Obtaining your Número de Identidad de Extranjero
How to get a Spanish NIE number
After having decided that you are going to move to Spain, the number one thing you must do is acquire a Spanish NIE number, Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which is in effect your personal identification number in Spain.
You need to have this number in order to register for the national healthcare system, buy a house, car, and even get the gas, electric and water connected.
Most importantly for the Spanish government, it is a way to assess your tax liabilities in Spain and is the law for anyone spending more than three months per year in the country.
NIE numbers are now valid indefinitely and must be obtained before you decide to live in Spain permanently. Many expats try to fly under the radar by going back to their home country frequently, but are foolish in doing so as they miss out on the many benefits that are available to them as a Spanish resident.
This is especially true for pensioners who receive discounted travel and can take advantage of holidays that are heavily subsidised by the Spanish government in a program they call Imerso.
Getting your NIE
First, we will start off by saying that nothing is simple in Spain when it comes to dealing with government agencies and the bureaucracy that is involved. Add to this that each region has its own interpretation of the rules and what is required in order to obtain your NIE number. Also, the time involved can vary from place to place with Barcelona, for example, requiring that you first make an appointment online while other places are quite happy for you just to show up unannounced.
Before we get into the details of how you apply we would recommend that unless you speak fluent Spanish you use the service of a local Gestor as he or she will know the process and the best way to speed things along.
Where to apply
To apply for your NIE number you need to go to your nearest National Police office, not to the local municipal police station. The National Police are the ones you see wearing black shirts and have stations in towns that contain more than 20,000 inhabitants.
In Lanzarote this is found in Arrecife.
What you need to bring
All applicants must bring two Ex-15 application form filled out and signed which you can download from the link below.
Look for the form Solicitud de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) y Certificados (EX-15) on the page the link takes you to.
An original document and a photocopy that explains why you are applying for an NIE number, for example, a house contract or rental agreement.
You also need to bring your passport, along with a photocopy of the main page which includes your photograph and all relevant details.
The final stage...
Once the application has been submitted, you will be given a tax bill to pay of around 10€ that you will take to the nearest bank and pay. The bank will issue you with a receipt of payment that you must now take back to the police station in order to complete the process.
Once you have done this the police will issue you with a paper called a resguardo which will tell you when your NIE is ready for collection.
The time period you must wait depends on where you apply and the time of year. In many places, you can pick up your NIE later in the day, while in other places you may have to wait a couple of weeks.
Once in possession of your NIE we recommend that you make multiple copies of it and place the original green NIE paper in a safe place.