NIE – The Number Everyone Needs When Living In Spain

Elvis Elvis

Apply for your NIE number: that should be one of the first items on your list after arriving in Malaga. This is the foreigners identification number.

There is no getting around this one. If you’re living in Spain, plan purchasing property in Spain, want to work in Spain or… everyone’s favourite… pay tax in Spain, then the NIE is essential.

It is, however a fairly painless exercise, so no worries. You’ll need to visit the National Police Station (we have three types of Police, by the way: local, national and the civil guard) and once there, find the foreigners department… take a number… and then get ready to… WAIT!

In most of Malaga’s coastal resorts you’ll have quite a queue so take a good book along to while away the time. When your numbers up (!) you’ll hand in your completed NIE form plus a photocopy of same…your passport, plus photocopy and an address in Spain. Easy!

You’ll get your stamped photocopy back and you’ll need to return to the police station with this copy and your passport to pick up the NIE some weeks later. There is often a translator helping out who can give you a good idea of how long the process takes in their particular borough.

Applying to become a resident in Spain is a whole other ball game … and not necessary for British citizens (with the exception of pensioners who have retired to Spain)

However, if you are permanently living in Spain it is worth the effort to get a residencia. There are tax advantages to being a resident… and the little plastic ID card is just so much easier to carry around than a passport.

NIE   The Number Everyone Needs When Living In Spain


Back to the police station. Ask for the resident form (for an EU national) and check out what else is currently needed to accompany the application.

The minimum required for a residence card will be a passport plus photocopy, four photos, health insurance, proof of address, a pension certificate … or… if you work in Spain, a work contract.

You’ll also need to pay a small fee via a local bank. The receipt must be presented with the application. (this list may sometimes be a little longer)

So, when the application is in, guess what, you wait again! Presently the residency process in the coastal resorts of Malaga takes seven to eight months.

But, if all this paper pushing sounds too daunting, don’t worry, help is at hand. You can always take the cowards way out and employ a ´Gestor` to do it all for you.

A ´Gestor` is an expert on all official red tape, knows the system and will, without doubt, save you time and possible headaches especially if your Spanish is not up to snuff!

For approximately one hundred euros they will organise the NIE number for you and a residence card costs around two hundred Euros.