Researching how to obtain the Spanish NIE number is almost as complicated as the application process, here’s what happened to me.
I’ve decided to re-locate to Spain: I just got a job, I have living rights with my Italian citizenship and I’m walking through age-old streets in Rome swaying my head to Rosalia’s new smash hit.
It all sounds dreamy and perfect, until the last line of the email that came with my job offer enters my mind at a traffic light, and I immediately stop bobbing away to the tunes.
“We’ll just need your NIE, and then you’ll be right to go.”
The Spanish NIE is an exclusive number assigned to any foreigner moving to Spain, and you will need it to, well … live.
You will need this nine digit number in order to work in Spain, pay taxes, open a bank account and gain access to basic healthcare.
I arrive back to my flat after a few too many wines and loops of reggaeton, and that’s officially when the four-month process begins.
CERTIFICATE OF RESIDENCY (PADRON)
This is the first document you need, before you can even consider applying for a NIE.
I couldn’t legally work in Spain without a NIE and I had about four months before I was due to start my new job, so I started researching the process meticulously.
I trawled through online government resources and went down all different kinds of forum pools.
There was mixed feedback, some people said it was a fairly simple process, others commented that it had taken them up to a year to obtain the NIE, and the only thing that seemed consistent in the commentary was recurring warnings of bureaucracy.
I asked my Spanish friends if they knew what the steps were, and if they knew of any foreigners who had recently been through the application process.
The most logical step for me was to approach the Spanish consulate in Rome, where I was living at the time.
But they advised me that before I could even start the process of applying for a NIE, I needed to register my European citizenship with the central register of foreigners.
This was something I needed to do via Spain’s immigration office, and only on Spanish territory. The problem was I lived in Rome, and still had three months left on my lease.
I couldn’t even get a power of attorney to allow one of my friends in Spain to apply on my behalf.
In order to do that, the consulate required four documents from me, three of which I had, but the fourth was a certificate of residency which I didn’t have.
As I had never been a resident in the EU, (my airbnb in Rome didn’t count), only in Australia, I didn’t have this document.
My friend’s family in Spain offered to register me at their property in Madrid, and with this huge act of generosity I would then be a registered citizen within the EU.
I sent my friend photocopies of all my documents, but Spanish authorities advised them I needed to attend in person to present the originals.
I had no other option but to cancel my lease in Rome, and fly to Madrid for an appointment that barely lasted five minutes.
A quick flash of my Italian passport and stamp at the town hall and I was registered as a European citizen residing in the Spanish capital.
THE MODELO Ex18 FORM
After finally obtaining a certificate of residency, this will be one of the easiest steps in the process of getting your NIE.
This is an online form that tells authorities where you are living, and where they can come knocking if you’ve committed a serious crime.
All you need to do is fill out details of your address, contact details and tick off what your current living status is in Spain.
Just be very careful you fill out the correct form.
There are a few similar versions floating around on the Spanish government site for foreigners – for example there is a modelo ex15, modelo ex13, model ex17 – and they all suit different needs.
This should be very straightforward, hopefully.
You will need a photocopy of your passport, and make multiple copies in colour, just in case.
If you don’t have a passport, then you should probably consider going to your local post office to pick up a passport application form first before considering a move overseas.
So now you should be at the point where you are logging onto the official portal to book an appointment at the local police station to present all of your documents.
Here are two important things to keep in mind.
You can only book an appointment at the police station in the district where you are a registered resident.
For example, I am registered as residing at an address in Madrid, so I cannot therefore book an appointment at a police station in Valencia just because they may have an earlier appointment time.
Which takes me to the next vital thing to remember, give yourself plenty of time to book an appointment before you actually start working in Spain.
This entire process had taken me through to August, and I was set to start my job in early September – when I logged on to the portal to book an appointment there was no availability until early October.
My friend – who I cannot say muchisima gracias to enough – made enquiries at an immigration firm and we discovered that for €145 an immigration lawyer could apply for a NIE on my behalf and fast track the process.
I teed up an appointment with a lawyer the next day, and this is where things got even more complicated.
PROOF OF FINANCES (MEDIOS ECONOMICOS)
Before the immigration lawyer could even start advocating on my behalf, they needed a statement from my bank proving I had enough funds to finance my stay in Spain.
Proof demonstrating I had more than €6000 in my account would be sufficient, the lawyer advised me.
Luckily, with online banking I could apply for this statement fairly easily though my bank’s mobile app.
HEALTH INSURANCE (SALUD MEDICO)
And here was one thing I had not read about or heard of during my NIE research, but apparently you need to have private health cover before you apply for a NIE.
And basic insurance would not suffice, I needed to sign up to a premium level of insurance and send proof of membership to the lawyer.
BUT I needed a NIE number to open a bank account first, before I could allow a private health insurer to start billing me.
I had no other option but to ask a friend if they could add in their account details instead, until I could eventually open up my own bank account and include my details.
NIE TAX (TASA PAGADA MODELO 790)
The final thing the lawyer needed from me before they could start advocating for my NIE was evidence I had paid a €12 euro tax.
The standard modelo 790 form can be found online and is used for paying fees or taxes in relation to immigration matters.
Once I had a statement from a bank as proof I had paid the tax, then proof of my finances from my own bank and a statement detailing my new private spanish health cover, the laywer could then apply for my NIE.
In two weeks they secured an appointment for me with the immigration office in Madrid.
OTHER HANDY THINGS TO BRING TO YOUR NIE APPOINTMENT
A work contract is not specifically requested, but will certainly go far in helping convince immigration officers that you are moving to Spain for a legitimate reason.
If you go through an immigration firm, then you will need to also bring confirmation of your appointment time – this will be sent to you in an email.
If you have everything I’ve outlined above, then you should get your NIE on that same day.
You can then send this number to your employer so they can officially write up a contract for you to sign, and apply for a social security number.
But don’t expect your identity card just yet.
Immigration officers instructed me to come back ten days after my first appointment where I would then need to present my signed work contract, with my social security number – only then could I get that card.
Now, almost four months and 18 manic meltdowns later, I have the long-awaited nine digit number, as well as a whole lot of wisdom about Spanish immigration bureaucracy.
And not that living in Spain isn’t an excuse in itself, but I also have an extra reason to go down to my local cerveceria and order a caña, or four.
Chin-chin to me, to the beautiful people who helped me along the way and to the next person who has the opportunity to experience life in this beautiful country.
- New study reveals moving to Spain could be good for your mental health
- Moving to Spain is starting to get easier again as COVID rates lower and new rules become clearer
- Moving to Spain? Then you need to know this