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Brexit is now a reality and leaves three types of identity documents used for the identification of citizens in Spain:

  1. NIE
  2. Residence card
  3. TIE


What are the differences between them?

  1.     NIE (Número de identidad de extranjero) is a foreigner identification number and can be obtained by any citizen of a third country if they do not have Spanish nationality. It is required in cases of buying or selling a home in Spain, donations, inheritances, etc.

To obtain it, an application must be submitted to the police station with the foreigners’ section in the same area of the applicants address.

For example, if the home you are going to acquire or where you are living, is located in Almuñecar, Salobreña or the towns of La Alpujarra, this office is located at the Motril Police Station (Ronda del Mediodia,1 18600 Motril).

The format is a white sheet ,A4 size certificate where the photo does not appear with the name, surname, NIE number, address, date, and place of birth of the beneficiary.

It can be ordered in person or by a lawyer or agent who represents the client (and has a power of attorney ) together with the authenticated copy of the applicants passport and a payment of the corresponding fees.

The NIE does not need to be renewed except in rare exceptions in case and the validity is stated in the document. The NIE continues to have the same numbering if the beneficiary obtained the residence card and / or later the TIE (only for British citizens).

The NIE is not valid for identification purposes, nor does it imply that its holder is a resident of Spain. For identification is requested to carry the passport. If you request invoices, the NIE is your fiscal number in Spain.

After being obtain your fiscal representative in Spain needs to notify the tax authorities with the form 030.



2.       Residence card for EU citizens: If you are in Spain more than 183 days in a calendar year, you will need to request residency. The dimensions of the card are similar to those of a credit card. EU citizens residency card are not valid for identification purposes as it doesn’t have a picture. The residence card  shows beneficiary first name, last name and NIE and is valid to prove residence in Spain. You will need to apply in person for the card at the Police stations with the foreigners’ section and provide medical insurance, certificate of residence issued by the town hall and proof of income.



The validity of the card is 5 years.

EU citizens who have a residence card must carry their passport with them for identification purposes.



3.       TIE ( Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero ) is a valid document for identification purposes. The beneficiaries are NON EU citizens that applied for residency permits.

British citizens holders of an EU residence card before Brexit, and those who applied for it without previously having a residence card, will also receive TIE cards.

What documents do you need to request the TIE?

  •          A Certificate of residence (Certificado de empadronamiento) which is issued by the town hall of the municipality in which you live, (issued less than 3 months prior to the TIE request). This certificate gives proof of registration in a town hall, but it is not a residence document such as the residence card for EU holders or the TIE.
  •           Passport or travel document in some cases with the entry stamp, sign or control mark made at the border.
  •           Recent photograph, in colour, on a white background, passport size.
  •           A Visa, if applicable.
  •           Resolution granting the authorization that justifies the issuance of the card.
  •           Proof of payment of the corresponding fee.
  •          Registration with Social Security, or private medical insurance.

Validity of the card varies between 1 year, and 5 or 10 years in cases of British citizen cards.

To obtain it you have to request an appointment to apply for the TIE, depending on whether you had a previous residence card or are requesting for the first time in which case the documentation can be more extensive. Once the documentation has been presented and the positive resolution to the granting of residence has been obtained, an appointment must be made to take fingerprints of the applicant. A separate appointment is required for each applicant ie if the family unit has 4 persons ,4 appointments must be made.

Foreigners holding the Foreigner Identity Card will be obliged, within a month, to inform the police services at the Foreigners Offices, corresponding to the place where they reside, the changes of nationality and habitual residence,

There is currently a backlog for appointments at the offices in Motril and Granada, due to COVID-19 and Brexit.   Many appointments are now taking months and in some cases the TIE appointment is made in Granada and not in Motril.