Spanish Residency (now TIE) rules


Posted and filed under General Articles of Interest, Legal Paperwork (NIE, Residencia, Padron), Medical Care in Spain, Spanish Residency.

Spanish Residency rules

What is a Spanish Residency or TIE?

The Residencia now TIE is a joint Residency/NIE card. The rules for Spanish residency were introduced in July 2012. It states that within 90 days of arriving in the country and with the intent of taking up permanent residence persons must register at the local Oficina de Extranjeros (literally meaning Office for Foreigners) for a Residencia (now TIE).

What is a NIE number?

The NIE number in Spain is the personal and unique tax identification number. That is used to track all financial and legal activities in Spain.

The Spanish NIE number acts as a tax and identification number, and is used in all fiscal transactions that involve the Spanish tax office. You do not need to be Resident for this.

A NIE number is mandatory for:

  • All foreigners with financial
  • Professional or social affairs in Spain, regardless of whether they are a resident or non-resident in Spain.
  • Children also need a NIE number in order to, among other things, get social security.
  • If you are buying a property in Spain
  • Setting up a bank account
  • Buying a car and for many other transactions.

What does a Fiscal Resident Means?

A fiscal resident means you file income tax returns in Spain.

Health cover in Spain (SIP card)

To obtain free health cover (a SIP card) you need a Residencia now TIE. However to obtain a Residencia nnow TIE, you need to demonstrate you have health cover in Spain!

The solution is that people are having to take out a year’s private health insurance policy to show they have health cover until they get their SIP card and then cancel the health insurance.

How to get the Spanish Residency/TIE?

When you go to get your Residencia, you now have to jump through a lot more hoops and apart from having the correct application form, passport and paying a fee you now must also be able to prove both your financial ability to support yourself and any dependants and your healthcare arrangements.

Regarding the financial ability, for those with pensions, whether government or private, it is easier. Persons without guaranteed pension income will need to show proof of funds, or a job contract or other suitable financial data.

How to become Spanish Fiscal Resident?

You will need your Residencia to get a fiscal residency certificate and be registered as Self-Employed with the tax authorities. Of course, when you are self-employed, and you pay social security, you get free healthcare.

In time we believe things will settle down and become easier. In the meantime, please do contact us if we can be of any help.


  • Dave wilson

    After brexit will i be able to stay in spain for 6 weeks then back to uk for 6 weeks and then return to spain for 6 weeks and carry on like that all year.

    • Ian C.

      Hello Dave,

      One of the most common questions we are asked is just this- Yes we don’t see any restrictions on spending this amount of time in Spain. Be careful, if you stay longer than 183 days, you’ll be expected to declare your tax here.
      Good luck and enjoy Spain, ian

  • Margaret Tyrell

    I live in South Africa and want to move to Spain in the foreseeable future. I am a British citizen and also a South African citizen.
    My son and his wife reside in Barcelona and are settled there. I do know from the Spanish Embassy here that I will require a visa. I want to know what more am I required to do? I am retired and I receive a widow’s pension from Italy, my Late husband was from Italy.
    I would appreciate any guidance you can provide.

  • Paul Barrington

    I have a property in Tenerife and am wanting to live permanently there now I am divorced.
    I do have an NIE number and will be depositing a considerable amount of money in my bank there. Can I apply to become a resident, on the Island and how long does it take?

  • Frank Smith

    I established Spanish residency via a TIE prior to Brexit, but have had trouble finding work here. Instead, I’ve found Summer employment outside the EU which pays more, anyway. I heard you can’t spend more than 180 days out of the country over a 12-month rolling period or risk losing Spanish residency. I also heard you can’t spend a cumulative 12 months out of the country for the first five years or the same applies. Is any of this true under the Brexit agreement?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Thank you for your enquiry Frank,

      In order to know the maximum time you can be out of the country with a temporary residence (under 5 years), as per the Article 162.2 of Royal Decree 557/2011, you must take into account two different conditions;

      Firstly, you must not be outside Spain for more than 6 months within a period of one year.
      In the case of sporadic departures (in your first year in the country 1 month, in the second 3 months, etc.); the sum of these periods outside Spanish territory during the last 5 years may not exceed 1 year.

      We hope this helps.
      Kind regards

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