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TIE – Your Spain Residency Card in 2021

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TIE – Your Spain Residency Card

AS of January 2021, all non-Europeans wishing to live in Spain for more than three months and living here more 183 days a will have to apply for the new TIE Spain residency card, Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros. If  you are planning on living in Spain you must ensure that you have the correct paperwork in place to register your residence and obtain your TIE Spain residency card.

When do I have to apply for residence?

If you plan to stay in Spain for more than 90 days then you must register to obtain your Residence permit (Residencia in Spanish). This must be done three months after you have entered Spain. Some regional offices will request that you prove you have been in Spain during these three months before processing your application.

What documentation do I need to provide?

This depends on your status at the time of application:

Employed by a Spanish business: Copy of passport, copy of registered employment contract as well as certificate of employment to prove the contract is still valid, registration at local town hall.

Self-employed: Copy of passport, registration of your business, and certificate of registration in the social security system, registration at local town hall.

Not working: Copy of passport, documentation to prove that you have private or Spanish public medical care, documentation to prove that you have sufficient finances to reside in Spain. This is usually proven by providing a certificate issued by your bank to certify that you have minimum funds of 5000 euros (this amount can vary in each region), registration at local town hall. In some regions, if you own a property in Spain, you will not be requested to provide the bank certificate, in which case you would attach to your application a copy of the purchase deeds.

Student: Copy of passport, registration in the public or private education system, documentation to prove you have public or private medical care, a declaration of responsibility to certify that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your stay in Spain, registration at local town hall.

Children: Copy of passport, registration at local town hall, birth certificate translated in to Spanish with the Hague Apostille, copy of parent passport and residence already assigned.

What is the cost of the application?

There is a stamp duty of approx. €10 for each application. This is paid via the Form 790  must be attached to your application. You will receive a document that looks a bit like a European driving licence in size (plastic cards may be introduced soon).

Where do I apply for my Residence?

Depending on your location you will need to go to the Foreign Office or the local commission of Police.

What if I will not be staying in Spain for the 90 days but need to buy a car or property?

If you are not going to be spending long stays in Spain that exceed the 90 days then you will not have an obligation to apply for the Residence but you may have an obligation to apply for a Foreign Identification Number (NIE). Normally this is requested for purchasing a property, a vehicle, establishing a limited company etc. In this case you will need to provide a copy of your passport and a letter of to explain why you are applying for the NIE. This can be issued by the bank, a notary, lawyer, car dealer or a tax adviser.

What if I an not an EU Citizen?

As a non-EU citizen you will be required to apply for a Residence Visa should you wish to stay for more than 90 days in Spain, the different types but below are listed the most common:

Non Lucrative Residence Permit: If you are not working you will need to prove sufficient funds to live in the country and medical cover. The funds are much more than if you were an EU citizen and depend on the Region.

Business Residency Permits In Spain: You can set up a limited company and get the residency at the same time. If the project that you would like to start in Spain is of economic interest for the country (demonstrated through the business plan), you can easily have access to this permit as a self-employed worker.

Investor Residence Permit: This is known as the Golden Visa. You just need to invest €500,000 in Spanish real estate and you will easily get your residency.

Work Permit: Your future employer will have to process your application and you will not be able to work until this is issued. Applying for your Residence can be a challenge when having to deal with the local authorities, using a Registered Adviser can make it easier!

What are these documents?

An NIE (Foreigner Identification Number) and a TIE (Foreigner Identity Card) are closely related but serve different purposes.

A NIE number has to be requested by any foreign citizen who intends to pay taxes in Spain, for instance, when purchasing a property. This is the case even if they don’t require Spanish residency. Thus, having a NIE does not imply being able to remain in Spain. 

A TIE is an identity card that primarily serves as proof of permission to reside or remain in Spain for a specific period of time. Among other information about immigration status, it displays the holder’s NIE. The TIE is not indefinitely valid and requires renewal.

If you’ve made the decision to come and live permanently in Spain, you must legally make it your home. The Spanish government’s definition of ‘permanent’ is if you’re in the country for a total of 183 days per year. If you are, then you are classed as being a tax resident of Spain. There are three important items you will want to secure if you wish to live in Spain on a permanent basis:

• Residencia, or Spanish residency card

• Padrón

• SIP (health card)

The exact requirements for each of these will depend on the region in which you wish to live, as well as your own status. For example, depending on whether you are a pensioner, an early retiree or if you are working in Spain, there will be slightly different documents needed. However, the information below gives a general guide to what you will require at each step in the process.

