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N.I.E for non European citizens in Spain

Updated: 5 days ago

The N.I.E (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is the document that is acquired by foreigners who live in Spain. This document serves as the main source of identification in general while living in Spain as well as it is required to carry out any type of legal procedure or economic transaction. In order to work in Spain as a foreigner from outside Europe, you need to apply for this card and also a work permit especially if you are planning to live in the country for a long period of time (generally more than three months). The process of getting this identification number takes about three weeks so it is advisable to prepare every document required before applying.

According to Article 206 of the Regulations of Organic Law 4/2000, on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain and their social integration, approved by Royal Decree 557/2011, of 20 April. All foreigners that come to Spain in relation to economic, professional or social interests shall be provided with a personal, unique and exclusive sequential number, for identification purposes[1]. Applications must be submitted at the Consular Post of the district in which the foreigner resides, either personally or through a duly accredited representative, and the application must be accompanied by a copy of the biographical page of the passport containing the holder's information (EU citizens can provide a copy of their identity card), and by proof of the economic, professional or social interests justifying the application.

N.I.E Procedure

This N.I.E process is not to be confused with the Resident N.I.E which is meant only for European citizens who are planning to live and work in spain.

  • Firstly, you will need to submit the model EX-15[2], then the second model which is 790 NIE form. Bear in mind that this document comes with an associated tax you will need to pay.

  • You also need your passport and copies of all pages.

  • A proof of your entry in Spain which can be accredited through a stamp on your passport or the plane ticket to Spain.

  • A document proving why you need the NIE number. Proof of financial means to live in Spain.

  • Private health insurance.

  • Two small photos.

  • Fingerprints (this won’t be required for the initial application procedure)

This document does not expire and it will always be necessary to file taxes, open bank accounts, any other legal procedure and most importantly to prove that you are a resident of Spain. It is advisable to do everything on paper and submit all the documents in person. It generally takes three to five days to receive the NIE but it is advisable to make sure everything is done properly to avoid spanish bureaucracy and any delay.

The N.I.E number for non EU nationals will be printed on an A4 white sheet paper without photo while a normal residency permit will be on a green card also without photo. There are multiple locations across the country to go in order to submit your application in person and there are lawyers that can be hired to be your representative if you do not feel comfortable doing it by yourself.

Legal Advice

If you’re interested in moving to Spain for a long period (more than 3 months), I will recommend that you apply for a residency permit along with the N.I.E number in order to stay in the country without legal issues. Tax evasion and identity fraud are big problems that are heavily tackled by the Spanish authorities so the best way to prevent any clash with the law enforcement is to apply for both documents at your consulate before coming to Spain.

The N.I.E number will verify your identity while in the country but the Resident Permit card will allow you to be able to get other necessary documents that will allow you free movement and peace of mind while staying in Spain like a drivers license, public healthcare and buying a house. In conclusion, regardless of how long you want to reside in Spain, it is advisable to get the N.I.E number and always have it handy in case you are required to prove your identity while you’re in the country.


  1. “N.I.E. (Foreigners' Identity Number) and Certificates of Non Residence.” N.i.e. (Foreigners' Identity Number) and Certificates of Non Residence,

  2. balcellsg, balcellsg on August. “NIE Number in Spain - How to Get It Fast in 2020, Types and More!” Balcells Group, 6 July 2021,

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