The Spanish NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero, or Foreigner’s Identity Number) is a fiscal identity number issued to foreigners used by the tax authorities. It is also used as identify in situations such as opening a resident’s bank account, buying property, applying for a driving licence, starting a business, or buying insurance.
In short, if you live in Spain you need to have an NIE, but even non-residents may need one if buying property; if you are not thinking of moving to Spain but, rather, planning on buying a holiday home you’ll need an NIE and bank account sorted before you can buy.
Although you may feel you’re being discriminated against, in fact the NIE is the foreigner’s equivalent of the NIF (Número de Identificación Fiscal) issued to Spanish nationals.
There are two routes to sorting yourself out with an NIE. The first is to do it yourself, which will involve a lot of queuing; when I first arrived in Barcelona I was astounded at the queues at what I considered an early time.
The second is to do what I ended up doing; pay a relatively low fee for someone to sort out my NIE for me (they also imported my UK registered car).
Applying for your NIE in person
If you do decide to apply for your NIE in person you can either do it in Spain, or at a Spanish consulate overseas. The process is different for each, outlined below:
- Download form EX-15 here and complete it, but do not sign.
- Print 2 copies of the completed form as well as your passport and a photocopy to a Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjería) or a National Police Station (Comisaría de Policía) that deals with NIE applications.
Check here for details in Girona, which is where you’ll need to go for the Costa Brava. Note that opening hours can be rather limited.
If you are a non-EU citizen you may need to provide justification for your NIE. Proof of property purchase should suffice.
- You will be given a stamped copy of your form and a payment slip; you should pay the fee specified at a bank and keep the receipt.
- After around a fortnight your NIE will be ready to collect. Take the stamped copy of your form, your passport and the payment receipt to be on the safe side.
- You need to go to the nearest Spanish consulate with a completed but unsigned EX-15 (download here – apparently consulates don’t have them) and original and photocopy of your passport. This procedure can take 10 weeks or so.
- Supply two passport photos. Note that if you normally wear glasses you should remove them for this photograph.
- Provide justification for obtaining an NIE, such as a private sales contract, plus a photocopy. In case of doubt you should phone in advance.
- You also need to provide a self addressed envelope and an envelope large enough to include all the above addressed to:Comisaría General de Extranjería y Documentación
Dirección General de Policia
C/ General Pardiñas, 90
Applying through a third party
A potentially easier way to apply for the NIE is to grant power of attorney to a lawyer or notary who will take care of the paperwork and other issues on your behalf. While there is obviously a cost involved, you need to take into account the time required, the queues, Spanish bureaucracy, and any language difficulties you’re likely to experience.
Or, put another way, stress.
There are also online services that will allow you do this from your country of residence. You’ll need to contact them direct regarding fees and details of their process, but the big advantage is that you can deal with them without travelling to either Spain or a Spanish consulate.
Do you have any experience of applying for an NIE, either by yourself or using a third party service? If so I’d love you to let me know about your experiences. Use the contact form to let me know!