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NIE or Residency Permit for Spain

If a relative, friend or acquaintance of yours lives in Spain, it is not unusual for them to mention how they obtained their NIE (Foreigners’ Identification Number) when they first moved to Spain.

When they talk about this, it may seem like they’re equating their NIE number to their right to reside in the country. This way of speaking, unfortunately, can lead to confusion.


So, is a NIE a residency permit?

It’s not. If you finally decide to move to Spain indefinitely, you may ask your immigration lawyer about the best way to obtain your NIE. However, depending on your circumstances, you should actually be asking about the best way to obtain a residency permit.

So what is a NIE for if it’s not for residency?

A NIE (in Spanish: ‘Número de Identificación de Extranjero’) is the number assigned to every foreigner. It is useful for any personal, economic or professional interest within Spain.

What this means, practically, is that you will need a NIE for everyday tasks and investments. These incloude buying a property in Spanish territory, accepting a Spanish inheritance, opening a bank account, paying tax, or living and working in the country by any means.

The NIE is an important number, and necessary for life in Spain. But this number does not have to correspond to actual residency in Spain.

What else do you need for residence then?

Obtaining a NIE is a fairly simple process, which results in the assignment of a specific number for activities within Spain. But to reside in Spain you will also need to obtain a residency permit.

Some people may get their NIE number before obtaining their residency permit. Meanwhile, some other people may obtain both at the same time.

People who get their NIE on its own are likely to get confused. They may think that the number itself grants them the right to live in Spain.

Is there a difference between EU and Non-EU citizens?

Because of freedom of movement within the EU, the process varies between EU and non-EU citizens. Non-EU citizens will always have to obtain a residency permit. However, EU-citizens (because of freedom of movement) just need to register with the authorities within the first three months.

In summary:

  • If you are Non-EU, you will have to choose one of the many visa options for foreigners, which will also result in the obtainment of a NIE.
  • If you are a EU citizen, you will have to register as a resident within your first three months in Spain and then you will be assigned a NIE.

How Can Lexidy Help Me?

So, next time anyone you know mentions how easy it was to obtain their NIE, make sure they really understand what the number entails. It doesn’t always equate to residency so hopefully they’ve ticked that box too!

When you finally decide that you want to live in Spain, you will already know what you need. And if you need help obtaining your residency permit or NIE, or both, then get in touch today – or just start a live chat!

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