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What is an NIE number and how can I obtain one?

Added by Berlad Graham
October 12, 2020

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An NIE number is your tax identification number in Spain which allows you to carry out a number of transactions. You do not need to be resident in Spain or intend to become so to obtain an NIE number. It is required for those intending on purchasing a property or opening a bank account amongst other matters such as inheriting property in Spain.

Unlike applications for residency it does not currently need to be a personal application, however this might change after the end of the transition period for UK nationals. Currently an application for a NIE can be made via a power of attorney made either in the UK or Spain. A power of attorney is often granted to the lawyer or gestor dealing with the application. It might be that the obtaining of the NIE is required as part of the services provided for a property purchase or inheritance matter. 

You do not need an address in Spain to obtain an NIE number as the professional address of your legal advisor can be used. As with applications for residency in Spain an appointment is made online which will normally be in the locality of the legal advisor at the closest national police station or foreigner’s office. The relevant form will need to be completed together with the payment of the administration fee. This is presented along with a certified copy of the passport and the power of attorney. Usually there is a 3-4 day wait for the NIE to be processed and ready for collection. If the client is in Spain, they may well prefer to go in person with their legal representative or indeed alone to apply for the NIE. It is not necessary to use a legal advisor to obtain an NIE number however if you are unfamiliar with the system and do not speak the language it can be much more difficult and end up in multiple trips to the police station before you get it right which can be very frustrating for the individual.

Another possible route to obtain an NIE number is in person via the Spanish Embassy in London or consulate in Edinburgh. This is the slowest route and takes at least 3 weeks to process.

Once collected the NIE number is shown as a certificate on a white A4 sheet of paper. The document itself usually expires after three months. In practice this document is rarely renewed, and the authorities and notaries only very rarely ask for an up to date certificate. It is important to note that the NIE number itself does not change and is with you for life. It is important when completing the forms for the application that the names are correctly stated and also this needs to be checked on the certificates as if not problems with names not matching names on other official documents can cause issues.

In conclusion for anything you might want to do in Spain from buying a property to opening a bank account an NIE number is an essential requirement and usually the first step in order to carry out a wide range of transactions.