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    One of the first steps when you buy Spanish property is to obtain your NIE. This number serves as your identification in Spain and is a vital document for many transactions and procedures.  In this article, we look at what a NIE is, why you need it and how to obtain the document.

    What is the NIE?

    The NIE (foreigner’s identity number – número de identificación de extranjero in Spanish) is essentially your fiscal number in Spain. It has nothing to do with residence and all foreigners, residents and non-residents alike, need it if they wish to do any of the activities listed in the next section.

    The NIE is an identification code made up of an X or Y followed by seven digits and another letter, for example X-1234567-A. The NIE certificate also includes your full name and passport number.

    Why you need a NIE

    You need a NIE in many circumstances in Spain including:

    • Buying property. A NIE isn’t necessary to sign the pre-purchase contract (see more information about the buying process here link to purchase process) but you do need it when you sign the title deeds.
    • Paying any kind of taxes. Read more about property taxes.
    • Contracting utilities. You cannot contract any utilities (electricity, gas, water, internet and telephone services) without a NIE.
    • Opening a bank account. Find out more.
    • Buying a car.
    • Setting up a business or company in Spain.
    • Getting a residence card.

    Paperwork for a NIE

    While the general procedure remains more or less the same, periodic changes take place in the application procedure. You are therefore advised to check with the Spanish authorities for the latest updates on the process.

    In January 2021, to apply for a NIE you needed to do the following:

    Download and fill in form EX-15 The form is available in Spanish only so you may need some help in filling it in. Note that you are advised to fill in the form on your computer and then to print two copies. You need to sign these; if you’re applying in person (see below) it’s best to wait to sign the forms when you hand in the documentation.

    Pay the fee. You can pay online although you will need a security certificate on your computer to complete the transaction. It may be quicker and easier to pay the amount by bank transfer. In early 2021, the fee was €9.74.

    Additional documentation. You need to present your passport and a copy of it. EU citizens can present a valid ID card (plus copy).

    Reason for needing a NIE, for example, the pre-purchase contract for the property you plan to buy.

    Applying for a NIE

    It’s quicker and more convenient to apply for your NIE in Spain. However, your circumstances may mean this isn’t possible.

    In Spain

    You can apply for a NIE in person or using someone to represent you, for example, your lawyer or estate agent.

    In person: You can do this at national police stations (Comisaría General de Policía) – cities and most large towns have one. For example, in the province of Malaga there are stations in Malaga city, Antequera, Estepona, Fuengirola, Marbella, Ronda and Vélez-Málaga. You should go to the one nearest the property you plan to buy. You can find a list of police stations in Andalucia with NIE services here.

    Appointments are usually given first thing in the morning for that day on a first-come, first-served basis. Online appointments are available at a few police stations. You can check via this link.

    By representation: An easier and time-saving option is to appoint a representative to apply for a NIE for you. You need a notary’s power of attorney naming your representative and their functions (in this case, application and collection of NIE) as well as a notarised copy of your passport. Both transactions are quick and easy to do. Expect to pay from €60 for the power of attorney and from €25 for the notarised copy.


    You can also apply for a NIE in your home country. This is usually done through a Spanish consulate and you may have the option to apply online, although some require you to apply in person. Check the website of the Spanish consulate nearest you for full details.

    How long does it take?

    Under normal circumstances, the time between applying for a NIE in Spain and receiving it is usually five working days. If you apply outside Spain, allow slightly longer particularly if you make a postal application. However, timescales vary hugely from one country to another so it’s best to ask beforehand.

    Bottom line? Allow plenty of time for your NIE application to ensure you have the number when you go to sign the title deeds and complete your Spanish property purchase.