The TIE Residency Card

A key component of how to get spanish residency is getting your Spanish residency card (or residencia). This is the document that officially registers you as living in Spain. It is issued at the appropriate Foreigner’s Office or police station depending on where you live. In many areas, you need to obtain your residencia before applying for your padrón, but this does vary. You can usually obtain your residencia on the same day that you apply, providing you have all the necessary paperwork. What this consists of varies from region to region, so always check beforehand. However, usually, this consists of:

• NIE, or your foreigner’s tax number

• Your S1 form if you are a pensioner or proof of Spanish health insurance if not

• Proof of fee payment for the residencia application (paid at any Spanish bank)

• The completed residency application form

• Passport

• Two passport size photos

• Proof of income

It is recomended to always bring the original and a copy of each document in the list above.

You must be able to demonstrate that your life in Spain is financially sustainable. You will be expected to show bank statements that cover the previous three months and that you have a monthly income of above €800 per person. If you have come to Spain to work then your employer should provide you with un certificado de vida laboral – which is proof that you have work here.

If you are under pensionable age, then you must have proof of Spanish health insurance if you are not going to work. The insurance must be fully comprehensive and you may also need to show proof of payment. However, there are local health schemes in many parts of Spain that might be an alternative. The convenio especial enables you to pay into the National Health System on a monthly basis. However, you need to have been resident here for a continuous year to be eligible. The convenio especial does not cover the cost of prescriptions, health transport services or health cover when in another EU country.

There has been some confusion recently about the length of time a residencia applies. If you are a member of an EU country then your residencia does not need to be renewed. If you are not, then renewal is every five years.

Padrón Municipal Registration

The padrón is the certificate that enables you to apply for a SIP (health card) and other local benefits within your town, such as enrolling your child in a local school, obtaining a bus pass, or using the local library. To obtain your three-monthly certificate you need to register, which you can do this at a town hall office. You will need to take with you:

• Proof of where you live e.g. a rental contract or title deed

• Passport

• Residencia, if your region requires that you apply for this first

• Your most recent water bill and electricity bill (now asked for by some town halls) 

Once you are registered, the certificate is valid for three months. After this period, you can return to the same office with your passport and previous padrón and they’ll issue a new one. You should renew your padrón at least every five years in order to ensure that your name is kept on the register. Town halls may contact people who have not had their certificate reissued for years and ask them to reaffirm their presence in the area. This is a quick process and helps them to confirm who exactly is living in the town.  

SIP Medical Health Insurance

With your residencia and padrón you are now able to apply for your SIP card. This is the health card which will entitle you to health treatment and discounted prescription charges as part of the national health service in Spain. In order to obtain this very important little card, you need to book an appointment at your local social security office. There you will need to show:

• Your NIE and Spanish residency card

• Passport

• S1 if you are a pensioner

• Padrón

• Application form TA1

Remember to bring the original and a copy just in case.

Once you present your documentation, they will then give you a registration number. With this, you can go to your local health clinic and obtain the SIP card itself. 

How to get Spanish residency: A simpler process than you might think

If you’re wondering how to apply for spanish residency, you needn’t be intimidated by the process – it’s simpler than you might think. Once you have your residencia, padrón and SIP, you will have acquired the basic documents you need to legally live as a resident in Spain.

Your NIE number will never change, even if you renew your TIE, and will always be linked to you, only you. It appears on the driver’s licenses or health insurance cards issued to you. It fulfils a role similar to that of a Spanish citizen’s national identity card (DNI). 

TIEs are not routinely issued to citizens of EU countries. They can instead obtain a certificate to prove their status as residents and their address; it is a green piece of paper. Unlike a TIE card, this is not a form of identification. For general identification purposes, EU citizens must use the documents from their own country, be it their national identity card or their passport. A significant advantage of a TIE card is that it serves as ID so you will not need to carry your passport around, even in public offices. 

I am British living in Spain. Do I now need a TIE?

