It doesn´t matter if you are looking to buy a property in Valencia or just to live a year or few in any Spanish territory, sooner or later you will need your NIE or Residency Certificate sorted. There is a lot of confusion about how that works and quite often people refer to the NIE meaning the residency and the other way around, but actually they are two separate things.
So what is the NIE then? The NIE (in Spanish – Número de Identidad de Extranjero) is the foreigner identification number. This number is assigned to foreigners with financial, social or professional affairs in Spain, including residents and non-residents, EU citizens and non – EU citizens. It allows Spanish institutions to identify you as a foreigner and once you get your personal Spanish foreigner number, it will never change.
In reality, to EU citizens it looks like a white sheet of paper with a number on it, consisting of a letter, seven digits and another letter. Obtaining this number will make your life in Spain much easier as it´s commonly required for certain actions – purchasing a car or a property, registering a company, and sometimes even to set up a telecommunications contract and utilities at home. But it´s important to understand that having the NIE number does not mean you are registered as a resident in Spain yet.
The application procedure for the NIE is quite simple if you follow these steps:
- Get an appointment if needed. The Valencian Immigration office that attends to EU citizens is on calle Bailén 9 and you need to book an appointment online here – at present the wait time for an appointment is longer than 1 month. Print out the appointment confirmation as a police officer at the entrance will check if you are on the list. If you need your NIE urgently, you could try to go to another Immigration / Police office in one of the towns near Valencia. Or if you haven´t moved to Valencia yet and there is a Spanish embassy or Consulate in your home city, you could even apply for the number there before moving to Spain;
- Complete the EX15 form beforehand (you can download it here) and bring two copies of it. If you still struggle with Spanish, google the English translation so you can fill it in correctly;
- Bring a valid passport or national identity card and a copy of it;
- Prior to the appointment, you are required to fill in and print out the fee form Modelo 790 Código 012 (you can download it here). When filling in, select Asignación de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) a instancia del interesado (currently 9.54 euro). As you will not have the NIE number prior to your appointment yet, most banks will not allow to pay the fee. So, bring the form to the appointment – and once the NIE number is assigned, pay it at any bank or use ATM´s (the nearest one to calle Bailén office is on Plaza de España, BBVA bank has an ATM where you can make the payment). Once that is done, return to the office to hand in the bank receipt;
- Your NIE number will be issued in 7 days, and you won´t need an appointment to pick it up.
How to register as a resident?
Unless you plan to stay under radar for personal or tax reasons, registration as a resident has a number of benefits – especially if you see Spain as your future home. Apart from that, legally you also have an obligation to register as a resident if your intention is to stay in Spain for longer than 3 months (though I haven´t seen any EU citizen being fined for not being registered as a resident or sanctioned in any other way).
So, if you intend to stay in Spain for more than three months, then you could apply directly for residency and the NIE number would be assigned within the same process. Regarding Valencia´s office, they prefer to issue the NIE number first and to make you come back in 2-3 months to deal with residency, so chances that they will try to avoid registering you as a resident on your first visit are very high. But still – we should keep calm and try!
You will be asked to meet a number of requirements to successfully complete the application process. No matter what situation you are in, when registering as a resident you will be required to:
- Confirm an appointment (the same link as for the NIE, but instead of choosing Asignación de NIE, choose Certificado de registro de residente comunitario);
- Complete the Spanish residency form EX-18 form (get it here) and submit it in person;
- Bring a valid passport or national identity card and a copy of it;
- A bank receipt showing you have paid the fee Modelo 790 Código 012. Fill in the form online – use your NIE number and select Certificado de registro de residente comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la Unión (currently 10.71 euro). It is important to print it out prior to the appointment as they do not provide the fee forms at the office anymore.
- Most likely you are not required to be registered at the Town Hall everywhere in Spain, but in Valencia you will be asked to submit the certificate of registration with the Town Hall (In Spanish – certificado de empadronamiento). Also it is important that it has not been issued for more than 3 months prior to your appointment with the Immigration office.
Apart from the general requirements that every applicant has to meet, you have to be in one of the following situations:
If you are registered in Spain as self-employed (in Spanish – autónomo), you will have to submit:
- Resolution of being registered with the Social Security (in Spanish – Resolución de reconocimiento de alta en Seguridad Social);
- Bank receipts of social security payments for the last 3 months. Well, this is one of many contradictions of the registration process at the Valencian office as according to the Law you have an obligation to register as a resident within the first three months of your stay if you intend to stay longer than that. At the same time the local institutions make it impossible to register within the legal time-frame as they require 3 months proof of social security payments! But as this post is not a legal analysis, I will leave it here and focus on how to get what you need by following the instructions given by the civil servants at the Valencian office.
EMPLOYED BY A THIRD PARTY (t.i., with a Spanish work contract)
- If you don´t have a NIE number yet – a written statement from your future employer confirming that they will hire you for more than 3 months will be required. The letter should also include the employer´s name, address and CIF number of the company, as well as the Company´s Social Security number.As the work situation in Valencia can´t be considered as very optimistic because of high unemployment rates, it is quite challenging to convince your future employer to prepare this for you – local companies are not informed about this procedure and it is very likely they will have no idea what you need from them. Unless you have secured a job before moving to Valencia and your employer is willing to issue this document for you right after your arrival, I suggest you apply for the NIE first and search for work afterwards.
- If you do have the NIE number already – the work contract and the proof of its presentation before the official authorities (in Spanish – el documento de comunicación a la oficina del empleo) will be required.
TO HAVE SUFFICIENT FUNDS
- Pensioners are required to prove they are in receipt of regular pension payments and to submit a copy of their registered E-121 or S-1 forms (if not – a private health insurance).
- The rest of applicants are required to submit a proof of sufficient funds and to hold a complete private health insurance policy covering all the services that Spanish state health system would cover. When showing the proof of sufficient funds, according to Valencia´s civil servant understanding it´s not enough to have a certain amount of money deposited in your Spanish or your foreign current/savings account. What they want to see is a regular income flowing to your Spanish account within last 2-3 months, even if that income is yourself transferring money from your other bank account to the Spanish one. Also, make sure you show all bank movements for the last 3 months, as a statement of your account balance won´t be enough. Although officially there is a minimum to meet (currently that is around 430 euros a month), I suggest that you exceed the minimum by depositing more funds as they “evaluate each situation individually”. Recently I asked how much money they want to see for a family of three to which the answer was “it depends”… In other words – they want to see you will not become a burden on the Spanish social welfare and pretty much this evaluation process is left to some individual’s consideration.
- A course registration document;
- The European Health Insurance Card covering minimum the first year of studies or private health insurance;
- Declaration of sufficient funds.
If all goes smoothly, a small green piece of paper including your NIE number will be issued at the same time (sorry, no picture on the card!) and it will not have an expiration date. I highly recommend that you do not lose the precious green card as it could possibly mean going through the whole fun again! And I know it seems like a piece of paper (which it is), but please do not laminate it as it´s not permitted.
This information is prepared on personal observations at the Immigration office of Valencia city on calle Bailén 9. Please note that it is accurate at the time of publication (November 2016), but as procedures, requirements and even the civil servant interpretation and mood change on a regular basis, please be prepared for the unexpected!
Do you have your own adventure story that took place at the Immigration Office in Valencia? Tell us and other expats in the comments bellow!