Adjusting to Change: A Residency and NIE Document Rundown


This article is written in conjunction with the IE Law Society.

By Klaudia Kupidura

Legalising your stay in a foreign country may seem overwhelming and confusing. All first-year students can relate to the feeling of anxiously searching for the most convenient time slot at the Foreigners’ Office or enduring the tiring process of collecting the necessary documentation. In our daily lives, we are confronted with many situations that carry legal consequences. When moving to a different country, we must legalise our stay by submitting relevant documents to various institutions.

Undoubtedly, these situations pose challenges for students who just moved away from their home countries. However, one effective way to smooth the process of adjusting to a new environment is the preparation of the necessary documentation well in advance. This includes the bank statement, medical insurance, residence contract and application form. For the full list of documents, you can look here

In accordance with the Spanish law (Article 30 of the Organic Law 8/2000) ‘a stay is defined as being in Spanish territory for a period of not more than ninety days’, after said period, it is necessary to apply for the residency permit. Students who are staying in Spain for more than 90 days, must apply for the Foreign Identity Number. 

Necessary Documents and Translations 

International students must be aware of the type of documents that have to be translated into Spanish, and one of these is the bank statement. If you are unwilling to set up an account in Spain, you will need to provide a sworn translation of the bank statement from your country of origin. The list of translators can be found on the official page of the Ministry for the Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.

Medical insurance is yet another required document that will become necessary to get the NIE card (as well as to set up a bank account). If you already have the European Insurance Card, you won’t have to worry about this stage of the process as the card is recognised in Spain. It needs to be scanned and submitted with other documents such as the bank statement and the passport. Filling out the NIE application form or paying the NIE tax can be done at a later stage upon arrival in Spain. An applicant is obliged to bring the printed application form to the bank and pay the NIE tax there. 

Residence Law and Documentation 

Finding the most convenient place to stay in, be it an apartment or a residence, is challenging given that there are a lot of changes happening in the life of a recent high-school graduate. When signing a rental contract, it is necessary to carefully read its provisions to make a well-informed decision about the place you want to live in for the next year or two. If the rented apartment doesn’t meet your expectations, you have the right to terminate the contract by giving the landlord 30 days’ notice, starting six months after signing it. The guidance on that can be found on the Idealista website which provides information on the available accommodation and outlines your rights and obligations as a tenant. 

NIE card applicants need to submit the enrollment and the residence contracts both in English and Spanish to the Foreigners’ Office. These documents will be provided to you by the university and your residency or landlord. To access them, it is necessary to contact IE Student Services (for your enrollment) and your respective residence or landlord (for your proof of residence). Students who rent apartments independently will have to submit a rental contract which needs to be in Spanish. The last step is to book an appointment at the Foreigners Office (Oficina de Extranjería). Once all the necessary documents are collected, they need to be delivered personally to the office. It is important to book the slot in advance given the long waiting list of prospective applicants.

Knowing all this, it will become much easier to prepare for the process of legalising your stay in Spain. While adjusting to changes can be difficult, in the end, it becomes a rewarding and formative experience; if you can endure the NIE process, you will be able to handle anything.

Given that the process of acquiring the NIE card is complex, please contact Student Services by email ( for specific questions and instances.

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IEU Law Society
IEU Law Society
The IEU Law Society brings the legal world closer to our university's student body.

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