Updated February 2016
All EU visitors spending three months or more in Spain are legally required to sign on to the Registro Central de Extranjeros and if they comply with the legal requirement they are given the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Union. This little green card, which cannot be used for I.D, details your name, nationality, address, and issues you with your personal Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) or ‘Foreign Identity Number’.
The NIE is required for a number of legal and other transactions, including:
* Opening a bank account (some banks)
* Buying, selling or insuring property
* Arranging credit terms or a mortgage
* Paying taxes
* Being paid for employment
* Using short-term employment agencies
* Registering as self-employed (autónomo) and starting a business
* Registering with social services and arranging receipt of social security benefits
* Applying for a driver's licence
* Getting the Bicing card
All EU citizens can get a temporary NIE number that lasts for three months with their passport and a proof of the reason why they need the NIE number (buying car, house, setting up a company etc). For the permanent NIE card they will need a proof of one of the following: a) That they have employment or work for themselves in Spain b) That they have sufficient financial resources to look after themselves, including private health insurance. c) That they are enrolled as a student and have private health insurance or an EU health card. d) That they will be joining a family member according to the conditions in the Agreement on the European Economic Area. See here for details of what documentation is needed in each case and here is the list of the forms that you need to fill out.
Applying for the NIE is relatively straightforward if you are an EU national and you speak some Spanish, with just one or two visits to your local Oficina de Extranjeros - here is the list of offices in Catalunya. The office for Barcelona is located in Rambla de Guipúscoa 74. You will need: your passport and photocopy, plus the required documentation according to your status in Spain (student, employed, family member, etc).
You need an appointment (cita previa) for the Oficina de Extranjeros. You can get this here. Click on 'Barcelona' then 'Certificados EU'.
Assuming all your forms are correctly filled out and you have the correct documentation, you will be given a payslip, which must be taken to a bank to pay for the associated taxes (€9,45 for temporary NIE number or €10.60 for a permanent NIE card). Be aware, however, that many banks will only deal with this transaction between 8.30am and 10.15am, so be prepared to either get to the Oficina de Extranjeros early or complete the process over two days. Once paid, you must take your stamped slip back to the office, where you will be able to process your NIE. If all the required documents are presented the permanent NIE card is given the same day and the temporary NIE number is to be picked up the next working day.
Non-EU residents can apply for the temporary NIE number with similar conditions as EU nationals if they do not intend to live in Spain. The office to apply for the temporary non-resident NIE number is located in Passeig Sant Joan 189. For non-EU residents to stay in Spain for longer than three months, the application process is generally more complicated. Obtaining the TIE card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) will take at least four weeks (depending on the type of visa – student, non-lucrative, EU family member, etc). For more information, you should contact the Spanish Embassy in your home country or check the detailed information about each procedure here.
This article was updated with the help of NIE Barcelona. Find out more about their services at: www.niebarcelona.com