I’ve got an NIE from when I started work in Spain when I first arrived there. I never registered as an official resident though…lived in such a backwater that most officials thought that because I lived there I was ‘resident’ as that’s what I thought that thing was with Europe, freedom to go wherever? I think that many of my friends out there still are like me, they have NIE’s which they bought their houses with, got mortgages etc. but they don’t have a piece of paper or whatever to say they are an actual resident. There are some people who say that Spain can’t force you to declare as a resident? is that true? I guess there are lots of ‘floating’ people in Europe who come from one country but deal with another officially?
You can certainly go and live/work anywhere within the EU but you still have a responsibility to declare where you are resident. If you didn’t declare yourself resident in Spain then you would have remained a resident of Ireland I guess (unless you told them you were living elsewhere).
I guess people who don’t work (or don’t work legally) in Spain can get away without being resident if they can get hold of a NIE. But you’ll need to be resident to get onto the social security, get a medical card, etc. If I was living in Spain with kids (which I am) then I really wouldn’t mess around with things like that. Flying back to the UK to see a doctor ain’t much good if your child is seriously ill – they might not be let on the plane for a start.