Barcelona Tourist and Expat Guide – I'mMovingToBarcelona



Your first bureaucratic step in Barcelona should be towards a police station. You need to get a NIE, Número de Identidad de Extranjero, or ‘Foreign Identity Number’. It will open the doors for you for basically all the legal stuff: from opening a bank account through applying for a job, up to buying a property.

If you are from one of the EU or affiliate countries, and you are planning to stay in Spain for over 3 months, you are obliged to apply for an inscription in Registro Central de Extranjeros or ‘Central Registry for Foreigners’. It means you will get a unique identification number for foreigners in Spain: the NIE.

In order to get it, you need to go to a foreigners office. For Barcelona is located in Rambla de Guipúscoa 74. Here’s the list of the rest of them: List of police stations in Barcelona Province and in the rest of Spain.



1. Make an appointment online, cita previa

Click here to get the appointment and print it out. If you get a security communicate like this one, click on “advanced” and “proceed to…“. It’s a browser (in my case Chrome) protection, but I suppose you should be safe on the Spanish governmental website. It is in Spanish, so here’s what you need to do:

  • Select “Barcelona” and “Certificados UE” below,
  • On the next page, you will find a list of the documents needed and should click “Entrar” below on the right
  • Fill in your data and click “Aceptar“,
  • Then click “Solicitar cita” on the left to “Make an appointment“,
  • Select the most convenient office and date

Normally you should be offered a meeting within two weeks time from your application. However, sometimes it takes up to a month, be prepared and be patient… If you can’t wait so long try in another town like Sant Cugat or any other just outside Barcelona. Usually the queues are shorter there.

2. Get your documents in place

  • Fill in NIE form, it’s not the official one but will help you to get oriented. The official one is in Spanish and is called Modelo EX-15. You will get it in the Barcelona Foreign Office however, for your convenience try to fill it in at home and then print it out in 2 copies.
  • Prepare your Passport. Make sure it’s valid ;), you will need a passport and its 2 copies (with visa if applies).
  • Remember to have a Spanish address – it’s required
  • Have a motive to justify your stay – it’s also required. Are you planning to study, work, etc.? Be prepared to have the documentation ready to be able to justify your stay.

Depending on the country you are from you might need to apply for Residency Card (TIE). EU citizens don’t.

Please take note that a different procedure may apply to all those coming from outside EU.

3. Visit the given Foreign Office and submit your application

With all documents in place and the online appointment, you can go and submit your application. Get ready to spend a few hours in the police station. There will be a queue cause the appointment is rather an indication and not a commitment.

4. Pay your tribute

After the visit to the window, you will be asked to pay for the service. Currently, the cost is 12 euro.
IMPORTANT: it has to be paid in a bank, otherwise your payment will be invalid.
Remember: the banks are normally open from 8:30 am to 14:30 pm. Plan your visit in a way so that you will be able to make your payment in a bank on the same day. Otherwise, you’d need to come back another day to finish NIE paperwork.

5. Go back to police station to finish the paperwork

Once you’re back at the police station, get the line again. Show the payment at the window and a small green piece of paper will be printed immediately.
So what´s on my NIE?

  • your name,
  • nationality,
  • date and place of birth,
  • NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) consisting of 2 letters and 7 digits (e.g. A1234567Z) and registration date.
  • address,
  • issue date,

And you’ve made it!


This number is the key to any contract or other documentation you’ll need to sign in Barcelona. It is a small piece of green paper, not really handy to carry around. I had some difficulty getting used to taking this small piece of paper and my passport instead of my ID card (despite the fact that I’m from EU) to all the offices and state departments in order to:

  • Open a bank account
  • Sign an Internet or telecommunications services contract (including the one for a simple pre-paid sim card).
  • Apply for Social Security Number (Seguridad Social).
  • Apply for health care card at Cat Salut
  • Go to the doctor’s for the first time
  • Go to Hacienda (Agencia Tributaria) to provide the right documents and become a fiscal resident
  • Get the Empadronamiento – register your residency in the Ayuntamiento (City Hall)
  • Sign a work contract – NIE is both your personal ID and Tax Fiscal number (for Spaniards called NIF)
  • Registering for Bicing – read more here, etc.

They all can’t wait to see your NIE. It is the very pass to an easier bureaucratic world. You can actually forget about your ID card. Just put the NIE inside your passport and take it with you whenever you need to sign a contract.

For non EU residents the procedure is slightly different.

Citizens of countries that are not part of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland need a specific authorization if they want to work or live in Spain for more than three months.

These authorizations are roughly divided into:

  • Authorizations of stay, residence, studies and/or work
  • Renewals and/or modifications of authorization of stay, residence, studies and/or work
  • Extension of stay and establishment
  • Request for exemption from work permit
  • Temporary authorizations for exceptional circumstances
  • Authorizations, renewals and amendments for family reunification
  • Foreigner Return Authorizations
  • These citizens must obtain the Foreign Identity Card (TIE) that accredits the legal residence status.

The Foreign Identity Card (TIE) is the physical document that contains the identification data, the photograph and the NIE number as well as the type of authorization of stay or residence in Spain. This condition of residence or stay accredits the legal permanence in the country and, according to the type of residence, will allow to work or not.

5 Discussions on
  • Hi! Great website 😀
    I try to apply for a NIE already for several weeks, but if I follow your method, it says that there are no appointments available. I went to a lawyers office, because they also provide services (that are pretty expensive) and they also told me that currently it is a mess.. Do you know anything about this? And do you know if it is currently possible to make an appointment online?

    • Hi Isabella, we have the same problem. I thought the lawyers would have more info but if they don´t, this is clearly a big issue. I hope it gets resolved soon.
      Take care!

      • Thanks for your reply! Good (but also bad for you) that I am not alone in this world with this problem 😛
        Tomorrow I have the appointment with the lawyer for the NIE, if a was able to fix it, I will let you know!

  • So it is not possible to get the NIE number from your home country? I am from Denmark and i was under the impression that i would be able to retrieve the NIE number from the spanish embassy located in Aarhus and Copenhagen (Two danish cities)

    • Hi Magnus,
      I think someone commented once that this is also an option. We haven’t verified it but maybe you should get in touch with the embassy and check. please let us know afterwards and we will update the post. Good luck!

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