What is an NIE and who needs it?…

The NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is a Spanish tax identification number assigned by the Spanish authorities to any foreigner.

The number is unique and personal and is used as a way of tracking an individual’s financial and official activities in Spain. It is a legal requirement for all resident and non-resident foreigners with financial, professional or social affairs in Spain – regardless of whether they are EU citizens or from a non-EU country.

The NIE is the equivalent of a Spaniards Número de Identificación Fiscal (NIF) which serves as a fiscal identification number. The CIF number (Certificado de Identificación Fiscal) is equivalent to the NIF, but applies to companies rather than individuals. The NIE consists of an ‘X’ or ‘Y’ followed by 7 or 8 digits then another letter.

The NIE is essential for any fiscal transactions in Spain where money is paid to the Spanish Inland Revenue office. The NIE should be quoted in all dealings with tax authorities.  The number appears on all documents issued in Spain and always starts with an ‘X’ followed by seven numbers and a letter. The number is non-transferable and it does not expire.

An NIE number is needed to:

  • Open a bank account
  • Buy, sell or insure property
  • Arrange credit terms or a mortgage
  • Pay taxes
  • Be paid for employment
  • Use short-term employment agencies
  • To study
  • Apply for a business permit and start a business
  • Register with social services and arrange receipt of social security benefits
  • Apply for a driver’s licence
  • Arrange any utility account except for pre-paid mobile phones
  • Inherit assets