What's the NIE?
Many foreigners who want to live in Spain mistakenly think that what they need is the NIE.
The identity number for foreign nationals (NIE), as its name suggests, is merely an identification number assigned by Spanish authorities to every foreigner once and for life. It has nothing to do with a residence or work permit.
There is some confusion in the use of the terms NIE, TIE and certificate of registration as an EU national, so it is very important that you find out the document you need before applying for it.
To clarify any misunderstandings, we explain what each concept is:
- The NIE is the number that allows foreign nationals, including those not resident in Spain but with economic interests in the country, to be identified administratively.
- The certificate of registration as an EU national is a physical identification document. It is compulsory for individuals with European citizenship wishing to stay in Spain for a period exceeding three months to have it. It contains the identification data, as well as the identity number for foreign nationals (NIE). The document is made of paper and is commonly called the green NIE due to its colour.
- The TIE (identity card for foreign nationals) is a physical identity card. It must be held by non-EU nationals authorised to stay in Spain for a period of more than six months or by all foreign nationals with a long-term permit. It contains a photograph, the identification data, as well as the identity number for foreign nationals (NIE) and the type of authorisation for the stay or residence of the foreign person.
The NIE appears both on the certificate of registration as an EU national and on the identity card for foreign nationals (TIE). Nonetheless, there are cases in which, although it is not necessary to submit these documents, you must obtain the NIE in order to be able to carry out economic, professional and social activities (for example, make an investment or tax formalities). When you apply for the NIE for economic interests, you receive a white document and, for this reason, it is popularly known as a white NIE.