What is a NIE number? Is a Certificate Of Residency? Is it necessary to obtain residency in Spain?
Short answer: a NIE number is for making business and is not a Certificate of Residency.
A NIE is a number for foreigner’s identification. In Spanish: Número de Identidad de Extranjero.
The NIE is needed for anything that involves an official process in Spain. From getting married to pay your taxes or to buy a house. Also to have a bank account and, therefore, to contract a telephone line or to pay the electricity for your house. And, of course, to obtain residency in Spain.
The NIE is permanent. When you get it you will have it until you die or until you became Spanish.
The number is permanent, but it doesn’t guarantee your residency in Spain. If you need or you want to become a Spanish resident you need a TIE (Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros or foreigner identification card).
You can’t stay in the country for more than three months. If you need to stay longer you may wish to apply for residency and renew your TIE.
Obtaining residency in Spain
For apply to be resident in Spain you need to show that you can support yourself and any dependents financially. If you came to Spain for tourism you can’t get a TIE unless you get married or became a domestic partner with a Spaniard or a citizen of the European Union.
How to get a NIE?
To get the NIE you need a copy of your passport (just your ID card if you are a citizen of the European Union) and a writing explaining what are the economic, social or professional reason for you to ask for the NIE.
You should ask for it in the Spanish Consular Office corresponding to the demarcation of residence or, if you are already in Spain, in the immigration office or the police’s headquarters of your province.
If you have problems with the Spanish you can both hire a lawyer or ask for a translation service like PracticalSpain.
What about becoming a Spanish citizen?
If you want to become a Spanish citizen you need to have lived in Spain for 10 years uninterruptedly. However, if you meet certain conditions you can reduce this period from five to two years or you will not even need to have lived there. These conditions include things like: being a refugee, having been adopted by Spanish parents, having one or both Spanish parents, being married to a Spanish person or having been born in different places: South America, Philippines, obviously Spain or having a Sephardic origin.
Learn more: How much is business taxes in Spain?