If you’re not Spanish and you’re planning on staying in Spain long term, the chances are that you will need a Número de Identidad de Extranjeros (known most commonly as a NIE).
To get practically anything done in Spain, you need an identification number. For foreign nationals, the NIE is your all-purpose identification and tax number in Spain. You’ll need it for practically everything: opening a bank account, getting paid work, buying a property, starting a business, getting a car, getting put onto a utilities contract, paying your taxes… You may even be asked for one for things like setting up a gym membership, getting a SIM card or picking up a parcel from the post office!
If you want to do any of the above in Spain, you will need a NIE – whether you are resident or not.
Note: Getting a NIE is not the same as becoming resident.
Getting a NIE is a relatively straightforward process. However, if you don’t speak Spanish, or you don’t have a Spanish-speaking friend to help you, many people choose to enlist the help of an English-speaking notario (notary) who, when authorised, can complete the whole process on your behalf.
If you’re brave enough, this step-by-step guide will get you your NIE in no time at all!
The process of getting a NIE is handled by the National Police. Therefore, in Malaga city, you have to head to the comisería on the western side of the city. However, you have to make an appointment first and this can be done easily online, here.
First, when it asks for province (provincias disponibles), select “Málaga“. Then on the next page, for office (oficina), choose “CNP MÁLAGA Provincial, Plaza de Manuel Azaña, 3“, then “POLICIA-CERTIFICADOS Y ASIGNACIÓN NIE” from the second drop-down list (TRÁMITES CUERPO NACIONAL DE POLICÍA) and click “Aceptar”.
On the following page is a list of paperwork you need to take to your appointment. It might be worth printing this off and using it as a checklist. Then click “Entrar”.
On the next web page select “Pasaporte” and enter your passport number, as well as your name, exactly as it appears on your passport. Click “Aceptar”.
Next, you have to click “Solicitar Cita“. Enter your phone number and your email address (twice). Click “Siguiente”.
Here you can select the date and time of your choice. Click “Siguiente” to confirm.
Note: During busy periods or holidays, appointments can be in short supply. However, new appointments can quickly become available so it’s worth consulting the page at different times of day to try and snatch an earlier appointment,
In order to successfully apply for a NIE, you need take the following to your appointment:
You can download this form here. Print it out and fill it in in clear, capital letters.
Here is an English translation of the form to help you (only the Spanish form will be accepted). It is fairly straightforward – the only section that may cause problems is part 4.2 where it asks you for the reason for wanting a NIE. If you don’t have a concrete reason, or you’re still looking for a job, select “Por intereses económicos” and write abrir una cuenta bancaria (opening a bank account), or similar, as your motivation.
This is the fee to process your NIE. As of August 2021, it costs 9.74 euros. This is an electronic form which can be completed here.
Fill in your details, then scroll to “Autoliquidación” and make sure “Principal” is selected. Then select “Asignación de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) a instancia del interesado” under the “Documentos de identidad y títulos y documentos de viaje a extranjeros indocumentados y otros documentos” section.
In the final section, type “Málaga” as localidad. The date will appear automatically. The fee will appear in “Ingreso“.
If you have a foreign bank account, we recommend that you pay in cash. So, select “En efectivo“, complete the Captcha and click “Descargar impreso rellenado” to download your form.
Take the form to any bank and pay your fee in cash. They will then stamp the form as proof of payment.
Note: Many banks will only do this type of procedure during the morning so don’t leave it until the day of your appointment! That said, don’t pay this form until the week before your appointment as it is only valid for two weeks and if you have to reschedule your appointment for any reason, you’ll have to pay it again.
When the big day comes, make sure you get to your appointment on time! The police station is an easy bus or taxi ride from the Alameda. Once you get there, you really can’t miss it! It’s an enormous building with a helipad on the roof.
Head across the lawn to the main double entrance and join the huddle around the right-hand door. Every 10 or so minutes, a police officer will come out and ask for those who have an appointment at that time. Announce yourself to them then they will usher you through security and in the correct direction for the queue.
Once you are called, present your documents. If you have filled out the paperwork correctly, the officer will either provide you with your NIE immediately or provide you with a receipt and give you a time to return to pick it up.
Try to take as many photocopies as possible of everything just in case. Take an empty copy of the EX15 form so if there are any errors you can correct them on the spot and not have to return at another time.
Daryl moved to Malaga permanently in 2014 having first fallen in love with the city on his Erasmus year. Having worked for many years in local expat media, Daryl gained expert knowledge in life from the perspective of foreign residents and decided to co-found Malaga Guru in 2016.