NIE Numbers And Why They Are Important

Published on 06/04/2012 in Your Spanish Home

If you have recently moved to Spain or are planning to purchase property here it is vital that you apply for an NIE number. The NIE (or Número de Identidad de Extranjero to give its full title) is an essential piece of paperwork, since it registers the holder for tax purposes and must be obtained before the deeds of purchase (known in Spain as the escritura) are signed. Indeed, its essential to have an NIE to buy anything of significance.

The good news is that it is a fairly straightforward process and once you have obtained your NIE you will find it useful in all manner of situations! You can apply for this document at the immigration office at one of the designated police stations. Most towns with significant foreign populations will have such a facility, along with resident translators to assist the process for non-Spanish speakers.

Form for Spanish residencyOnce you have submitted your application you will be given a receipt that you will need to bring with you when you return to collect your NIE certificate - usually about two weeks later. When you apply for your NIE number these documents will be needed:

  • Your passport, plus a photocopy of the main page
  • Two recent passport-sized photographs
  • Any documentation that includes a reason for the application. For instance, if you are in the process of buying a house, bring with you a copy of the escritura or deed of sale. This might be deemed unnecessary, but it will help to offer this additional information.
  • Two completed copies of the application form Solicitud de NIE (Ex-15).

You will be able to fill this in at home by following this link ( ), downloading the appropriate document and printing it

Recent changes to NIE procedure

Previously, it was possible for foreign property purchasers and immigrants to request that a lawyer or gestor (a clerk who is experienced in acting as a conduit between the client and all aspects of the Spanish bureaucratic system) handle the process.

However, new legislation that was brought in at the beginning of 2012 means that every applicant must apply for the NIE in person. There has also been some confusion of late about the status of the NIE certificate, which itself is only valid for three months, however the NIE number allocated remains with the applicant for life. This has unfortunately led to some so-called experts stating that NIE numbers have only a very limited shelf life, which is totally untrue.

However, for those planning a more permanent stay in Spain, it might be more sensible instead to register as a foreign resident. One of these certificates (Certificado de Residencia), which have replaced the old style residency cards, can save time in the long run. In order to do this you will need to fill out an Ex-18 form which you can print out from here.

Written by: Campbell D Ferguson

About the author:

Campbell D Ferguson, FRICS. Chartered Surveyor in Spain.  Survey Spain are Independent, Experienced, Professional Chartered Surveyors based in Marbella and Estepona on the Costa del Sol, Spain, who speak both English and Spanish. Through the Survey Spain Network they can arrange for valuations, building surveys and structural surveys to be carried out on any of the Costas of Spain, it's Islands and the Portuguese Algarve.

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Tom Davidson said:
27 May 2012 @ 16:34

Just recently received my NIE number (three weeks ago) and it was obtained by my lawyer. He informed me there had just been a change in the law and it was not necessary for me to appear in person to get the NIE! The proof is in the pudding, I didn't go in person but I have the NIE.

burberry said:
07 May 2012 @ 16:00

what is the point of having an NIE number if you are not a resident of Spain? I have a property in Spain and did once have residency but when it expired I was told by many people not to renew as it was not beneficial to me?

any comments?

sharif khalil said:
08 April 2012 @ 22:19

Can an australian passport holder get NIE number

thank you

Linda Jones said:
07 April 2012 @ 16:48

I found this article interesting, we've encounter a number of problems, we think we have NIE numbers but have never received the official paper/card indicating what they are. At the time of purchase the lending bank provided use of a Gestor & we went down to Castellon to the office in person (3 months before completion) only to discover a day before we were flying out to complete that she had completed the incorrect form. Somehow the sales agent & builder got two NIE number issued and this was used on the contracts however still we have never been able to receive copies of the NIE. We have used this NIE each year to pay RENTA but every year my number has to be re-registered. I am not at all confident it is actually registered to us. I have tried talking to the bank who provided the Gestor with no luck and am at a loss on how to progress this. I have deed in our name and quoting an NIE number but the passports we used to get these NIE's have now run out. I have tried using a solicitor to get this sorted but they just are not interested in acting on our behalf. Having just read the article it seems we really should get this sorted an ideas on where to start?

Manxmonkey said:
07 April 2012 @ 14:54

Things must have changed a lot. I bought a place 25 years ago and never had an NIE number (Was it NIF years ago?). I sold it about 7 years ago after having my sea view built out. nowadys I just rent when I need to and oh it is so much easier and less stressful, no storm damage; damp or overgrown garden to worry about for a start!!!

Gilbert Paton said:
07 April 2012 @ 12:41

Janis. No, you do not need to change your licence. If you apply for a Spanish licence you will have to give up your UK licence and there are good reasons why you may not want to do this, especially if you are not pemanently residing in Spain.

Gilbert Paton said:
07 April 2012 @ 12:40

Janis. No, you do not need to change your licence. If you apply for a Spanish licence you will have to give up your UK licence and there are good reasons why you may not want to do this, especially if you are not pemanently residing in Spain.

Janis said:
07 April 2012 @ 11:03

With a Residencia, do you have to change your British Driving Licence to a Spanish one.

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