Foreign Identification Number (N.I.E.)
What is the Spanish NIE?
NIE means «foreign identification number.» This is a unique and personal number for each foreign resident or non-resident in Spain. It consists of 9 digits, two of which are letters (one at the beginning and one at the end), the others are numbers. For example, an NIE would appear under the title «X1234567X».
What is the purpose of the NIE?
The NIE is necessary for foreigners (including EU citizens) who intend to live or own real estate in Spain. The personal number must be the foreign user’s ID, which must be included in all documents issued or processed (e.g. notarized deeds, tax liquidations, etc.).
The NIE is necessary for any economic activity in Spain (even if the owner of the NIE has his tax in another jurisdiction), such as the purchase or sale of properties, registration with the tax authorities and payment of taxes in general, the purchase or sale of a vehicle, obtaining a driver’s license, owning a business, work, access to social security and health services, public services (e.g. for water and electricity contracts), the opening of a local bank account.
What the NIE is not.
It is not an identity card. The NIE is issued in the form of a certificate without a photograph. Therefore, it is important to have your passport or other identity document when travelling and residing in Spain.
This is not a visa or residence permit. The NIE does not grant a visa or residence permit, nor does it involve tax residency. Although the NIE certificate may indicate that the holder resides in Spain, the concept of tax residence is different: a person becomes a tax resident person in Spain when staying there more than 183 days a year.
How do I get the NIE?
1 – Through a representative (usually a lawyer)
The quickest and most convenient way to apply for a NIE is to grant representation with a specific power of attorney authorizing the representative to apply for the NIE on behalf of the applicant (which may be granted in Spain or abroad), through a general or special power of attorney, as well as by justifying the reason for the NIE application.
This method avoids going to Spain and having to wait several hours in the offices of the national police.
2 – Personally, in Spain,
It is possible to go to the department responsible for foreigners in the offices of the national and local police. This option is the least recommendable because applicants sometimes have to wait many hours and moreover, they may not be familiar with the required forms and documents. It will always be necessary to justify the reason for the NIE application (e.g., the purchase of a property).
3 – Abroad,
Another option is to visit the Spanish diplomatic representations or consular offices located in the applicant’s country of residence, bringing all the necessary documents and justification for the NIE application.
What documents should be provided?
- Form (EX-15), duly completed and signed by the applicant.
- Original and copy of the full passport, or ID.
- Disclosure of the reason for the NIE request.
- When requested through a representative, the representative must prove that he or she has sufficient power in which he expressly has the power of attorney and the power to make such an application.
How long does it take for the NIE to be issued?
Usually between 1 and 2 weeks (depending on the administrative workload, of course). The NIE certificate must be collected by the applicant or his representative.
For more information and documentation for the NIE, visit site:
Application form: EX-15 (on line)
Instructions available on this site in English and French, to fill out the forms.
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