What is the difference between NIE and NIF, and what are they?
Both are basically an identification number for tax purposes, except that NIF is purely for those born in Spain, while NIE is for foreigners.
Who needs a NIF?
NIF stands for Número de Identificación Fiscal and every Spanish national over the age of 14 years old must have one. If you are not of Spanish nationality, then you do not need one, and indeed can not get one.
Who needs NIE?
NIE stands for Número de Identificación Extranjero (Foreign National Identification). It is required by anybody who is liable for paying tax in Spain, and is not of Spanish nationality. You do not need to be a resident to be a liable taxpayer.
If you are going to carry out legal or taxable activity in Spain then you are required to have an NIE, regardless of whether or not you are a resident in Spain. Just some of the reasons are, if you have any Spanish income, are legal employed, wish to be self-employed, wish to open a bank account, or intend to make a purchase that has tax implications, such as buying a house or a car. You also need one if studying in Spain.
The NIE number you are given is permanent and you must keep a record of it safe.
How to obtain an NIE
To apply for an NIE you must have, and be able to prove, a valid reason. Applications are made at the Policia Nacional station. There is one in Puerto del Rosario and a very small one man office in Gran Tarajal. At the time of writing this, no appointment was necessary.
You will need to download and complete the form EX-15. For instructions on how to complete this form, click here. You also need the payment form 790, which must be taken to the bank and the amount required paid in cash. This must be done prior to 11am as banks stop taking cash payments at that time. The bank will stamp the form to prove payment.