How To Get An ID Number In Spain As A Foreign National

Moving to Spain? Then one of the first things you will need to do is obtain one of the country’s resident ID numbers. This is vital for many things including accessing the Spanish social security system or even buying property in the country.

But getting a Spanish ID number isn’t as easy as you might thing, especially as there are different types of identification card and the one you will be eligible for will depend on both your residence status and the transaction you are using your ID for.

Ready to apply for your first Spanish ID number? Here’s what you need to know:

How Many Types of ID Numbers Are There In Spain?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ ID number system in Spain. The type of identification number that you will be eligible for will depend on whether you are a citizen or a foreign resident. There are also ID cards that can be used by non-residents who conduct any kind of financial or legal activity in the country. Your ID card can be used for tax or social security purposes and one of their main roles is so that the Spanish Tax Agency can work out whether you will need to pay tax in Spain, and if so how much tax you should expect to pay.

For this reason any financial decision you make in the country, from opening a bank account to getting a job or buying a house, can only be conducted with and ID number.

The 3 types of Spanish tax ID numbers are:

NIE number (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) – You will be eligible for this if you are either a foreign resident or non-resident living and conducting tax-related business in Spain.

DNI number (Documento Nacional de Identidad) – You will be eligible for this if you are a Spanish national.

Business NIF number – This ID number is only issued to limited companies operating in Spain.

If you want to work on Spain or access the social security system in the country then you will also need to apply for a Spanish social security number.

What Is a Spanish NIE Number?

If you are a foreigner living in Spain then you are likely to be issued an NIE number. THis is the ID number designed specifically for foreigners in the country and it is used for tax purposes. Everyone will need to apply for this if they move to Spain and live in the country for longer than 3 months. If you don’t live in Spain you may still need a Spanish NIE number, and you can’t carry out any financial or legal transactions in Spain without one.

If you are a foreigner legally residing in Spain then it is relatively easy to obtain an NIE number. These are issued by the Ministry of the Interior.European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) nationals receive their NIE number on an NIE card, which is a laminated green paper card. Non-EU/EFTA citizens, including citizens from the UK, will receive their number on a TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) card, which is in plastic credit card format.

What Information Will Be Included on the NIE and TIE Identity Cards?

Your NIE/TIE card will contain a unique identity number that you will be asked to use when conducting any financial transaction. Your card will only contain the following information about you

  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Address
  • Registration date
  • A current photograph
  • Biometric information
  • The type of residency permit you have been issued
  • The cards expiry date

What Can You Use Your NIE Number For?

You’ll be amazed by just how much you will need your NIE number as a foreign resident in Spain. You will be asked to show this card for many things including, but not limited to:

  • Paying taxes in the country
  • Applying for and starting a job
  • Opening a business
  • Becoming self employed or working as a freelancer
  • Opening a bank account
  • Registering for social security or applying for benefits
  • Buying, renting, or selling a Spanish property
  • Applying for a loan or mortgage
  • Buying or selling a car
  • Getting a driving license
  • Applying to study at college or university
  • Setting up utility accounts for your Spanish home

How Do You Apply For An NIE Number In Spain?

If you have been living in Spain for longer than 3 months or conducting business in the country then you will need to apply for your own NIE number. To do this there are several different ways to apply. These include:

Making an appointment at the local immigration office if you are already living in Spain

If you are not currently living in Spain then you can apply via the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.

Choose a digital support service such as e-residence who can complete your application on your behalf


You will need to fill out an EX-15 application form (in Spanish) for your NIE number, along with the annex Form 790 Code 12. If you are a non-EU/EFTA national requiring a TIE card, you need to complete the EX-17 form. In the post-Brexit world UK nationals need to fill in an EX-23 form instead to obtain their TIE card. Once you have completed your application you will need to submit it along with

Your passport or valid photo ID

Two passport photos

Proof of your address

Proof of power of attorney, if someone else is applying for your NIE number on your behalf

Payment of administration fee, which is currently around €12


All documents should be translated into Spanish, and you will need to find a certified notary who can prepare official translations that will be accepted for this application. Once these documents are prepared, you can submit your application. In theory you should then receive your NIE card in around two weeks, but when there are a huge number of applications the process can take up to 2 months. Once you have received your TIE card this is usually valid for 12 months, but the NIE number you've been issued will never expire.

If you are a foreign resident in Spain living there for more than three months, you will also need to enroll in el padrón, Spain’s population register, this is a separate process, and a very easy one to complete.

What Is A DNI Number In Spain?

If you are Spanish citizen then you won’t need to apply for a TIE card. These are only for foreign nationals. Instead you will need a DNI number: this is both the national ID and NIF tax number for Spanish citizens. Like the NIE number you will need this for all financial and legal transactions in Spain. You will also receive a card and a unique identification number.

These cards are credit card sized making it easy to carry with you at all times and all of the personal information outlined above that the TIE card will contain will also be included in the DNI card. Once you have a DNI number it’s yours for life, but your card will need to be renewed at your local police station every 5 to 10 years. Every Spanish citizen aged 14 years and over must apply for this card.

To apply for a DNI card you will need:

Spanish passport or proof of Spanish nationality

Your original birth certificate

A recent passport photo

Proof of address

Proof of power of attorney, if someone else is applying on your behalf

Payment of fee, which is currently €12

What If I Need A Business ID Number In Spain?

The type of ID number you will need if you run a business in Spain will be determined by the type of business you run. Up until 2008 Spanish businesses needed their own tax number but now you can use your individual DNI or NIE number as a business tax ID if your business is either an unincorporated partnership or you are a sole trader. If you are operating a limited company though your business will need its own NIF number.

If you set up a limited company that exists as a separate legal entity, you need to apply for an NIF number for your business. You can get this from the Spanish Tax Agency, and you must apply for your NIF card within a month of setting up your limited company. To get this type of card you will need

Completed Form 036 or Form 037

Certificate from the registry of companies stating that the company is legally a corporation

Proof of company’s legal name, address, nationality, registration date, names and NIE/DNI numbers of company representatives

Valid ID of the company representative making the application

How Do Social Security Numbers In Spain Work?

If you want to work during your time in Spain then you will need to have a Spanish social security number. You will also need this number of access Spanish social security benefits. Your social security number will enable the Spanish authorities to track any payments you make into the system as well as to access your financial entitlements. You will need to visit your local social security office to apply for a social security card in Spain. You should receive this card within 2 weeks of completing your application.

The benefits that you can take advantage of by having a Spanish social security number include:

Access to public healthcare services

Unemployment benefits

State pension

Disability benefits

Maternity and paternity pay

Child benefits

Sick pay

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Looking to escape the cold and rainy weather in the UK and make an escape to the sun? Then why not get in touch with our local property experts, who are perfectly placed to help you buy the Spanish home of your dreams. We’re excited to help you make your next move your best move!