What is the Spanish NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) and why do you need it?

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NIE Card (Credit: http://www.suitelife.com)

The NIE, Número de Identificación de Extranjero, is a Spanish Foreigner’s Identification Number needed for all non-Spanish/EU citizens wanting to stay in Spain for more than 90 days. It is an incredibly important number issued by the General Administration of the State (Administración General del Estado) and is necessary for just about every conceivable transaction or affair you would like to pursue in Spain.

The NIE itself is a plastic identification card that is about the exact same size and feel as a U.S. driver’s license. It contains a photo with your Spanish address, fingerprint and personal information.

But the most important bit of information it contains is your NIE number, which is a seven-digit number that begins with a letter and ends with a letter, such as X-1234567-P. This number will never expire and cannot be transferred to another person or changed.

For what types of activities would you need a NIE?

If you are planning on staying inside of Spain for more than 90 days, you will 100% need a NIE. If you are planning on staying inside of Spain less than 90 days, for example maybe you are studying abroad in Barcelona for two months, you won’t need to worry about this at all. Chances are you won’t be doing anything that would require a NIE, such as working or purchasing property if you are staying for that little of time.

You will need a NIE in Spain if you are:

  • Staying in Spain more than 90 days;
  • Working in any capacity or attempting to get a job or are becoming autónomo/freelance;
  • Paying taxes in Spain;
  • Applying for a Spanish drivers license;
  • Applying for a social security number and/or social security benefits;
  • Purchasing a car or property or any asset that has a value of €3,000 or more;
  • Receiving any type of inheritance asset;
  • Applying for a loan or a mortgage;
  • Pursuing most any form of professional, business or economic related interest.

Most likely if you are a tourist and only plan to visit Spain less than 90 days, you won’t need a NIE. However, if you are planning on staying in Spain more than 90 days, and/or do any of the above mentioned activities, you will absolutely need to apply for one.

If you need assistance applying for a NIE and starting the process, you can send us an email at rvfspain@gmail.com and we can help you with the process from start to finish.



If you found this post to be helpful, take a look at our other posts as we discuss a variety of topics related to Spain. If you are interested in teaching and living in Spain for a year or need assistance becoming autónomo, send us an email at rvfspain@gmail.com letting us know so we can contact you to set up a free 20 minute consultation!