How to obtain your Spanish NIE

Like all countries, Spain definitely offers it fair share of benefits and attractions, whether you are a local or a tourist. However, the country also has its processes and procurements in place that are relevant to both residents and tourists – just like all countries.

One of these is what is known as a Foreigner’s Identification Number (or Número de Identificación de Extranjero). Called the ‘NIE number’, this is what you, as a foreigner on Spanish soil, will require if you plan on taking part in legal or tax-related activity in Spain.

Of course there are certain steps to be taken if you want to obtain a Spanish NIE.

What is a NIE number?

The NIE number in Spain is the personal and unique tax identification number that is used to track all financial and legal activities in the country. This code is used in all fiscal transactions that involve the Spanish tax office.

Regardless of whether you are a resident or a non-resident, you must obtain a Spanish NIE number if you plan on indulging in any financial, professional or social affairs in Spain.

What is it used for?

It is essential that you obtain a Spanish NIE number if you plan on doing any of the following in Spain:

  • Study
  • Purchase a vehicle
  • Work for a business or start your own
  • Pay Spanish taxes
  • Apply for a mortgage or other loan
  • Apply for a driver’s license
  • Open a bank account
  • Buy or sell property
  • Inherit
  • Arrange utilities (not including a mobile phone).

How to start the process

Like all major processes, this one also includes an application form, and the one you need to obtain your own unique Spanish NIE number is known as EX – 15 Solicitud de Numero de Identidad de Extranjero NIE y Cert.

You can apply for your NIE number at any Spanish police station with an Oficina de Extranjeros (Foreigners Office).

The type of requirements can vary from one office to another, although you will generally need:

  • The completed form
  • A supporting document (such as a notarised letter) showing why you require a NIE
  • A copy of your passport (all pages)
  • A passport photo
  • Approximately 12 € to pay for the Tax Form 790. Note: Although Tax Form 790 can be downloaded online, some police stations may request the traditional paper NIE form, which you can collect at any national police station dealing with foreign documentation.

After submitting all the documents, you will be handed the following:

  • a photocopy of the application,
  • a paper indicating when the card is available (keep this safe as you will need it later when receiving your NIE card), and
  • your passport.

The process to obtain a Spanish NIE number usually takes two weeks to be finalised, although it is possible to wait for as long as six weeks. Please be patient.

Applying for a NIE number outside of Spain

It is also possible to apply for your Spanish NIE number before travelling to Spain. This can be achieved either by asking the Spanish consulate in your country or using a specialised agency to assist you, of which many are available online.

However, please note that going this route might mean various different fees to be paid by you.

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