Step by step guide to getting your Spanish NIE (for dummies)


UPDATED October 4, 2018

If you’re an EU citizen and wish to legally stay in Spain longer than three months, you need to get a NIE. I decided to document this process to try to help anyone going through this process. I know how hard it can be to find answers and consistent information, so I hope this helps you out. Warning: it’s a bit of a pain in the a**, but living in Spain can’t be all sunshine and rainbows!

Here’s a step by step guide to getting a Spanish NIE in Madrid

This “guide” is for you if:

  • You would like to legally stay in Spain for more than 3 months
  • You’re an EU citizen
  • Bonus info for those who are not currently studying or working in Spain
  • You’re tired of the lack of clarity when researching what to do!

So, you’ve met the criteria? Great, let’s get started. You need an appointment first, at the registration office (the only one in Madrid is located at Padre Piquer, 18.)

You can set up your NIE appointment here. When requesting your appointment on that website:

  • Search for Madrid
  • When you get to the next page, select the option from the drop down: POLICIA – CERTIFICADOS UE


Great. Here’s everything you need to have prepared before your appointment. I strooongly recommend you don’t wait until the last day to round things up. I did. It was a mistake.

  1. First, you need to complete this application (the 790.) Here is how to complete the NIE fee document, step by step. DON’T mess it up! I did, and couldn’t get my NIE that day.


nie application

  • That application  must be taken to a bank to pay 12.00 Euros (used to be 10.71) to apply for your NIE.*
  • Print then take it to a bank to pay the application fee. Save the document (the bank will print over the top of it, so you don’t get a physical receipt, just the original document.) IF the bank tells you that you need a NIE number in order to pay, it is NOT true. Just go to another bank. And probably another. And be prepared to wait.
    • I went to the bank called Bankia José Abascal 20 in the neighborhood Chamartin and finally got it taken care of.
  1. If you’re not working (or, let’s say, working as a freelancer in another country like me, and you’re not ready to register as an “autonomo” which is freelancer in Spain), you’re essentially requesting your NIE as an unemployed person. In this case, you’ll need to bring “proof of sufficient” funds. The amount isn’t defined anywhere. But I did ask when I was there, and they let me know that you need at least 6,000 Euros. Your bank statements should be as recent as possible. I brought a statement two months old and had to pull up my mobile app to show them how much money I had in my bank account that day.
    1. Also, if you’re not working in Spain, you’ll need to show proof of health insurance. I used Adeslas to purchase private health insurance, and it was about 40 euros a month. You need a bank account to get health insurance (in most cases. ) I actually used a friend’s bank account and that worked just fine. Bring the hard copy of your contract and a copy. Also, if you have the health insurance card, bring it, plus a photo copy of the front and back.
  2. If you are employed or going to school in Spain, you’ll need to show your employment contract or proof of enrollment. Bring the original and a photocopy.
  3. Proof of your residence, which can be in the form of your rental agreement. You should also be registered at the local police office, called the padron. The padron is basically what registers you as a resident in your neighborhood. They only use it to count the number of people in each zone, not to worry, it’s nothing too crazy, and apparently the process to apply is super east. I am actually NOT registered at the padron, but was able to use my rental agreement to prove that I live in Spain. — they did not ask me for any of these documents during the actual appointment, but I would bring them juuuuust in case.
  4. Finally, here is the actual EX-18 application form for getting your NIE. You need to fill out the Spanish version, but here is a link to the EX-18 in English so you can use as a guide when filling out the official Spanish document.

Preparing everything for your NIE appointment:

If you don’t have a printer at home, where to print? There’s no FedEx around here… so just look up “locutorio cerca de mi” and you’ll find a shop which is more-so an internet-cafe but also offers printing services. I found a local “papelaria” (paper shop) which was able to print all of these documents for something around four bucks (I had about 40 or 50 pages of docs.) Make extra copies just in case!

Registering  for “El Padron”

This is not required for your NIE, but you will need to eventually get registered. By registering on the padron, you’re essentially letting Spain know that you live in that area so they can get a census to determine how much mula the government will allocate to your specific neighborhood.

I tried to get registered for the padron with no success today. Apparently you cannot do this at any police municipality. I learned that this was the case from a police officer who kindly gave me the document below, which lists out all of the places you get get on “el padron” in Madrid. Keep in mind that the “Chamberi, Pz Chameri 4” is not where you can get on the padron, it’s at the address below that (Avda Reina Victoria, 7.)

locations to register your padron madrid

I learned that you also have to make an appointment in advance, which you can do so by calling 010 6 or you can search for open slots/schedule an appointment for the padron registration here.

A few notes about the NIE process

*About that first document (the application fee) which you have to go to a bank to get a receipt for payment… not all banks do it. Some banks have specific hours when they do it. I went to four (or more) banks and they all gave me some BS about not doing it. One even sent me to another police office saying I need a number for the NIE before I can pay the ten euros, which is completely false. You CAN pay the ten euros at a bank with your passport number and you do NOT need a bank account there. Don’t let them try to convince you to open up a “free” bank account either. I repeat, you do not need a bank account to get your NIE.

Be prepared to get the runaround. Everything is overcomplicated and it seems like no one has consistent information. Patience is key here… There was a lot of teeth-gritting and running around, but you’ll get it done… Hang in there!

My advice:

For example: this guy has been dubbed the “hunky cop” of Instagram after someone snapped a pic of him during the events in Catalonia this year. Just goes to show that the police officers here in Spain are very helpful in more ways than one.

I would get all of this done in one day so you don’t have to worry about it. Try to pick a day where the banks won’t be super busy, like a Monday or Tuesday. Avoid the beginning of the month because everyone is paying bills, and they usually do that in the banks, so the wait can be super long. And this may sound crazy, but if you have questions, go to the closest police station and ask them. They usually are incredibly nice, and try to be as helpful as possible.  Don’t feel stupid to ask! They’ll tell you as much as they know. Plus, the eye candy is pretty good too. 😉

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  1. Hi Roumena. First, thanks so much for doing this. The lack of clarity around this is soooo frustrating. As you will know. I have a question – is it possible to get a NIE photo card (I’m an EU citizen)? I can’t find any kind of clarity on this. I have a NIE card. But I just need to know if it’s possible to get a photo card.

    I have an appointment at Padre Piquer 18 on Tuesday. but I’d love some info beforehand if possible,

    Thanks in advance for any help.


    1. Hi Paul, hopefully this helps you out a little. I’m sorry I didn’t respond in time – I actually have no idea how to respond to your question. The NIE itself is just a green paper, however to get photo ID, I’m not sure what the process is. Let me know what you found out. I’d love to hear your experience.

  2. Hi Roumena, I have a question regarding the Modelo 790 form (the one you take to the bank and pay the fee). I went to 7 banks until they were finally not complaining anymore about me not having a NIE number or weren’t simply saying that they don’t do it. Found a bank that accepted my money but I am still a little unsure. The application form has 3 pages and 1 info page in the end. They took the money, stamped the first 2 pages of the form and kept the third one filing it into one of their paper stacks. I am a little worried because you mentioned that in your case they printed over some pages. But the Santander bank I went to just stamped the forms and mentioned that I need to take the first page to the NIE appointment and keep the second page for my references.