The Ultimate Guide on the NIE Number

spanish nie number

This is the third article of my series Living in Spain. Today I’m going to explain everything I know about the Spanish NIE number.

As a summary, remember that my series Living in Spain consists of 6 articles:

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NOTE: Article updated on 13 July 2017

WHAT IS A NIE NUMBER?

The NIE number is an identification number for foreigners (Número de Identificación de Extranjero in Spanish) who do not have the status of Spanish citizens.

The official website of the Spanish Ministry of the Interior describes the NIE number as follows:

Foreigners that, for their economic, social or professional interests, become associated to Spain, will be given, for identification purposes, a personal exclusive number unique to the individual.

Including the following meaningful paragraph:

The NIE number will be the identifier of foreign people, which must appear on all documents issued or processed on them, as well as the measures which are affixed in their passport or identity card.

In my own words, it is just an identification number that will be assigned to you for legal purposes; of course, only in case you are not a Spanish citizen.

Spanish citizens use a number called “Documento Nacional de Identidad – DNI” (National Identity Document).

 

spanish dni

(Spanish DNI looks like this)

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WHERE DO I GET A NIE NUMBER?

There are two places where you can obtain a NIE number:

  • Spanish National Police stations properly assigned to issue NIE numbers. This clearly means that not every single National Police station will offer this service (check out your nearest one).
  • Spanish embassy located in your country.

The NIE number must be requested:

  • In person.
  • Through a legal authorised person (power of attorney).

If you are going to request your NIE number in Spain make sure first you find out how they do it. Call or go in person to that particular National Police office, they may have queue system, appointment on the phone, or in-person book in.

spanish national police badge

(Immigration documents is managed by the Spanish National Police)

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ASK FIRST

Did you read my article about the Spanish Padron? I did try to emphasise that Spain is not the most centralized country on the planet. That’s why you should ask first what you need at your corresponding National Police station, or get in touch with a specialist (me, for instance, of course ;-), although I can only help you out in person within my coverage area)

In some stations you will need some extras that you won’t in other places (ask first, that’s the key, I won’t stop repeating!)

So, in this article I will be honest with you and I will not give you misleading information.

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SOME REQUIREMENTS

For sure your will need a EX-15 form, that you can download here.

Original passport + 1 photocopy.

2 small photos taken in Spain.

Depending on the police station you may need to proof where you live legally (Padrón). Or you may have to provide documents to support why you need a NIE number (this is usually for non-EU citizens, at least in year 2014 as well as in my area).

There is a fee (€9.45 in 2017, but this will be increase periodically) that must be paid at the bank through an official document called form 790.

In my area they do not accept the online version of the form 790. So it has to be paid at the bank using the form they will give your at the National Police. Ask them as they may accept the online form in your area.

Again, I would like to remind you that Spain varies a lot from one town to another. Requirements can change even if it’s a national document, as the NIE number.

Ignore those websites that say you need this and that. They might be good for an initial research, but not as the final reliable information towards applying for a NIE number.

Solution: ask first.

Go to the nearest National Police station dealing with immigration documentation and find out.

How can anybody know how they do it in every single office all over Spain? That is literally impossible, unless they’ve already done NIE’s for people located in every single point of Spain.

I really doubt there is a company in Spain that has helped people in a third of Spanish cities anyway.

 

what is a nie number

(Requirements might be different for EU and non-EU citizens)

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HOW CAN I USE A NIE NUMBER?

Obtaining a NIE number is a must for the following legal procedures / activities in Spain:

  • Pay tax
  • Get employed
  • Register a business
  • Buy / sell a car
  • Buy / sell properties
  • Other legal economic activities
  • Change your driving licence into Spanish (although it is NIE on the Spanish Residency)

I’m sure I’m missing lots more. You will find out as you spend more time in Spain.

