moving to barcelona

TIE (non-EU residency card)

If you saw the red notice on the right of this screen, you already know that we are not taking currently any new clients. But to make up for it, we worked very hard to update the information below, so you can better understand how to get the TIE (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero).

Please note: this article is only relevant for citizens of non-EU countries. EU citizens, click here

ADDITIONALLY, please note that in this article we speak mostly for the cases of people who are here on a visa (not tourist) and it is not NOT relevant to the “Solicitud de autorización” process (needed to register non-EU family members for residency), but rather for the residency card itself. If you need assistance with the application for non-EU family members – contact us and we will refer you to a very professional immigration lawyer who can assist you with the process. If you need more general information on the residency application for EU family members check this article.

You have fallen in love with Barcelona and decided that you want to move here to come and live for 1 year on a non-lucrative visa, student visa, work permit, etc.

TIE (non-EU residency card)The first step of the process is obtaining the visa, the visa is key in order to be able to get the residency card here in Spain. Our feedback on this part of the process comes from our clients and as it seems the Spanish consulates in different countries/regions have varying requirements. Most of the information available online is either outdated or not relevant to the consulate where you will be applying for your visa. This is why our recommendation would be to avoid looking for information on the internet and instead making an appointment with the consulate closest to you. They can explain exactly what the requirements would be and can usually give you accurate, updated information.

What are the requirements?

It will depend on the type of visa. In most cases, one of the requirements would be to show that you have medical insurance that fully covers you for the duration of your stay, as well as sufficient funds to cover you during your stay. In case you would like to open a Spanish bank account and obtain good, affordable insurance even before you apply for the visa, we can gladly recommend a very professional team of banking consultants who speak English and can assist you with everything you need.

Jenny Chu, an American who moved to Barcelona wrote a great article about how to apply for the visa. You can find the article here

If you are a student, part of the requirements would be showing an acceptance letter.

What happens next? 

Once you have submitted all your paperwork to the consulate, there is usually a waiting period of around 2-3 weeks until your visa is approved. Some of our clients from the West Coast in the USA have reported getting their visas approved within a week. Others from the East Coast had to wait close to a month. With this in mind, our advice would be to plan carefully and hope for the best but plan for the worst, especially since requirements change on a frequent basis and you might need to provide supporting documents for your visa to eventually be approved. Also keep in mind that you will have to leave your passport and the Spanish consulate during this time. Therefore, unless you have other means of identification that you are sure will be acceptable for travel, try to stay as close to home as possible – especially since there is always the small possibility that you might need to provide extra paperwork and would need to be nearby and available to do so.

TIE (non-EU residency card)

TIE (non-EU residency card)

               TIE (non-EU residency card)

When you get your visa, the NIE (foreigner’s ID number) will already be printed on your visa. TIP: it is not always the case, so don’t panic if it is not there. In most cases, the clerks at the TIE appointment would find it on the system.

This number will typically start with the letter Y, followed by a series of 7 numbers and another letter. This number will be used to identify you in Spain and will remain yours for life – regardless of what your residency status changes to in the future.

Most of our clients have reported that they were either told by the consulate, or given a paper explanation that they simply need to go to a “police station” to request the residency card. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple at all!

Your visa is typically valid for 90 days, and you are expected to apply for the TIE (non-EU residency card) within the first 30 days. In our experience they are not too strict on the 30-day period, as long as you request the card before the 90 days are up. So effectively, the residency card replaces your visa as your proof of temporary legal residence in Spain.

So let’s say you are already here, with the visa on your passport. What is next?

The first step is to find a place to live and make sure (this note is mostly for room renting), that you will be able to get an empadronamiento at the place where you are staying. 

Get what? Em-pad-ro-na-mien-to (it is a tricky word and yet one of the first a foreigner on a visa needs to learn) – this is an address registration that is obtained at the city hall. A proof of address. To get it, you need a 6+ months rental contract or an authorization signed by the tenant/owner who you are renting from.

The next step is to get the TIE appointment. Currently the appointments are given around 1 month ahead of time and depending on the empadronamiento situation, you can actually start looking for one when you plan to be ready. Many of our clients wait until they figure out the empadronamiento, and only once it is done, they start looking for an appointment. But they don’t take into consideration that the appointments are often given 1 month ahead of time, so this might delay things. So, as soon as you have an idea when you might be ready, start planning ahead of time, and start looking for that appointment.

TIP: You can get appointment at any of the offices at the province of Barcelona.

What happens at the appointment? They check your paperwork and your fingerprints are taken. At the appointment you will receive a piece of paper confirming you have applied for the card, and within a month or so you can go and pick up the actual card.

What if you want to renew your visa? Make sure to start the renewal process around 60 days before the current card expires. The process will involve two steps:

  1. Renewing the visa , meaning submitting the paperwork to request the renewal. For example if you enrolled in another year of the program.
  2. Once you get the OK, from the first step, you can then repeat the card application process in order to get a new card.


If you need assistance of renewing your visa, contact us and we will put you in touch with a lawyer who can assist you with the process.



Currently, we are able to assist ONLY with the following services:

- Registering as freelancer, registering a company, English speaking accountant
- Private health insurance (suitable for the NIE)
- Opening a bank account (private or business)
- Vehicle lease
- Residency card for family member of EU citizen
- Pareja de hecho
- Visa renewal (student, non-lucrative, etc.)

We are currently not taking any new clients, but we will be more than happy to refer you to our trusted contacts, who can provide the services listed above. Please note that enquires not related to the above subjects – will not be replied to

Thank you for your attention