Nie & Residence

When tackling this topic, it is important to explain the difference between N.I.E. and Residency, as it is quite common to use the acronym N.I.E. to refer to the “Residency certificate or card”.

In strict legal terms, NIE (“Número de Identificación de Extranjeros”) is a fiscal number that nowadays is obtained at Police Offices and issued for “foreigners” (residing or not in Spain) by the authorities to allow them to deal with any financial, social or professional affairs in Spain. In duly proved extraordinary circumstances of urgency a provisional NIE number could be assigned by the Fiscal authorities, but the definitive one is always given by the Police. The NIE number does not expire or vary, it is not legally an identification document, and must always be accompanied by the Passport or Personal Identity Card from the country of origin. Therefore, this number does not allow, as such, to work or reside in Spain.

The confusion probably comes from the fact that the “Residency card/certificate” always mentions this NIE number, but as explained above, both non-resident and resident foreigners obtain a NIE number once the application is duly submitted and processed.

The application procedure is relatively simple, but timing is a crucial factor for the preparation and collection of the documentation, as very few appointments are given daily for requests. It is common practice to grant a power of attorney to the solicitor of your choice to simplify the process.

On the other hand, the obligation of registering as a resident arises when you plan to stay in the Spanish territory for over three months.  Europeans and citizens from European economic area (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) have the freedom to reside as long as they have a job here or they have the financial capacity of sustaining themselves and can prove they benefit from a private or public medical insurance. In practice, you will also be asked, as part of the documentation to file with the application form, to submit bank statements of your accounts showing a minimum amount of regular movements during a few months and sufficient balance.

Non-Europeans planning to reside in Spain will have to always start the application process by obtaining a Visa for residence at the consulate of their country of origin, where specific requirements will be considered in advance.

Bear in mind that there is a huge difference between residing in Spain for periods of over three months, being a resident from a Police point of view, and the fact of becoming a “fiscal resident”, which implies declaring your worldwide income to the Spanish Fiscal Authorities (“Agencia Tributaria”); this liability arises when your annual stay in the country is over 183 days. We have encountered through the years many cases of people that have registered as residents in Spain having here a domicile, but that did not attain the minimum period obliging them to become fiscal residents and, therefore, have maintained the fiscal status of their home country, declaring in Spain only taxes in force as non-resident owners of a property or properties.

Lia Law Independent Advisors will guide you through this type of formality whether you live in Spain temporarily for the first time or whether you intend to formalise your residency. Our service always aims to be dynamic and efficient, making the process effortless for you.