What is an NIE and what is it for?

In this article Martin Hayes of SWAN Partners gives simple and to the point replies to the most frequently asked questions on Spanish NIE fiscal numbers.


1. What is an NIE?

N.I.E. stands for Número de Identidad de Extranjero. It is a fiscal number which is issued to foreigners in Spain who wish to conduct transactions, for example purchasing a property, a car, opening a bank account, setting up a Spanish Limited Company etc.


2. Who can get an NIE?

An NIE can only be issued to foreigners (people not holding Spanish nationality).


3. Do I have to be an EU citizen to get one?

You do not have to be from the European Union to apply for an NIE.


4. Is there an NIE Card?

No, at present it is issued as an A4 sized document by the National Police of Spain.


5. Where Can I Get an NIE?

You can apply for an NIE through your local Spanish Embassy or Consulate General. You can apply for one in person through the national police but to avoid bureaucracy issues, you can also ask your lawyer to obtain one for you through Power of Attorney.


6. Does an NIE give me residency?

No, an NIE is just a fiscal number and does not affect your residency status in Spain.


7. Will having an NIE affect my fiscal status

No, having an NIE by itself will not change your tax status in Spain


8. If I become a Spanish resident does my NIE number change?

No, you keep the same NIE number when you become a Spanish resident.


9. Do I need a NIE number to get a Residence Card?

No, depending on your circumstances you can apply directly for a residence card which will itself give you a NIE number


10. I have obtained a Non-Lucrative Visa through my Embassy; do I still need an NIE number?

You will be assigned one through the non-lucrative visa process


11. How long will an NIE number last for?

In principal your NIE is indefinite – it is best to register it with the Tax office to ensure this remains the case.


12. How does the NIE number fit with the Golden Visa Program?

The most common way of getting a Spanish Golden Visa is by way of investing €500,000 in Spanish property and you will need to have an NIE certificate as part of fulfilling the investment requirement.


13. My nationality has changed…. Do I need a New NIE?

There are occasions where people have obtained their NIE with one nationality and then later wish to change to associate their NIE with another passport that they hold.
A common example of this is British citizens seeking to use a second European nationality due to Brexit or citizens from USA seeking to use their Latin American dual nationality to take advantage of favorable avenues afforded to them under Spanish citizenship rules.

It is very important that you take the proper steps to keep your original NIE number to avoid major bureaucratic issues down the road. Consult your lawyer who should be able to assist you with this process.


14. I have divorced and want to use my maiden name, do I need a new NIE?

As with the above question, it is best that you retain your original NIE and follow the correct compatibility process to have your NIE carried over to align with your new passport issued in your maiden name.

Further information:

Please contact Martin Hayes of SWAN Partners for assistance or further information.