Understanding Spain's Documentation Terms

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In the area of immigration we often use terms that at first glance may seem synonymous and you might think that they can be used interchangeably. In this article we want to focus on three concepts that often cause confusion among our clients: the NIE, the TIE and the CUE. As we will see, they are not the same, although it is true that there is a certain relationship between them.

1. NIE

The NIE is the Foreigner’s Identification Number and is the equivalent of the D.N.I. number assigned to Spanish citizens. The fact of not having a NIE can be a very limiting circumstance, insofar as it prevents you from carrying out various formalities before the Spanish Public Administration and also before certain private entities. In short, the term NIE merely refers to the identification number assigned to a foreign citizen and should not be confused with the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero), which is the physical card issued after obtaining authorisation to reside in Spain.

2. TIE

As we have already mentioned, the TIE is the Foreigner’s Identity Card and is the physical document that is issued to a foreign citizen in Spain when he/she resides regularly in our country. A valid TIE entitles its holder to enter Spain without any difficulty. It should be noted that the TIE always reflects the NIE of its holder.

3. CUE

Citizens of EU member states will not be issued a TIE but a so-called CUE (Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la UE). This is normally a green document that shows the full name, place of birth, nationality and address of the holder, as well as the date of residence in Spain.


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