The information below has been collected by the Citylife team via intense research. Please keep in mind that we are not directly related to any legal or government departments and the information may be subject to change.

The NIE is the ‘Número de Identificación de Extranjero’ (Foreigner Identification Number), and is assigned to any non-Spanish person living in Spain, if the duration or nature of stay requires it. Below you will find information on whether you need it or not!

If you are a citizen of an EU member country, your identity document will be legal in all national territories within the EU, and you only need to obtain the ‘Certificado de Registro’. This is a green card on which your NIE will be printed, alongside your personal data.

If you are not a citizen of an EU member country (or equivalent), you will need a document that proves your identity and recognises you legally. In this case, you need to apply for the TIE, ‘Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero’ (Foreigner Identity Card). This card will display your NIE, personal data, type of authorisation of stay and your photo.

In brief, if you are from an EU member country or equivalent, your national identity card will be enough to identify yourself. However, if you are from outside the EU, you will need the TIE to do so. The NIE is just a unique number that you need in order to submit and carry out legal paperwork, as if you were a Spanish citizen.

1. I Am a Citizen of the EU or Equivalent*

1.1 Do I need a NIE?

  • I will stay in Spain for less than 3 months; You will need a NIE if you plan on making economic transactions, or professional or social actions. Eg. Open a bank account*, sign a phone contract, begin a job, undertake a paid internship etc.
  • I will stay in Spain for more than 3 months; You must obtain an NIE, by registering at the Registro Central de Extranjeros.

1.2 Do I need a TIE?

The TIE is only relevant for citizens outside the EU or equivalent. Your national identity card will be valid in Spain. Whether you need the NIE or not depends on the nature and duration of your stay.

How can I obtain the NIE? (EU Members or equivalent*)

To obtain the NIE, you must apply at a COMISARÍA GENERAL DE EXTRANJERÍA.

Steps to obtain the Certificado de Registro (NIE):

1. Fill out the NIE registration form
2. Request an appointment online

  • Click here to access the website
  • En Provincia disponibles choose ‘Madrid’, before choosing ‘Certificados UE’ in the next drop-down box.
  • Click enter
  • Enter out your passport data
  • Make your appointment

3. Application Fee:

  • You will need to pay the 012 fee (model 790) in the amount of 10,60 Euros (May 2017). Open this document here, choose Madrid and fill out the form with your personal data. Click the section labelled “Certificado de registro de residente comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la Unión“, and leave blank IBAN data. A PDF will be generated in which you will need to print and pay in cash at the nearest bank.

4. Prepare your documents:

  • Application Form (point 1)
  • Passport or valid document of identity (original and copy)
  • Receipt of payment made at the bank (original and copy) (point 3)
  • European Health Insurance Card or health insurance (original and copy)
  • Document that certifies the reason of your stay in Spain: Letter of acceptance, work contract, etc.

5. On the day of your appointment:

Present yourself at the designated location and present the documents in point 4

  • If you live in Madrid, the police station located at Calle Padre Piquer 18
  • If you live outside Madrid, you must go to wherever the website indicates your appointment will be.

6. Obtain your NIE ☺

2. I Am a Citizen of a Country That is not a Member of the EU or Equivalent*

If you are from outside the EU or equivalent, you are able to stay in Spain legally for up to 3 months with a tourist visa. In order to stay for more than 90 days, you need to obtain an authorisation of your stay in the form of a non-tourist visa (Student, work, marriage, etc).

However, there is a second step to the visa process once you arrive in Spain, which involves applying for a second document called a TIE.  A visa + the TIE will permit you to:

  • Legally stay in Spain during your courses of study
  • Travel within the EU and to those countries which have signed agreements with Spain or the EU to permit open travel

Procedures required to complete your stay (study purposes):

Before your arrival to Spain: Student Visa – click here to see how to apply for one

During the first 30 days after entry into Spain: TIE

How can I obtain the TIE?

