How can I obtain a NIE number in Spain? August 31, 2021

When you move to Spain, you will need certain paperwork in the Spanish bureaucratic jungle to work, study or buy a house. It can be quite difficult trying to figure it all out, but we are here to help you with the most important thing you will need as an expat: the foreigner identification number (NIE).

Yes, you must have heard of it. This tax identification number is mandatory for all foreigners residing in the country and is essential to carry out legal, financial, professional or social procedures in Spain, whether you are a resident or not. If you want to work, pay taxes or buy a property in Spain, you need a NIE number.

As an EU citizen, you will need this number within 3 months of your arrival in Spain, while non-EU citizens will normally receive their NIE with their Spanish residency. It is best to start the NIE application process as soon as possible, as Spanish bureaucracy can sometimes be a bit dense. Here we explain how to obtain a NIE in Spain.

1. Requesting an appointment for the NIE with the Spanish administration

It is necessary to make an appointment for the NIE online. Believe us, it is absolutely necessary to do so to avoid queuing for hours at the office first thing in the morning. You can request a NIE appointment on the official Spanish website by choosing the province, selecting "EU Certificates" (if you are from the European Union) or "Issuance of Foreigner's Identity Card" (for non-EU citizens) and filling in your details.

You usually have to wait at least one month for the appointment, so it is best to make the appointment as soon as possible after arrival in Spain. If you are not yet in Spain and apply for the NIE number through a Spanish consulate in another country, the process will take longer, often up to two months.

2. Collect all documents

Before making an appointment for the Spanish NIE at the nearest police station that deals with NIEs, you should make sure that you have filled out all the necessary forms and gathered all the necessary documents:

You must print this NIE Spain Form (EX-18)You must print this form, fill it out and bring two copies to the appointment. It must be in Spanish, but you can get the same NIE form in English as a guide. Do not bring the English form to the appointment, as only the Spanish form is valid. All Spanish NIE applicants must also have an original and a photocopy of a document explaining why they want a NIE. This can be a property purchase contract, a mortgage contract, an employment contract or any other official document showing that you have financial or business interests in Spain. Bring your passport, original and photocopies, and passport-size color photographs. Non-EU citizens are also advised to bring their boarding pass, visa or other proof of legal entry into Spain. You will also have to pay about €10.71 tax for your NIE number. You have to fill out a second online form, the 790, print it out, take it to a bank (they will know what to do) and pay this amount. Some banks even offer the possibility to pay this tax with an ATM, so it is very easy. But be very careful when filling in the form, do not confuse the instructions for EU citizens with those for non-EU citizens, as the boxes to tick are different.

3. Bring all your documents to the meeting

For the appointment, you must bring all correctly completed forms and preferably copies of them, your original passport and a copy of it, a proof of why you need the NIE number (e.g. a work contract, a contract showing your intentions to buy a house in Spain, a letter of acceptance from a school...) and a proof that you have paid the NIE number fee. Non-EU citizens should bring all of the above, as well as their visa with copies. Spanish officials at the police station or the Oficina de Extranjeros will take care of the rest.

Your NIE number may be ready immediately or you may have to return a few days later to pick it up, depending on the city and region where you apply.

A word of advice Things don't always go smoothly when it comes to paperwork, unless you are very lucky, so try to stay calm. The level of professionalism and knowledge of officials varies radically from one province to another, as do processing times and procedures. It is advisable to carefully research how to obtain an EIN in your municipality. It is better to carry too much paperwork than to wait an extra month for an appointment if you do not meet all the requirements.

Once you understand how to obtain a NIE number in Spain, it is best to start the process immediately, as it is the most important document you will need as an expatriate in Spain. NIE numbers in Spain last forever and are valid indefinitely. So, whether you have a green paper version or a red plastic card, make sure you don't lose it and always keep photocopies.