For people who plan to emigrate to Spain, or for those who have stable economic, professional or social interests in Spain, one of the most important procedures to carry out before the authorities is to obtain the Spanish Foreigners Identification Number (Numero de Idenficacion de Extranjeros or NIE, in its Spanish acronym).
The NIE is a personal and non-transferable sequential code formed by numbers and letters, which foreigners who intend to reside for more than three months in the country - either for work or other reasons - must have. It is also necessary for those who have property or a source of income in Spain, for example.
The NIE is not a card. It is the code equivalent for foreigners to the NIF (Número de Identificación Fiscal) that is printed in the DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) carried by Spanish nationals.
For the purposes of the administration and government procedures, the NIE will also be the foreigner's identifier. It must be printed on all the Spanish documents that are issued or processed, as well as the procedures that are stamped on their identity card or passport, explains the Ministry of the Interior in their website.
Having the NIE is essential for identification purposes, but also to work and pay income taxes, to buy or sell a home and to carry out many bureaucratic procedures before public administrations and some private companies such as banks or rental and supply companies (telephone, electricity, gas, internet ...).
Permanent or temporary NIE
At this point it is important to emphasize that having the NIE does not imply the right to legally reside or work in Spain. Having the NIE only means being registered with the administration. But the NIE is necessary to apply for a residence permit in the case of non-EU nationals, for example.
According to Spanish law, the NIE can be either permanent (the same number for life, which never expires) or temporary.
According to the Foreign Ministry, a temporary NIE is given to those foreigners who do not intend to reside in Spain but need to carry out some specific procedure before the Spanish administration, such as collecting an inheritance or signing the purchase of a house. Something that they will do in just one or a few days of travel and stay.
The validity of the temporary NIE is 3 months.
How to apply
In most cases, the person of foreign nationality is already in Spain and intends to stay for more than 90 days. In these cases, the (permanent) NIE application must be made at the nearest Immigration Police station. For this it is necessary to make an appointment.
In the case of temporary NIEs, when the person is not yet in Spain, the application can also be made through Spanish missions (embassies and consulates) abroad.
In order to receive the NIE, three fundamental requirements must be met:
- Not being in Spain in an illegal situation.
- Prove that the person in question has economic, professional or social interests in Spain.
- Specify the reasons for which the number is requested (for example, buying a home, obtaining a driving license or opening a bank account).
In addition, in order to carry out the process, applicants must provide the following documents:
- Standard application form (EX-15), duly completed and signed by the applicant.
- Original and copy of the complete passport, or identity document, or valid travel document or registration card. Normally, non-EU citizens are required to show their passport, but citizens of the European Union may present an ID document issued by their government.
- Document that certifies the payment of the corresponding fee. You can fill it out online through the official website of the Spanish Police HERE
- Proof of the economic, professional or social causes that justify the application.
- When applied through a representative, they shall certify that they are empowered to submit such request.
Download the forms here
To download the official form for the NIE application from the Immigration portal of the Government of Spain, click HERE
You can also download an explanatory brochure in English with the instructions that will help you understand how to fill out the official form, HERE
NIE, TIE, Union's citizen certificate
Sometimes there has been some confusion among foreigners between the terms NIE (Foreigners Identification Number) and TIE (Foreigners Identity Card) and also with the certificate of registration as a citizen of the European Union.
As we said above, the NIE is only the code of numbers and letters that allows administrative identification before the authorities.
The TIE, for its part, is a physical card that foreigners from outside the European Union authorized to stay in Spain must have. It contains their identification data, as well as the NIE and other personal information, for example details about the type of residence permit they hold.
The certificate of registration as a citizen of the Union must be obtained by citizens of European Union (EU) countries who are going to reside in Spain for more than 90 days. It is a mere formality, consisting of requesting registration in the Central Registry of Foreigners in Spain. Applications must also be submitted to the Immigration Police Stations.
The certificate of registration as a citizen of the Union also contains the NIE of the holder.