*If your student visa is for a period of 6 months or less your Identity number (NIE) will be printed inside your passport and you won’t have to apply for the Identity card (TIE)*

You need to apply for the TIE during the first month after entry into Spain!

Steps to obtain the Foreigner Identity Card (TIE):

1. Fill out the TIE application form
2. Request an appointment online

  • Click here to access the website
  • Among the available provinces choose ‘Madrid’, before choosing ‘Toma de Huellas (Expedición de Tarjeta)’ in the next drop-down box.
  • Fill out the requested information
  • Make your appointment

3. Application Fee: You will need to pay the 012 fee (model 790) in the amount of 15,45 euros. To do so, fill out the form here. Enter your personal data, click the section labelled “TIE que documenta la primera concesión de la autorización de residencia temporal, de estancia o para trabajadores transfronterizos”. leave the ‘IBAN data’ field blank. A PDF will be generated which you will need to print and bring to the nearest bank, before paying the relevant fee in cash.

4. Prepare your documents:

  • Proof of appointment
  • Application form and copy (point 1)
  • Passport or valid document of identity (original and copy)
  • 2 recent photographs in passport format
  • Copy of the granted administrative decision, in the case of initial authorizations
  • Receipt of payment made at the bank, original and copy (point 3)
  • Certificate of residency (Empadronamiento). Click here to find out how to apply for this document

5. On the day of your appointment: Present yourself at the Brigada de Extranjeria, located at Avenida de los Poblados S/N – 28047 Madrid.  Make sure you bring all of the documents mentioned in point 4.

6. Obtain your TIE

3. Frequently Asked Questions:

  • If my program of studies lasts longer than 1 year, can I renew my TIE?

Yes you can renew your TIE by filling out the application of extension, paying the extension fee in the amount of 18,54 euros (section 4.2) following the same steps necessary to obtain the TIE (read above).

  • I have to travel and my TIE is expired. What do I do?

If you have to leave Spain and your card is in the renewal process, you can apply for an Autorización de Regreso (permission to return), which will permit you to return to the country even if your card has already expired. This authorization permits you to leave and re-enter the country ONCE over a period of 90 days (the authorization of return is only valid to enter directly into Spain). If you return through another country in the Schengen zone, you should check in advance if you need a visa and process it before you book your flight. Upon re-entry, your regreso paper will be stamped and therefore unusable. If you need to leave the country again and your documents are still expired, you will need to apply for another Autorización de Regreso. To find out how to apply for this document click here.

* EU citizens and equivalent refers to : Citizens of the European Union (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Holland , Hungary , Ireland , Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemborg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden), the European Economic Area (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway) and Switzerland.

** In the case that you want to open a bank account and you do not have a NIE, we will help to do so thanks to our collaboration with Banco Sabadell.

– Your Citylife Team

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4 comments. Leave new

Hi – what happens if as an EU national has a NIE from having studied abroad in Madrid two years ago, and now returns to teach english in a city just outside of Madrid? Is there a NIE renewal process? Or does the initial NIE last? Thanks for any help!

Hey Lyd!

Technically, the only thing you would have to change on your NIE document is the address! You can do this by following the same steps in this article for applying for the NIE the first time!

Hi Leah,

I was wondering whether the rules for the TIE had changed (in June 2017), since I’ve been informed by other applicants that you no longer need the empadronamiento certificate.

I’ll be staying with friends for my first month, so I won’t have a rent contact (and no empadronamiento doc). Can I still apply for the TIE or do I need another document to supplement the lack of empadronamiento?

Cheers, Lola

Paddy Murphy
29/06/2017 17:34

Thanks for the article. I have been searching for just this! I come from Ireland and we have no national identity card. When I apply for NIE will I get a Spanish identity card with my photo and address? Should I choose a different type of appointment as I need a card or is Certficados UE the appropriate appointment? If not how to I satisfy the Spanish legal requirement to carry an identity document at all time?

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