Living in Spain : What is the N.I.E?


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You’ve got the opportunity to live in another city: The summer will be “CALIENTE” and the cost of living so cheap… And furthermore, your University/company for which you came here seems to be very interesting!

However, if you want to keep the dream alive, you have to get the “Numero de Identificación Extrajera” aka, the N.I.E ! Actually, it is compulsory if you’re going to work in Spain. This card is still advised for students even though some friends of mine who didn’t ask for it during their semester didn’t have any problem at all.


But now you ask me: Well thank you bro, but what is this N.I.E thing you’re talking about?

Well this little card that is as thick as a piece of paper you take of the printer (literally), will be like a substitution of your I.D in Spain.

If you want to do anything in this country, you will need it:

  • To create a bank account
  • To get a job
  • To get a cellphone
  • Tocial security number
  • everything…

Even to bet on the internet for football games!

This is an important step before living in Spain, as the spanish government wants to make sure that all Immigrants (short and long term) have access to Health compensation this Identification Number card was the only way they found to ensure it.


As I needed the N.I.E to be also able to work (and get paid by the same time), my company was really comprehensive about it and allowed me to ditch two days of work to be able to get it done.
I still got really lucky because I managed to do it in only two days and everything was done, but a friend of mine only managed to get it after 3 months after moving in Barcelona.


So, How to get the N.I.E card?

First step: You need to download the application forms and gather more documents.

For E.U. Citizens like myself, I only needed this:

  • National I.D or Passport (+ Copy)
  • Application form filled
  • Proof of the reason you came to Spain (Working contract or student’s contract…)
  • And a proof that your social security is being taken care of. Usually, when you’re working for a company, they are supposed to pay the


I almost didn’t have to do a thing because the assistant from my company was so helpful, she did it almost all by herself… She even came with me to the appointment!


Second step: The appointment

In general you just need to make an appointment on the Internet to the nearest Police or Immigrant’s office (This only applies for Barcelona visitors).
When you’re there, and when you it’s your turn, just explain the situation to the person attending you.


If you managed to gather all the files on the first shot, Congrats’ you found your way to the next step. If not, try again next day and get a new appointment: you might be lucky next time!


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Third step: the Bank

In fact, after validating everything, the person attending you will tell you to go to a bank where you’ll have to fill some other information in a form and pay 10€ for the validation.

The bank will give you back the filled form and you can finally go back to the office!


Fourth and Last step:

Finally everything is done! You are able to do what you want to do in Spain (legally of course)! You can do whatever a Spanish guy would want to do in his country.
The person who attended you in the office is printing your N.I.E card with all your information in it!
Finally! You got a… crappy paper-plastic card that could be torn in a second…

The N.I.E Card


However, and I’m talking seriously, don’t loose that card. After moving in, and preparing everything in order for you to live in Spain, you might think this card won’t be useful anymore! But that is absolutely false!

You still need it for so many things! If you loose your bank card, if you get ill for example, you’ll be grateful you have that card…

And furthermore, if you want to get a new card, it will be as difficult as the first time you did it


For those who would consider that the N.I.E is not that important as some friends of mine did:

You should know that living in Spain without this card is actually posible, however you might feel really limited. In fact, all the things I listed above will be out of your reach.

But you can still manage to live without those:

  • You can still use your credit card from your home country (don’t forget to consider all the conversion and international fees).
  • If you get ill you can always see a Private doctor, which can be expensive (depending on the doctor you’ll choose).
  • If you need to call someone without Internet, you can use the Phone number from your home country.


As you can conclude, if you want to live in Spain without asking for a N.I.E card, you can. However, it will be much more expensive


Now that you now everything about the N.I.E, you are finally ready to discover this new culture!

Congratulations and Welcome to Spain mate!

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