To become an official resident in Spain, you have to get a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero - Foreigner Identification Number) and a Tarjeta de Residencia. Becoming a legal resident gives you a lot of extra advantages, as engaging certain activities are regulated by government, for example working in Spain needs your NIE.


The Tarjeta de Residencia (residency card)


The residency card consists of your NIE, your personal details and a photograph or fingerprints. Often the transactions occurring in bank or video rental etc need you present this card as a proof of your current physical address in Spain. The valid time of residence card is 5 years and it must be renewed before its expiry date. For non-EU citizens, they are granted initial residence card valid for one year, which could be extended to 5 year after renewal. For EU citizens, the residence card is not necessary to live in Spain.


A NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero)


NIE is a number issued by the immigration service once you get your residence card. Both EU and non-EU citizens get issued a NIE. The number is printed on your card and is your identification number during you stay in Spain. You have to use this number to fill out almost all the forms in Spain, for instance file taxes, establish a business and open a bank account etc.


How to apply


You have to go to local Oficina de Extranjeros in order for your application. Because the queuing time and processing time varies dramatically among the Oficina de Extranjeros, you better look for reviews or ask people who have previous experiences. For detailed address of all the Oficina de Extranjeros, please look at this website:


It is advisable to apply for the residence card and NIE separately if you are in a hurry for NIE, since normally NIE is faster to obtain than the residence card.




Because there isn’t an official list of needed documents for application, you better check with local Oficina de Extranjeros and ask the exact requirements. The requirements may vary among different Oficina de Extranjeros.


Documents needed by all applicants (EU and non-EU-citizens):


- Your passport and one photocopy


- 3 recent passport photos with your name on the back


- The completed application form and 3 photocopies of it


Further documents that might be needed:


- A medical certificate depending on country of origin and recent residence


If a member of the family is Spanish (or has residency):


- Your Libro de Familia and DNI (or Residency Card) of that family members


- Empadronamiento


- Medical insurance


If you plan to work in Spain, you will be in need of a contract of employment as a proof. If you are self-employed, prepare the documents proving you are qualified to engage the activity.


For non-workers, you will need papers proving you have sufficient money to stay in Spain with medical insurance.


For students, you will need proof of matriculation from a certified school with papers proving you have sufficient money to stay in Spain and medical insurance.


Renewal of residency


Following are the documentations you will need:


- 2 passport photos


- your tarjeta de residencia (residency card) plus 1 photocopy


- your Passport plus 1 photocopy


- the completed application form plus 3 photocopies


You may need further documents based on your identification in Spain. You better check with local Oficina de Extranjeros to find out more details about it. These are the further documents possibly required:


- the residence visa or its extension (necessary for non-EU citizens)


-  a medical certificate


Note that no one will notify you if your residency is going to expire, so always remind yourself.

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