How to get the Spanish NIE number: My experience moving to Spain

Researching how to get the Spanish NIE number is almost as complicated as the application process, here is what happened to me.

I’ve decided to move to Spain: I’ve just found a job, I have the right to live with my Italian nationality and I’m walking the centuries-old streets of Rome bobbing my head to Rosalia’s new hit.

It all sounds dreamy and perfect, until the last line of the email that came with my job ad came to mind at a traffic light, and I immediately stopped dancing to the music.

“We’ll just need your NIE, and you’ll be right to leave.”

The Spanish NIE is an exclusive number given to any foreigner moving to Spain, and you will need it to, well… live.

You will need this nine-digit number to work in Spain, pay taxes, open a bank account and access basic healthcare.

I return to my apartment after a few too many wines and reggaeton loops, and the four-month process officially begins.

After many twists and turns it took me four months to get my Spanish NIE.


This is the first document you need, before you even consider applying for an NIE.

I couldn’t legally work in Spain without an NIE and was about four months away from starting my new job, so I started researching the process meticulously.

I scoured government resources online and browsed all types of forums.

The feedback was mixed, some people said it was a fairly simple process, others said it took them up to a year to get the NIE, and the only thing that seemed consistent in the comment was recurring warnings of bureaucracy.

I asked my Spanish friends if they knew what the steps were and if they knew any foreigners who had recently gone through the application process.

The most logical step for me was to approach the Spanish consulate in Rome, where I was living at the time.

But they advised me that before I could even start the NIE application process, I had to register my EU citizenship with the central aliens register.

It was something I had to do through the Spanish immigration office, and only on Spanish territory. The problem was that I lived in Rome and I still had three months left on my lease.

deny number
The Spanish NIE is an exclusive number assigned to any foreigner moving to Spain.

I couldn’t even get a power of attorney to allow a friend of mine in Spain to apply on my behalf.

To do this, the consulate asked me for four documents, three of which I had, but the fourth was a residence certificate which I did not have.

As I had never been resident in the EU, (my airbnb in Rome did not count), only in Australia, I did not have this document.

My friend’s family in Spain offered to register me at their property in Madrid, and with this huge act of generosity, I would then be a registered EU citizen.

I sent my friend photocopies of all my documents, but the Spanish authorities told them that I had to come in person to present the originals.

I had no choice but to cancel my lease in Rome and fly to Madrid for a meeting that lasted barely five minutes.

A quick flash of my Italian passport and town hall stamp and I was registered as a European citizen residing in the Spanish capital.

Foreign arrivals at the airport will need to give contact details in Spain S Costa Blanca
Foreigners in Spain need an NIE to work, pay taxes, open a bank account and access basic healthcare.


After finally getting a residence certificate, this will be one of the easiest steps in the process of getting your NIE.

This is an online form that tells the authorities where you live and where they can come knocking if you have committed a serious crime.

All you have to do is fill in your address details, contact details and tick your current living status in Spain.

Just be very careful to fill out the correct form.

There are a few similar versions circulating on the Spanish government site for foreigners – for example, there is an ex15 model, an ex13 model, an ex17 model – and they all meet different needs.


It should be very simple, hopefully.

You will need a photocopy of your passport and make several color copies, just in case.

If you don’t have a passport, you should probably consider going to your local post office to pick up a passport application form before you consider moving overseas.

Anthony Piovesan1
After a three-month stay in Madrid, I decided to settle permanently in Spain.


So now you should be at the point where you connect to the official portal to make an appointment at the local police station to present all your documents.

Here are two important things to keep in mind.

You can only make an appointment at the police station in the district where you live.

For example, I’m registered as residing at an address in Madrid, so I can’t make an appointment at a police station in Valencia just because they can get an appointment earlier.

Which brings me to the next key thing to remember, give yourself plenty of time to make an appointment before you start working in Spain.

This whole process had taken me until August and I was due to start my work in early September – when I logged into the portal to book an appointment there was no availability until early October.

My friend – to whom I cannot say gracias enough – made inquiries with an immigration firm and we found out that for €145 an immigration lawyer could apply for an NIE on my behalf and speed up the process .

I made an appointment with a lawyer the next day, and that’s where things got even more complicated.


Before the immigration lawyer could even begin to plead on my behalf, he needed a statement from my bank proving that I had sufficient funds to finance my stay in Spain.

Proof showing that I had more than €6,000 in my account would be sufficient, the lawyer advised me.

Luckily, with online banking, I could request this statement quite easily through my bank’s mobile app.

A hospital doctor assaulted by a woman angry about waiting times in the emergency room in Valencia, Spain
Private health insurance was one of the requirements before you could apply for an NIE.


And here’s one thing I hadn’t heard of or heard of when researching the NIE, but apparently you need to have private medical coverage before applying for an NIE.

And basic insurance wouldn’t be enough, I had to buy premium insurance and send proof of membership to the lawyer.

BUT I needed a NIE number first to open a bank account, before I could allow a private health insurer to start charging me.

I had no choice but to ask a friend if they could add their account details instead, until eventually I could open my own bank account and include my details.


The last thing the lawyer needed from me before they could start defending my NIE was proof that I had paid a 12 euro tax.

The standard modelo 790 form can be found online and is used to pay fees or taxes in connection with immigration matters.

Once I had a statement from a bank as proof that I had paid the tax, then proof of my finances from my own bank and a statement detailing my new private Spanish medical coverage, the solicitor could then ask for my NIE.

Within two weeks they got me an appointment with the immigration office in Madrid.

Spain retains orange status on UK's COVID-19 travel lists
After much research it was clear that many foreigners had different experiences in obtaining their NIE.


A work contract is not specifically requested, but will certainly help convince immigration officials that you are moving to Spain for a legitimate reason.

If you are going through an immigration firm, you will also need to bring confirmation of your appointment time – this will be emailed to you.

If you have everything I described above you should get your NIE the same day.

You can then send this number to your employer so they can officially draw up a contract to sign and request a social security number.

But don’t wait for your ID just yet.

The immigration officers asked me to come back ten days after my first appointment where I would then have to present my signed work contract, along with my social security number – only then could I get this menu.

Now, nearly four months and 18 manic meltdowns later, I have the long-awaited nine-digit number, plus a whole lot of wisdom about Spain’s immigration bureaucracy.

And not that living in Spain isn’t an excuse in itself, but I also have an added reason to go down to my local cerveceria and order a caña, or four.

Chin-chin to me, to the beautiful people who have helped me along the way, and to the next person who has the opportunity to experience life in this beautiful country.

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