Moving to Spain: getting a NIE number and other useful tips

Are you one of the braves ones that finally made the decision of moving to the land of the sun and the siesta? Well aren’t you lucky, you have just landed in the right load of information. We will tell you exactly what steps you need to follow if you are planning on living in the country where the mid-morning break is practically part of its own religion. No joke. So if you are looking for a new working experience in Spain, whether it is Madrid, Barcelona or Granada, you might want to scroll down and check out all the information about the current Spanish working permits or permanent residency process in España, within many others.

So chitchat aside, buckle up because here is exactly what you need to do in order to move to Spain and make your whole process simple and easy – the good old Spanish way, ahem.

Residency in Spain

Option 1

In a nutshell, if you’re an EU, EA, Swiss, Iceland or Norway national, you’ll probably be saving yourself a bunch of “standing in lines” experiences, because you are allowed to work and live in Spain without a visa or working permit. Happy times, you can scroll down to step number 1 on how to get your “Empadronamiento”.

Option 2

If this is not your case and you are planning on staying more than 90 days in the country, you must then get hold of the respective long stay residency permit. This could either be organized by the firm or company you are coming to work for, or by applying for one of the following visa options.
1. Work visa
2. Student visa
3. Visa for retirement or family reasons.

In order to apply for one of these, you will have to contact your embassy first, they will be able to tell you exactly what your requirements are. However, please have in mind that there is a non-refundable fee of 60€ when applying for one of these visas in Spain.

Step 1: Empadronamiento

Once your residency has been organized and you know exactly what your current situation in the country is; you must then direct yourself to your local town hall to do the “Empadronamiento”. This basically means that you are registered in your local area, in the case of a big city like Barcelona or Madrid or in your small town/village if you are escaping the concrete jungles.

How to get the “Empadronamiento” in Spain?

1. This is by far one of the easiest paperwork you will ever do in Spain. First of all, find someone who can indicate you where the “Ayuntamiento” (Spanish for town hall) is. There is always someone willing to help you in Spain, fact.
2. Once you made it to your town hall simply ask where you have to go to get your “Empadronamiento”.
3. Once there, they will give the “Hoja de Empadronamiento” and simply fill it in and present it with your according documents. And voilà, you can now tick off your first Spanish paperwork of your list.

What documents do I need to get “Empadronado”?

• You will need any type of document that proves your identity (and those of your children in the case of applying as a family): DNI or national identity card, Passport, residency card, NIE, etc.
• You will also need something that proves you live in your house. This can be a rental contract, the energy or city bill.

Nestpick Tip: Ayuntamientos tend to work the least hours, so have in mind that to be able to get your Empadronamiento, you might want to be there at around 9 AM in case of a big city or around 10 AM in the case of smaller towns. Even though you shouldn’t be surprised if they still haven’t arrived or they are having their morning coffee on another floor. Ay, España…!

Step 2: Applying for a NIE – Número de Identificación de Extranjeros

What is the NIE and what do you need it for?

The NIE number is required by every foreigner with any type of legal or tax activity in Spain. NIE stands for Número de Identificación de Extranjeros, which is basically your personal identification number, like the SVN in Austria and Germany or the Insurance Number in the UK. This number will later allow you to do all the following activities in the country:
• Getting any other Spanish documentation like a driving license
• Opening a bank account in Spain
• Paying taxes in Spain
• Registering for national Social Security Health plan
• Buying or selling a property or a vehicle
• Registering a business, becoming self-employed or working legally in Spain
• Applying for a mortgage
• Inheritance
Studying in Spain
• Applying for utility services like a phone or Internet contract, private TV cable, etc.

How to apply for the NIE?

In order to apply for the NIE, you will have to go to the closest police station. They are in charge of processing all these documents and telling you exactly what to do. However, if you want to strategically reduce your waiting time when doing so, have a look at the list of requirements below, before heading to the police station. Thank us later.

When will I get my NIE number?

If you are one of the lucky ones who need no visa to live in the country, you will get your number instantly. In the case of non-EU members, you might have to be a little bit more patient, since the waiting time to process your documents might take longer to arrive.

Requirements when applying for the NIE in Spain

• The NIE application form (EX-15 Form) which you will get at the time of the application. There is also an English translation available online (English version), but the final form must be presented in Spanish.
• Your original passport (current and not expired) and one photocopy of it.

• Two small personal photos
• A government fee of EUR 10,71 (2017) applies when soliciting this document. This fee can be paid for at your local bank by using the 790 NIE form.

Step 3: Opening a Bank Account

The process is practically the same as in other European country. In the case, you were a student they might ask you for a specific college proof that shows you are a student for example. Just to be sure, bring along anything that proves your name and looks like an official document. Here are some of the things we would recommend to have with you at the time of opening a bank account in Spain.
• Your passport or NIE
Residence Certificate
• Proof of address (Empadronamiento for example)
• Proof of employment
• Buckets of patience – It will take a while!

Please Note: The bank opening hours in Spain are roughly from 9 am until 2 pm practically everywhere in Spain. It can slightly vary according to where you are, but they will surely not be opened in the afternoon.
Nestpick Tip: If you are still a bit insecure with the Latin language, you might want to ask the bank you are planning on going to, whether they have someone at that office that can help you out with the paperwork. Some offices do have translators or employees who speak English to perfection. In the case they don’t, you will then have to kindly blackmail one of your Spanish-speaking friends. No Spanish-born would ever be able to say no to a very cold caña at the closest bar in exchange!

Survival tips when moving to Spain


When moving to Spain, there are several factors you should have in mind for you to be able to live happily ever after without suffering of a heart attack every time you have to apply for a new type of paperwork, or every time the system changes to the worst. It is all okay, this is just how Spain rolls. So before jumping on the plane that will soon be landing on the land of the sun, read these.

The August Factor

This is something that only happens in Spain (and Italy, too!) The August Factor is a summer virus that will literally take over the peoples working skills and will automatically put everything on standby. So make sure you either do all your paperwork before August or after it. September is the month of reactivation. The town halls will be overwhelmed with work but at least the system is back on track.

Oh dear patience, please stay with me.

What a beautiful thing to have, especially when you live and work in Spain. If you are moving to Spain from the UK after Brexit or you decided to leave the grey Berlin sky behind, the amount of waiting time you are about experience might shock you. Don’t panic though, everything will be fine, it’s just going to take a teeny little longer. So start embracing the caña or random-coffee-at-any-time component. It will help you take life easier and keep your nerves in place. Remember you just moved to the country where they rest from 1:30 pm until 16:30, simply because… “siesta” anybody?

The mid-morning coffee

This one is just part of society. It’s like every Spanish-born was born with the necessity of the mid-morning coffee. As soon as the little hand of the clock grazes number 11, the corridors become a scene of Jumanji. The coffee machines of “the bar next door” start warming up, like they were coffee-maker athletes, ready to feed all those caffeine-addicted hard workers, who have been dreaming of that coffee/chitchat break since the day before. So make sure you complete your paperwork either before or after the crucial coffee time in Spain.

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