how to obtain your N.I.E. in Madrid
If you want to be able to work in Spain (as a foreigner) you need to have a couple of things: A N.I.E (Número de Identidad de Extranjero), a social security number and a bankaccount. As there are a milion stories about how to get your N.I.E. I will give you my story.
About getting your N.I.E. a lot of ghost stories are doing the rounds. They are all about long lines, needing to queue up early in the morning before the police office, and the endless bureaucracy. My advice: Don't believe these stories, as most of them are based on the old system, and are simply not true. You will also hear stories about people who were told to go one place, and ended up in an other place. These stories are true, but also a result of their own stupidity.
When I arrived in Spain, the first thing to do is to try to get a job. As my arrival was planned at the height of our self inflicted crisis. It was not the easiest thing, but I found one at IBM. Then the paperwork needed to be fixed.
You first need to phone to make an appointment by telephone (902565701) between 9.00 and 14.00. You will be told that you have an appointment a couple of months later (3 to 5 months is normal). But it is likely that they call you before this date, to ask you if you can come in earlier. In my case I got a date almost five months in advance, but was called within a month. This has to do with administation bureaus that make appointments for people that need a N.I.E. fast, and are willing to pay big money for that. But as a result also cancel a lot of meetings.
When you have made the appointment you can make a print at the website called: cita previa. This print is something you need if you want to go ahead with the bureaucracy. With the print-out you need go to a Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social, there are several over the whole of Madrid. Just go to the one closest to your home. In my case it was just around the corner. Here you have to fill in some forms, and wait for your turn. This sometimes can take long, and sometimes not. You just need to be a bit lucky. At the Tesoria you will get your social security number, which needs to be on the contract with your employer, and it's a paper you need for you medical card as well. (if you are working in Spain, you are insured!)
With your contract and the print out for your meeting to obtain your N.I.E. you have to go to a bank. As your employer needs to pay your salary on a Spanish account, you need to open a bank account. There seem to be a million of banks in Madrid, so ask around and take you pick. I decided to go for Banco Santander. If you go to travel around a lot, take bank that has offices all over the country, and don't get stuck with a local of regional bank. If you go to a bank before you have signed the contact, it is good to take with you a print of an email stating that the employer has the intention to offer you a job, once you provided a bank account. (it's a bit bureacratic, but sometimes you need it.)
Now you can wait a while before you receive your text message, to ring the Police to change your date for the appointment of your N.I.E., be aware that you need to answer them within 24 hours of receiving your message. When your date is set, don't wait until this day, and show up at the chosen time. This is what a lot of people do, and from them you will hear stories that it takes a long time to obtain you N.I.E. Why? because they forgot some things.
A day, or maybe 2 or 3 days before your meeting, go to the policestation at the Plaza del Campillo Mundo Nuevo 3, which is near the Puerta de Toledo. Ask for two papers a EX-16 or EX-14 (that depends a bit on where you are from), and a so called 790 form. In 2 minutes you are outside again.
You can fill in the EX14 or EX16 at home, and you do the same with the 790. With the 790, you need to go a bank (any bank). Give them the form, and pay 10 euros (in cash). This is the standard fee for a N.I.E., but it needs to be transfered by bank, you can't pay it to the civil servant at you appointment. He or she will turn you away and tells you to fill in your papers, go to a bank, and come back later. When there is no more room for you in the shedule, they will tell you to go to another place. As most banks in Madrid are closed after lunch you will also have a hard time in finding a bank that is open. So save yourself some time, and go to a bank a day before, or if you have your appointment in the evening, during your lunchbreak. At the bank you will get a receipt that you paid the 10 euros.
With the filled in form, the receipt of the payment, and a copy of your passport (of course you need to present the original as well.) you can go to your appointment, were you will be issued your N.I.E. Also take along with you a new printout for the appointment, as the times will have changed from your original printout. I don't think they check it, as mine said 31-12-1969 because of a system failure. But in case they do it's better to have it with you. You will get a number, just wait until it is called (in my case it was 5 minutes), go to the desk of the civil servant, who will do his or her magic, puts a lot of stamps on a lot of papers, and a mere 5 minutes later you are outside again, with a green A-4 piece of paper, which is your N.I.E.
This piece of paper used to be a card as big as a credit card, which is what still most people have in mind when you are talking about a N.I.E. As you have to show it sometimes in stores, along with your bankcard/creditcard when you don't want to pay in cash, it can lead to some argueing. If you want to avoid that show your passport, and in most cases a drivers license or something else that looks official enough will work. For some reason pushing in you P.I.N. is not something that is used a lot.
some extra remarks:
Citizens of the European Union, can work in Spain, without the N.I.E. but the taxrate than is 25%, which is higher than the normal rate (between 10-15%, Spain uses a sliding scale, the more you earn, the higher the percentage). Most companies want to have a proof that you have applied for the N.I.E. and will change the taxrate they withdraw from your salary at the day you receive your N.I.E.
For workers from outside the EU, it is also necesary to obtain a visum. For people with relatives in Spain there is another procedure.
When you have opened a bank account, based on your passport number, you need to go to bank with your N.I.E. form, to have it changed to your N.I.E. number.