ELYS Relocations Explains: Legal Residence, NIE, and TIE

For ex-pats living in Spain, there are two terms that are used very frequently: TIE and NIE. However, if you are not clear about the difference between the two, you can find out in this article in which we also address other issues related to the NIE and the TIE.

Surely you have confused these terms on some occasion: TIE, NIE and legal residence. Well, they are not the same.

What is the difference between TIE and NIE? If I have a NIE, can I work? Is the residence card the same as the NIE? These are some of the questions that you ask us through our advice phone number and our social networks. That is why in this news we clarify all the doubts.

Need help relocating to Spain? Elys Relocations is here to guide you through the whole process, whether you’re in need of logistic, financial, or even holistic assistance. To make the task seem less daunting, we’ve their highly-skilled team to explain the differences between these three concepts.


Differences Between TIE, NIE and Residence Card

The NIE is the Foreigner’s Identification Number (only the number), and it identifies us administratively with the organs of the Spanish state. It usually starts with X or Y and will accompany us all our lives until the moment, if ever, when we become Spanish. A foreigner can have a NIE and not have legal residence.

The TIE is the plastic, the Foreigner’s Identity Card, the physical document that contains our identification data, our photo, NIE number and type of authorization to stay or reside in Spain.

Our condition of legal residence or legal stay (as they are not the same) allows us to be in Spain legally. According to the type of residence then we will have the opportunity to be able to work or not.

Who is Obliged to Apply for the TIE?

Those foreigners who have a visa or authorization to stay in Spain for a period of time longer than six months. Foreigners who hold a seasonal residence and work authorization do not have to apply for the TIE.

The NIE does not expire but the TIE does. Well, this document will be valid as long as the authorization or the recognition of the right by virtue of which its issuance has been justified.

So when we extend our residence permit or stay in Spain we are not changing the NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), but the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros).

Registration certificate intended only for European citizens or nationals of countries party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area. The three different in themselves, being coincident that these last two are necessarily accompanied by a NIE, or what is the same, an identification number for non-EU or EU foreigners who have been granted a residence and/or work permit in Spain; or a Certificate to reside for more than three months in Spain.

In conclusion, we can say that we have the Foreigner Identification Number (NIE), which will be granted to any foreigner who stays or resides in Spain for different reasons, on the other hand, the Foreigner Identity Card (TIE) to prove the legal residence status of the foreigner.


How Elys Relocations is Here to Help

As a team of ex-pats living in Spain themselves, the professionals at Elys Relocations understand all of your concerns and struggles. Language barriers, bank accounts, NIE numbers, the lot. 

The team of foreign exchange experts have taken their decade of experience in the financial sector in order to help their clients who are purchasing the property of their dreams, making regular payments, or growing their business. 

You can feel reassured that the team at Elys Relocations will assist you in sending money overseas, making transfers for property purchases, mortgage payments, pensions, and salaries. 

The type of visa depends on the period of stay in Spain and the activities to be carried out in the country. For each case there is a specific type of documentation; but, in general, three main types of visas can be distinguished: transit visas, short term visit visas and long term visas.

It’s also worth pointing out that for the moment, it may not be necessary for all tourists or people who want to come to Spain to apply for a visa. 

Elys Relocations will be able to help by incorporating the service of several partners so they can make sure that all your needs are met, in terms of logistics, finance, and even your holistic needs when it comes to preparing the big move. 

Pippa Maile – Founder 


  • Phone number: +34675329999
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