NIE stands for “Numero de Identidad Extranjero”, which translates as “Foreigners Identification Number”.
The NIE is a cross between an Identification Number and a Tax Number in Spain. You will need your NIE number each time you come in contact with the authorities in Spain; primarily the tax authorities. You will also need it to open a Spanish bank account or to buy a car.
When it comes to buying a property in Spain however there is some confusion when it comes to NIEs, which we hope we can clarify.
We often hear clients tell us they have been told that they need an NIE number in order to buy a property in Spain, and that they also need an NIE in order to sign a purchase contract to buy that property in Spain. Neither of these is technically correct.
Therefore, although technically you don’t need the NIE for when you sign the title deed, in practical terms it makes very good sense to do so. In fact some Notaries will refuse to sign a title deed without the buyer having an NIE or may require the buyer to sign a supplemental document once they have obtained their NIE.
There are three different ways of obtaining an NIE.
1. The Spanish Consulate way
The first way of obtaining your NIE is to do this yourself via the Spanish Consulate. Details of how to apply for this are available through the Spanish Consulate
Unfortunately the Spanish Consulate doesn’t seem to provide a translation to the form or instructions on how to fill this in. We have therefore produced one of these which can be seen at Judicare
The Spanish Consulate can be a bit slow in issuing NIEs and it is not uncommon for them to take a month and a half to issue these. This is because they simply collect the paperwork and then send these to a central point in Madrid who issue them and then return them to the Spanish Consulate.
2. Applying yourself in Spain
We often encourage people to obtain their NIEs themselves. This is because this is a nice gentle introduction to Spanish bureaucracy, which can be rather frustrating at times.
You apply for your NIE number at the local immigration office (oficina de extranjeros) which is normally found in the local police station (comisaria de policía). The way that you apply for your NIE in person varies between the different areas of Spain. In fact they can vary from one Police Station to another. Sometimes it is necessary to book an appointment but other times it is not. Sometimes you can get the NIE issued immediately and other times you may have to come back another day (sometimes a couple of days later and sometimes a couple of weeks). Sometimes you can queue in one line only to be told that you should be in a different line. It can be frustrating but will break you in for a life of dealing with the Spanish authorities.
You will need;
- 2 Copies of the application form that you can download above
- Proof of the reason why you are obtaining an NIE. If you are buying a property in Spain then a copy of the purchase contract is normally sufficient
- Your passport and a copy of the page which has your photo, name, passport number etc. on it
- Payment (normally €10)
3. Granting a Power of Attorney for somebody to apply for this on your behalf in Spain.
If you are granting somebody a Power of Attorney then it doesn’t take much more to include within that Power of Attorney the ability to obtain your NIE for you. In order to this they will need, in addition to the Power of Attorney itself, certified copies of your passports. You will need to get these certified by a Notary (you can find your local one at http://www.thenotariessociety.org.uk/) and then it needs to be sent to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for legalisation. You can read about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Legalisation. Please note that some Police stations are being difficult with Passport Copies and therefore whilst it is tempting to try and save money by getting the Passport Copies certified as one document or even as part of the Power of Attorney it is best to do these as individual documents to the extent that each passport is certified and legalised separately. This will cost more but will mean that there is less chance of this being rejected by the authorities in Spain.
NIE numbers are issued provisionally for 3 months but we have now seen that the Spanish authorities have started issuing NIEs without an expiry date.
If you are buying a property in Spain and would like to speak to an experienced UK based solicitor about your purchase then you can contact one of our Spanish property team
Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.