What is “NIE”?
It’s a number given to foreigners to be part of the Spanish system… like a Social Security Number, but for foreigners. It’s a way to get paid from your job and a way to set up accounts that only locals are allowed to set up (such as internet at home, bank accounts, etc).
NIE is said like this by the locals: “NEE-AH”
What NIE stands for: “Número de Identidad de Extranjeros” which literally translates to “Number of Identity of Foreigners”
How to Get Your NIE Number
This process is SO ridiculous, that I laugh every time I think about it! Ready?
1. Find out where the NIE office is for your area
This is easier said than done. I find out the address and put it in Google Maps, only to find out that the pin on Google Maps was a few blocks away from the actual office! And the office has no sign or anything letting foreigners know where to go – it was behind a building next to a run down parking lot.
2. Go to your NIE office and pick up TWO FORMS
These forms are also online, but I was told that the forms change EVERY year, so it’s best to just go to the office and they will give you the appropriate forms needed.
They will then tell you where to go to pay a tax (I’m not sure why, but it’s not in the same building).
3. Pay the tax at the bank (€15.30 in 2014)
Yeah, I have no idea why you need to leave the NIE office to pay a tax in a different location, but this is how they do it… and you need to pay this fee at the bank (Why a bank? I have no idea).
Notice I said “THE” bank – not “A” bank.. You can’t just go to any random bank and pay this fee… the NIE office will tell you specifically where to go (at least this was the case for me and my NIE office). But it gets even more strange: There was one specific bank accepting this tax payment on Mondays… and a different one specific bank accepting this tax payment on Tuesdays… so on and so forth… What this means is depending on which day you decided to do this, there would be a different bank they would send you to…
Why does this matter? Well, some people made the mistake of telling their friends “go to the NIE office and then GO HERE” NOPE! Because the next day was a different bank (are you laughing yet?).
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Ask what times the NIE office and the banks are open. If you wake up really early enough, you might be able to do all of this in one day. If you get there a little later, you might have to split this process up into two parts (two days), and that might mean different banks.
4. Go back to the NIE office
The bank will stamp your paper saying that you paid the tax.
Take that paper (as well as the other one, completed), and hand it in at the office… as well as all of the following documents:
Paperwork for the NIE Office
— Offer letter from the school
— Passport photo(s) (1-3, depending on which office)
— 1 copy of 3 pages in your passport
- ID page
- Spanish visa
- Entry stamp into Europe
You do NOT need to copy EVERY page in your entire passport like they insist at orientation
— Background Check with Apostille Stamp
— The Two Forms from the NIE Office
[Continued NIE Information]
5. Pick up your TIE ~ 1 month
More than 30 days later, go back to the NIE office to to pick up your TIE (“Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros” = an official card that they will make for you with your NIE number, pictures, etc. Don’t go there on exactly day #30 – they told me it’ll be done anywhere from 30-45 days… And it’s an hour bus ride for me to go get it, so I’ll probably wait at least 2 months…
6. Register at your Town Hall
(1) TIE (green card)
You need your TIE in order to do this. I tried to do it with just my NIE (because it’s exactly the same number and information), but they said I had to wait until I
(2) Apartment Lease (called “escritura”)
You also need to bring a copy of your lease so that they can verify that you actually live in town. If you’re staying with a host family, then you still need this to bring this as well as the person whose name is on the lease so that they can sign something saying that you’re really living with him/her.
NIE vs. TIE
The NIE is the important bit of information you need to set up all your accounts in Spain – the TIE is just a laminated card with the same information on it…
They say the TIE is needed to register at your Town Hall and register for a discounted transportation card… but honestly, it’s who you ask that day (just like everything else in this program). Where I live, the NIE was all I needed for the discounted bus pass.
Did this information help you at all? Was it better than the garbage they tell you at orientation? I sure hope so, but let me know if I left something important out or if things are different now! Thanks!