If you own property in Spain or wish to buy a property in Spain with the intention of living there, you will be required to apply for an NIE number also referred to in Spanish as ‘numero individual de extranjero’. Please note that if you need an NIE number for another purpose such as working in Spain then the process may be different to that described below.
What is an N.I.E. number?
An NIE number which translates as Identification Number for Foreigners or Foreigners’ Identification Number is issued by the Spanish authorities, as its name suggests, to enable them to identify foreigners. It is basically an all-purpose identification and tax certificate/number and will be required for any official or authoritative process in Spain. These may include the process of buying a property, being granted a loan or mortgage by a Spanish financial body, employment, connection to utility services, making transfers or paying bills via your Spanish Bank account, inheriting assets, purchasing a car, and of course paying your taxes. If you do not have an NIE number the Spanish tax authorities are unable to assess or process annual income or wealth tax payments, both of which are required by law to be declared by resident and non-resident property owners.
Your NIE number does not prove or show whether or not you are Spanish tax resident or non-tax resident in Spain but is purely an identification number that identifies you as an individual in front of National, regional or local Spanish Inland Revenue. At present, NIE numbers valid indefinitely.
When do I need to have an NIE number?
If you are buying property in Spain, you will be required to hold an NIE number by the time you sign the deeds of purchase before notary – in Spanish a process termed ‘escritura’.
We suggest that you apply for your NIE number to meet this deadline at least one month prior if you are making your application in Spain, and at least two months if you are applying via a consulate abroad. Of course the actual time your application takes will be dependent upon the time of year and where you apply so best allow yourself plenty of time.
It is worth noting that some notaries will refuse to accept an NIE certificate that is older than three months. This could be an issue if you are trying to sign deeds more than three months after obtaining your NIE certificate. You can obtain your NIE at any point before you buy your chosen property, but you would be well advised to obtain your NIE number during your final visit to Spain, when you have found your property to buy in Spain and are in a position to complete the purchase within three months.
How do I obtain an NIE?
They are a number of methods by which you can that your NIE certificate. These are:
- Apply in person in Spain.
- By visiting the Spanish Embassy in your home country.
- Apply through your legal Representative, accountant or lawyer in Spain.
Applying for NIE number in person in Spain
If whilst in Spain you choose to apply for an NIE number in person this is a relatively straightforward procedure, although it may require the patience of waiting a few hours in a queue at a Spanish police station to submit your application
You will be required to prepare and present the necessary documentation which is two copies of the Ex-15 application form filled out and signed. An original document (plus a photocopy) that justifies your reason for applying for an NIE number, such as a private purchase contract for a property, deposit contract, or a mortgage approval. Assuming you are an EU national you will also need your passport and a photocopy of the main page of your passport which includes your photo, name, passport number, address, etc.
Simply present all your documentation and payment in person to one of the immigration offices usually found in designated police stations, preferably in the area where you are buying your property. If there is no immigration office in your area then it should be possible to make your application through a local police station but the police can advise the best place to go to apply for an NIE in your chosen area of Spain.
You will then be able to collect your NIE certificate/number immediately or in a few days’ time. If you are unable to stay in Spain any longer you do not have to collect your NIE in person – a designated representative can collect on your behalf with the official receipt given when you submitted your application.
Applying for an NIE number in person via a Spanish Embassy in your own country
You can also apply for an NIE from a Spanish Embassy in your own home if you do not have the time to apply whilst you are visiting Spain.
Again you will need to prepare and present the relevant documentation. You will need two copies of the appropriate application form obtained before your visit as Embassy’s do not hold these. This form will need to be completed but NOT SIGNED by you as you will be required to sign in the presence of an embassy official. As before, you will also need your passport and a photocopy of the main page. You may also have to produce an original document (plus photocopy) that justifies your reason for applying for an NIE number. Applicable fees will be payable on the day.
The Spanish Embassy Consulate cannot issue NIE numbers; it only acts as a “postal box” between the applicant and the competent authorities in Spain. Once you have submitted your application through the Consulate they will not be able to provide you with any further information on the status of your application. For any further information or enquires as to the status of your application you should write to the Comisaría General de Extranjería y Documentación.
Once you have received notification from the Spanish authorities you should receive your NIE number in pdf format by email within 2/3 weeks.
Authorise a third party to obtain you NIE number on your behalf
The Spanish Government now permits foreigners to authorise a third party to obtain an NIE number on their behalf, as I reported in this article The Spanish Government now allows foreigners to get an NIE number through a legal representative. There was a period of time when this was not possible.
Applying through your legal Representative, accountant or lawyer in Spain
The Spanish Government are now allowing NIE applications through an authorised third party on your behalf in Spain. There are many specialised agencies who will undertake this work, many of which are available online with varying charges.
All that you need to do is grant them a power of attorney signed before a notary, granting permission on your behalf for them to request an NIE number.
Your chosen third party will need your passport or a notarised copy of your passport from a notary inside Spain. If obtained from a notary outside of Spain you will also need the Hague Apostille, however it should be noted that some will not accept passport copies that have been notarised outside of Spain – they will only accept copies undertaken by a Spanish notary.