NIE number

NIE number: How to do your NIE application

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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. An 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.

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 is an NIE number, the NIE application process, where to find NIE application forms and finding the right NIE contact number.

What is an NIE number?

NIE Spain 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 people who don’t have Spanish citizenship, so that you can carry out legal activities in Spain, such as the ones mentioned below.

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

NIE application

Foreigners can submit their NIE application 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 an 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; for example, see how to apply for a NIE in 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 (EUR 9.45 in 2016), 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

Using your Spanish NIE number

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

  • Open a bank account
  • Being legally employed
  • Paying taxes in Spain
  • Buying or selling property
  • Buying or selling motor vehicles
  • Becoming self-employed
  • Registering a business
  • Inheritance
  • Studying in Spain
  • Getting a Spanish driver's licence
  • Arrange utilities (but not a mobile phone).

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. It requires separate documents and procedures, although the Spanish residency card (or A4 sheet) shows your NIE number.
  • While the NIE number is assigned permanently, in some regions the certificate is valid for only three months from the date of issue, although some regions are presenting indefinite NIE certificates.
  • 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, and is the Spaniards' version of the NIE 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 are
  • NIE form (payment): Form 790
  • NIE application form: EX-15

Read more in the ultimate guide to NIE numbers.

David Ruiz / Expatica 

© David RuizDavid Ruiz is an author, adviser, translator and interpreter devoted to helping people from all nationalities who visit or live in Spain. His websites and offer free advice for living and visiting Spain. You can also visit his Amazon page to see his books.

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2 Comments To This Article

  • Ionut posted:

    on 29th January 2018, 09:52:44 - Reply

    Hi David,

    My wife and I are thinking to relocate in Spain and I am checking what would we need to have with us to allow a smooth transition.

    Coming to the NIE, would it be possible to apply for it while still living in Ireland?

    Any info is greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    [Response from moderator:  Go to our resource page and contact one of our expat-friendly experts.]

  • Nat posted:

    on 18th February 2018, 15:31:21 - Reply

    Hi David, thanks for the informative post! Do you know if you can put down a temporary address when applying for the NIE such as a hostel, Airbnb or friends apartment and then get this changed when you have permanent accommodation?

    Thank you!