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How To Get Your NIE Card In Spain
A NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) card is an identity card that is required in Spain if you are going to be living in the country for a period longer than three months. Alongside being necessary for identification, you need one to complete a number of official tasks such as opening a bank account or getting a driving license etc.
Due to the crazy bureaucracy in Spain, the process to obtain the card is incredibly confusing and frustrating; it took me a month of form filling and trips to the Oficina de Extranjaría (Foreigners Office) in Granada in order to get mine. Since I couldn’t find any comprehensive guide explaining how to get it I thought I’d make one. The advice is especially relevant for those who are going to work as language auxiliaries like me, however I’m sure the information can be tweaked and altered to the personal situation of most.
Criteria
This guide is for you if:
  • You are an EU citizen
  • This will be your first time living in Spain
  • You will be working in the Granada/Andalucía region
*Disclaimer* From what I’ve heard the process varies significantly depending on which region you are living in and also what time of year you are trying to get the NIE. As a result, whilst this guide references Granada where I am based it may be a completely different process in Galicia or Madrid. I applied for my card during the peak months of September and October. If you try during the July or August when Granada is very quiet your experience will likely be more relaxed, faster and easier.
What You Will Need
Since there is no definitive list of what is required it can seem like guesswork at times, it certainly was for me. From my experience I would advise you to take the following documents.
  • Your passport
    • Mainly to act as ID
    • Photocopies aren’t sufficient I don’t think. I had photocopies of my passport but the clerk asked me for the original
  • Two colour photocopies of your passport
    • Whilst I am not sure if two are necessary, I had been told by someone else that two are required
    • Since photocopying only costs about 0.05€ per page it’s worth getting two copies just in case
  • A proof of work letter from your employer
    • This is essentially evidence that you are working in the country
    • As a language auxiliary I was sent this in an email before I started and then given a paper copy when I arrived
    • If your employer doesn’t provide one when you start, ask them for it!
  • EX-18 form
    • This is a form provided by the local council that contains all your basic information such as name, address, country of origin etc.
    • The form is specifically for EU citizens who are living here for the first time. If you are a non-EU citizen or returning to Spain to live here for another period of time, you will need a different form
    • You can download and print the form here, however I would recommend going to pick it up from the Oficina de Extranjaría
  • Tasa Modelo 790 Código 012
    • From what I understand this form acts as a payment/tax
    • It is issued by the police, so I am assuming that it is used for some kind of police check
    • You can complete and download the form here, I don’t think it’s possible to obtain a paper copy from anywhere
Walkthrough
This walkthrough is a total step by step guide of how to get your card. If all goes well, you should only have to make two trips to the Oficina de Extranjaría, and be able to get the card in two weeks.
  1. Visit the Oficina de Extranjaría. Whilst you are there, collect an EX-18 form and reserve a cita (appointment) on the computer in the building. The trickiest part of the cita booking process is when it asks you for the purpose of your appointment. If you are in a similar situation to me, you should select “Certificados UE”, or equivalent. My cita was two weeks after I visited the Oficina de Extranjaría, however the wait may be shorter or longer depending on the time of year.

  2. Fill out and download the Tasa Modelo 790 Codigo 012. This form was very confusing to me, and I would advise you to get help filling it out from a friend who has a detailed knowledge of Spanish if possible. If not, I would just use Google Translate and make educated guesses. If there is a problem the clerk will have to sort it out during your cita. If you are in a similar situation to me, from what I remember I selected this option in the “Autoliquidación” section: “.Certificado de registro de residente comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la Unión.”.

  3. Next, you will need to print everything that you need. If you have a printer at home you can do this very easily. If not, you will have a to visit a printer shop, of which there are plenty in Spain. Printing is very cheap so don’t worry. Remember, you’ll need to get the following printed:
    • Two colour photocopies of your passport
    • Your completed Tasa Modelo 790 Codigo 012
    • Your proof of work letter from your employer, if you don’t already have a paper copy

  4. Fill out the EX-18 form, which seems daunting at first glance however is not as complicated as it seems. Still of course, help from a Spanish speaking friend is ideal to ensure accuracy.

  5. The next task is to pay your Tasa, which can be done in most banks. When you visit the bank tell them that you would like to pay your Tasa and give them your completed Tasa Modelo 790 Codigo 012 form. They will charge you (my payment was 10.71€, it will say your on the form) then stamp the form and give it back to you. I paid my Tasa on the day of my cita, however I am fairly confident you can pay earlier than that. I also know of someone who had to quickly go and pay hers during her cita, however this was during a quiet time of year. I don’t think the clerks would always be so forgiving as they seem to be on a tight schedule. I’d recommend playing it safe and paying before your cita.

  6. The final step is to attend your cita and get the card. Go to the Oficina de Extranjaría with all your documents a little before your allocated time. Visit the reception desk where you’ll be given a waiting slip, then at your allocated time you’ll be called into a cubicle. The clerk will look over your documents and confirm everything before printing and handing you your NIE card.

  7. Walk out of the Oficina de Extranjaría feeling like a boss because you’re now a legal resident of Spain.
Obtaining your NIE is a painful and frustrating process, but remember once it’s done it’s done. All that’s left for me to say is… good luck!