How to Get Your NIE Number in Spain

15 October 2018

It’s important to note that you will need to get a NIE number in Spain regardless of whether you are an EU citizen or not.

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As a foreigner living, working or doing business in Spain, it will be essential for you to obtain a NIE in Spain, usually called NIE number. This document or card is absolutely key to being able to do any sort of business or paperwork in this country.

What is a NIE number?

NIE stands for Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which in English translates as “Foreigner’s Identification Number”. Basically, this is a unique ID number which you need to be able to operate in Spain for anything from opening a bank account or signing up for a mobile phone plan, to buying real estate property. A NIE is the equivalent of a Spanish DNI number, where DNI stands for Documento Nacional de Identidad.

What is the difference between DNI and NIE?

The main difference between a DNI number and a NIE is that the former is only for Spanish nationals while the latter is for foreigners living in Spain. So foreigners cannot to get a DNI number or card without obtaining Spanish nationality first and Spaniards will never have or need to have a NIE number.

What does a NIE look like?

This number is formatted like this X-0000000-X, that is, a letter followed by seven digits plus another letter at the end. Usually, letters and numbers are separated by a short hyphen. An example of a NIE number in Spain could be X-1234567-Y.

Who can apply for a NIE in Spain?

While it is believed that NIE numbers are reserved to EU citizens, this is not true. Anyone who is not a Spanish citizen can and must apply for a Número de Identidad de Extranjero when staying in Spain for longer than 3 months, whether you come from a European Union country or not.

How to get your NIE number in Spain

There are two standard ways to get your Spanish NIE number:

  • At the nearest Foreigners’ Office to your place of residence in Spain.
  • Through the Spanish Consulate or Embassy in your home country.

You must remember that you do not have to be a resident here in Spain to apply for a NIE number, nor does having a NIE number automatically grant you residency status.

Documents required to get a NIE (Spain)

Just like with any other red tape in Spain, there are a few documents that you will need to present in order to obtain your NIE number. In this case, here is what you will need:

  • A legal form called EX-15, which needs to be filled in and signed by the applicant.
  • A valid passport.
  • Receipt of fees paid.
  • Supporting documentation as to why you are applying for a NIE. This may involve, for example, a job offer or some other professional, social or academic document.

How much does it cost to obtain a NIE?

The fees range between €10 and €17, depending on your residency status. However, you may also need to get legal documents from your home country and these need to be officially translated by a Sworn Translator, which adds to the overall cost. If you hire a lawyer to help you get your NIE in Spain, that, of course, will probably mean an additional expense.

After submitting the application and paying for all the fees, non-residents will receive a NIE certificate, while residents will be granted a TIE card.

Difference between NIE and TIE

While NIE stands for Número de Identidad de Extranjero, TIE means Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, which is “Foreigner’s Identity Card”. So really, a TIE is the perfect equivalent of a Spanish DNI, that is, a Spanish ID card.

As mentioned earlier, the term NIE simply refers to an ID number for foreigners, not a document per se. On the other hand, a TIE is a physical card with your NIE and other personal details on it. This card is printed with certain print features which make it difficult to forge and duplicate.

The only foreigners who can obtain a TIE are those that get a residency permit in Spain. Even though it is very common to obtain a TIE together with your NIE, it is not always the case that both are needed.

Renewing a NIE number in Spain

Technically speaking, a NIE does not really expire, as it is simply a foreigner’s ID number. What does expire is the residency permit and, consequently, the aforementioned TIE. However, it is commonly said that the NIE expires, even though it is actually the TIE.

Therefore, not everyone will have to renew their NIE number in Spain, as it depends on what it says on your certificate (for non-residents), or the circumstances of your residency (for residents). There was a period of time when NIE certificates were being assigned with a validity period of just three months (temporary NIE certificate), after which it had to be renewed if you wanted to stay in Spain. If your certificate does not have an expiration date, then it will not need to be renewed.

Residents with a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE) normally need to renew it any time they renew their residency, which typically happens on a yearly basis until you are given permanent residency status.

In any case, the process of renewing your NIE card in Spain (if necessary) is very similar to the original application. You will need to:

  • Fill out a form to request the appropriate procedure (e.g. issuing of a duplicate NIE certificate after expiration, or renewing residency on a long-stay visa).
  • Pay the corresponding fees and present the receipt.
  • Provide the necessary documentation.

If you need to obtain or renew your NIE card (or TIE), do not hesitate to get in touch with Henry Towers. Our experienced legal team can ease the way for you to get your Spanish Foreigner’s Identity Number.