The Law in Spain: Important to Have an NIE Spanish Number (Foreigner Identification Number)

All new arrivals, seasonal workers and homebuyers in Spain will all have to apply for their NIE Spanish number. It stands for Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which translates roughly to Foreigner Identification Number. This page explains why it is important to have NIE and outlines how it makes your life in Spain a whole lot easier.

NIE Number Spain. How to apply for the NIE Spanish number at the local national police station

NIE Spanish Number: Procedure

Application for the NIE Spanish number can be made by the applicant in person at the local national police station. Can also be done by their lawyer or fiscal representative with a “power of attorney”.

NIE Spanish number. Your NIE number is yours for life, even if you must re-apply for it

The Same Number for Life

The NIE certificate that you receive when you return to your local national police (“policia nacional”) station to pick it up is actually only valid for three months. However, the allocated NIE Spanish number is unique to you, and will be yours for life. So remember: the certificate has a short shelf-life but the number will never change.

NIE Spanish number: you have 3 months to decide to apply for residency or leave the country

Making a Decision About Residency

Before those first three months end, you have two choices: 

  1. Stay permanently in Spain and register as a foreign resident by obtaining a “Certificado de Residencia”.
  2. or return to your country of residence.

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NIE Spanish number: Remember to provide identification documentation for all bureaucratic procedures

Identity Required for Most Paperwork

If you then return to Spain, your NIE Spanish number remains the same; but you will have to apply either for a new certificate or for residency. Either way, you need some form of valid, tangible identity in order to carry out pretty much any bureaucratic undertaking in Spain.

PLEASE NOTE: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our “Legal Advice” articles at the time of writing, but it may have been superseded over time. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions; nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices and figures were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA.

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