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Studying in Spain: What Are the NIE/TIE and How Do I Get Them?

If you are coming to study Spanish in Spain for more than a few week then you will probably need to get your foreigner's ID number (NIE) or ID card (TIE). But which should you get, and how do you apply for it? This article will help you through the process.

Marc Rogers
Marc Rogers
Studying in Spain: What Are the NIE/TIE and How Do I Get Them?

If you know anyone who has spent a bit of time in Spain, you’ve probably heard them talk about getting an ID number (NIE, pronounced “nee-ay”) or ID card (TIE, “tee-ay”). These are basic administrative documents that all foreigners staying in Spain for more than a few weeks will have to deal with, but there is often some confusion about what they really are and how they are different. This article should help clear up any doubts you have.

What's the difference between the NIE and TIE in Spain?

The Número de Identidad Extranjera (NIE) is simply a foreigner’s identification number that will be used for all administrative procedures in Spain. The number is unique to you and will always be the same, even if your residency status changes. A NIE is not proof of residency but is extremely helpful if you’re staying in the country for longer than a few weeks. You’ll almost always need a NIE to get a job, open a bank account, lease a flat or buy a car/house. 

The Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjera (TIE) is the foreigner’s ID card that is issued to non-EU citizens with residency in Spain. Note that the TIE is not a separate ID number, but simply the physical object that contains your personal information – including your NIE, photo, and visa details. Non-EU students coming to Spain for more than 180 days will need to get a TIE. 

The EU Registry Certificate (Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la UE) is another document that EU/EEA nationals should apply for if they stay in Spain for longer than three months. This is a green slip of paper that includes your NIE but does not serve as ID. It is required to undertake certain official procedures in Spain. 

How do I get a NIE in Spain?

You can apply for a NIE before travelling to Spain at the nearest embassy or consulate office. If you are already in Spain, you will need to go to the local immigtation office (Oficina de Extranjeros). In both cases you will need to book an appointment online – you might need to try several times before an available slot appears so it’s best to get started as early as possible.

IMPORTANT: If you already need a visa to study in Spain, then you will automatically be assigned a NIE as part of this and won´t need to apply for one separately.

To get a NIE you need to take the following (originals and photocopies):

  • The appointment booking (printed)

  • The completed NIE application form (Modelo Ex-15)

  • Valid passport or ID card used to travel to Spain with.

  • Proof of payment of the NIE application fee (Tasa Modelo 790 código 12, select ‘Asignación de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) a instancia del interesado’) – currently €9.84.

  • An explanation in Spanish of the professional, economic or personal reasons for needing a NIE (e.g. ‘To open a bank account’ or ‘to purchase a car’ or 'to study in Spain')

💡 TIP: If possible, always double check at the consulate/immigration office where you have your appointment if any additional documents are required.

How do I get a TIE in Spain? (Non-EU students only)

If you’re coming to Spain on a student visa that lasts longer than 180 days, you can get a TIE from the local immigration office . You must apply for this within 30 days of arriving. You will need to book an appointment and gather the relevant paperwork (originals and copies), as below:

  • The appointment booking (printed)

  • Photocopy of the passport stamp showing your entry into Spain.

  • The completed TIE application form (Modelo Ex-17)

  • The letter of acceptance to Expanish

  • 3 recent passport photos (in color)

  • Proof of payment of the TIE application fee (Tasa Modelo 790 código 12, select ‘TIE que documenta la primera concesión de la autorización de residencia temporal, de estancia o para trabajadores transfronterizos’) – currently €16.08.

  • The empadronamiento certificate (a document from the town hall registering your fixed address in Spain).

💡 TIP: TIE appointments fill up quickly, so try booking one online even before you get to Spain to ensure you get a spot within 30 days of arrival. Another option is to travel to a different immigration office in the region.

You should receive your TIE within 1-3 months of your application, and this will be your proof of residency while in Spain. It will also allow you to enter and exit Spain, as long as it remains valid.

How to get an EU Registry Certificate (for EU-students only)

Again, you need to book an appointment at the local immigration office/police station within three months of arriving in Spain. Do this as early as possible as there is often a long waiting time.

Take the following documents (copies and originals) to your appointment:

  • The appointment booking (printed)

  • A valid EU passport or ID used to travel to Spain

  • The completed application form (Ex-Modelo 18)

  • Proof of payment of the application fee (Tasa Modelo 790 código 12, select ‘Certificado de registro de residente comunitario’) – currently €12.00

  • An official letter of enrolment at a recognised educational institution in Spain (we can provide this for Expanish students)

  • Proof of public or private health insurance (a valid European Health Insurance Card will suffice)

  • Proof of funds to support yourself and any family dependents financially while in Spain.

  • The empadronamiento certificate (document from the town hall registering your fixed address in Spain).

That’s about it. It may seem daunting, but it’s really just a question of getting your paperwork together and being a bit patient. When the payoff is being able to live and study long-term in Spain, it’s certainly worth it! Get in touch with us at Expanish to find a Spanish course in Spain that is suitable for you.

DISCLAIMER: This is an informative guide, based on available information from official government and other sources. It does not offer any rights or guarantees. Rules can change over time, and vary in different countries or regions, so always check information and requirements with official sources.

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