Residencia / NIE

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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).

What is an NIE?
How to apply for an NIE
How to renew an NIE
How to change an NIE (after getting married for example)

What is an NIE

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.

DNI application form  and additional info from official police website

Renewing your NIE

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.

  1. Go to the immigration office in 24, La Plaza de la Feria (See map) and at the desk ask to “renovar” your NIE.
  2. Wait until your number is called
  3. Fill in the form with the official, hand over your passports and leave a fingerprint.
  4. Go to the nearest bank and pay the tax that you will be instructed to pay
  5. Wait 30-45 days
  6. Go and collect your new NIE.

How to change an NIE

  1. Passport
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Social security certificate.

View Larger Map


  1. Lore -  April 13, 2012 - 4:27 am

    Just though I’d clarify and update some of the info for anyone looking to move here now.

    In Las Palmas to get your NIE you have to go to the Oficina de Extranjeros which you will find in Plaza de la Feria, 24. It is open Mon – Fri 9am till 2pm. There is no need to queue at ridiculous times in the morning, just turn up during the opening hours and say you are there to get your NIE. They will then give you a number (your turn) and the necessary application form which you can complete whilst waiting for your number to be called.

    Once called you will be given a form to take to the bank to pay an admin fee, so you take that to the bank, pay and return with the form signed/stamped by the bank saying you’ve paid, along with your passport + photocopy and of course the completed application form. That’s it – they print your certificate there and then. Also, they’ve now changed the format from an A4 sized certificate to a credit-card sized one which is much more convenient.

    And yes, with this (which is your NIE number and Residence Certificate also) you can get discount on flights and ferries to and from the Canary Islands.

    Hope this info is useful!!

  2. ciry -  May 5, 2012 - 3:41 am

    Many thanks in advance!

  3. ciry -  May 5, 2012 - 3:40 am

    I have been told that I need to set up a “cita previa” ( appointment) in order to request a NIE duplicate (I misplaced it) in Las Palmas. Is that correct? Or do I need to go straight to the Comisaria de Policia. I am flying from Austria and I am planning on staying only for 5 days in GC to get this NIE. Any help is greatly appreciate it!!

    Also, do you know if all this can be done in one visit? Or I’d be ask to come back in 2 weeks ???

  4. Gran Canaria Guru Team -  May 10, 2012 - 12:21 am

    Hi, you do not need a cita previa but you will need a police report stating you have lost the old one otherwise they won’t give you a new one.

  5. alisa -  May 15, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    very usefull information..but how do u get discounts on flights and ferries?is there spacific company u book flights and ferries with?



  6. Lore -  June 22, 2012 - 2:04 am

    The discount is valid with any company if you are travelling to or from the Canary Islands and within Spain, so Ryanair, bintercanarias, armas etc. When you make your booking to or from the canary islands an option will come up asking if you have any discount entitlement so you select Resident’s Discount. Then you just need to present your NIE when you collect your tickets and/or travel.

    Hope that explains it!

  7. Fuerte84 -  August 8, 2012 - 8:33 pm

    Hi I live I fuerteventura and received my resistencia October last year, I have a copy of my green certificate only. I have been out the country traveling and will return later this month, can I use my green certificate for my Ryanair flight?

  8. Steveng -  November 3, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    Since September 2012, the Spanish government has re-introduced the need for another form of flight discount qualification.

    When booking a flight to the mainland via online / Travel agents, you used to tick the ‘resident’ box, instantly getting the discount for the flight and arrive at the airport with your passport and your green residency A4 page and board the flight … NOW… you also need a ‘Certificado’ that states that you are not only a resident, but you are also entitled to services given to the locals. This was re-introduced to stop those ‘residents’ who pop over for 3 months, enjoy the cheaper medical / pharmacy facilities and then pay taxes, collect pensions etc. in their homeland.

    In Gran Canaria, you need to take your green A4 page, along with you Passport to the Town Hall offices in San Fernando (next to the football stadium) and pay 3 Euros – if you are paying taxes etc. you will be on their computer and a certificado will be provided. WITHOUT THIS no flight – you arrive at the airport, and they inform you that you are missing the certificado and you must book a brand new ticket … you cannot even pay the discount back on the ticket in your hand … This is causing locals problems also who do not know of the change … BE WARNED

  9. russdcas -  December 2, 2012 - 5:25 pm

    I am a non-EU/Schengen resident. I currently spend almost 1/2 my time in Gran Canaria. I currently have a NIE and Empadronamiento because I own property here. Do you know if it possible for me to obtain the certificado that is necessary to receive discounts on flights and ferrys?

