NIE numbers

How to get an NIE number in Spain

NIE is an abbreviation for Número de identidad de extranjero, which translates as ‘Identification number for foreigners’.

The main purpose of the NIE for Spain is fiscal control. Without a Spanish NIE number, the Spanish tax authorities are unable to assess or process annual tax payments such as income tax (IRPF), and the annual wealth tax (Patrimonio), both of which are paid by non- resident property owners. Not paying these taxes (or making provisions with the Spanish tax authorities to pay these taxes in your country of residence under a double-taxation treaty) can incur heavy fines.

Obtaining a NIE number in Spain

For those of you who are thinking about buying a property in Spain or becoming a resident of Spain, you will first need to sort out one important piece of documentation: the NIE number.

There are a number of reasons why you need to get hold of an NIE number. Firstly, even if you are buying property in Spain but residing in your own country, we would not recommend that you ever tried to do so without first getting your NIE. For those residing in Spain, it is also required to pay income and wealth taxes, and is also necessary when applying for a business permit, buying a vehicle, insuring a property or signing on to the national health plan.

Although there are a few methods of obtaining an NIE number, including applying via a Spanish consulate in any country or applying through a third party, this article focuses on applying in person for the NIE in Spain. However if your new to Spain we would strongly suggest getting a third party to take you through the process.

NIE documentation requirements

It is in your best interests to apply for the NIE at least six weeks prior to signing the deeds of purchase on a property, as not having it at this time may well incur fines at a later date. Preparing the correct documentation is essential if you are to make the process as smooth as possible, and it is therefore recommended that you check that everything is in place before attempting to submit the application.

You will require a passport with a photocopy, two passport photos and two completed copies of official NIE application form which can be downloaded online. It may also be necessary to have details of an address in Spain; although this could simply belong to a someone you know residing in the country.

As well as these documents, it is important not to forget to include a separate document (along with a photocopy) that states why you are attempting to acquire an NIE number. This could either be the private contract of sale for the property or the deeds of purchase obtained from the notary.

It should also be noted that for property buyers who are not members of the EU, the declaración de entrada, will be required on top of everything else. If you are a citizen from outside the EU we would strongly recommend using a professional third party to help you through the process.

NIE collection procedure

After you have submitted your NIE application you will be given an official receipt (resguardo). Unless you are told otherwise, you will be able to collect your NIE number from the office where you made your application anytime from 15 days later (in some areas, at some times of the year, it may take longer, which is why we recommend applying a month in advance).

You do not have to collect your NIE in person - anyone can collect it for you if they have the official receipt you were given when you submitted your application.

The time it takes to get an NIE varies greatly by region. Whilst it is still common in most areas to wait 15 days or more before collecting an NIE, in some areas, for instance Oviedo, in Asturias, (North Spain), you can apply for, and collect, an NIE in one single visit, which might not take longer than half an hour.

Generally speaking, it is also quicker to obtain an NIE from a local tax office than from one of the designated police stations. Applications via a tax office tend to take a few days, compared to a few weeks via police stations. Applying via a tax office does mean, however, that the Spanish tax office is aware of your situation as an owner of property in Spain. This makes it more likely that the tax office will pursue you for taxes related to owning property in Spain, such as the wealth tax (patrimonio), and income tax (IRPF), which all property owners in Spain have to pay, irrespective of fiscal residence.

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: