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Complete guide to obtaining a Foreigner Identity Card when arriving in Spain

What Is a Foreigner Identity Card?

A Spanish Foreigner Identity Card is a document that proves the legal status of a foreigner in Spain. It is issued to foreigners that have been authorized to stay in Spain for a period longer than six months.

In Spanish, the card is known as tarjeta de identidad de extranjero (TIE). It contains your information, name and surname, the period of validity, and a unique number, known as the Foreigner Identity Number.

Foreigner Identity Number (NIE)

The Foreigner Identity Number is a personal unique number, given to every foreigner who intends to stay in Spain longer than six months. The number will appear on all documents of the foreigner, processed and issued in Spain, including the Foreigner Identity Card.

The NIE consists of seven numbers and two letters. One can apply for this number from their country of residence, by submitting an application at the Spanish Consulate, or at the same time as when applying for a Foreigner Identity Card in Spain.

Who Needs to Apply for a Foreigner Identity Card?

Every foreigner with a visa valid for a period longer than six months must apply for a Foreigner Identity Card once in Spain.

Nationals of countries that do not need a visa to Spain for long-term stay, which are citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland dot need to apply for this card.

How to Apply for a Foreigner Identity Card in Spain

Applying for a Foreigner Identity Card is not a hard thing to do. Not after you have completed all the visa procedures. Our first advice to you is: take all the documents that you needed to apply for a visa, with you in Spain. If you do not have those documents in original, take their copies.

Below, find everything you need know about the application process for a Foreigner’s Identity Card.

Find out when to apply

Once you arrive in Spain with a visa, you have one month to apply for a Foreigner Identity Card. You are highly advised to do it as soon as you are here. The appointment period, and the processing of your application may take time, so you will most probably not be able to get the card within this month.

Yet, after you make the appointment, you will receive a confirmation. If asked about your Identity Card anywhere, you can just show them the confirmation, and that you are waiting for the appointment or processing of your visa.

Note that if you are planning to engage in paid activity, the first thing you need to do is register at the social security system within a month of arrival in Spain. After the registration, you have another one month to apply for the Identity Card.

Check where to apply

You should submit your application for a Foreigner Identity Card at the relevant authorities of the province where you have settled in Spain. This could be:

  • the Immigration Office
  • a Police Station

Documents Required to Apply for a TIE

To apply for a Foreigner Identity Card you need to collect the following documents:

  • Form EX15. If you have not gotten your Identity number at the Spanish consulate in your home country, you should apply for it at the time applying for the card. Submit this form alongside with the other documents for an Identity Card. Make sure you dully complete the form and print it twice.
  • Form EX-17. This is the application form for a Spanish Foreigner Identity Card. Complete this form with the required information. Print it twice and do not forget to sign it.
  • A recent color photograph.
  • Registration of Social Security, if applicable.
  • Proof of payment of the card fee.

Appointment for a TIE Application

You will need to schedule an application for a TIE card online, at the relevant website of the Spanish authorities.  It may take a few days to a few weeks to make an appointment for a TIE, depending on the number of applications that the Spanish authorities are receiving.

On the day of your appointment, you should show up at the police station/immigration office on time.  Make sure you have all the documents with you. After you submit them, you will receive a document that confirms you have applied.

It takes about a month to get the card after the day of application.

Pay the application Fee

You will also need to pay a modest fee of around 9 to 12 euros for the application.

Foreigners Identity Card Validity

A Spanish Foreigner Identity Card has the same validity as the residence permit of the foreigner.

In case of lost, damaged or stolen card

In case you have lost or damaged your card, or if it has been stolen you should apply for another one. You have one month from the day the card is lost/damaged/stolen, to apply for a new one.

The process goes just the same as when applying for the first time. Note that this does not mean your card is renewed. The card will be valid until the date that the previous card also indicated.

Also read: Health Insurance system in Spain

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