What is the NIE, what is it for?. And more importantly what the NIE is not.
NIE stands for “Foreigners Identification Number”. It is a unique and personal number for each foreigner in Spain, related to the identification number for Spanish citizens. It consists of 9 digits, two of which are letters (one at the beginning and one at the end), the rest are numbers. For example, a NIE would appear as “X1234567X”.
It is of vital importance for residents and owners of a property in Spain. The NIE is necessary for foreigners (including EU citizens) who intend to live or own property in Spain. In essence, the NIE is necessary for any economic activity in Spain (even if the NIE holder has its taxation in another jurisdiction), such as the purchase or sale of properties, registering with the tax office and paying taxes in general, buying or selling a vehicle, obtaining a driver's license, owning a business, working, accessing social security and health services, public services (for example, contracting water and electricity), opening a local bank account (although not necessary for a “non-resident” bank account), accepting an inheritance, etc.
It is not an identification card - A few years ago, the NIE was published in the form of a photo ID and served as a personal identification purpose (similar to the identification card for Spaniards). However, now the NIE is issued in the form of a document of a certificate without a photograph. It is not a visa or residence permit. The NIE does not grant a visa or a residence permit per se. However, it is one of the requirements for foreigners who wish to reside in Spain.