EU and EEA citizens, plus Swiss nationals, can come to Gran Canaria for as long as they want without needing to register with the local authorities.
However, if you plan to establish for a long undefined period in Gran Canaria, the first thing you should do is to get your NIE. Getting an NIE number makes daily life and lots of admin procedures smoother.
Many banks, utility companies, government offices and businesses ask for the NIE, and you also need it if you set up a company in Gran Canaria.
Once you get your NIE number you can apply for Residency and register in the Spanish Social Security.
The NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) is a tax ID number used by the Spanish state to keep track of your economic activity.
Once you get a Spanish NIE number it never changes.
The actual number also doubles up as your ID number if you decide to become a Gran Canaria resident. However, you can get an NIE number without applying for residence.
Your NIE number comes on a certificate that currently doesn’t have an expiry date. It is either an A4-sized piece of white paper or a small credit card-sized piece of green paper (see and example here).
Spanish law states that you are eligible for an NIE number if you are employed in Spain, are buying a property here, or have a minimum income level that allows you to live here and not be a burden on the Spanish state and its social security system.
The minimum income is defined by Spanish law (see the text here) but the police are also obliged by the law to take your circumstances into account; you need to have enough income to pay your rent, bills and living expenses before the police will register you and give you a certificate.
To get an NIE number you also need proof of address. A rental contract, even a temporary one from your holiday let landlord, is enough. If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, your booking receipt is often enough but it’s best to get it printed out on A4 paper with the address and tax number of your host.
Local work contract
If you want to get the NIE so to work for a local employer you have to request your employer a pre-contract with a minimum of 20 hours per week on it.
Getting NIE as Self Employed
If you cannot provide a work contract because you want to register as a freelance/self employed (autónomo in Spanish) the police station that issue the NIE will ask you to provide a memorandum, a sort of short business plan, where you state your intention to register as Autonomo and explain the purpose of your business. This document must be in Spanish.
Proving you are financially self-sustained
If you don’t fall into the previous cases, let’s say because your employer is in another country or you have a business registered in another country or simply you don’t work, you will have to prove that you have enough income, as a guideline you need a regular income of at least 600 per month (per person for families), or have a minimum of 6000€ in your bank account.
Posted Worker Certificate
If you work for a company in your home country or own your own company, you can apply for Posted Worker status before you come to Gran Canaria.
As a posted worker living in Gran Canaria, your health care is covered by your home country’s system for up to two years and you can even file your taxes at home for up to six months.
Buying a property
Another option to get an NIE which do not require you to have a job or to prove you are financially independent is to buy a property. The property has to have a minimum value of 500.000€.
Do all the process from your country
Before going into the NIE process here in Gran Canaria, mind that you can also apply for an NIE number before coming to Gran Canaria via your nearest Spanish consulate. The exact procedure varies from country to country.
Paperwork to get a NIE
Go to the National Police Central District Police Station with the following documents (and we suggest to always have a printed copy of each one):
- Your passport
- A rental contract at your name.
- One of the following:
- Your work pre-contract.
- A memorandum in case you want to register as autónomo or open a company.
- Bank statement proving you are financially independent as stated above.
They will give you the form EX-15 for you to fill it up.
The police will then give you the form 790. Fill it up.
This form is completed only after you pay a tax that you can pay in the nearest ATM or bank.
Once you have completed this process you can go back to the police station and they may ask you to come back after a couple of days.
After that period your NIE is ready and you just need to go back to the police office and collect it.