LAST UPDATED: 14th December 2019
- What is an NIE number?
- How to Apply for an NIE
- Documents to Bring to the Police Station
- Applying for an NIE from outside Spain
1. What is an NIE number?
The very first official document that every new arrival in Tenerife is going to need is an NIE (Numero de Identificacion Extranjero).
New arrivals may end up confused by the difference between DNI, NIE, NIF, CIF etc.
DNI refers to a Spanish National Identity card (whereas most foreigners only have a passport as equivalent).
NIF is the unique tax number for Spanish Nationals (which is actually the same number as in their DNI).
CIF is the tax number for a company or similar organisation.
For foreigners, the corresponding number is the NIE number. So, when you see any form or website box requesting you fill in your DNI or NIF, the correct number for a foreigner to insert is their NIE.
The NIE number is required for almost any financial, legal or administrative matter you need to deal with in Spain including:
- Buying or selling a property
- Buying a car/motorbike/boat
- Opening a bank account
- Applying for a credit card, loan or mortgage
- Getting a job
- Setting up as self-employed or running a company
- Buying or selling a business
- Applying for memberships of clubs
- Inherit assets when somebody dies
- Registering for medical care or taking out private medical insurance
- Paying a utility bill
- Take out a mobile phone contract
- Applying for a Spanish driving licence
- Taking out an insurance policy
- Making a Spanish Will
- Making Social Security or tax payments
- Applying for a fishing licence
Hence, anybody spending any amount of time in Spain is going to need an NIE at some early point. An example of an NIE certificate can be viewed here:
All NIE numbers start with an X or a Y followed by 7 numbers and a final letter (e.g. X-1234567-B). The assigned number stays with you for life, even if you leave Spain for any period. It does not need renewing and does not expire. Older copies of the paper certificate came marked with a 3 month expiry date, whereas newly issued certificates do not bear an expiry date. The logic behind the old expiry date was that you are only legally entitled to stay in Spain for 3 months without applying for Residency. Hence, it was assumed that you would only need your NIE certificate to cover any economic activities for the first 3 months of your stay, following which time you will either have left Spain, or will have superceded the NIE certificate with a green Residencia Card. However, 99% of organisations and businesses don’t even bother to check the NIE expiry date. They simply need proof of your actual NIE number.
It is also worth noting that residents who subsequently apply for the green residencia card routinely use that card that as alternative proof of their NIE number. So the Residencia card effectively becomes a replacement for the actual NIE certificate. The Residencia card definitely doesn’t have an expiry date. For more information about Residencia, click HERE.
2. How to Apply for an NIE number
To apply for your NIE here in Spain, you need to complete 2 forms, then go to the bank to pay the application fee, then attend at a designated Police Station.
The first document you will need is a ‘Modelo 790’ form. This is used to pay the application fee at Bank. Not all banks will process this form with a cash payment over the counter, although La Caixa is definitely one which does. However, any Spanish bank that you have an account with will assist you with the form, regardless of the form of payment).
The form should be completed online (see link below) and then printed off and taken to the relevant bank. Once you complete the form and click the Finish/Descargar button at the bottom, the completed form in triplicate will automatically appear ready to download/print, with the correct fee automatically inserted.
NOTE: This form is used for various types of application other than just NIEs. So for a new NIE, near the bottom of the form, you should therefore select the option that says:
“Asignación de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) a instancia del interesado.”
The current fee (as of December 2019) is €9.64. However, you can double-check the latest fee here (search the page for “NIE”):
Once you have paid the fee, the bank then stamps the form as proof of payment.
You then also need to fill in the Spanish EX-15 Application Form for the NIE itself (modelo de solicitud). You can download and print the form here (only 1 copy of the form is required):
For those struggling to understand the form, you can view an explanatory copy in English here, although your actual application MUST be on the Spanish form:
NOTE: In Playa De Las Americas, an internet-downloaded and printed EX-15 form is acceptable, although certain police stations might request that their own hard copy form is completed. Please therefore check with any of the other police stations before attending:
There are 4 police stations in Tenerife that process NIE applications, namely:
Playa de las Americas
Edif. Las Terrazas S/N, Sector Cero, Parcela CNP, Adeje
Tel: 922 789123 / 922 789114
Calle la Marina, 20, Santa Cruz 38001
Tel: 922 235634 / 922 235632
Puerto de la Cruz
Av. del Campo y Llarena Nº 3 – 35400, Puerto de La Cruz
Tel: 922 376831 / 922 376832
C/ Nava y Grimón 66 – 38201, La Laguna
Tel: 922 314621 / 922 314630
Once you have completed both forms correctly, you must then attend at the police station shortly before 8.30am on any working day and queue to ‘take a number’, which are given out at or shortly after 8.30am. Those issued numbers are then dealt with in sequential order by the handful of police officers on duty on any given day. Taking a few minutes to watch the speed at which the numbers are called will allow you to roughly calculate how long you will have to wait, perhaps giving you enough time to pop out for a coffee while you wait. However, leave yourself some leeway for any delay because if you miss your number, you have to come back and start the whole procedure again another day (numbers are only issued once a day at 8.30am).
3. Documents to bring to the Police Station
You will need to bring:
1. Completed and signed form EX-15.
2. Your original passport (which must be valid and unexpired)
3. A photocopy of your passport
4. Form 790 (already paid at the Bank and stamped)
If you are applying on behalf of somebody else using a Power of Attorney, you should also bring the original Power of Attorney, plus your own original passport, plus a photocopy of your own passport.
If everything is in order, you will receive the certificate while you wait, which contains your new NIE number (a white sheet of A4 paper). Please then keep this document safe. If you lose it, you will essentially have to repeat most of the above procedure in order to get a new copy.
4. Applying for an NIE from outside Spain
Whilst most people apply for their NIE number at their local Policia Nacional police station after they arrive in Spain, it is even possible to apply for your NIE number in your home country via an authorised Spanish Consular Office. This is particularly handy for those conducting business or activities in Spain that require an NIE number but who don’t actually intend to travel to Spain in the near future. Further information and application forms for overseas NIE applications can be found here:
In the UK, there are 2 Spanish Consulates, namely:
20 Draycott Place, London SW3 2RZ
Tel: 020 7589 8989
Fax: 020 7581 7888
63 North Castle Street
Edinburgh EH2 3LJ
Tel. 0131 220 1843
Fax: 0131 226 4568