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Legal Requirements for Non-EU Students to Come to Spain

If you are planning to come from a non-EU country and study in Spain, there are some important requirements that you will need to fulfill.  These steps are divided into two groups: 
– Visa requirements (In your home country)  – Residence requirements (Upon arriving in Spain).
This article gives a general overview that provides you with adequate information about all necessary processes.  

1. Pre-Arrival (Visa requirements)


After identifying which study path you would like to pursue, the next step would be to initiate communication with your desired university/school in Spain to get the admission approval.
Upon receiving your admission confirmation, you will have to communicate with the Spanish Embassy in your country to set an appointment for obtaining a student-visa.   In general, the Embassy will ask you to prepare a list of documents, those normally include:

  • Passport (Make sure it is updated)
  • ID with photo
  • Admission confirmation from a Spanish School/University
  • Transcripts (authenticated high school or university transcripts in English)
  • Proof of payment (for your studies in Spain, for the entire study fee or partial depending on school and program requirements)
  • Proof of financial capability (bank statement from your account or your sponsor’s account
  • Health Insurance (obtained from your country to cover your first months in Spain)
  • Accommodation (where you will stay upon your arrival in Spain)
  • Flight booking (indicating your intended date of travel and date of return to your country)
  • Visa fee (varies depending on your country’s rates)

2. Upon-Arrival (Residence requirements)


After obtaining your student visa and your arrival in Spain, the next step would be to obtain your student-residence card (NIE). 
NIE is a requirement for both EU and non-EU students coming to Spain and it is the number associated with every foreigner living in Spain.
It is mandatory by Spanish law to apply for the NIE within your first 30 days in Spain. 

Below is an overview of the steps required to get your NIE card:


Empadronamiento: which is the residence certificate that a student needs to obtain from the local council to show his/her address in Spain.
University/School documents: your school or university should provide documents indicating that you are enrolled in a program that lasts more than 6 months.
Appointment: to get the NIE you will need to book an appointment (Cita Previa) with the Spanish immigration authority to submit all documents and your fingerprints. Booking this appointment is a major problem in Barcelona, as it is very difficult to obtain, even if you speak Spanish. 
Therefore booking this appointment is a major problem in Barcelona and it is very difficult to obtain, even if you speak Spanish. 
Card: approximately, after one month of your appointment, you will receive your NIE card.

What are the NIE/TIE and How to Get One?

The NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) is a unique identification number assigned to each non-Spanish person who wants to reside in Spain. For citizens of the European Union, no residence permit or visa are needed to live in Spain if you stay less than 6 months – if you stay longer you will need the green NIE card. The only residency requirement is a valid NIE. 
 
If your stay in Spain will be longer than 6 months, before getting your NIE you will need to request the Empadronamiento.The number consists out of one letter, seven digits and another letter at the end (e.g. Y-4456279-G).
 
If you are planning to study, work or invest in Spain you are obliged to obtain this document. Non-European citizens will need to get a plastic card called TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) – more information below. 
 

You will need a NIE to

 

  • Get employed (paid internship or full-time contract)
  • Open a bank account (also possible without NIE, but you receive better conditions with NIE)
  • Driving license
  • Become self-employed
  • Start a business in Spain
  • Register your children for a school
  • Any types of contracts (phone, WIFI, etc.)
  • Bicing Card
  • Purchase and sell real estate property

 White NIE vs. Green NIE (for EU-Citizens)

There are two forms of NIE available for EU passport holders. You can get a NIE number or NIE card. A NIE number is just a number written on a white piece of paper.

Meanwhile, the NIE card is aalso referred to as a residency certificate (Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión) or residency card (tarjeta de residencia) that will enable you to complete all the paperwork you need for your daily life in Spain. 

This certificate of residency is equivalent to a NIF (Spanish citizens’ ID card). In both types of NIE, see the required application method here.  

