Foreigners Identification Number

Foreigners residing or engaging in any legal or financial activities in Spain are required to obtain a tax identification number. This number, known as the Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE), serves as an essential identification document for foreigners in Spain. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of the NIE, its significance, and the process of obtaining it. We will also delve into the differences between the NIE and the Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjero (TIE) and address common questions and concerns regarding the identification number for foreigners in Spain.


Understanding the NIE: Who Needs It and Why?

The NIE is a unique identification number that is assigned to foreigners in Spain. It is a crucial requirement for individuals participating in any economic or financial activities within the country. Whether you are setting up a business, becoming self-employed, purchasing property, or even obtaining a driver’s license, the NIE is essential. It serves as your identification against the Spanish Tax Agency and enables them to monitor and regulate your tax-related operations.

NIE for Foreign Residents in Spain

If you are a foreigner residing in Spain, your NIE will serve as your tax identification number. It is important to note that the NIE also functions as a general identification number for various procedures in Spain. This means that your NIE will be the primary identification document for both tax-related and general legal proceedings.

DNI for Spanish Nationals

Spanish nationals have their own identification document known as the Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI). The DNI serves as their tax identification number, equivalent to the NIE for foreigners. However, if a Spanish national establishes a company, they will need to obtain an additional identification number called the Código de Identificación Fiscal (CIF).

Uncovering the CIF: What is it and How Does it Differ from the NIE?

The CIF, or Código de Identificación Fiscal, is the tax identification number specific to companies and legal entities in Spain. Unlike the NIE for individuals, the CIF is necessary for setting up a company as the personal tax identification number is not sufficient. The CIF is composed of a letter followed by eight digits, totaling nine alphanumeric characters.

Each letter in the CIF indicates the type of organization or business structure. For example, “A” denotes stock corporations, while “B” represents limited liability companies. The following two digits indicate the geographical region where the company is located, such as “58” for Barcelona and “28” for Madrid. The subsequent five digits are a unique identification number, and the final digit is a control digit.

It is important to note that the CIF number also doubles as the VAT number, unlike in many other countries where the two numbers are separate. Although the CIF merged with the NIF (tax identification number for individuals) in 2008, the process and requirements for obtaining the CIF or NIF differ depending on whether you are an individual or a company.

Obtaining a CIF or NIF: Requirements and Process

Requirements for Obtaining a CIF

To obtain a CIF for your company, you will need to submit the following documents:

  1. A written NIF application signed by the company’s representative.
  2. ID card of the representative.
  3. Certificate of good standing, including all business details such as the legal name, address, registration date, and representatives.

Requirements for Obtaining a NIF

To obtain a NIF as an individual, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Identification document, such as your passport or ID similar to the Spanish DNI.
  • Power of attorney if applying through a representative.
  • Residency proof to verify the consular jurisdiction that corresponds to your case.

Differentiating the NIF and DNI: When to Use Each?

While the DNI serves as the general identification document for Spanish citizens, the NIF is specifically required for financial or legal procedures with tax or customs implications. If the authorities need to identify you for any general legal activity, document signing, or travel purposes, the DNI (or NIE for foreigners) will be the requested identification. However, if you are carrying out a financial transaction or dealing with personal taxes, you will use the NIF.

Obtaining Your Tax Identification Number in Spain

The process of obtaining your tax identification number in Spain differs depending on your situation.

Spanish Nationals

If you are a Spanish national, you can obtain your NIF or DNI at the closest police station. An appointment may be necessary for this process.

Foreign Residents – Foreigners Identification Number

For foreign residents, the NIE serves as their tax identification number. There are two options for obtaining the NIE:

  • Obtain the NIE directly in Spain at the immigration office.
  • Obtain the NIE at the Spanish consulate or embassy in your country of origin. This option is typically for non-residents who own property in Spain or are applying for residency.

Exceptions to the NIE Requirement: Temporary NIF

In certain situations, it is possible to apply for a temporary NIF directly at the Spanish tax agency without obtaining the NIE. These situations include:

  • Spanish nationals under 14 years old.
  • Spanish citizens with residency abroad and no valid DNI.
  • Foreigners who are not eligible to apply for an NIE.
  • Spanish companies (in this case, the tax ID will be permanent).

It is important to note that the temporary NIF is only applicable for specific circumstances and should not be confused with the NIE or CIF.

Conclusion – Foreigners Identification Number

Obtaining the identification number for foreigners in Spain, whether it’s the NIE, CIF, or NIF, is a crucial step for legal and financial activities within the country. Understanding the differences between these numbers and the process of obtaining them is essential for individuals and companies operating in Spain. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can navigate the complexities of the identification number system in Spain and ensure compliance with tax and legal requirements. For personalized assistance and expert advice, consider consulting with a legal professional who specializes in immigration and residency matters.


Frequently Asked Questions – Foreigners Identification Number

What is the difference between the NIE and the TIE?

The NIE is the identification number for foreigners in Spain, while the TIE is the physical card or plastic that contains the identification number. The TIE is obtained after the NIE and serves as proof of legal residence in Spain.

Can the NIE number be changed?

The NIE number remains the same for as long as you are a foreigner. It is only changed when you acquire Spanish citizenship and obtain a DNI.

What happens if I am irregular and apply for the NIE?

If you are in an irregular situation and apply for the NIE, there is a risk of being subjected to a sanctioning procedure and potential expulsion. However, certain exceptions exist for individuals applying for international protection.

How can I obtain the NIE number if I am outside of Spain?

If you need to obtain the NIE and are outside of Spain, you can visit the Spanish consulate or embassy in your country of origin.

1 thought on “Foreigners Identification Number”

  1. Good morning, I am planning to travel to Spain for vacation and take advantage of the opportunity to apply for a foreigner identification number (NIE), but I don’t know if it is faster and safer to apply for it in Spain or here at the Consulate.

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