Are you 100% sure you have the right documents to prove residency in Spain?
NIE, TIE, DNI, CIF, NIF … with all the acronyms and initials flying around, it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion about what these all mean and what the documents you hold really represent, in terms of residency status or anything else..
It’s absolutely critical that you know what you’ve got, so you know if you need to do anything now to prevent nasty surprises. When it comes to protecting your position and residency rights in Spain, you can’t afford to take anything for granted.
So, here’s a quick run through of the documents relating to residency and what they REALLY mean in relation to proving your status:
NIE – Numero de Identidad de Extranjero
So many people (including the Spanish authorities themselves sometimes) refer to official residency paperwork as “NIE” – which is completely wrong. Your NIE Certificate IS NOT A VALID RESIDENCY DOCUMENT.
Your NIE is your Foreigner’s Identity Number and once issued stays with you for life. It’s nearest UK equivalent is the National Insurance Number, but the NIE has a different function in Spain – more information here .
If this document is all you have, then you are not legally resident and MUST check your position ASAP – we cannot emphasise this enough.
OLD/EARLY VERSION OF NIE CERTIFICATE
LATEST VERSION OF NIE CERTIFICATE
ORIGINAL PHOTOCARD IDENTIFICATION
Issued back in the early 1990’s, these photocards were superseded by the A4 green paper residency certificate, and you should have updated to the A4 paper a long time ago. If you only have this old photocard to evidence residency status, you will have to start from scratch with a new residency application.
A4 GREEN RESIDENCY CERTIFICATE
Still valid to evidence residency status, and easy to use to make the swap to TIE if you like. Note, that if this paper doesn’t have “con caracter permanente” in the wording, you may have to settle for a 5 year TIE, rather than a 10 year one, even if you’ve been living in Spain for the requisite amount of time.
GREEN EU CITIZEN CARD
This is the most recent document pre-Brexit for UK passport holders registering for residency in Spain, and was discontinued for UK citizens in July 2020. Still valid to prove residency status and easy to swap to TIE.
TIE – TARJETA DE IDENTIDAD DE EXTRANJERO
Almost full circle, here’s the new biometric TIE card. The details about being protected under the Withdrawal Agreement are on the reverse.
We understand that many people will want to argue the toss about the residency documents perhaps because you’ve been working, paying taxes, running businesses etc for many years in Spain. But all this does not alter the fact that you MUST have valid, up to date residency documentation to protect your position and comply with the law.
If you’d like some advice or have any questions about your documentation, just Book a Call for a no-obligation chat and we can take it from there.
The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 10.08.2022