ID Card / NIE / Residencia
A guide on getting a residencia and NIE number in Gran Canaria, what you have to do to get a NIE number, where you have to go and little tips on how to make the process og getting an NIE card in Gran Canaria as painless as possible.
The most important document you need; make it a priority to get as soon as you arrive.
Click here to see the official Spanish documentation on NIE cards (in Spanish).
Recent Spanish legislation makes it compulsory for anyone selling or buying property in Spain to have a NIE - Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros which, translated, means "Identity Number for Foreigners". People applying for a NIE used to get a plastic card which fitted neatly into any wallet or purse, but the modern NIE is actually just a piece of paper with your name and number and a official stamp so it is suggested that you make about 20 photocopies of the original and keep those for everyday use as getting a replacement for the original is a real hassle. Long queues, very early mornings…
You need an NIE to buy property, a car and get a job. It also entitles you to 30% discounts on flights and ferries between and from the Canary Islands. Without it you will find life quite tricky so make it a priority to get one as soon as you arrive.
How to apply for an NIE?
In theory it's easy. All you have to do is to go to the Extranjeros department of your nearest Policia Nacional station, (find out which one is nearest you in this list of National Police Offices in Spain), fill in and sign an application form, and hand it in together a photocopy of your passport and your original passport. You must do this IN PERSON - you can't get anyone else to do it for you.
In practice this should be quite straightforward. However, the Spanish Foreign Office still makes no distinction between EU-member state citizens and other foreigners applying for the all-important NIE, so in Gran Canaria you will have to join a very long queue of immigrants in Spain seeking the same paper as you. In Las Palmas you are advised to start queuing at 7.00 a.m. to get your NIE, because each morning the office opens at 8.30 a.m. and gives out numbers to the first 70 people in the queue. The rest have to return and queue again the next day.
Update: Read how to get your NIE in the Spanish consulate in the UK.
Your NIE only lasts 5 years so a couple of months before it runs out go and renew it. It is a pretty straightforward process but at the immigration office (see map) they only hand out 70 tickets per day so you have to be one of the first 70 in the queue. It is therefore recommended you start queuing at 7.00am. The office closes at 2.00 and if you pass by at 1.00 they will sometimes let you in as all 70 people have gone through, but don’t rely on this.
- Go to the immigration office in 24, La Plaza de la Feria (See map) and at the desk ask to “renovar” your NIE.
- Wait until your number is called
- Fill in the form with the official, hand over your passports and leave a fingerprint.
- Go to the nearest bank and pay the tax that you will be instructed to pay
- Wait 30-45 days
- Go and collect your new NIE.
- Document accrediting the change on your NIE. In the case of marriage you will need your marriage certificate and a certificate from the British consulate stating that in the UK it is normal to change your name after marriage.
- Receipt from the bank stating you have paid the relevant tax. (get the form when you meet the officer for the first time, pay it at the nearest bank and return.
- Social security certificate.