In order to complete any official process in Spain, including buying a property in Spain, you will need to obtain an NIE Number.

What is an NIE Number?

NIE is short for Numero de Indentidad de Extranjero which translated into English means identification number for foreigners.  This is an official number used for tax and identification purposes in Spain.

How is the NIE Number issued to me?

The NIE number is issued as a certificate with an official stamp and can be used as identity proof in Spain. However, where photo identification is required you will still need to take your passport /driving license or any other suitable form of photographic identification.

What do I need an NIE number for?

You will need an NIE number if you are a foreigner in Spain to:

  • Buy a property in Spain
  • Open a bank account in Spain
  • Inherit assets in Spain
  • Open a bank account in Spain
  • Pay taxes in Spain
  • Start a business in Spain
  • Work in Spain
  • Apply and get a Mortgage or any other credit in Spain
  • Study in Spain
  • Receive social security benefits in Spain
  • Buy a car or apply for drivers license in Spain
  • Connect to utilities in Spain

Who needs to have a NIE Number?

Anyone undertaking any official matters in Spain will need to have an NIE Number.

If you are purchasing a property and more than one person is going to be registered on the title deeds, each person will need to have their own NIE number.

If you opening a joint bank account in Spain, both account holders will need to have their own NIE number.

Do I have to renew my NIE number, does an NIE number expire?

The NIE number is issued as a certificate. Once you have an NIE number this does not change and you will keep the same number for life. The NIE Number Certificate is only valid for 3 months from the date it is issued.

You are usually asked to provide a NIE Number Certificate that is valid (not expired) to progress with any official matters in Spain.

If you are buying property in Spain you should consult your Spanish property lawyer when you find the property you want to buy about when to obtain your NIE number certificate.

Some notaries may require the NIE number certificate to be provided and may refuse to accept an NIE certificate that is out of date.

The reason that the certificate is valid for 3 months is after this time you should formally register with the Spanish authorities as either a resident or non-resident of Spain.

If your property purchase in Spain takes longer than 3 months and you are not going to be living in Spain you can register as a non-resident of Spain and you will be able to continue to use your NIE Certificate.

How do you apply for an NIE number?

There are 3 ways to apply for an NIE number in Spain:

  1. Apply in person in Spain.
  2. Apply in person via a Spanish Consulate in the UK.
  3. Apply through a Lawyer/Representative in Spain

The process and exact requirements may vary from region to region in Spain.

Apply in person in Spain

If you have a basic knowledge of Spanish, applying for an NIE number personally in Spain is relatively straight forward.

You apply for your NIE number usually in immigration offices around Spain. These are usually found in designated police stations ideally in the area where you are purchasing a property or conducting an official matter. If there is no local immigration office, it may be possible to apply via a local police station.

When you apply for your NIE Number you will need: your passport, a photocopy of your passport and the NIE application forms. You should check before visiting your local office if there is additional documentation required as one particular office may require some additional/different documentation or operate a different process from another.

(For example in Barcelona, you may be required to make an appointment to apply for the NIE number, so you should check this before you turn up.)

After you have submitted your NIE application you will be given an official receipt (resguardo) and advised of a date for when you can collect your NIE certificate.

The timescale for when you will be able to collect the NIE number certificate may vary from a few hours to a couple of weeks depending on the office visited and the region.

Apply in person via a Spanish Consulate in the UK

The Spanish Consulate does not issue NIE numbers but acts as a go between for the person applying for the NIE number and the Spanish authorities.

To apply for an NIE number via the Spanish Consulate you will need to attend their offices.

When you attend the Spanish Consulate you will need to take your passport and 2 copies of the NIE application forms (The Spanish Consulate does not supply NIE application forms). These will both need to be signed at the Spanish Consulate in front of a consular official. Any forms that have been signed beforehand will not be accepted.

You should also take with you a self-addressed envelope and another envelope addressed to the relevant Spanish authority.

The consulate may require additional documentation so it is worth checking this whilst planning your visit.

Apply through a Lawyer/Representative in Spain

Applying for an NIE number via a reputable Lawyer is the easiest way to obtain an NIE number. Particularly if you are using a lawyer to assist you with a property purchase or any other official matter.

To instruct your Lawyer or representative to request an NIE on your behalf, they will need a copy of your passport and a Power of Attorney.  A Power of Attorney is a legal document giving your lawyer authority to act for you in specified legal matters, in this case, obtaining an NIE number.

A Spanish lawyer can easily prepare power of attorney for you which will need to be signed in front of notary in either Spain or the UK.

Once you have authorised your lawyer to obtain the NIE number for you they are able to take care of the whole process on your behalf and will let you know when it is complete and your NIE number has been issued.

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Article published: August 30, 2016