What’s the difference between an NIE and TIE ?

What's the Difference Between an NIE and TIE:

If you plan on moving to Spain, you’ve probably heard the terms “NIE” and “TIE” thrown around. 

These terms can be confusing, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Spanish bureaucracy. In this article, we’ll explain the difference between NIE and TIE and why you need them as a foreigner in Spain.

What is NIE?

NIE stands for “Número de Identidad de Extranjero,” meaning “Foreigner’s Identification Number.” It’s a unique identification number assigned to foreigners living in Spain. In the UK, the nearest equivalent is the National Insurance number, although the NIE number serves a different purpose to the NI number.

Every foreigner in Spain who has to do something related to the authorities will need an NIE number

For example, if you want to buy property in Spain, you’ll need an NIE number. If you wish to register a car in Spain – same again.

The NIE certificate, which is basically a piece of paper, represents your NIE number. 

The certificate only lasts three months, but the number stays with you for life. It’s important to know your NIE number off by heart, and keep your NIE Certificate in a safe place – be sure to write it down too.

When are you given an NIE number? 

You can apply for an NIE number at a Spanish consulate in your home country. Alternatively, you can apply for an NIE number in person at most `extranjeria´ (National Police Foreigner’s Office) in Spain.

If you’re applying for residency in Spain, you’ll be given an NIE number during the residency registration/visa process. The process of obtaining a residency permit and NIE number can vary depending on your circumstances and nationality. 

If you’re an EU citizen and you’ve never had an NIE before, you’ll be given an NIE number when you’re given your residency card. 

This residency card is called the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión (Residence Certificate for EU Citizens) and is issued by the Spanish authorities to EU citizens who plan to reside in Spain for more than 90 days.

If you’re applying for a visa for Spain and don’t have an NIE number already, one will be allocated to you during the visa application process.

What is a TIE Card?

TIE stands for “Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero,” meaning “Foreigner’s Identity Card.” It’s a card that represents your status as a foreigner in Spain. If you’re a third country national, you’ll need a TIE to validate your residency in Spain.

The TIE card is different from the NIE certificate.  We’ll repeat that, the TIE card (and the green EU residency card) are DIFFERENT – they are not the same as an NIE.

The TIE card is a physical card you carry with you, while the NIE certificate is just a piece of paper. The TIE card is also more important than the NIE certificate because it represents your legal status in Spain.

When are you given a TIE card? 

TIE cards are only issued to non-EU citizen passport holders – EU country passport holders get the little green card. The process of obtaining a TIE card will vary depending on your circumstances. Initially you will need to apply for permision to get one, through a visa process or as an EU family member. Once the permision is received, you will need to go to the National Police Foreigner’s Office (Extranjeria) to register for your TIE card. 

It’s important to note that the TIE card needs to be renewed periodically. Depending on your residency situation in Spain, this could be for anything from 1 year to 10 years, so be sure to make a note of the expiry date of your TIE card and the conditions for renewal. Summary

The crucial difference between a NIE and a TIE is that the NIE is a foreigner’s identification number, and does not confer legal residency in Spain, while a TIE is an identification AND RESIDENCY card for third country nationals; 

Knowing the difference and obtaining the necessary documents will make your transition to Spain smoother and more manageable.

Ready to make your move and want help with the process?

Upsticks are here to help! 

Our team of experts can guide you through the process whether you need an NIE number, EU residency or Non Lucrative visa.

Contact us today to learn more and start your journey to Spain.

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed/updated 01.03.2024

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