Spanish NIE number

(Your NIE number will look similar to this example)

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SOME CLARIFICATIONS

  • The NIE number expires in 3 months in theory (it says so at the bottom of the certificate, see picture above. UPDATE 1/9/2016: At least in Alicante region the NIE number certificate does not have an expiry date anymore). However, I have met people who had been using their expired NIE for numbers for years and with great success.
  • Many places will request an in-force NIE number (less than 3 months).
  • The NIE number on its own is not valid to identify yourself. Use it alongside your passport which has a photo of you.
  • The NIE number and the Spanish residency are different procedures and have different natures. Don’tconfusethem.
  • You do not have to follow this sequence: NIE first, Spanish residency second. You can become a resident automatically as long as you meet all the requirements… at least in the South Costa Blanca.
  • If you apply for your Spanish residency, you will get an NIE number automatically which will appear on the residency car, either if you had it before or not. It will be the same one in case of yes.
  • You can’t get your Spanish driving licence with an NIE number. You’ll need your Spanish residency.
  • If you are looking for a job you will have to register at your nearest Social Security office to obtain a number after you get your NIE. That will be what they’ll use to grant health benefits (and pensions) once you get employed.

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Are you an EU or British Pensioner?

Click on the image below to get now your 2017 Definitive Spanish NIE Number Guide for EU and British Pensioners.

spanish-nie-number-eu-british-pensioner

Or…

Are you an EU or British Job Seeker?

Click on the image below to get now your 2017 Definitive Spanish NIE Number Guide for EU and British Job Seekers.

Spanish NIE Job Seeker

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FINAL THOUGHTS

There are a number of “official” things that can be done using your passport only (making police reports for instance… I’m the author of that article too).

Nevertheless, a NIE number will be required for most official / legal procedures in Spain.

As I always recommend my clients: “get peace of mind and do everything according to the law”. Most times, it does not take that much, just a little money and several hours of your time at the most.

One way or another we are all trapped societies full of laws and regulations, no matter what country you live in.

But in Spain there are benefits we obtain in return if we do things properly.

So it’s worth proceeding the right way, although sometimes it may look the opposite :-)

David

Credit Image: Daniel V., Mathrong, Firma Electrónica

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Comments

  1. Paul says

    Hi David,
    You say “Many places will request an in-force NIE number (less than 3 months).” How would I go about renewing my NIE? Do I take my expired document to the same police station I got it from? Will I need to fill out any forms to renew it? Will I have to pay the fee again?
    Many thanks for another interesting and informative article.
    Paul

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Paul,

      Renewing the NIE number is not a big deal. Just tell them you need a “duplicate” (“duplicado” in Spanish). No need to take the old one. And, yes, you have to pay another fee, although less than it is for a new one.

      You will need at least the following 3 things:

      1. Original passport + 1 photocopy
      2. Form EX15 I mention in the article properly filled out in Spanish.
      3. Form 790 for the bank fee. It is 6,96€ for duplicates (2014 fee).

      You might need one or two small photographs.

      I just remembered I have done a few NIE and Spanish residencies in areas where I don’t go much. They had their own bank office inside. Basically, it’s just a person from the bank that works there every single day.

      In this case you don’t need to pay beforehand, but you can, as I did it, thinking it was the way I usually do it.

      That’s why it’s very important trying to find out first… each place is a different world in Spain.

      All the best Paul,

      David

  2. Julia says

    Hi David,

    Do I need a full copy (all pages) of my passport for the NIE number or just the one with my photo on it?
    Thanks

    Julia

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Julia,

      Just the one with the photo on it will be enough if you are from the EU.

      All the best :-)

      David

  3. Ann says

    Do you know some “good” police station near to Barcelona where can I re-new my Nie or make dublicato? becouse in Barcelona they want too much documents and too much time to do it.. so.. I want to go to another city.. advise me please!

  4. Ann says

    thank u Davie, but the problem not to find ANY police station, the problem to find the RIGHT one where they donk ask me a lot of paper just to make a dublicado of NIE.. I know the mind police station.. but its very complicated.. and I know some GOOD one in the south near ALicante.. but the problem it to travle to far… so.. thats why I asking here.. but its ok.. I will continue looking for.. maybe the fortune will smile to me. hehee…

    • David Ruiz says

      I see :-)

      You’re right, things change from one place to another, although in theory they should be the same when talking about “national” procedures, like the NIE number.

      Well, I hope there is a good one your area.

      All the best.

