So if you arrive in Spain (I’m using Barcelona for this article) and want to get work, get a bank account, buy a house, get a mobile phone contract, then you are going to need to get a NIE.
All resident and non-resident foreigners with financial affairs in Spain, regardless of whether they are EU citizens or from a non-EU country, must have a foreigners tax identification number or NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero).
So what exactly is a NIE? It is a number is issued by the National Police of Spain. Spanish law requires anyone with financial, professional or social interests in Spain to have a personal identification number or NIE. This is essential for any fiscal transactions in Spain where money is paid to the Spanish inland revenue office. The NIE number should be quoted in all dealings with tax authorities. The number appears on all documents issued in Spain.
The NIE Number itself is issued on a standard A4 sized page with the recipients full name (as written on their passport), their place of birth, nationality, and the number itself, along with a stamp and signature provided by the National Police. The document is often used as a form of identification, and in many cases the original document is required (a copy is not sufficient). Once issued an NIE number, it will never change, irrelevant of marital status, name changes or residence status. The NIE Number is a national number, and therefore the location of the application is irrelevant as the number can be used throughout the whole of Spain.
A NIE number is needed to; open a bank account; buy, sell or insure property; arrange credit terms or a mortgage; pay taxes; be paid for employment; use short-term employment agencies; apply for a business permit and start a business, register with social services and arrange receipt of social security benefits, and apply for a driver’s licence. So if you planning on staying in Spain then clearly you are going to need one.
Applications for an NIE can be made at a police station with a foreigners’ department (Oficina de Extranjeros). In Barcelona this is located in C/Rambla de Guipúscoa 74. This is the only place you can go to get your NIE, so do not believe anyone who tells you anything different!
At the Oficina de Extranjeros you will be given the correct form to fill out but you can find this form online. Do not use any of the so-called “helpful” websites PDF forms because this form can and has changed. It really is simple, go to the proper website which is
You can pay for an agency to do the work for you. You will still have to provide information of course. If you can afford that then all good, but if you can’t then it really is not as difficult as some people will have you believe.
Some websites still say that you can just rock up on any day you fancy, queue for a while then get down and dirty with the officials who will give you a NIE there and then. Don’t believe this. You must now make an appointment. This is not as daunting a proposition as some websites will have you believe. So here’s how you do it.
Click on http://www.seap.minhap.gob.es.
At the top right corner of the home page you can select “Welcome” from the language menu. This does not mean that the whole site is in now in English, but it does mean that you can read the titles. Click on the Services Tab and select “Foreigners and Immigration”.
Next click on the hyperlink “Appointments to carry out administrative paperwork”. This will take you to the page https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/pagina/index/directorio/icpplus/
Scroll down to the bottom of the page on click on “Access to the procedure”. Now you are on https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/citar
Under the title PROVINCIAS DISPONIBLES select the province you want, in our case Barcelona from the Drop down menu. Under the heading TRÁMITES DISPONIBLES PARA LA PROVINCIA SELECCIONADA you should select the option “CERTIFICADO UE”. Click “Aceptar” Now you are on https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/icpplus/citar?accion=ac_info&i=es&org=AGE&p=8&t=22&sbt=&nsbt=&dsbt=
Scroll down and click “Entrar”.
Select “PASAPORTE”, fill in your name and enter the security password, and click “Aceptar”.
You should click the first button that says “Solicitar cita” (request as appointment).
The Option of the only office in Barcelona will be selected for you, so all you need to do is click the button that says “siguente” (next). Fill in your details; telephone, email, repeat email, and reason or type of request, in our case NIE application.
Click on “siguiente” and you will now be on this screen that gives you the option to select the appointment that is most convenient for you:
Now you will have a confirmation of your appointment. You will also receive an email confirming this. You will need to either print the screen above or print out the email as written confirmation of your appointment. Take this with you on the day.
So great, you have an appointment! This could be a few weeks away so it makes sense to do the above process as soon as you can after arriving in Barcelona.
Even though you have an appointment time, still be prepared for a wait as things usually run late. Take your completed application form (it is best not to sign this so you can sign in front of the official), a copy of the form, your passport and a copy of your passport. It is useful to take with you a friend who speaks Spanish as the officials do not speak such good English.
If everything is in order, you will be given a form that you have to take to a bank, and pay a fee there of about 10€. Many websites say you can go to any bank and that there are lots in the area. Don’t believe this! In Barcelona, there are indeed many banks near to the Oficina de Extranjeros but if you want to avoid wasting time queuing in a bank who will ultimately not help you, then go straight to the only one that will deal with you if you do not have an account with: Bantierra, Rambla de Guipúscoa 109 (telephone +34 934 98 76 95). As you go out of the Oficina de Extranjeros, turn right, cross over the road when you can, and you will see the Bantierra. Pay your money, and take two copies of the form back to the Oficina de Extranjeros. Be warned that close at 2.00 pm so if you are too late you will have to go back the next day, but for this you do not an appointment. Usually you will be given your NIE number on a temporary form, and you will have to go back another day to get the official form.
Next you will need a bank account. Choose the bank you want but expect them to require your official NIE form and a contract of employment. Also, it’s worth going to open your account in a bank that is close to your house or your work.
The process for non-EU residents is a bit more complicated, and you will also be required to take the declaración de entrada, or any other document which proves your legal entry into the country. Non-EU residents can usually expect to receive their NIE within two to six weeks. For more information, you should contact the Spanish Embassy in your home country or go directly to your nearest Oficina de Extranjeros for advice on the necessary paperwork.
So there you have it. This information is correct today but things do change so be prepared for that. Don’t be put of by stories of dozens of visits, unhelpful officials and complicated processes designed to discourage you. It’s really not so difficult if you stay calm and focused.