TIE, NIE, DNI, NIF, CIF, Social Security

19 March 2021

ID Cards For Residents of Spain


Information on getting your TIE, NIE, social security number and other forms of identification for expat residents of Spain.


This, of course, does not mean you get automatic residency in Spain, nor will it make it any easier to get residency."

NIE Número de Identidad/Identificación de Extranjero

The immigration service issues this number to you once you obtain residency (you will find the number on your Resident Card).  This is your identification number in Spain.  It is needed in order to file taxes, establish a business, open a bank account (not necessary for foreign accounts), and for almost any other form you fill out.  Both EU citizens and non-EU citizens get issued an NIE.  You can search google for the most recent version of the form. Note that you can take this form to the Spanish Embassy in your country before you leave and receive the NIE ahead of time.

Also see The Cheat’s anecdotal guide to getting your NIE Live and Let NIE - Spanorama.

TIE Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero 

This is the new residence card which has now be sized and formatted like a drivers license (much better than the old certificates on paper!). The TIE is required for opening a Spanish bank account or getting a Spanish mobile phone contract.

More: How to get your TIE, step by step, with translated documents and as little pain as possible

More: How to beat the system and get a cita previa when you've been trying for weeks.

DNI Documento Nacional de Identidad

This is the ID number for Spanish citizens.  The same number is used for one’s driver’s license.

NIF (Número de Identificación Fiscal): This is the tax ID number for all individuals.  For Spaniards, it’s the DNI plus one letter; for foreigners, it’s the same number as your NIE. Once you have an NIE, you do not need to re-apply for an NIF; if and when you have to pay taxes, use your NIE number. If you’re a nonresident who has to pay taxes in Spain, you may get an NIF issued to you without having an NIE. This, of course, does not mean you get automatic residency in Spain, nor will it make it any easier to get residency.

CIF (Certificado de Identificación Fiscal): This is the the same as the NIF, but for companies.

Social Security Number: Your employer applies for this number when you start your first job in Spain.  This number then stays with you for all subsequent jobs.  If you are self-employed, you apply for this number yourself.

The New Residency (Residencia) Card

by algrif It is true that the new certificate is now being issued to replace the old Residencia, at the insistence of Brussels. It is to be carried with the national ID or passport of your country of origin. It will show your name and the NIE that you were issued with. I suppose this last bit, as I still have not got my copy yet. So far, I have been to Extranjería in Alicante where, after waiting over 2 hours for my turn, I was pleasantly informed that I did not need to go there at all now. (Question: Why didn't the guy at the info desk at the entrance tell me there and then, or at least give me a photocopy info sheet or something?) They explained that I was to go to any Comisería of the National Police. So, I went off to Elche, thinking that Alicante would probably be full to overflowing, and anyway I live nearer to Elche. There, I was given two forms to fill out at my leisure at home. Both were simple. One was to make the payment of 6.70€ at any bank, Caja de Ahorros, etc. The other was to fill with my name, address, issued NIE and passport numbers. Today, I went to the Comisería at 9.00am only to be told that the numbers normally run out before 8.00. "Please would I return on Monday at an earlier time." So it seems that the horrendous queues which have been the subject of numerous denouncements at Brussels have simply been transferred to the Comiserías. I will let you know how I get on. Meanwhile, I think we can feel safe in the knowledge that, carrying an old Residencia plus passport is OK as it is legal enough for the moment. I have always maintained this position, refusing to renew my Residencia as it had been denounced as illegal under European Law. This point has been bourne out as I have done all the following things with an out of date residencia plus passport: Got married, got a job, opened a bank account, got a mortgage, bought a house, bought and sold more than one car, hired a car, and more things besides. All along the line people have admonished me because "You really should get the residencia up to date you know" in both Spanish and English. But everyone knew, that in reality, they could not insist as European Law was on my side.

Residencia Update

Well, I arrived at the Comisería at just before 6.00 am and hunted through the crowd already there to find someone who was keeping track of arrival order in note pad. At about 7.45 a policeman came out and took the list and started to put us in an orderly queue. I'm sure you can imagine how easy that was. ha ha. Finally, after a lot of cajoling, shouting, joking, and storming off in a temper, we were in a queue more or less corresponding to the list. At 8.00 another policeman came out and started to hand out numbers to the 3 queues. First to the renew DNI queue, then to the Passport queue, and finally whatever was left to our queue. I was number 59. After giving number 60 to the person next behind me the Policeman shouted "That's it. Everyone else can come back tomorrow". He was adamant. The person behind me was in fact one half of a couple. So they had to come back also as the policeman refused to give out number 61. At about 1.30, my turn came. It took about 2 minutes. The nice lady behind the desk took my two forms and my passport. She didn't ask for any photocopies (even though, as a result of hard earned experience, I was carrying two photocopies of everything I could think of!) And she printed and stamped a form that says, (in Spanish, of course) : 

CERTIFICADO DE REGISTRO DE CIUDADANO DE LA UNIÓN Note: This document is not valid to confirm the identity nor the nationality of the holder The Chief Registrar of the Central Registry of Foreigners in the Comisería of (the town where you are) Certifies: That according to (the relevant Spanish law) the below named person has requested and received his inscription in the official registry of the Guardia Civil as a community resident living in Spain on a permanent basis since (first date of your NIE)

 There then follows your personal details: name, address, nationality and your NIE. You keep a copy of this with your passport or other national ID, and keep the original in a safe place at home. And that's IT!! No renewals (except for your own national ID). Don't forget that in Spain it is illegal to be out and about indocumentado This means that, just as the Spanish always carry their DNI, you must carry your national ID plus copy of this certificate. You can be fined on the spot for being indocumentado.

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