The NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) is a tax identification number in Spain for everyone who is not a Spanish citizen. It is necessary for all foreigners who want to stay in Spain for more than three months, including the EU citizens. You also need the NIE number to be able to process certain transactions as opening a bank account or buying a property.
In Barcelona, the NIE number is applied from a local police station. Unfortunately it is not so easy to get, especially if you are a foreigner and if you still don’t dominate the Spanish language.
Here is the story how I finally managed to get mine.
Booking the appointment
The problems began when I was trying to make an appointment online. If you don’t book an appointment beforehand online, the police stations that are able to issue the number won’t serve you. In the online appointment application site everything is written in Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish (like me), it is better to ask for help already in this first stage.
To get an appointment online is really difficult. I tried many days to find a free appointment time from the Police stations near the center of Barcelona. For some reason there were no free times available. I was advised that the best time to get an appointment through the system is on Monday mornings between 8 and 9 AM, but it didn’t work either. After trying every day for a whole month, a miracle happened. I finally managed to get through and get an appointment from a police station outside the city center. But, I still had to wait for an extra month for my appointment day.
My advice is to be patient. Try to book a day from a police station outside of Barcelona. If you are lucky, you can maybe get an appointment time sooner.
Finally, after two months, the appointment day came. Me and my translator went to the processing police station. My appointment time was set at 11.08 AM and we were in front of the office ten minutes earlier. There was already a queue outside and we had to wait about 20 minutes to get inside the building. Inside the police station, we had to wait extra 15 minutes to get a waiting number. And after that, we had to wait again about 25 minutes to get to the reception. Like I said, my appointment was at 11.08, but we got in front of our police officer more than one hour later.
Just in case, I brought all my documents: rental agreement, employment contract and passport. I didn’t have a photocopy of my passport, but the person serving us, was understanding and allowed us to bring it later. We filled couple of documents and then the friendly police officer wrote me my new NIE number in a small piece of paper. At this point the officer did not yet give me the official ID certificate.
Make copies to save time
Then we had to leave the police station to make a copy of my passport and to pay a fee for the ID (about 10€). Before I paid the amount, I had to print four extra documents through the internet with my new NIE number to get the right bank details. Luckily, just in front of the station there was a photocopy shop, where a friendly young man helped me to print all the right documents.
As we tried to enter back to the police station we had to wait again in a queue outside. It took us about 10 minutes to get inside, 15 minutes to get a new waiting number, and about 20 more minutes to get back in front of the police officer. We gave the photo copies, and just as I thought everything was done, he told us that I have to come back the next day to get the official ID certificate. Why? I don’t know, but next morning when I came back to the police station, there was no queues and I got finally my official NIE.
My advice for the appointment day is to take it calm. Reserve enough time for the process, because it’s going to take a while. Also, make an extra copy of all your documents.
If you don’t want to go through all of this trouble, there is for example this website https://www.niebarcelona.com/en/, where you can get the NIE number maybe a bit faster. You just need to pay them 90€ and they will do almost everything for you.
Good luck with you NIE application, you really need it.