NIE Numbers

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When do you need to have a NIE Number?

If you are buying property in Spain, then you need to have an NIE number by the time you sign the deeds of purchase before notary, an event known in Spanish as the escritura.

Getting your NIE number in time for escritura means applying at least 1 month before hand if you are applying in Spain, and at least 2 months before hand if you are applying via a consulate abroad.

The actual time it takes depends upon where you apply, and the time of the year. You might be able to get an NIE number in person in Spain in a couple of days, but it could also take weeks, so best allow yourself plenty of time.

What is an NIE Number?

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Simply put, an N.I.E number is a foreigner’s identification number. The term N.I.E stands for “Número de Identidad de Extranjero” which actually translates to “Identification Number for Foreigners”.

This is to be used as an ‘all-purpose’ identification and tax number in Spain, as is required for various official processes in Spain; for example, to buy a property, buy a car, get connected to the utilities and, most importantly as far as the Spanish state is concerned, pay your taxes.

If you are without an N.I.E number, Spanish tax authorities will not be able to assess or process annual tax payments such as income tax (IRPF), and the annual wealth tax (Patrimonio). Both of these should be declared by resident and nonresident property owners.

The NIE number is a fiscal identification number and is required if you intend to:

  • Purchase a property in Spain
  • Open a bank account in Spain
  • Start a business

  • Pay taxes in Spain
  • Receive an inheritance
  • Reside in Spain

Who needs an NIE Number in Spain?

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Knowing exactly who needs an N.I.E number in Spain before heading over can save a lot of hassle and stress down the line. Here’s a simple list to refer to should you need a reminder.

  • Anyone from a foreign country who becomes resident for tax purposes in Spain.
  • Any non-residential foreigner who purchases property in Spain. If a couple buys a property in Spain together, and they register the property in both their names, then both of them must obtain an NIE number in Spain.

  • Anyone who wants to seek employment or start a business in Spain.

At what point do you need a NIE Number?

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If you are purchasing a property, you need to have an N.I.E number ready by the time you sign the deeds of purchase before notary, an event known in Spanish as the escritura.

To do this, you would need to apply at least a month in advance when applying in Spain, at least 2 months before hand if you are applying via a consulate abroad.

The time an application can take can vary depending on where you apply for your N.I.E number, and the time of the year in which you apply. You might be able to get an NIE number in person in Spain in a couple of days, but it could also take weeks, so it is advisable to allow yourself plenty of time.

How do I apply for an NIE Number?

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It is worth noting first that dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy can often be confusing and frustrating for newcomers. For example, the way the Spanish interpret the regulations in Andalusia might differ from the way they interpret the same rules in Catalonia.

In one area, for example Barcelona, you need to book an appointment online to be able to request your NIE number, and spend quite some time waiting in a queue, whereas in other areas you can have the entire process completed within the hour.

There are three ways to apply for a Spanish NIE number:

  • Apply in person in Spain.
  • Apply in person via a Spanish Consulate abroad.
  • Apply through a representative in Spain

Documentation required:

  • Passport copy certified by a Notary Public in the UK
  • Limited Power of Attorney with Hague Apostille
  • Passport size photograph
  • Signed NIE Form