What is the NIF and what is it for?

NIF: Tax Identification Number. It consists of a code that identifies individuals in order to carry out commercial activities in Spain. It is also commonly used for tax purposes.

For Spanish individuals it consists of eight numbers and a check digit. In fact, it is exactly the same number as the DNI (Document Nacional de Identidad) issued by the Ministry of the Interior.

For legal entities the code consists of seven numbers and one check digit (CIF-Código de identificación fiscal) and is issued for the legal form by the tax office.

This identification number is mandatory and is a guarantee for doing business, since the authenticity of the number and thus of the person can be discovered.

Definition of NIE

NIE: Foreigner’s identification number. This number is issued by the Directorate General of Police for non-nationals who have permission to reside in Spain.

The NIE is composed of a letter, seven numbers and a verification code. It is also a guarantee both for your stay in the country and to be able to work in exactly the same country.

Is the NIF exactly the same as the DNI and the NIE?

Yes… but with certain nuances. The DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) is the reference document for individuals with Spanish nationality, and shares the same numbering and lettering as the NIF. That is, in the case of Spanish residents, the NIF is exactly the same as the DNI: both include 8 digits and a control code (letter).

So far, so good. However, it should be taken into consideration that the NIF does not necessarily have to be the DNI, but can also be the identification for legal persons and for foreigners without Spanish nationality. In the case of foreigners living in Spain, the NIF is precisely the NIE or Número de Identificación de Extranjero, which consists of an initial letter, 7 numbers and a verification code (letter).

How to apply for the NIF for legal entities?

Once the legal entity has been incorporated, it has a period of one month to apply for the NIF at the tax office. As we have already mentioned above, it is compulsory to have a NIF in order to create a company or firm.

This is requested by submitting form thirty-six with corrections and attaching the relevant documentation, which in this case is as follows:

Copy of the DNI or NIF of the representative of the legal entity.

Form of representation (if the person presenting the form is not the representative).

Deed of incorporation of the company, both the original and a copy of it

Certificate of registration in the commercial register

These are the steps to apply for and obtain the NIF as a legal entity.

 How can I find out or look up the NIF: Tax Identification Number of a company?

The quickest way to find out the NIF: Tax Identification Number of a company is by looking at an invoice that it has issued. If it has not issued an invoice, you can access its website and visit the legal notice where each and every one of the company’s legal details will appear. 

Exactly how does it differ from the VAT number?

You have also probably seen the initials CIF in connection with all these procedures.

They sound similar, don’t they?

The CIF, Código de Identificación Fiscal, was used to identify legal entities even before 2008, while the NIF identified only natural persons carrying out economic activities.

In 2008 the law regulating it was changed, and since then both individuals and legal entities have been using the NIF Tax Identification Number to control their economic activities.