Apply for N.I.E. number in the Canary Islands

11. Jan 2022 | Bureaucracy, Working | 0 comments

Egal ob Autokauf, Langzeitmiete oder Handyvertrag - die N.I.E. Nummer ist eine der ersten Amtshandlungen bei einem längeren Aufenthalt auf den Kanaren. Erfahre hier, welche Tipps im Bürokratie-Dschungel hilfreich sind.

As a foreigner in Spain, you need a so-called N.I.E. number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) for many business matters. If you want to buy a property or a car, register your child in a school or book an internet connection – you will always be asked for this number. I took the bureaucratic procedure upon myself and applied for an N.I.E. number in times of Corona on Tenerife. Thereby I had to take some hurdles. Here you can find out which complications can occur and which is the best way to get a personal NIE number.


Apply for N.I.E. number – the right time

The application can be made at the immigration office (Oficina de Extranjería) or at the police office (Policía Nacional) in the nearest town. In my case, it went through the police department. 

It is best to start as early as possible to ask for an appointment. Currently (as of 2022), you have to wait up to four weeks before you are actually allowed to present. You can request the appointment online here:

Which forms do I need?

The second step is to fill in the “EX-15” form. You should make sure that all the information is correct and corresponds exactly to the information on your ID card. Fill in all the first names, if you have more than one.

In the application you must also give a reason why you want to apply for the N.I.E. number. Possible reasons are:

  • For economic reasons (e.g. buying or selling a property or a car)
  • For professional reasons
  • For social reasons

In addition, another form, namely the “Modelo 790 cod. 012” must be created, preferably digitally. The latter is needed to pay the fees. You can find the Modelo 790 here:

How to pay the fee for the N.I.E. number?

Now comes the most difficult part. You have to pay the fee of around 10€ before the appointment at the police station takes place. Payment on the spot is not possible! So be sure to do it a few days before. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to pay the fee. Normally you pay taxes and fees at any ATM in Spain, where there is a separate menu item for such matters. But the catch is that you have to type in an N.I.E. number to pay. Of course, you don’t have the N.I.E. number at this point, because you just applied for it. So of course you can’t enter it. Sounds crazy, but that’s how it is.

There is also another hurdle. To pay the correct fee, you must somehow teach the ATM that it is “Modelo 790 cod. 012”. This option is simply not available on many ATMs.

If you now think you can discuss and pay for everything in person at the bank counter, you are mistaken. This is not easily possible, even if you are a customer of the bank in question.

So what can you do? I’ll show you how I solved it:

I tried several ATMs at different banks. I must have been to five or six different ATMs until I could finally pay the fees at a branch of Cajamar without an N.I.E. number but with my ID number.

With some machines it is possible to select the “Modelo 790” or to enter the so-called “Numero Justificante” (printed on the form). With this unique “Num Justificante” the payment is assigned exactly to the own application. Neither of these worked for me. It is easier to scan the QR code of the form. Unfortunately, this often does not work with the digital PDF form on the smartphone. The display is too reflective. So you have to go to the copy store, print out the form, and scan the QR code from the printed paper at the ATM.

Important tip: Ask for a receipt for the payment at the ATM. This will serve as proof for the police station. Unfortunately, Spanish ATMs often run out of paper for receipts in the evening. Therefore, you should come in the morning to be on the safe side.

Another small note: You can pay at the machine either in cash or by credit card. I strongly recommend paying by credit card. This has two advantages. First, in case of doubt, you have further proof of your own bank statement. Second, the ATMs usually cannot give change, which means higher fees – depending on which bill you put in.

The appointment at the police station

Unfortunately, the staff in the offices and police departments often speak only Spanish. Sometimes you can succeed with rudimentary English. Knowledge of German or any other language cannot really be expected.

You should bring the following documents:

  • Valid identity card or passport
  • Confirmation of the appointment reservation
  • Completed application form EX-15, preferably in duplicate
  • Completed Modelo 790 cod. 012.

Actually, the employees expect you to bring all the forms with you in printed form. However, I only brought them digitally as PDF documents on my smartphone. Fortunately, the staff at the police station in Santa Cruz de Tenerife were quite helpful and I was able to send the documents by e-mail.

Conclusion: at best, bring all documents printed out and also have a smartphone with sufficient battery and data volume. Then you can send missing documents if necessary and also translate a word or two.

How long is the N.I.E. number valid?

Once issued, the N.I.E. number is valid for life. Of course, it is not only valid in the Canary Islands, but throughout Spain.

Does the N.I.E. number count as proof of residence?

No, the N.I.E. number does not establish residence, neither “Empadronamiento” nor “Residencia”. However, it is a prerequisite to apply for residency.


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