How to Get Your DNI in Spain

28 September 2018

If you are going to do anything beyond tourism in this country, you’re going to need to know how to get your DNI in Spain

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If you are going to do anything beyond tourism in this country, you’re going to need to know how to get your DNI in Spain. Without this important piece of identification, most basic services necessary for a normal life will be impossible to access. Even if you don’t want to live in Spain, you will need an ID number (DNI for foreigners in Spain) in order to buy property or expand your business internationally. For detailed guidance on your specific situation, you can consult a lawyer.

What is DNI in Spain?

In Spain, DNI is the “Documento Nacional de Identidad”; the meaning of DNI in English is National Identity Document. Technically, this refers to the identity card held by Spanish citizens, but in practice, the term is used generally to refer to any type of national identification held by anyone (DNI for Spaniards, NIE for foreign residents, passport for nonresidents, etc.). Most of the time, when someone from another country wants to know how to get their DNI in Spain, what they really need is how to get their NIE, “Número de Identificación de Extranjeros” or Foreigner’s Identity Number. The identity card that contains the NIE is the TIE, “Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros”.

The DNI card for Spanish citizens and the DNI for foreigners in Spain (NIE) both contain information about its owner, although the information is slightly different on the two documents, and they are essential for basic aspects of daily life in this country. Without a DNI or NIE, you won’t be able to open a bank account, work, pay taxes, buy property, get a mobile phone plan, or do anything of an “official” nature.

DNI for foreigners in Spain

The equivalent of DNI for foreigners in Spain is the TIE, as explained above. It’s important to understand that having a NIE number does not automatically give you residency status in the country, although the NIE card for residents does double as their residence card. For example, you do not have to be a resident in order to buy real estate in Spain, but you still need a NIE to complete the transaction. On the other hand, someone on a long-stay visa as a student is considered to be a resident as long as they meet the conditions of their visa each year, and their NIE card is also their residency card. A foreigner in Spain who has achieved permanent residency status will have a “permanent resident” DNI-type card that contains their NIE number.

How to get your DNI in Spain

If you have entered Spain on a long-stay visa (i.e. not as a tourist), you must apply for your DNI for foreigners in Spain (NIE/TIE) within 90 days of arrival. This is done by submitting the NIE application along with the necessary fees and supporting documentation and passport-sized photos for your ID card. The documents you need will depend on whether you need a residency card DNI or just the NIE number for, say, a real estate purchase. The exact process varies from region to region; you may have to file your paperwork at the Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreigners’ Office) and then go to the Comisaría (Police Station) to get fingerprinted for your ID card. In some cities, these are in the same building. Some offices allow you to just show up and take a number, while others require that you make an appointment online first.