Last update on August 21, 2019

A NIE number is needed by all foreigners with legal or tax activity in Spain. This guide explains the NIE application process and what you need to get your Spanish NIE number.

Spain’s NIE number is the personal and unique tax identification number that is used to track all financial and legal activities in Spain. The Spanish NIE number acts as a tax and identification number, and is used in all fiscal transactions that involve the Spanish tax office. A NIE number is mandatory for all foreigners with financial, professional or social affairs in Spain, regardless of whether they are a resident or non-resident in Spain. Children also need a NIE number in order to, among other things, get social security.

European citizens typically need to apply for a NIE number after three months of residence in Spain, while non-EU citizens will typically receive their NIE application along with their Spanish residency. Official residents in Spain will also typically need to register on el padron, Spain’s population register.

This guide explains what a NIE number is, the NIE application process, where to find NIE application forms and finding the right NIE contact number.

What is the NIE number?

NIE is translated as the Foreigner’s Identification Number (or Número de Identificación de Extranjero, NIE number).

The NIE number is the legal number assigned by the Spanish National Police to foreign residents who don’t have Spanish citizenship, so that they can carry out legal activities in Spain such as those mentioned below.

The actual format of the NIE number certificate is an A4 white sheet which contains your name, surname, date of birth, city and country of birth, and of course the unique NIE number.

NIE application

NIE applications can be submitted while living or visiting Spain to the relevant Spanish National Police station dedicated to foreign documentation (click for an official list). You can also apply for a NIE number at the Spanish embassy located in your country.

In Spain, the NIE number can be requested either by you or via an authorised figure (lawyers, solicitors, relatives or friends) holding a Spanish power of attorney. The processes may differ slightly depending on the region (see below for information relating to Madrid).

You should check the requirements regarding the legalisation and translation of foreign documents; we provide a guide to preparing official translations and legal documents in Spain.

Spanish NIE requirements

This is something you need to first ask about at the relevant office where you will apply for your NIE number. The type of requirements can vary from one office to another, although you will generally need:

  • NIE application form (EX 15 form); click for an English translation of the NIE application form, although the submitted NIE form must be in Spanish.
  • Original passport (current and not expired) and one photocopy
  • Two small photos
  • Government fee (€10.71 in 2018), which you should pay at the bank using a 790 NIE form.

Note: Although the NIE form 790 can be downloaded on the internet, some police stations may request the traditional paper NIE form, which you can collect at any national police station dealing with foreign documentation.

For those of you who live in Torrevieja, Elche, Benidorm, and Alicante areas, you will need to request an appointment for your NIE number online at

Applying for a NIE in Madrid

  • Have all of the documents and payments ready, as above.
  • Call the Ministry of the Interior to make an appointment. The number to call is 902 56 57 01. Note: everything will be done in Spanish.
  • Attend your appointment at the designated location. If all documents are approved, you will receive your number straightaway.

Using your Spanish NIE number

Here are some of the most common procedures for which you will need a Spanish NIE number:

The list goes on but as a general guide, any activities of a legal nature will require a Spanish NIE number.

Your NIE card

  • The NIE number certificate described in this articles does not mean Spanish residency. This requires separate documents and procedures, although the Spanish residency card (or A4 sheet) shows your NIE number.
  • Your NIE number is assigned permanently. Formerly, numbers were issued temporarily for three month periods in some regions, but this was stopped in 2016.
  • You won’t be able to exchange your foreign driving licence in Spain if you only have an NIE number. You’ll have to have Spanish residency.
  • Take your NIE number certificate with you, along with your passport, if you need to make a police report.

NIE Spain information

  • NIF: The Número de Identificación Fiscal (NIF) serves as a fiscal identification number for those born in Spain, and is the Spaniards’ version of the NIE number.
  • CIF: The Certificado de Identificacion Fiscal (CIF) is the tax number for all companies in Spain. It serves as the VAT number.
  • NIE numbers: Your NIE number will consist of an X or Y followed by seven or eight digits and another letter.
  • NIE contact number: Find the relevant police office in your area
  • NIE form (payment): Form 790
  • NIE application form: EX-15

Read more in the ultimate guide to NIE numbers.

David Ruiz

David Ruiz is an author, adviser, translator and interpreter devoted to helping people from all nationalities who visit or live in Spain.

Torrevieja Translation