Obtaining NIE & Residency in Spain: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re planning to live, work, or buy property in Spain, you’ll need to obtain a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) and potentially Spanish residency. The process can be complex, but with the right information, it becomes manageable. This article presents a comprehensive step-by-step guide to obtaining your NIE and residency in Spain.

Obtaining a NIE

The NIE is a tax identification number for foreigners, required for most legal processes, including purchasing property, setting up a bank account, and paying taxes.

Step 1: Preparing Your Documents

The essential documents for applying for a NIE include a completed EX-15 application form, your passport and copies, and proof of the reason for your NIE application.

Step 2: Submitting the Application

You can submit your application at a local police station in Spain that has a Foreigners’ Department (Oficina de Extranjeros) or at a Spanish Consulate in your home country. Be prepared to present your documents and pay a small fee.

Step 3: Collecting Your NIE

The turnaround time can vary, but generally, you can collect your NIE within one to two weeks of application.

Obtaining Residency in Spain

If you plan to live in Spain for more than three months, you should apply for Spanish residency. Here’s a basic guide on how to do it:

Step 1: Gather Your Documents

Your documents should include a completed EX-18 application form, valid passport, proof of health insurance, evidence of financial means, and three passport-sized photos.

Step 2: Submitting the Application

The application must be submitted at the local police station’s Foreigners’ Department in your Spanish town of residence.

Step 3: Collecting Your Residency Card

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a residency card (TIE), which serves as your ID in Spain.

The Importance of Legal Advice

While these processes can be done independently, navigating Spanish bureaucracy can be complex. A lawyer can provide advice, assist with document preparation, and guide you through the application processes.


Obtaining a NIE and Spanish residency is an essential step for any foreigner wishing to live or conduct transactions in Spain. By understanding the process and the necessary documents required, you can navigate the process with confidence.