NIE stands for N?mero de Identidad de Extranjero and your unique NIE number will be printed on the visa you obtained at the Spanish Consulate in the US. Upon arrival in Spain, you begin the second part of your immigration process. Once complete, you’ll get your NIE Card. This credit card sized piece of pink and white plastic is what formally demonstrates your permission to legally reside in Spain. It will be valid for one year from your date of arrival, at which time you may renew it up to two more times, in two year increments. (In other words, a total of five years.)
The card will bear your NIE number, name and local address in Spain, and will serve as your go to ID during your time here. Sign for a package, buy a train ticket, visit the emergency room… expect to pull out your NIE card. It’ll also get you into local monuments in your home province for free or reduced admission. Most importantly, you’ll need it whenever you cross EU borders to prove to customs officials you’re here legally. If you’re waiting on a renewal or still in process to replace a lost or stolen NIE card, you must get a Regreso?to travel without hassle.
Note that the number alone is sufficient for such household matters as opening a checking account, signing a lease or getting a mobile phone or internet contract.?You do not need to wait until you have the physical card in hand. That’s a really good thing, as the process may take about 12 weeks and you’ll surely be needing those services sooner.?
Now, it should probably go without saying that everything about this process will occur exclusively in Spanish. (You are in Spain now, after all.) Don’t expect the staff in these immigration offices to speak English.?I’ve included the instructions as provided to me by my local Oficina de Extranjer?a and translated them into English for you so you’ll be familiar with what’s what when you go to your appointments. (Your welcome.) If you’ve filled out all the paperwork correctly, there shouldn’t be much more to “talk about” unless something odd comes up. If the notion of going it alone with less than fluent language skills intimidates you, bring a translator.
Click here to find the Oficina de?Extranjer?a?for your city, or follow the links below for my ever so clear instructions complete with helpful tips on everything NIE.