Just saw this and I know it’s a resolved issue but I have noticed that NIE and residencia have now practically merged as far as the Foreigners Office is concerned. If you are planning to live in Spain and want a NIE you actually apply just for residencia and you get both on the day. They are also a lot more relaxed about it – I did a NIE/residencia with just a passport the other day, no rental contracts anything like that.
The residency no longer is a legal requirement if you are from the EU (freedom of movement and all that!). However, the Spanish government still require you to have a number of identification which now comes on a piece of offical paper and is no use what so ever in daily life, when you have to show/know your NIE for ever piece of paper you ever sign.
I still have an indate one and its great for use when paying by card as photo ID is needed then! Otherwise, you need your passport and NIE paper to proof who you are!! Joy!
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