Spanish NIE for EU Citizens

Contributor(s): Laura Imiola & Carlos Arrioja
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    When a European citizen settles in Spain, he or she will soon discover that “having a NIE” is a key requirement. A NIE for european citizens is needed to open an account at the bank, to set up Wi-Fi in your new home; it’s requested at job interviews and when you’re joining up at your local gym.

    This article looks at what the NIE is, why you have to have it and how to get it. If you still have questions at the end of the article, you can count on the services of Eres Legal to apply for the NIE.

    What is a NIE in Spain?

    NIE stands for “Número de identificación de extranjeros”, which means “Foreigner identification number”.

    The NIE for EU citizens is usually assigned as part of the “Certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión Europea” (EU registration certificate). This certificate is a green card that carries personal data of the holder, their NIE number and the date on which the certificate was issued. The EU registration certificate does not contain biometric data (photograph or fingerprints) and therefore it is not an identity document. It must be presented together with another identity document.

    Why do you have to get a NIE?

    Spanish law states that people from the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA) have the right to enter, leave, circulate within, and reside freely in Spanish territory. However, these rights are contingent on the individual complying with certain formalities, including that those who reside in Spain for more than 90 days must request a registration certificate.

    Note that the mere fact of staying or residing in Spain for more than three months is not enough for the registration certificate to be granted; certain conditions must be met.

    How do you get the NIE in Spain?

    To look at the regulations, the process to obtain a NIE in Spain of obtaining a NIE appears to be very straightforward. However, it is not that simple, and difficulties when applying for the registration certificate are encountered frequently.

    Apply for spanish NIE online

    First, you have to book an appointment with the police, which is done online. In large cities, the lack of appointment availability is a constant issue. It is not uncommon to have to spend many hours in front of a screen trying to get an appointment. It is useful to note here that the applicant may attend any police station in the province where he or she resides: not necessarily the closest one to his/her address.

    The general requirement to support the application is to show that the applicant has a) medical coverage and b) the financial means to support him/herself in Spain.

    What documents do I need?

    However, it is common to find differences in documentary requirements depending on the police station and on the provincein order to apply for the NIE. For example, in some police stations, the evidence of town hall registration (volante de empadronamiento) is required, but not in others. Another example is that in Barcelona, it is possible to obtain the registration certificate prior to the applicant starting work, provided a company letter stating the job offer is submitted in support of the application. However, in Madrid we can only request the registration certificate once the applicant has already started working; social security registration is required as part of the application. These challenges that occur when getting a NIE in Spain can cause stress and frustration and lead some applicants to give up hope altogether.

    Requirements may also vary at the discretion of the official looking at the application, so that even two people in the same circumstances and applying at the same police station can end up having different results. It is therefore advisable to bring as much supporting documentation as possible and to double check current requirements at the police station before going to the appointment.

    What happens if after three months in Spain the registration certificate has not been obtained?

    People in this situation are liable for a fine of between €100 and €600 for not having complied with the duty to register, although the risk is minimal, and we have very rarely seen it applied.

    Failure to comply with the registration obligation does not result in deportation. However, the consequences from a practical point of view are the complications mentioned at the start of this article: you can’t open a Spanish bank account without NIE, nor hiring services and other procedures that are necessary to start living in Spain.

    You can contact us, we will assist you with the NIE application process.

    Real Decreto 240/2007, de 16 de febrero, sobre entrada, libre circulación y residencia en España de ciudadanos de los Estados miembros de la Unión Europea y de otros Estados parte en el Acuerdo sobre el Espacio Económico Europeo. (Enlace al boe)

    Orden PRE/1490/2012, de 9 de julio de 2012 por la que se dictan normas para la aplicación del artículo 7 del real decreto 240/2007, de 16 de febrero, sobre entrada, libre circulación y residencia en españa de ciudadanos de los estados miembros de la unión europea y de otros estados parte en el acuerdo sobre el espacio económico europeo (Enlace al Boletín del Estado)

    3 Ley Orgánica 4/2015, de 30 de marzo, de protección de la seguridad ciudadana. Art 37, num. 10 y Art. 39, Ap. 1

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