What is a NIE in Spain?
The NIE in Spain refers to a number assigned to non-Spanish individuals upon their entry into the country, serving as their identification. Translated, NIE stands for Identity Number of the Foreigner (“Número de Identidad de Extranjero” in Spanish).
This number remains constant and accompanies individuals throughout their lifetime (or until they acquire Spanish nationality). It is a unique and personal identifier.
To illustrate, here’s an example NIE (for illustrative purposes only): Y9125834A.
However, it’s crucial to note an important distinction. The NIE number itself does not grant legal residency in Spain.
Is it possible to reside and work in Spain without a NIE?
The NIE and residency are often misunderstood, as they represent distinct concepts. While an individual may possess a NIE, it does not grant them legal residency in Spain. Instead, it serves as a mere identification number.
To reside in the country for more than three months, one must apply for a residence and work authorization. However, if the intention is to stay for less than 90 days solely for procedural purposes, the NIE would suffice.
When do you actually require this fundamental identification number? In essence, you need it for any economic or bureaucratic procedures in Spain. Here are some examples of situations where obtaining a NIE is necessary:
- Opening a bank account
- Registering with social security and obtaining a social security number
- Purchasing a vehicle
- Buying or selling property in Spain
- Fulfilling tax obligations and filing income tax returns
- Establishing a company
- Acquiring or exchanging a driver’s license
- Accepting a job offer and securing employment
- Applying for a residence permit
Please note that this list is not exhaustive but provides an overview of the situations requiring a NIE in Spain.
What is the difference between a NIE and a TIE?
It is crucial to highlight and clarify this distinction, as it is often overlooked or misunderstood.
Is the TIE identical to the NIE? The answer is straightforward: no. The TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) is the physical card that houses the NIE number. Therefore, while the NIE serves as a mere identification number, the TIE is the tangible item that encompasses it.
Moreover, the TIE includes more than just the NIE. It also features a photograph of the cardholder and specifies the type of residence authorization they possess.
Consequently, variations exist within TIEs. Each card corresponds to a specific type of residence permit. Thus, the TIE card associated with a student visa will differ from the one issued to a family member of an EU citizen or an arraigo permit holder.
There are as many distinct TIE types as there are permit categories in Spain.
Where do I apply for a NIE?
A NIE may be requested directly in Spain* or at the Consular Office of the applicant’s country of residence.
The request may be made in person or through a duly accredited representative.
The physical presence of the applicant or of their representative is mandatory in every case.
*In Spain, you have to make ask for an appointment at the police station nearest your residence. Once you have the date, you’ll have to go to the police station with your original passport in force, and form EX-15.
How long does it take to get an NIE?
The process of obtaining the NIE is generally quick. In fact, you will receive it on the same day as your appointment at the police station. Therefore, the only factor that may hinder or delay acquiring this identification number is the waiting time for securing the appointment.
Should you need any assistance to get an appointment with the police, or the day meeting the police officer, please get in touch with us at:
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