Everything you need to know about your Spanish NIE number
If you are planning on living and working in Spain, the first thing you will need to do is obtain an NIE number (Número de Identidad de Extranjero, or Foreigner Identification Number) issued by the Administración General del Estado (General Administration of the State).
An NIE is a fiscal identification number for foreigners who plan on staying longer than three months in Spain. It is also required in order to be able to process business transactions in Spain, such as buying property, opening a bank account, buying or insuring a car, enrolling in a school or college, setting up an internet account and so on.
You can either apply for an NIE number in person, or you can obtain one through a specialist agency (such as NIE4SpainONLINE). You can apply for an NIE number at any police station that has an Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreigners Office). Please note, however, that while an agency will take care of all the paperwork and submit your application, you must attend in person to collect your NIE document.
The Spanish NIE number begins with a letter, followed by seven numbers and another letter at the end (for example B–3328799–M). Each NIE number is unique to the person to whom it was issued. It is non-transferable, and it does not expire.
How to get it
The application form you need to submit is called EX–18 Solicitud de inscripción en el Registro Central de Extranjeros_Residencia Ciudadano de la UE, which you can download here.
The form is in Spanish, but we've uploaded a sample version with the field titles translated into English, which you can download here.
You will also need the Modelo 790-012 which must be filled out online, printed and brought to the appointment. You will then have to pay for the NIE at a nearby bank.
How to make an appointment
You have to make an appointment online. You can't just turn up in person. If you do, you will be told to go away and come back after you have made an appointment. To do that, click on this link and click the “Acceder al Procedimiento” button at the bottom.
Be aware that it can take weeks, even months, to get an appointment, so apply as early as possible.
Have all your documents ready
You may not be asked for all these documents. The process varies from region to region, and even from city to city. It's quite possible that you will only be asked for your passport, a photocopy of your passport, and your EX-18 (NIE application). But it's best to have all the other documents to be on the safe side, because if they refuse to issue you with an NIE because you didn't have a particular document, you'll have to start the whole process again, and wait weeks or months for a new appointment.
After submitting all the documents, a photocopy of the application, a paper indicating when the card is available (keep it safe, you will need to show it to them later when you pick up your NIE card) and your passport will be returned to you. Usually after two weeks the NIE card should be available to pick up, but the process can sometimes take as long as 6 weeks. So stay patient!
The process of getting a Spanish NIE number is a bit of an ordeal, but once it's done, it's done. Basically they're asking you to prove that you are who you say you are, that you're a citizen of the EU, that you have somewhere to live in Spain, that you have enough money to survive, and that you have some kind of health insurance.
IMPORTANT. The information above applies only to EU citizens. The process is different for non-EU citizens.
If you found the information on this page helpful, please click the Like Page button below. And if you have advice to offer, or if you're willing to share your own experience of obtaining a Spanish NIE number, please use the comment box below.