All About Spain's NIE or DNI

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Calculate the spanish DNI letter code

It is never difficult to move to Spain to live, work or retire. You may have to deal with some paperwork and go through various standard procedures, but becoming a legitimate Spanish resident is hardly an arduous endeavor; especially for EU (European Union) or EEA (European Economic Area) citizens.

There are several important things that you need to understand and do when you have decided to stay in Spain for more than three months. If you aim to live a Spanish life for as long as possible, then you have to work on the tasks that will ensure the fulfillment of your goals. One of the most crucial tasks that you need to accomplish is the application for an NIE - a necessity in your day-to-day life in Spain.

What is this NIE and why do you need it?

NIE stands for Número de Identificación de Extranjero. Basically, it is an identification number for foreigners. It is your tax identification number that will be used as your national identification to the Spanish tax authorities. You will need it most of the time for completing various financial transactions.

NIF or Número de Identificación Fiscal is its equivalent for the Spaniards. However, Spanish citizens must also acquire a DNI or Documento Nacional de Identidad - a personal ID number. As for the foreigners, their NIE functions as both NIF and DNI. Such number will not be changed regardless of any updates or modifications in your marital or residence status. It is necessary for the following:


  • Buying and/or selling a Spanish house, car or boat
  • Opening a bank account or filing an income tax
  • Registration to the social services
  • Employment
  • Application for a driver's license
  • Business permit


Moreover, it may also be a requirement for getting a Certificate of Registration or Certificado de Empadronamiento. Evidently, you must be registered or be empadronado on the census record or Padrón Municipal de Habitantes of the town where you reside. This process is called empadronamiento. You will need the certificate when applying for a health card, registering your kids to a school, when voting or as a proof of residence. Inquire in your town whether you need the NIE for getting the certificate or you need to secure the certificate first to be able to apply for a tax ID number.

Basically, your NIE must be included in all documents necessary for any fiscal transactions. A majority of Spanish forms require this tax ID number, including utility bills and other forms to be filled up for administrative purposes. Nevertheless, its use and the requirements for application as well as the process may vary from one region to another. Find out about the specific regulations in your town.

The Process and Requirements for Application

When EU/EEA citizens apply for a Residence Certificate, they will automatically get their NIE. Indeed, your tax identification number is issued along with your certificate of residence (Certificado de registro como residente comunitario). Unfortunately, non-EU/EEA citizens will have to get their number separately. They will not be issued with a certificate. Instead, they should apply for a Residency Card. Non-EU/EEA citizens will have to make another application for their tax ID number.

Take note that you ought to work on your application for residency within three months upon your arrival in Spain. Applications are done either at the nearest police station or at the Oficina de Extranjeros/Foreigner's Office. Make a call beforehand as you might be able to set up an appointment.

EU/EEA citizens applying for a Residency Certificate must complete the EX18 application form (Solicitud de certificado de registro de residencia comunitaria) and present the bank-stamped Modelo 790 payment form along with your passport or other valid national ID and two passport size photos.

On the other hand, non-EU/EEA citizens applying for their NIE will have to present the completed EX-15 application form (Solicitud de Número de Identidad de Extranjero y Certificados) along with their valid national ID such as passport, two passport size photos and the bank-stamped Modelo 790 form as proof of payment. They may also have to submit their proof of income, proof of address, social security number and a letter stating the reasons (e.g., work, buying a property) as a reason for obtaining their NIE.

It could take one day, with an early start, to process your application completely. However, the processing usually take a month or more depending on the location and whether you are to apply for it separately or through the Certificate of Residency. The office will inform you of a date to personally collect your certificate and/or NIE. In some locations, you may be able to get your tax ID number immediately. Visit the nearest Spanish Consulate to be informed before moving to Spain.

Spanish NIE structure is 8 numbers, and a letter. If you need yo check the letter os your NIE, visit letra DNI