NIE NUMBER (Número de identidad de extranjero) for Europeans
 

  • Required for European students who stay less than 6 months in Spain
  • A newly written number on a white piece of paper 
  • unlimited validity 
  • It is possible to obtain this number in person or with power of attorney 
  • Assigned for administrative purposes (purchase property, investment, tax payment, etc.)
  • See the entire process here (in Spanish)
  • No official proof of residency

NIE CARD (Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión) for Europeans
 

  • Required for stays of more than 6 months in Spain
  • small green paper card laminated on the back
  • contains NIE number along with your name, date and birthplace, address in Spain and application date 
  • NIE approval is only available in person and with an appointment
  • See the entire process here (in Spanish)
  • This card is valid permanently

 You need to meet one of the following requirements (for EU-citizens)
 

  • Have a job (or confirmed job offer from a Spanish employer)
  • Confirmed means you need a written and signed statement from the company, including all your personal information, passport number, what you will do and for how long (at least 6 months), company information with CIF number and número de cotización
  • Be self-employed (autonomo)
  • Be enrolled as a student and have a Spanish health insurance or European Health Card
  • Have enough funds to maintain yourself and have valid health insurance in Spain
  • Join a family member already living in Spain

TIE CARD (Foreigner Identity Card) for non- Europeans
 

  • Student Visa for < 6 months cannot be changed to TIE
  • Required for stays of > 6 months in Spain
  • Required to apply within 90 days of arrival in Spain
  • Small plastic card
  • Contains NIE number along with your name, date and birthplace, address in Spain, Visa purpose and application date 
  • TIE approval is only available in person and with an appointment
  • This card is valid for 1 year (or until end of semester), after that you need to renew it
  • After TIE process is finished you can pick up the card after 30 days
  • See our article on legal requirements for non-EU students

In order to start the NIE process you will need a Cita Prévia (Appointment), which often is very difficult to obtain. You have to click here and select
 
The Province you live in (Barcelona) > Policia – Certificados UE > Aceptar > Entrar > Fill in your personal data > Then select an appointment and click confirmar
 
If no appointment is available at this moment you have to refresh the page and try again. 
 
Which documents are required? 
 
Now let’s take a look at the documents that you will need in order to obtain your NIE/TIE from at the police station. 
 
As a student/paid intern (EU-citizen) to get the NIE
 

  • Your passport + 1 copy
  • To get a NIE number (stay < 6 months) – EX15 form filled + 1 copy – Download the form here
  • To get a NIE card (stay > 6 months) – EX18 form filled + 1 copy – Download the form here
  • Proof of enrolment in a University or school 
  • Copy of Empadronamiento (Registration at City Hall) – it is required in some police stations and not in others, it also depends on the person you will be dealing behind the counter.

    We recommend obtaining the Empadronamiento before the NIE appointment, since you need to do it eventually.

  • Administrative fee paid in the bank (12€ for EU citizens, 16€ for non EU-citizens)
  • Sufficient financial resources: an average of 538 euros per month or 6,456 euros per year

 As a or full-time worker (EU-citizen) to get the NIE
 

  • Your passport + 1 copy
  • EX18 form filled + 1 copy – Download the form here
  • Original working contract or confirmed job offer
  • Confirmed means you need a written and signed statement from the company, including all your personal information, passport number, what you will do and for how long (at least 6 months), company information with CIF number and número de cotización
  • Copy of Empadronamiento (Registration at City Hall) – it is required in some police stations and not in others, it also depends on the person you will be dealing behind the counter.

    We recommend obtaining the Empadronamiento before the NIE appointment, since you need to do it sooner or later anyway. Read here how to get the Empadronamiento

  • Registration for social security – it is required in some police stations and not in others, it also depends on the person you will be dealing behind the counter.

    We recommend obtaining a Social Security Number before the NIE appointment, since you need to do it eventually, if you are planning to contribute to the Spanish Social System. 

  • Administrative fee paid in the bank (12€ for EU citizens, 16€ for non EU-citizens

 For non-EU-citizens to get the TIE (plastic card that includes NIE number)

  • Your passport + 1 copy
  • EX17 form filled + 1 copy – Download the form here
  • Original working contract or confirmed job offer
  • Confirmed means you need a written and signed statement from the company, including all your personal information, passport number, what you will do and for how long (at least 6 months), company information with CIF number and número de cotización
  • Copy of Empadronamiento (Registration at City Hall) – it is required in some police stations and not in others, it also depends on the person you will be dealing behind the counter.

    We recommend obtaining the Empadronamiento before the NIE appointment, since you need to do it eventually.

  • Registration for social security – it is required in some police stations and not in others, it also depends on the person you will be dealing behind the counter.

    We recommend obtaining a Social Security Number before the NIE appointment, since you need to do it eventually if you are planning to contribute to the Spanish Social System. 

  • Administrative fee paid in the bank (12€ for EU citizens, 16€ for non EU-citizens)
  • Tax form 790-012 + 1 copy

 

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