Oh, the elusive NIE. For some, the process to get this little piece of paper is a breeze. For others, it’s a nightmare. Here we’ll explain the process and what the NIE is as simply as possible.


What is a NIE?

The NIE (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjero) is the Foreigner’s Identification Number. It is a number assigned by the Spanish National Police to people from abroad that are not Spanish citizens. It is used to track all financial and legal activity in Spain. The number will begin with either an X or Y, followed by seven or 8 numbers and another letter.

Why do I need a NIE?

Aside from it being a legal identification number, the Spanish NIE is used for most transactions. You will need it if you want to:

  • Open a (non-foreigner’s) bank account

  • Study in Spain

  • Be legally employed

  • Pay taxes in Spain

  • Buy or sell property

  • Register a business

  • Get a Spanish driver’s licence

How do I apply for my NIE?

You must either visit a National Police station early in the morning or set up an appointment online. Appointments are not always available, so you will have to check back frequently (they are submitted every morning on the website at 8) or go in person. If you decide to go in person, you will have to arrive before 5 in the morning to line up to receive a number and a time for you to return the same day.

If you have applied to study in Spain, then you will have already been issued a temporary NIE and you will have to renew it to get the official card when you arrive in the country.

If you have received a job offer, then you should request an official offer or statement from the company so that you have proof to bring with you.

What are the NIE requirements?

It is better to inquire with the police to ask exactly what you need to bring, otherwise, they can turn you away if you’re missing something. Usually, the requirements differ from one station to another.

Generally, you will need to bring:

  • NIE application form

  • Original passport and a photocopy

  • Two small passport-sized photos

  • Government fee (about 12€), which they will ask you to pay at the bank.

  • Certificado de Empadronamiento

  • Proof of your studies (if applying as a student)

  • Offer of employment (if applying to work)

Hopefully, this article has quelled some of your anxieties about the NIE process. We’d love to hear about your own experiences or if you have any advice for other readers.

March 12th, 2018

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