The NIE Nightmare

The NIE Nightmare continues in Spain and while this is happening we wanted to enlighten you on the difference between the different local compliance terms and which one you should get depending on your specific case.

Spanish Flag in front of a building

The difference between documents


NIE stands for Número de Identificación de Extranjero (identification number for foreigners) and is for everyone who is not a Spanish citizen. The NIE number is always one letter followed by 7 numbers, and then another letter- e.g. X-7654567-C. It is issued on a white sheet of paper A4 size and not to be confused with the Green NIE Card.

In short, it is just a number that identifies you as a foreigner in Spain. This number is required for any legal and financial work in filing taxes, buying property, establishing a business, opening a bank account, and for almost all other forms you fill out.

While you need a NIE to make any kind of transaction or payment that might involve the Spanish Tax Office, having one does not authorize you to live or work in Spain. Authorization for residence in Spain – for non-EU nationals is the TIE, and for EU citizens, is the EU residency certificate (or NIE green card).


The TIE stands for Tarjeta de Identidad de extranjero, it is essentially a card that contains all your identity details in Spain and is proof that you are a Spanish resident. Only non-EU nationals are eligible for a TIE and for it to be granted, you must be a legal resident of Spain and stay in Spain for more than 6 months. That means you must have obtained your residence and/or work permit and, of course, have a NIE number assigned. You must apply for your TIE within 30 days of arriving in Spain as a resident in order to obtain it. View more


NIE is also commonly used for the green card issued to EU passport holders. If you are an EU/EEA citizen and would like to stay longer than 90 days in Spain, then you will have to register with the authorities to get a NIE “residence card”. The correct legal term to call it is Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la UE – EU residency certificate aka NIE green card. This is a green paper card that cannot be laminated. It contains your name, date of birth and location of birth, address in Spain, and date of application. View more


A blue card is a common name to call a temporary residence and work authorization for non-residents of the EU that allows you to live and work in Spain as a highly qualified professional. This card is only for highly skilled foreign individuals such as doctors, scientists, and researchers, usually valid for 2 years and can be renewed.

In sum, all foreigners need a NIE number, regardless of their nationality. Then, if you want to be a resident, non-EU nationals can get a document called TIE, while EU nationals should get a NIE green card.

Rest assured that if you need help you can always count on our amazing team of consultants at EOMC, send us an email at!