The NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) is a unique ID number issued to foreigners who wish to engage in any financial activity in Spain. This includes, but is not limited to buying a property, buying a car, taking out a loan, opening a bank account, etc. In fact, you will often be asked for your NIE even if you make a small purchase or get a parcel delivery. NIE numbers consist of 7 or 8 digits, preceded and followed by a letter.
The NIE is issued at some National Police Stations in Spain and is granted to both EU and non-EU nationals.
Who needs a Spanish NIE?
When Buying Property
If you are a foreigner who is a non-resident in Spain and want to buy a property, you need an NIE. If you intend to register the home in your and a partner’s name, both will require an NIE.
When you buy property in Spain, you must have the NIE number when you sign the deeds before a notary. If you are applying in Spain, you should apply at least a month before you expect to complete a purchase. If you apply via a consulate in your own country, apply at least two months in advance.
The processing time varies depending on where and when you apply. You could be lucky if you apply in Spain in person and get the number within a week. But it can also take several weeks or months, so apply well in advance. It is best to apply as soon as you have made the decision to buy or move to Spain.
Applying for Residency
If you are a foreigner who wishes to apply for residency for tax reasons, you will need an NIE.
Working or Starting a Business
Any foreigner who wants to earn money in Spain, whether starting a business or working for somebody else, needs an NIE. You will also need it if you wish to freelance in Spain.
Non-EU students from non-Schengen countries with a student visa type C which allows stays of less than 180 days, cannot apply for an NIE. If your student visa type C allows you to stay longer than 90 days, you will find a temporary NIE number written on your visa.
How To Get The NIE?
You can apply for an NIE while in Spain at a Spanish National Police station with a foreign documentation (extranjeria) department. You will need an appointment (cita previa) which you can make online here.
While most towns have a National Police Station, not all have a foreigners documentation (extranjeria) department, so you might have to travel to the nearest city or larger town to apply.
An NIE number can also be on your behalf by anyone you grant Spanish power of attorney.
You can also apply for an NIE number at the Spanish embassy located in your country. After getting an appointment, you will need to attend the office in person, or a legal representative can physically attend on your behalf. While you will probably find this process easier, as you can ask questions in your language, the procedure usually takes much longer. Also, traveling to the embassy could be a long trip, depending on where you live.
NIE Card Requirements
- The requirements can vary from one autonomous community to another, although you will generally need:
- The NIE application form (EX 15 form)
- Your passport and a photocopy (The passport must be current and not expired)
- Two photos (you are advised to get these done in a shop offering this service, as requirements are pretty specific. Expect to pay around €4)
- A document called the Modelo 790. This is a tax form that used to be available at the National Police Station but now must be filled in online, printed, and paid at a bank. The tax charge is around 10€.
- Make a ‘cita previa’ online.
- Gather the required documents and fill out the EX 15 form.
- Go to the National Police Station for your appointment with all the papers. You will be given a date to return.
- Go to the bank with your completed 790 form, and pay for the NIE.
- Return to the office on your second appointment day and provide the 790 modelo form as proof of payment.
- Take receipt of your new NIE card.