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What is an NIE?

Its full name is Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which translates as ‘Foreigners’ Identification Number’. All non-Spaniards require an NIE in order to have a fiscal identity in Spain.

You will need your unique NIE number, which will start with an ‘X’ or ‘Y’ followed by seven or eight digits and then a final letter, to complete any type of financial transaction or legal documentation, from buying a property or car, to starting a business, being employed, getting connected to utilities and filing your Spanish tax return (which even non-resident homeowners must do).

Some banks will ask for your NIE just to open an account with them.

Remember that an NIE is a separate thing to getting a residencia, which is a different process altogether. New arrivals in Spain should obtain their NIE within 90 days of moving here, whether or not they are purchasing property.

GETTING YOUR NUMBER

An NIE number is vital if you spend any time here in Spain, and that applies even to people who spend a limited period in the country and who own a property, or want to do most kinds of important business including opening a bank account.

If you want to buy a property in Spain, you must get an NIE, and time may be of the essence.

Applying in person

Applications must be made at any police station that has an immigration office, or ‘Oficina de Extranjeros’.

You’ll need to submit your completed NIE application forms (EX-15) along with supporting documentation. You’ll also need to pay the small application fee (approximately €10) at a bank using a Model 790 form, showing proof of payment at the police station.

Supporting documents typically includes your passport and photocopy of the main page, a document (and photocopy) that validates your reason for getting an NIE (eg a notarised letter or deposit contract for a property) and a passport photo.

We will make sure that you have the the right papers, but in some instances, you may need to make an appointment, otherwise you can simply turn up, but be prepared to wait.

Once your application is submitted, you must wait for your NIE certificate to be issued, ready for collection from the police station or sent by post to an address in Spain.

The importance of timescales

It’s not unknown for NIE certificates to be ready for collection or posted the same day as the application was submitted in parts of Spain.

For buyers who have committed to a property purchase, a delay getting your NIE can hold up completion, as your NIE must by law be on your Escritura (deed).

In addition, not being able to complete on the agreed date can also land you with a financial penalty.

The best option for buyers right now is to apply for their NIE as soon as possible, ideally before you have found a property you wish to buy.