Britain leaving the EU puts British residents in Spain – many of whom currently have the green residency card – in a unique position. As of 6th July 2020, a new residency card has been issued by the Spanish government. This grants British residents already living in Spain a new residential status. This is in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement published by the EU and UK in late 2018. All British people who achieve residency prior to the end of the transition period will automatically receive this residential status. Applicants for residency after the period may have different rights depending on a deal.

The new status puts Brits in a position somewhere between EU and non-EU residents. They do not need to make a formal application to receive this new status, instead they receive it automatically. However, they are entitled to make an application to receive a new TIE card that confirms their status. This is not essential but highly recommended, and will make various bureaucratic processes more efficient. These applications can be made at police stations. The expiration date of the TIE card received depends on how long you have resided in Spain and what residential status you currently have.

A Temporary and a Permanent TIE Residence Card

There are two versions of the TIE:

• a “temporary” TIE valid for five years – issued to individuals who have been resident in Spain for 5 years or less.

• a “permanent” TIE valid for 10 years – issued to those who have been resident in Spain for more than five years.

Furthermore, if you have been resident for, say, four years and you switch to the temporary five-year TIE after only one year – and even though the five-year TIE remains valid and has not expired – you will be able to exchange that for the permanent 10-year TIE.

Are there any advantages to changing to the new TIE?

Not really, but it does give you peace of mind knowing that’s it for five or 10 years. It’s plastic and it’s credit-card sized. Therefore it’s more practical and less likely to become dog eared and illegible. Additionally, because it contains your photo, it will act as a form of ID … meaning there is less requirement for you to carry your passport around with you.

How To Apply For The TIE Residencia Card

First you need to make an appointment online here by following these instructions:

• Choose your province and accept.

•You will now be faced with a choice from a drop down menu. You will need to choose:


This will take you direct to the information site where you will need to download the application form“EX-23” and also form 790

• On form 790 choose option “Certificado de registro de residente comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la Unión” the bottom of the form INGRESSO will self complete and should show the fee you’ll need to pay about 12 euros.

• Print and take the form to your local bank. Most, if not all, banks offer this service but don’t forget the receipt! You will need it for the appointment.

• Once you have downloaded these forms, accept and enter the next screen where you will fill in your NIE number and name. Accept and click on SOLICITAR CITA. You may now get a choice of office depending on the area, and you’ll need to choose and accept.

• On the next screen enter your email and Spanish telephone number, accept, then make your choice from days and times displayed on the screen (mine was a next-day appointment). A code number will be sent to your email. Print it off and take it with you to your appointment.

On the day, you will need to take;

• Application form EX-23 completed

• Your original passport and a photo copy

• Payment fee receipt

• One photo, Spanish passport size 32x26mm

• Updated patron certificate, in case your address has changed from the address on your residency document. The padron document should be no less than three-months old, so play it safe and get a new one. Also take a copy in case it’s required.

• Original green certificate or card of your residency (and a copy).

Keep in mind that although British citizens have until 30th June 2021 to apply for residency, they need to prove that they have been resident in Spain before 31 December 2020 (even if for only a month or so) so don’t completely despair if you have been delayed getting out to Spain by the latest coronavirus restrictions. 

All British citizens and their family members who arrive in Spain after 1 January 2021 and who cannot prove prior residency in Spain, will have to apply for residency as a non-EU citizen. Negotiations between the UK and EU as to residency requirements from 1 January 2021 onwards are still ongoing. 

For those British citizens already settled in Spain – with a residency card less than five years old – they must can apply for the new residency card personally by appointment only at any designated police station that deals with residency applications in the province where they live. The residency card that will be issued will have a duration of five years and after this period, it should be renewed.

Been settled in Spain for over five years (but without a permanent residency card)?  You can do the same, and once the duration of your residency has been verified, the new “PERMANENT” residency card will be valid for a period of 10 years. If you already have the PERMANENT card, the same process will be required, but you will receive your new 10-year TIE within a month. Collection by appointment, as above.

If you are starting the residency process from scratch, bear in mind you will need proof of permanent address, registration on the census known as the padron, electric and water bills in your name(s) and also local bank accounts with living expenses going in.  

You will need to prove your financial self-sufficiency by showing a certain amount of money: this varies from town to town, but is generally between €6,000 and €9,000. Check local requirements with a company specializing in residency. You will also need a NIE tax number and healthcare cover, if under retirement age.

About the author: LGC
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