Make sure you get a new queue ticket from the receptionist, wait some more, and finally give the receipt to the office. They will then print and present you with your NIE number in the form of a small, green, laminated card.
Congratulations! You have now navigated your first, and most essential, part of Spanish bureaucracy. However, you still have two important tasks left: apply for your social security number, and register at your local town hall.
By Christopher Drifter