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What are NIE, Green NIE and TIE?

Published on 27 Jul 2022

If you are planning a move to Spain and have been researching information on Spanish paperwork and procedures, or maybe you just recently relocated and are trying to sort your Spanish documents, you surely have heard of NIE, “green NIE” and TIE. There is a lot of confusion between those different Spanish ID abbreviations…do you know what each means? Let’s try to clarify!

NIE is a Foreigner Identity number and is required if you have any economic, social or professional interest in Spain, such as for example buying a property, a car, setting up a utility or a mobile phone contract, opening a bank account and so on. NIE is NOT a residency and is applied for only if you are not planning to reside in Spain. Once your application is approved, you will be issued with a white certificate of A4 format containing your name and your NIE which is your unique ID number comprising of 7 digits and two letters. The NIE number itself stays with you forever. As each Spanish admin procedure, NIE application has its specifics, which you can read about here.

“Green NIE” is what many people call Residency for EU nationals or Certificado de Registro UE. This is a Spanish Residency document for EU citizens who live or intend living in Spain for longer than 3 months. It is a small paper card of green colour with your NIE number, but no picture. It has no expiry date and is NOT valid without your passport or national ID card. To obtain a “green NIE” you need to meet certain requirements, mainly be able to demonstrate sufficient funds and appropriate health cover for you and your family. And if you are questioning whether you at all need to apply for Spanish residency being an EU citizen – find the answers in this article here.


TIE is a residency card for Non-EU nationals and is a plastic card with your picture, your NIE number and the expiry date. Essentially it is a European ID card for non-EU citizens. Except for special “Brexit TIEs” which are only valid for UK nationals who previously held a “Green NIE”, TIE is usually the last step of Spanish residency application procedure for non-EU citizens. So, before you can apply for TIE, you should have completed the initial visa or residency application submitted depending on your circumstances either in the Consulate or in the Foreign office of the relevant province of Spain. Once the initial application is resolved favourably, you are ready to apply for a TIE.


The requirements and procedures for each of the above documents vary. The only similarity is that each of them is being applied for in the National Police of your Spanish province, although the NIE number can also be applied for in the Spanish Consulate of your current country of residence. 


If you need help navigating through any of the Spanish admin procedures, get in touch and let Malaga Expat assist you!

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