En este momento estás viendo NIE and TIE: what are they? And why do I need them?

NIE and TIE: what are they? And why do I need them?

If you are planning to move to Madrid, then probably you might have heard about the NIE or the TIE.  But what do these acronyms stand for and why are they important if you want to move to Madrid?

Well, first of all, these are official forms of identification that you need to have if you are not from Spain, but you are going to stay in Spain for economic, professional or social reasons (you may not need them if you are just coming to Spain for student exchange programs like the Erasmus+). They are fundamental, for instance, if you want to open a Spanish bank account and you may need them for any health and medic problems. But what are the differences between the two?


NIE stands for Número de Identidad de Extranjero (Foreigner Identification Number) and, as the name suggests, it is a personal sequence of numbers assigned to any foreign citizen who needs to carry out formalities with the Spanish government, even if they don’t have permission to reside in Spain. It never changes and it will appear on every document they will need to fill out.

If you want more information on how to request your NIE, check this page.


TIE stands for Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (Foreigner Identity Card) and, unlike the NIE, it is a physical document. It is a proof of permission to reside in Spain and it is valid as long as your reason to stay in Spain is valid too. This means that, for example, if your employment contract in Spain lasts three years, you will need to renew your TIE when your contract expires. You can request a TIE only if your time in Spain is supposed to be longer than six months. Your NIE will appear on your TIE, too.

If you want more information on how to request your TIE, check this page.


To sum up:

  • If you need to have an NIE, this does not mean that you also need a TIE.
  • The NIE is automatically given when you start the procedures to obtain a residence or work permit in Spain. The TIE must be requested specifically and will be given once you have your residence permit.
  • The NIE is unique and everlasting, while TIE expires once your reason to reside in Spain is no longer valid.

It may seem difficult, but it is way easier than you think!

By: Alessia Cuofano, University of Naples L’Orientale ’22

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