What is the NIE (Foreigners’ Identification Number)?

what is the nie

The Foreigners’ Identification Number (NIE, the Spanish acronyms for Número de Identificación Fiscal) is a personal and invariable number assigned by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior that serves to identify foreigners who reside or have economic, professional or social interests in Spain, whether they are citizens of a country belonging to the European Union or citiziens of any other country.

All foreigners who buy a house in Spain or want to open a bank account must first obtain their NIE, which is composed of a letter, 7 numbers and a verification code. This number must appear, for example, in the deed of sale of properties that foreigners acquire in Spain.

It is also obligatory that the NIE appears on invoices issued by foreigners in Spain. If the recipient of the invoice is a self-employed person or a foreign professional, his NIE must also appear on the invoices issued at his expense. The NIE can never be missing in the invoices issued by a self-employed person or company, otherwise, the invoice would never be valid for the Spanish Tax Authorities.

But the NIE is also necessary to work in a company or to create one’s own company, to pay taxes, to access the public health system or to contract water or electricity for a house.

Thus, obtaining the NIE is one of the first steps that a foreigner must take in order to stay in Spain for a certain period of time.


Where to apply for and obtain the NIE?

The NIE can be applied for at the Directorate General of Police or at Spanish Consulates abroad. If the foreigner is already in Spain, he/she can apply for the NIE at the immigration offices of the National Police Station.


What documentation is necessary to obtain the NIE?

To obtain the NIE, foreigners must present the following documentation:

  • The standard application form, duly completed and signed.
  • Original and copy of the complete passport, identity card, travel document or valid registration certificate.
  • Proof of economic, professional or social interests justifying the application.
  • The self-assessment of the issuing fee.

In the event that the application is made through a representative, the original and a copy of the identity documents of the foreigner and of the representative, as well as their due accreditation, are also required.


Is the NIE the same as the TIE?

The answer is NO. The NIE is only an identification number, while the TIE (Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros) is an identity card that serves to prove that the non-EU foreigner resides in Spain legally, temporarily or permanently.

It is therefore possible to have a Foreigner’s Identity Number (TIE) in Spain without having a Residence Permit. The NIE does not necessarily mean that a foreigner has the right to reside and/or work in Spain.

Some people tend to confuse NIE with TIE but not all foreigners who have a NIE will necessarily have a TIE. On the other hand, all foreigners who have a TIE will always have a NIE.

The NIE is not and does not grant a visa or a residence permit per se. However, it is one of the requirements for foreigners wishing to reside in Spain.

When EU citizens come to reside in Spain for a period of more than three months, they must register in the Foreigners’ Register. In this Register they are automatically assigned a NIE.

At ALTEAINVEST we can help you apply for and obtain the NIE you will need to open a bank account or buy a property in Spain. We will do it completely free of charge if you buy a property through our agency or if you hire our Green Stamp Service in case you decide to buy your house directly from the owner or through other intermediaries.

Compare listings