  10. Glenn Jeal -  April 8, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    Ive just moved to gran caneria and hopeing to stay for anything from 1-3 years. The most frustrating thing for me being new here. Being on my own here is that I’m told I need to go with a fluent Spanish speaker to get my NIE as the police won’t speak to anyone unless they speak Spanish. It’s frustrating but don’t misunderstand me or get me wrong I do understand why that happens but try getting someone to help. Also I’ve been told I need NIE to rent a apartment is this true? Many thanks

  11. colin -  December 3, 2014 - 10:20 pm

    Most NIE can be downloaded as a PDF,filled in and printed off before attending the Comisario. The problem is that you are never sure which form to fill in. I need to change address. do I fill in Form EX15 or EX18.It would help if someone could put togethrer a comprehensive guid to form filling

  12. Sandberg -  October 4, 2008 - 5:09 am

    Not all the National Police Stations require an early morning queue. If for example, you can go to the one in Playa Ingles/San Fernando on the main highway (01 bus route) you may be pleasantly surprised, as I was, that there was really no line up and things went smoothly at registration/application time and again at the time I went back to pick up my signed document which included my NIS number. Now what I have learned on this website is that it must be renewed every 5 years. That I did not know. I own property here on Gran Canaria and my NIE number is essential for paying the non-resident taxes due on my property every year, which are separate from the regular property taxes automatically withdrawn from my account (which also required my NIE number for setup).

  13. ajamesdeakin -  October 28, 2008 - 3:20 am

    I am visiting Gran Canaria 17th – 22nd Dec and want to apply for my NIE number when I am over.
    I have looked at the application form and it wants an address on Gran Canaria. Would they issue one if I left this blank or would I be able to put the address where I am staying?
    Thanks for your help.

  14. RichardClarke -  October 29, 2008 - 12:55 am

    Hi, I personally have no idea, your best bet would be to call the British consulate in Las Palmas. Their details are here . Please let us know what they say.

  15. mary -  March 31, 2009 - 9:28 pm

    As a UK person, when your NIE runs out, you do not get a replacement. You get a green from with your NIE number on it. It cannot be used as ID and you have to carry your passport around at all times for ID – other foreigners have to carry their country’s ID.
    But you do have a NIE, which you need for opening a bank account, buying a house/car etc.

    The San Fernando police station has a separate area for NIE. Get there for 9am and you will have been seen, handed in your papers, sent off to pay something at the bank, returned, picked up your green form and having a coffee but 10.30 – well we did and we had three of us to do.

  16. lotte02 -  July 21, 2009 - 5:49 pm

    Hiya, is the form above for DNI the same application form for your NIE??
    Sorry rather confused, i am moving over in 2months and thought it would be easier if i could fill out the form then drop it into the police station with the other relevant items.

    Any advice greatly appreciated!!


    Charlie x

  17. RichardClarke -  July 21, 2009 - 7:54 pm

    Hi, DNI is for Spanish people and NIE is for foreigners, however just to confuse you NIE is often wrongly referred to as a DNI. But you will need to fill in an application for an NIE. Instructions on how to apply for it are above.

  18. StefanH -  January 16, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    Hi everyone,

    just want to let you know that I got my NIE in Las Palmas within 1h! I didn’t have to cue a second and went straight into the office, the people were really friendly and after giving them my form (which is really easy to fill out) I only had to pay a really small fee (think it was 18 Euros) and then they just printed my NIE.

    I believe the lengthy process everyone refers to was only required when Spain still had these little plastic residency cards.

    Have a good day


  19. laving -  August 9, 2011 - 8:52 pm

    any news about that?
    I’m planning to move over to Gran Canaria in October and if I need NIE for renting apartment but address for NIE – should i put the hotel address I stay or leave it blank?

  20. mary -  August 9, 2011 - 10:31 pm

    For renting an apartment, your passport number should be fine. Once you have a contract from your landlord, you can use that address to get your NIE.

  21. seabay -  August 10, 2011 - 2:20 am

    I have never heard about discounts on flights and ferries with an NIE .Are you sure ???? I have heard of these if you get yourself registered as RESIDENT at the local Police Station . Costs about 15 Euro . The fact you do does not deprive you of non redient status for tax as long as you keep within 182 days per year 1/1 -31/12 Getting a residence permit provides you with access to a GP and to vote in the General Election and local elections as well.

  22. Gran Canaria Guru Team -  August 11, 2011 - 12:43 am

    NIE is your number. Residencia is your resident’s certificate. With your number and residencia you can get discounts. 30% off any flight to / from the Canary Islands within Spain and 30-50% off ferries to / from the Canary Islands within Spain. If you have a NIE and you live here you should have a residencia which you need to renew every 5 years.

  23. Jolly Mac -  October 15, 2011 - 11:13 am

    The purchase of properties for sale in Spain will also require an NIE number. NIE number or identification of aliens can be obtained from a national police station.
    @ Rainwater Purification

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