Moving to Spain: What’s a NIE and how to get it?

Article by Marc Vervoort

Once you move to Spain as an expat, you can’t escape the NIE. It’s the Número de Identidad de Extranjero, or in English, the foreigner identity number. The NIE is mostly for fiscal purposes, like when you need to file taxes, open a bank account, buy a house and when you start working. However, you’ll soon discover that the Spanish love to ask for your NIE when providing almost any type of service. Even when you buy a bus ticket or a package is delivered to your home. So, arranging your NIE promptly will make your new Spanish life a lot easier.

How to request your NIE?

As a European Union citizen, it’s quite easy to get an NIE, if you know the steps.

Step 1: Fill out the forms

Before you do anything, you need to get all your documentation in order. The EX-18 form is for EU citizens who will stay longer than 3 months in Spain. If you’re coming to Spain to live and work, this is the one you need. It will register you as a resident and automatically provide you with your NIE.

Spanish forms can be a bit daunting. It helps to have somebody who speaks Spanish to help you fill them out. Or you can find an English version here. But beware, you can only use the Spanish version to apply.

Also, download the modelo 790-012 tax/fee form. Here are instructions on how to fill it out. With this form, you pay the required fee for your NIE and residency.

If you’re already living in Spain, register yourself in the padrón, Spain’s population registry. You can do this at your town hall. The certificate for the padrón in Spanish is called certificado de empadronamiento. It often is required for your application.

Step 2: Go to the Oficina de Extranjería
To request your NIE, go to the Oficina de Extranjería. It’s typically located at your national police commissary. Discover an office near you here. Usually, you’ll have to make an appointment beforehand.


Step 3: What to bring?
Make sure you have all the completed forms, your passport plus 3 copies of each of these with you. Furthermore, you’ll need to have a copy of your work contract.

If you’re self-employed bring:

  • Proof of registration in the censo de actividades económicas or other evidence of your employment status.
  • Proof of valid health cover in Spain.
  • Proof of sufficient means to support you and your family.


Be aware that Spain’s bureaucracy is a bit messy. Sometimes you need to show more documents than stated. That’s why we recommend bringing as many official records, and copies, related to living in Spain as you can. Just to be sure. And don’t forget your patience.

Step 3: Come early and pay the bank
Most appointments with an official from the Oficina de Extranjería are in the mornings. Come early, because before anything gets done, you’ll first have to pay. Go with your modelo 790 form to a nearby bank. The fee is about €10. Ensure you have cash with you since payment by card is not always accepted. The bank will then stamp the modelo 790 as proof of payment.

Step 4: The appointment
Now that you’ve got all the paperwork ready and paid for, just hand it over to the official at your meeting. Many times your residency card, and thus NIE, is done on the spot. Other times, you might have to come back and pick it up. That’s it. You’re now an official resident of Spain. Congratulations!

Do you want to move to Spain? Start looking for an English speaking digital job here.


Want to work in Spain? Find your digital job in here.