  5. Barat says

    i am indian person i have 5 years 2 card MADRID spain last year 19 apr 2015 this card renew date but 15 apr 2015 i came india because my mother death after i must try but not possible yu help som please how to renew now and again work spain

  6. Pablo says

    Hello
    So I am here on Gran Canaria, Vecindario.
    I arrived here September 2015. I got my NIE in November 2015, No photographs are required here. Then in May 2016 My partner and I both applied for our residency here, the small green credit card size card. My partner received her NIE as part of this application. Again no photographs were required. All this was done at our Guardia Civil station. We speak no Spanish, they did speak English with us, but did give us a lecture about the need for us to learn Spanish, as they would not expect people to speak Spanish for them should they visit England. A fair point. They also told us that we must update our residency card within 1 month of change our address here in Gran Canaria.

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Pablo,

      Thanks for letting us know your experience in Gran Canaria.

      It sounds weird the Guardia Civil deals with NIE numbers and Residencies there, as foreign documentation is not part of their internal structure, but National Police (http://www.policia.es/documentacion/documentacion.html). However, I don’t know who things work in Gran Canaria.

      In this area, not bringing the photograph only means one thing: go and get one :-) Regarding speaking Spanish, you don’t really need to here when you apply for any of these documents, as long as you bring everything the right way. Otherwise, there might be someone around who speaks a few words, or not.

      Best wishes

  7. Janey says

    Hello David
    So glad I’ve come across your website! We’re very confused about where to renew our NIEs.
    We’ve lived in Spain now for nearly 5 years and my husband’s read somewhere that you need to renew them after this time.
    They have an Oficina de Extranjeros in Seville (we live in the province) but you need a cita previa and probably have to give up half a day. Others tell us our local police station might do this but it’s not a National one. I’ve tried ringing both…but you know what it’s like!
    Also we’re unsure of what to take. Is this a document which needs you to prove you can support yourselves?

    Any advice gratefully received,
    Thanks Janey.

  8. Richard Berry says

    Hi David,
    We bought our apartment in Sitges Cataunya in 2011 and obviously had a NIE certificate done at the time for this purpose. We are now selling the property and as the originals are long lost we need to get a duplicate. The nearest office to do them is Vilanova. Do you know of any local requirements for that office and if we filled the application in advance, do you think they will help us though the process with our limited English or are they usually very harsh at only speaking Catalan? If it would be problematic, do you have any local links with a translator who we could possibly use to help us at a reasonable price?

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Richard,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know anybody in that area that could help you out, or the requirements for that office. It should be a straight forward process if you take all the requirements with you.

      I hope this helps.

  9. Jane says

    Hi, I’m a student in Marbella. Been here for a month. I have an n.i.e number on my 3 month visa. When I’m I supposed to apply for the n.i.e card itself?

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Jane,

      Well, I believe that will depend on the type of visa. Best way to find out is by going in person to your nearest “oficina de extranjería”.

      I hope this helps.

  10. Michelle Miller says

    Hi David,

    Do I need to be present in order to get s duplicate nie number? I live overseas. Are there agencies that do it for you ? Thanks,

    Michelle

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi Michelle,

      At the Spanish embassy, consulate or any agencies that offer the service :-)

      Best wishes

  11. Melisa says

    Hola,
    What is the deadline for applying for the NIE? I arrived on a student visa that expires soon and my university says that i have to leave the country and come back with a new visa?
    I would really just want to know my options before i combust into a ball of panick.

    Thank You

    • David Ruiz says

      Hola Melisa,

      I’m not sure what kind dealine window your visa would have, but what I would do is going to the nearest foreigners office to find out.

      I hope this helps :-)

  12. Paul says

    Hi there,

    I’m Belgian and I’ve been in Spain for 4 years – and sometimes I had to go back to Belgium for family reasons. Now the thing is: I’m incredibly bad with administration. I have never ever renewed my NIE and all I got is this lousy A4 paper that hasn’t been valid for… well, almost 4 years.

    I’m moving to another province soon and would like to finally take care of this. I’ve been working legally here the whole time. So after I get my new ‘padron’, I’d go and deal with the NIE once and for all. But.. I’m a bit afraid: Could I be, or get, in trouble?

    Thanks!

    • David Ruiz says

      Hi there Paul,

      The white A4 NIE number certificate used to expire after 3 months, but that does not mean you’ll get in trouble if you don’t renew it. Just go ahead and apply for a new one. Here in Alicante there is no expiry date anymore, so it might be the same everywhere all over Spain.

      I hope this helps.

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