By obtaining a NIE number and residency card, students are considered legal residents in Spain and many formalities are streamlined. A residency card (targeta de residencia) is a card containing your NIE (foreigner identity number), personal details, photo and fingerprint. It is useful and necessary for procedures requiring proof of your residence in Spain (for example video clubs, banks, etc.). The card is valid for 5 years, after which time it must be renewed. Non-EU nationals applying for a residency card are granted initial residency for 1 year, which is subsequently extended to 5 years upon renewal.
A NIE (foreigner identity number) is a number issued by the immigration service once you obtain residency (the number is shown on your residency card). This will be your identification number in Spain. It is required in order to present tax returns, set up businesses, open bank accounts and complete nearly every form. Both EU and non-EU nationals receive a NIE.
How to apply for residency
To begin with, you should know that the first step to obtain residency is to have an address and to be registered (empadronado) at that address. The padrón is a document in which the Barcelona City Council registers you as a resident at the address you declare, thus including you in the city census. This document can be obtained by visiting the City Council office (delegación del Ayuntamiento) in the neighbourhood where the address is located.
You must submit: your passport, your birth certificate, a photocopy of your birth certificate, two passport photos and the original and photocopy of the rental agreement of the flat or of a document certifying that you live at that address. If you have all the required documentation, the padrón document will be issued immediately.
You obtain residency and a NIE (from Spain) by applying for it at the immigration office (Oficina de Extranjeros) closest to your home or, failing that, at the nearest police station. After submitting the application, you will receive the residency card in a few weeks, although depending on the time of year, this process can take several months. Since every immigration office processes local applicants, waiting times at the office and waiting times to receive the residency card may vary greatly from one office to another even in the same city. As a result, it is a good idea to ask people who have recently applied for a residency card about their experiences. The website of the Ministry of Interior has a full list of the immigration offices in Barcelona.
Please note that some offices have closed; therefore:
To obtain the NIE, EU and Swiss nationals (they will receive a green paper displaying the NIE): Office at Calle Balmes, 192. To obtain the residency card for non-EU nationals (NIE), Non-EU nationals (they will receive a residency card displaying the NIE): Office at Guadalajara nº 3, at the corner of Calle Bosch, to apply for the card for the first time, and at the Office at Passeig Sant Joan, 189 6th floor, to renew the card.
If you have any questions, you can call 012 (many of the phone numbers for the offices take a long time to answer).
Below is a list of some of the documents that must be presented to apply for residency. However, there is no official list with these procedures, so the necessary documents may vary from one location to another. It is best to confirm at your local office which documents are required.
Documents required for applicants (EU and non-EU nationals):
• Valid passport: Original and copy
• 3 passport size photos with your name clearly written on the back
• The census or padrón document
• The corresponding visa
• Properly completed application form: Original and three copies.
To renew your residency
The authorities will not contact you to remind you that you need to renew your residency card, so you must verify when your residency card expires and make sure to new it in time. If you must conduct this procedure outside Spain, you should visit the Spanish diplomatic mission or consulate serving the area where you live.