How to Get Through the Initial Paperwork in Spain

When you first arrive to Spain, whether it’s for work or studies, there are certain things you need to take care of that are not that pleasant to deal with. Just like in every other country, there are several steps that need to be followed in order to be properly registered into the system, and that implies some paperwork in Spain. These are not always that obvious, so let’s take a look at some steps you need to be aware of.


First, let’s address the question that hunts so many: how much does public transportation cost in this country? Public transportation in Madrid, if you are under 26 costs 20€, and therefore I suggest you try to get your monthly card soon, so you don’t spend more money than necessary.  If you are over 26, take a look at the different prices in accordance with your age.

The card is relatively easy to obtain. You can either do it electronically or make an appointment at one of the offices. If you order it online, you need to make sure you have a passport photo, as well as a copy of your ID/Passport. They will send you the card by postal mail. In case you make an appointment, you do not need to bring a photo of yourself: they take it on the spot and give you the card right away.

Metro Madrid



This card allows you to move around Madrid freely, and use any of the three means of public transportation available within the city: The metro, the train (only within Madrid’s boundaries) and the bus. If you want to have access to schedules and maps of all three, download the app “Madrid MBC” (Apple or Android). You can find all the relevant information there.



Just like in every other country, in order to enjoy the services of a given city/state, the government needs to know that you are living there. For that, there are a couple of steps that you need to follow to be properly registered.


EU citizens

If you are an EU citizen and are planning to stay in Spain for more than 3 months, you need to get a NIE number (Numero de Identificación de Extranjero). Nevertheless, even if you plan to stay for less than 90 days, you will need the NIE in order to do economic transactions (opening a bank account, etc). This is an identification number that aims at recognizing that you are living within Spanish borders.

The steps to acquire the NIE are the following:

  • Fill in the following form
  • Pay the fee. For this particular process the price is 10,71€. You can fill in the following form and pay at your nearest bank. Make sure you keep your receipt.
  • Make sure to bring the following:

               – Form in point 1

               – Passport or ID (the original and a copy)

               – Payment receipt

               – European health card or health insurance

               – Acceptance letter from your university, employment offer, etc.

Once you make the appointment, the system will tell you which office to go to. Try not to be late, but expect long queues. This things always take about an hour or two. My suggestion is that you make copies of all of the papers, because they normally want to keep a spare just in case.

NON EU citizens

For non EU citizens, the ID name changes from NIE to TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). It’s basically the same, apart from some differences in the actual card. Besides the TIE, you need to get a student visa (if you are a student) before you arrive. Remember that you need to obtain the TIE within the first 30 days of your arrival.

The requirements are quite similar to the ones for NIE:

  • Fill in the following form
  • Make an appointment online and keep the confirmation of the appointment.
  • Pay the fee. For this particular process the price is 15,60€. You can fill in the following form and pay at your nearest bank. Make sure you keep your receipt.
  • Make sure to bring the following:

– Form in point 1 and confirmation of the appointment

              – Passport (the original and a copy)

              – 2 recent passport photos

              – Payment receipt

– Certificate of residence (see “empradronamiento” below)

              – Acceptance letter from your university, employment offer, etc.



This document basically reflects that you are living in Spain for more that 3 months and registers where you live. It’s one of the most important steps to complete your paperwork in Spain. You can find a list of all the locations where you can carry out this action here.

This process is easier than the ones above. Bring along the following things to one of the office spots:

  1. Passport of Residency card
  2. Your rental contract
  3. Paper that justifies you have paid your last rent (or have put a deposit on it).


We know that these processes are not your best plan, but we hope that this article has helped you to have a clearer idea of the steps you need to take in order to “get legal” in Spain. Grab your documents and your patience, and get it done as soon as you can to avoid any problems and benefit from different services that Spain has to offer.


Lucía Pérez
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