Even if you don’t need a visa to stay in Spain, you might want to consider getting a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – Foreigner Identification Number) and a Tarjeta de Residencia. These make you a legal resident in Spain and are necessary for employment and other matters.
A NIE is a number the immigration service issues you once you become a resident, you will find it on your Residency Card. This is your identification number in Spain. It is needed in order to file taxes, establish a business, open a bank account, buy a car, and for almost all other forms you fill out. Both EU citizens and non-EU citizens get issued a NIE.
The Tarjeta de residencia (residency card) is a card incorporating your NIE, your personal details and, for non-EU citizens, a photograph and fingerprint. It is necessary for transactions where someone wants to see proof of your current physical address in Spain (e.g. banks, phone companies, electricity companies, etc.). Non-EU applicants are granted an initial residencia for one year, which is usually extended to five years on renewal. EU nationals have to apply for a residency card after three months, which will never expire.
How to apply for residencia
In order to obtain your residency and NIE, you have to apply at the nearest Oficina de Extranjería or Comisaría de Policía. You then receive your Tarjeta de residencia after three months, although you should be given your NIE then and there. Since each Oficina de Extranjeros processes candidates locally, the time spent both waiting in line at the office and waiting for your Tarjeta can vary tremendously, even within the same city. It is therefore worth asking people who have recently applied for a residency about their experiences.
Documents needed for application
Below are some documents you’ll need to bring in order to apply for your residency. However, you might be asked for different things in different locations (or even on different days). The best thing is to check with the local Oficina what they require exactly.
Documents needed by all applicants (EU and non-EU-citizens):
Further documents that might be requested can include:
If a member of the family is Spanish (or has residency):
For specific circumstances, the following may apply:
Renewing your residency
Non-EU citizens will not be reminded when their residencia needs renewing, so it is up to you to check and make sure you get this done. In order to renew your residencia, you will need the following documents:
Be aware that the exact documentation may vary according to your legal status in Spain. Further documents might include:
Since rules and regulations can vary per city and governmental institution it is always best to simply ask your local Oficina de Extranjería or comisaría de policía what they expect you to do.
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