Differences between the NIE, the TIE & the registration as EU citizen

When talking about administrative procedures related to Immigration matters in Spain, it is important not to confuse terms and concepts, such as the NIE, the TIE, and the Registration as EU citizen.

Boradly speaking, the NIE is an identification number for European and Non-European Citizens, the TIE is a physical identification card for Non-European Citizens, and the Certificate of registration as EU citizen is a physical identification document for European Citizens.

Let´s see each one individually:


The NIE is the Non-resident Identification Number in Spain. This number is personal, non-transferable and does not expire, and it is necessary when carrying out some administrative or tax matters in our country. Therefore, it is the administrative identification as foreigner in Spain, and does not allow to live or work here.

The NIE is required for some actions such as opening a Spanish bank account, buying a property, contracting utilities,… but, as said, it does not involve an authorization to live or to work in Spain (although Residency or Working Permits do always show the foreigner´s NIE number).

Please click here to know more about the NIE number.


The TIE is the Foreigner´s Identity Card. It is a physical plastic card issued when the foreigner receives an authorization to live or work in our country. Therefore, it is only granted by virtue of a previous Residency and/or Working Permit. The card shows the picture of the holder, as well as the identification data, the NIE number and the kind of residence permit granted to the holder.

The TIE is only in force for the period the authorization to live is granted, and expires when the period is finished (whilst the NIE always remains the same, as it is only an identification number that does not expire or change).


Finally, citizens form the European Union or the European Economic Area, or Switzerland, do not require a Visa or Residence Permit in order to live and/or work in Spain, but it is necessary to register as EU citizen in Spain when staying more than three months in our country.

The registration as an EU citizen is a Certificate that allows to live and work in Spain without restriction for an initial period of five years, and in this case it is not necessary to apply for the TIE card. The Certificate shows the holder´s identification data and the NIE number.

Please click here to know more about the Registration as EU citizen.

And if you are Non-European and want to benefit from all the advantages of the Golden Visa, you will find more information in our web and blog.

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