Expat living has its perks. Stay legal to enjoy them all.
Are a EU Citizen? #
Here is our step-to-step guide to your residence permit in Spain. If you are a non-EU Citizen, Click here>> and learn how to stay longer than 90 days.
You are looking to take advantage of the opportunity to live in a country with, oh, I don’t know, better weather and an encouraged afternoon nap? Well then… Viva España! Now it’s time to prep yourself to live like a local. With these two documents, your reality will meet your dreamy expectations of island life.
What is a NIE and Residency Card? Who needs it? #
A NIE, or Foreigner Identification Number, is issued by the Spanish government to an individual who spends a significant amount of time in Mallorca. You'll need this to open a bank account and enter into contracts. If you find a car or scooter you like, you'll need your NIE. Any EU citizen can get one and there is no harm or penalty for having it. In fact, it’s only a benefit.
A residency card, or Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Union, declares you’re registered as ‘living’ in Spain, applicable to anyone who spends more than three months a year in the country. If that last sentence describes you, becoming a resident is actually mandatory according to authorities. You will receive this when you register at the Ajuntament of the town where you will be residing.
What are your options? #
Let’s start here. Do you speak Spanish?
If you are able to communicate in the local language, the process will be easier. Obtaining an NIE and/or Residency isn't easy if you don’t speak Spanish. Consider hiring some assistance from a well-established company or personal aide or pay a friend to help you since this involves more than a few hours.
Affordable Mallorca Tip: There are plenty of companies around Spain who are able to help. Ask your expat friends or your lawyer to recommend someone they trust. The cost should be no more than €1,500 for everything. That may sound like a lot if you are on a budget. Keep reading to learn how to do this on your own.
Acquiring Your NIE On Your Own #
The NIE process is relatively straightforward for EU citizens. Simply locate your local police station, Comisaría de Policía, or foreigners' department, Departamento de Extranjería, then go in and ask them which documents you will need. Spain is often changing their procedures so it’s best to get the information straight from the source.
Below is a list of standard documents and procedures: Please bear in mind that these documents will be in Spanish so get your translator ready!
Links to Forms #
- EX-18 form (http://www.ub.edu/uri/Document/ex18.pdf ), also known as the Solicitud de inscripción en el Registro Central de Extranjeros_Residencia Ciudadano de la UE.
- EX-15 form (https://www.citizensadvice.org.es/wp-content/uploads/15-Formulario_NIE_y_certificados_imprimible.pdf) Typically, this form is for Non-EU Citizens but it’s always best to have too much documentation.
- Modelo 790-012 form (https://sede.policia.gob.es:38089/Tasa790_012/ImpresoRellenar) This form you take to the bank and pay for your NIE. The cost is between €10.00 - €15.00.
- Stay with us… it isn’t as scary as it seems, we promise!
- 2 notarized colour copies of your passport on the photo page.
- Proof of address in Spain, in your name. This could be a rental agreement or a utility bill. MAKE CERTAIN THE NAME OF THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY IS REGISTERED AT THE AJUNTAMENT WHERE THE PROPERTY IS LOCATED. THE SIGNER OF THE LEASE MUST BE REGISTERED LEGALLY. IF NOT, YOU WILL NOT BE APPROVED. You might be surprised at how often this issue comes up.
- Then schedule an appointment online here, https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/pagina/index/directorio/icpplus/language/en Make sure to bring everything with you! Note: Waiting times can be long, and some agencies might try to make you believe you have to pay for an appointment, but this is not true! If necessary, go to the Oficina de Extranjería in person to make an appointment if delays are too long.
A second friendly reminder: This is merely a guideline to an ever-changing process. Do check with your local police station or foreigners' office first to confirm!
How To Acquire Residency? #
Becoming a resident, currently a small business-card size green piece of paper and what's called a Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Union, isn’t quite as straight forward as getting a NIE as the laws and regulations are constantly changing in Spain. For this reason, we highly suggest considering getting some assistance in order to avoid queues and unnecessary stress.
If, however, you’re determined to do it on your own, here is an ever-changing guide on how to do it. You will need these documents:
- A Resident Application, EX18 form which you can get from your nearest National Police Station, Comisaría de Policía Nacional, or Foreigner's Office, Oficina de Extranjeros.
Affordable Mallorca Top Tip: Check out the Citizens Advice Bureau Spain (https://www.citizensadvice.org.es/faq/where-can-i-download-ex18-residency-application-form/). They provide instructions in English.
- Your NIE document
- Colour copy of every page of your passport
- Notarized copies of your passport photo page (3 to be safe, see a Notary Office address above, under the NIE section.)
- Physical passport
- Proof of employment (original contract)
- Proof of income, stamped by your bank
- Proof of health insurance, which means having your bank print out proof of payment. Your bank needs to stamp and sign this document.
- Proof of residence, your rental agreement, in your name.
- Proof of your registration at the Town Hall, or Ayuntamiento.
Once you’ve obtained all these documents and any other documents your local Oficina de Extranjeros, or designated police station tells you to have, make an appointment online at your local Oficina de Extranjeros. Yet again, please note that appointments can take weeks, even months to get. Don't fall for agencies trying to make you believe you have to pay for an appointment. Go to the Oficina de Extranjeros in person to make an appointment if delays are too long.
What are the benefits of going through this process? #
We know what you’re thinking … this is a lot of work! But having a NIE and becoming a resident of Spain opens the door to the real island life. Living under the radar isn't as glorious and relaxing as it seems. Sure, this process takes time, but can you really put a price on peace of mind?
Eventually, you’ll want to open a bank account, maybe buy a house or a car, or just rent a flat. You’ll want to have utilities in that house, internet, even a phone contract… and let's be honest, we all know ‘pay as you go’ isn’t the way forward.
Having your residency card, or, Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Union, is mandatory if you have kids who are entering school in Spain. If you spend more than 183 days a year in Spain, this also means by law you must become a resident and that you’ll be subject to paying tax, which is another topic covered in detail in our ULTIMATE GUIDE: Relocating to Mallorca.
Affordable Mallorca Top Tip: If you live on the islands, once you acquire your residency card, you should take advantage of what’s called a Certifico Viajar. This document allows you to travel around the islands and to the mainland, either by Spanish airline or ferry at a 75% discounted rate on the fare, excluding tax fees. You can scoop this paper up at your local Ayuntamiento, or Town Hall for the affordable amount of €1.30 (price as of 2018). Bring your Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Union, or residency card, NIE (just in case) and passport and they will print it for you on the spot!
Friends, if after reading this article you feel as if you need a virtual hug, consider one sent. If administrative work just isn’t your area of genius, don’t be afraid to get help with this. There are 7.2 billion people on the planet which reminds us that we really shouldn’t have to take on life on our own. Good luck!
DISCLAIMER: All information contained in this article is based on personal experience and opinion and may change due to changing laws and regulations and/or based on where in Spain you are.
By Delia Paul
19 November, 2020