illustration TIE.

What is the TIE in Spain: what it’s used for and how to get one

Here, we explain what the TIE is, what it’s used for, and how to get one—so that you can start your new life in Spain.

5 min read

Starting from scratch in another country can mean turning your life upside down. You’ve got a fresh environment to explore, professional and personal changes to figure out, and maybe some big hopes and dreams for your new life. Not only that, there are also several important things to worry about when you head abroad to try your luck: valid passport, plane tickets, suitcases—and paperwork.

One of the most important bureaucratic processes you need to go through as a foreigner in Spain—in addition to registering with Social Security, finding a flat, and registering as a resident—is applying for a TIE, an essential document for living in Spain legally.

To save you time, effort, and some of the headache of navigating the bureaucracy before you move to Spain, we’ve put together this guide to what the TIE. Plus, we’ll explain what it’s used for and how you can get one. Cut the hassle and get ready to start your life in Spain!

What is the TIE and what is it used for?

TIE stands for tarjeta de identidad de extranjero, or foreigner ID card. As its name suggests, it’s a document that proves that a foreigner is living legally in Spain. The card includes personal data, a photograph, and the holder’s NIE (número de identidad de extranjero, or foreigner ID number). It also states the type of residence permit that the cardholder has. Although it’s a unique and non-transferrable document, it does also allow you to register any children under the age of 18 or disabled children, if necessary.

The TIE is simply proof that a foreigner is authorized to live in Spain. Therefore, you should try to always have it on hand in case you have to prove your legal status in Spain.

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Difference between NIE and TIE

Despite their similar names, the NIE (foreigner ID number) and the TIE (foreigner ID card) are two completely different documents. Just because a person has a NIE doesn’t necessarily mean they will have a TIE. On the other hand, to apply for a TIE you need to have a NIE.

The main difference between the NIE and the TIE is that the TIE proves that a foreigner is living legally in Spain, whereas the NIE is simply an identification number for administrative purposes.

In case you’re wondering, these are the other differences between the NIE and the TIE:

  • The NIE is automatically issued to a foreigner when they start an administrative process, while the TIE has to be applied for once the residence permit has been granted.
  • The NIE doesn’t expire, but the TIE does.
  • The TIE is a physical object, while the NIE isn’t.
  • If you commit a criminal offense or lose the right to live in the country, your TIE will be withdrawn but your NIE will still be valid.

Who has to apply for a TIE in Spain?

People from a non-EU country who are legally authorized to live in Spain have the right—and obligation—to apply for a TIE (foreigner ID card).

How to apply for the TIE

To apply for the TIE, you have to go in-person to the immigration office (oficina de extranjería) or to the police station closest to your home. Before you go, you have to request an appointment through the Spanish government’s electronic office.

Application deadline

You have one month from the date of your arrival in the country, the date you receive your residence permit, or the date your residence permit goes into effect to complete the procedure. Remember that you need to have authorization to stay in the country for more than 6 months to be eligible for a TIE.

Validity of the TIE

Bear in mind that the TIE is valid for the period specified when it was issued. If you lose your right to stay in Spain, your TIE will no longer be valid and you’ll have to hand in the card to the police station or immigration office closest to your place of residence.

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Requirements for applying for the TIE in Spain

To apply for a TIE you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • A visa or authorization to remain in the country for a period of more than 6 months.
  • Change of your legal or work situation that includes the renewal of your residence permit.
  • Lost, stolen, or damaged card.

You’ll also have to present the following documentation:

  • Original and photocopy of your passport or travel document.
  • Completed and signed EX-17 application form, plus a copy.
  • Three recent color passport photos against a white background.
  • Confirmation of payment of the fee for the card.
  • Document proving enrollment or registration with Social Security.
  • Report of a stolen, lost, or damaged card, if applicable.

Renewing your TIE

If you already have a TIE and it’s about to expire, it’s time to renew it. For this, you’ll have to submit:

  • Original and photocopy of your passport or travel document.
  • Three recent color passport photos against a white background.
  • Official authorization for the card renewal.
  • Confirmation of payment of the fee for the card.
  • Social security accreditation.

What obligations do TIE holders have?

As well as the right to remain in the country for more than 6 months, which is granted when your TIE is issued, there are certain obligations you have to fulfill as the holder of a TIE. 

For example, you have to:

  • Keep the document in good condition and show it whenever you are required to.
  • Notify, within a period of one month, of any changes in your family, home address, work situation, nationality etc. and, in general, any details that affect the information shown on the TIE. To notify of these changes, you’ll need to go to the police station or immigration office closest to your home address.
  • Request a duplicate card if your original card is stolen, lost, destroyed, or otherwise becomes unusable.

Bear in mind that if you fail to follow these obligations, you could be fined in accordance with Organic Law 4/2000, of 11 January. So, take good care of your TIE!

Open your N26 account wherever you are

Unlike applying for a TIE, opening an N26 bank account doesn’t require any paperwork—it’s 100% online and only a few minutes. Control every movement in your finances using daily spending limits and get instant notifications after every transaction.

At N26 we make it easy for you to choose the account that best suits your life and needs, with all the benefits of truly modern banking. Compare our different accounts and join the revolution—what are you waiting for?

At N26, we’ve taken the red tape out of opening a bank account in Spain. Open an online account in minutes—all you’ll need is your smartphone, a valid address in Spain, and a valid photo ID. You’ll get an official Spanish IBAN, so you can pay and be paid like a local. Plus, there are no hidden fees and you’ll always have access to English-speaking customer service, so you can focus on settling in to your new home.

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