Planning an extended visit to Spain? International travel comes with a lot of strings attached. This guide will cover some key points and resources for those looking to travel to Spain.
Anyone planning to visit Spain for more than three months needs to register with the Registro Central de Extranjeros, or the immigration office. The reason? It’s a matter of immigration logistics and paperwork. While the process sounds daunting, following these guidelines we’ll get you registered without a hitch.
For those of you that traveled in the past, the rules have changed a bit. Before 2007 you were issued a tarjeta de residencia, a residence card, which could double as immigration and identification. Now, you need to register with the EU Nationals and obtain a certificado de reigstro cuidadano de la union. This nifty little green paper lets authorities know you name, nationality, address and a personal identification number (número de identidad de extranjero, or NIE). This foreign Identity number will be your sole source of legitimacy as you travel, and it should be treated like your passport.
Speaking of passports, all you need to receive a three month NIE is a passport. However, staying for a longer duration you need proof of one of the following:
- You have a job or you are self-employed
- You have sufficient financial resource to take care of yourself
- You are a student with financial resources
- You are joining a family member as defined by the Agreement on the European Economic Area
- You have private health insurance
An NIE is necessary to move freely and legally after a three month duration, and good health insurance seems like the easiest way to do that. I guess, you could also just get a job, but that may be easier said then done.
Not surprisingly, you pretty much need an NIE for everything. Whether you plan to open a bank account, start a business or work at a temp agency, a NIE is a must have to operate legally in Spain.
There’s no way around it, you need an NIE.
How to get an NIE
This part is pretty easy if you’re an EU National. Simply, visit the foreign affairs office, or Oficina de Extranjeros. They can typically be found in police stations. When you go bring your passport and two photocopies of it, as well as proof of your health insurance.
The foreign affairs office will handle the rest of it. Which basically consists of a form that needs to be filled out and a pay slip that you need to take to the bank. This usually costs about €10 to get a stamp on the pay slip, which then needs to be taken back to the foreign affairs office for processing. Viola! You get an NIE number that day and the official paperwork about a week later. As you can see, it’s pretty straight forward to get an NIE, but you will have to do some bureaucratic leg work before you are free to roam Madrid, Barcelona and more. Good luck!