What is a NIE?
A NIE (número de identidad de extranjero) is an identification number for foreigners in Spain. For citizens of the European Union, no work permit, residence permit or visa are needed to live in Spain. The only residency requirement is a valid NIE. When you move to Barcelona, getting your NIE should be one of the first things you do.
You need a NIE to:
- be self employed
- open a bank account (with some exceptions)
- buy or sell property
- arrange a loan or mortgage
- start a business
- apply for a driver’s license
- register with social services, receive benefits
- open utility accounts
- apply for Bicing
Getting a NIE in Spain was an easy process just a few years ago (for EU passport holders). Anybody who stood in line long enough could get a NIE simply by presenting their passport. Nowadays, the process has changed significantly. In Barcelona a “cita previa” (appointment) is now required just to start the application. There is a completely different process and a new set of requirements if you apply for a non-residential or residential NIE card!
You can read the following article about how to apply for a NIE in Barcelona.