This post explains the process of obtaining your physical (non-EU) student NIE card after you have already obtained your student visa at the embassy in your own country.
Hey Guiris! Obtaining your NIE card once you’ve arrived in Spain can be a little bit confusing, especially since all the instructions are now in Spanish! It’s been a while since we posted on this topic and, as always, there have been several changes and updates to the process since our last post. The process is slightly different based on your reasons for being in Spain, so we’ll start with the student NIE and post articles about other types in the near future.
My AIL Madrid girls
A student visa can be obtained through your Spanish academy (such as AIL Madrid, where I’m a student in the Long-Term Spanish Course) or university (such as IE) and is valid for a year at a time. If you continue your studies, you can renew it from right here in Madrid (more on that later), so this is one of the easiest ways to start your Spanish adventure. Once you already have your student visa and have arrived in Spain, you will need to obtain your physical student residence (NIE) card, so let’s review the steps:
1. Organize your documentation
Make sure you bring ALL the documents you presented to and had stamped by the Spanish embassy in your country. These documents should all be legally translated or originally in Spanish, especially your insurance, criminal record report, and the documents from your academy or university. Make copies of ALL these documents: you need to bring the originals to the appointment but will actually submit copies ONLY.
2. Make your NIE card appointment
You have to make your appointment to get your NIE card within the first THREE MONTHS of arriving in Spain. It may be that the only appointment available is after three months, but the important thing is that you have the appointment scheduled!
Sometimes, your school or university will do this for you. For example, I am a student at AIL Madrid, and they held my hand through the whole visa process and made my initial appointment for me. It’s true that they tend to go a bit above and beyond compared to other academies so, if you’re still choosing a Spanish academy, that’s something you may want to keep in mind (can you tell I’m a little bit in love with my academy?)
If you do need to arrange your own, here’s how: visit the NIE appointment website, select ‘Madrid’ (under ‘Provincias Disponibles’) and ‘Expedición de tarjeta de identidad extranjero (HUELLA)’ under ‘Tramitas Disponibles’. This is also the site you have to visit if you’re renewing, so just choose the same options as above. The next page will display a list of documents required to obtain your card, so copy and paste that in to a word document (just in case).
After you’ve reviewed the required documentation, you will be asked to enter your personal details and be offered three different dates and times to choose from. Select the one that best fits your schedule and confirm the appointment. Be sure to save or print your confirmation: you will need to take this with you when you go to your appointment.
3. Register at your Spanish address
Next (BEFORE your NIE appointment), you need to register as a resident, known as ‘empadronamiento’. To do this, you will need a copy of your lease or a signed document from your landlord/host family saying you live at your address. In terms of etiquette, it is best to alert your landlord or host family that you intend to register, since your name will then be listed as a legal resident of their property. As a side note, if you are renting and have a contract, it is completely legal for you to register there as a resident and any resistance from your landlord has no legal grounds (they are probably trying to hide their rental income).
To make your appointment, visit the empadronamiento appointment website and select (in this order): ‘Atención al ciudadano’, ‘PADRON’, ‘OAC Centro’.
A list of dates will then generate and you can pick the time and date of your appointment and enter your personal details. Attend the appointment with your passport (and a copy), and your contract/letter from host family (and a copy). Make sure you have this appointment at least a week before your NIE appointment so that, if you need any further documentation, you have time to provide it.
At the appointment, they will print out and give you the form saying you are a legally registered resident. Make a copy and add it to your files for your NIE appointment.
4. Take your ID photo
Smile for the camera! Stop by a photo booth in the metro or at the NIE office itself and take a passport sized photo to take with you to your appointment. If you’re renewing, this photo should be different from the photo you had on your last card. As with any ID, don’t wear anything in the photo that could be considered a ‘disguise’ (a hat, too much makeup etc) and make sure the photo has a white background.
5. Obtain the tax form and pay the NIE card tax
The final document needed is the tax form called the ‘Modelo 790 Código 012’. This can only be acquired at the NIE office in Aluche (at the entrance on a chair). You have two options to complete this form: pick it up a few days ahead and take it to your bank or post office to pay OR go to your appointment early, pick up the form and take it to one of the banks nearby. Remember, the banks in Spain have odd opening hours and the hours you can pay the tax at banks near the office are usually only from 8:30am to 10:30am (unless you are a client). That said, there is an IberCaja about a 10 minute walk from the Aluche office that is open more often and will process the tax for people who are not their clients.
To fill out the form, enter your personal details, select ‘Tarjeta de Estudias‘ and enter the amount you need to pay. This amount is currently 18,30€ but may change without notice, so do quick search online before you pick up the form. If the current amount has changed, please update us in the comments!
6. Present yourself at the appointment with all documents
Finally you are ready for your appointment! Be sure you have all of your paperwork and at least one copy of EVERYTHING (except the tax form and photo). Your appointment (remember: NON-EU) will be at Avenida de Poblados s/n (next to number 51), and the nearest metro/cercanias station is Aluche.
Go to your appointment, give them all the copies of your documentation (they will also take your fingerprints), and, if all goes smoothly, you will receive a piece of paper with your information stating that your card will be ready in 40 days. In 40 days (more or less), return to the same office with the paper they gave you at your appointment and your passport (I bring all my documentation to all appointments just in case) and get in line on the LEFT hand side of the doors (there will be a sign that says ‘Tarjetas’). Within 15 minute you should have your NIE card! Whew! WE DID IT!
If you have any updates on the process or have any insights/experiences to add, please share in the comments to help your fellow guiris!