Getting your NIE in Spain

Getting your NIE in Spain When you buy a property in Spain, whether you plan to live in it full time or not, you'll need to have an NIE number.

Find out what it is and how to get one here.

What is a Spanish NIE number?

NIE is an abbreviation of Numero de Identificación de Extranjero (which translates to Identification Number for Foreigners). 

Why do you need an NIE in Spain?

Most importantly, you need an NIE to buy a property in Spain. This is because, as a foreigner, your NIE is your identification and tax number for official processes like paying your taxes - you'll need to have your number before you complete your property purchase.

Anyone who's not from Spain and who becomes a resident in Spain (even if that's just for tax purposes) needs an NIE, and you'll also need one if you buy a property in Spain, even if you don't become resident. Planning to rent a property and work in Spain? If you're working or opening a business you'll need one too!

Your NIE will also be used when you pay your taxes (both non-residents and residents need to pay taxes if they own a property), if you buy a car, and when you start using utilities once you've purchased your property.

How do you apply for an NIE number?

Currently, you need to apply for your NIE number in person, through a representative in Spain or in person via a Spanish Consulate in your country (although the rules on this tend to change from time to time and from location to location - speak to your estate agent or lawyer, who should help you with your current options). A NIE number is obtained from the Policia Nacional, who have offices in all major towns and cities throughout Spain - your lawyer will be able to help you with where and how to apply.

Can you live in Spain without an NIE?

Not really. You will need an NIE number to open a Spanish bank account, set up a mobile phone contract there, buy a property or a car. You will also need one as part of your legal residency process – even if you are renting. The main applicant for a golden visa will definitely need to get one initially and then any dependents will receive one automatically upon approval of the visa if they didn’t have one before. Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) applicants without a NIE one is automatically issued with the visa approval.  Aside from the visa, some long-term rental landlords may insist on a NIE and Spanish bank account for security of rental payments and to include in the rental contract.

How long does an NIE last in Spain?

An NIE number does not expire – you have the same number for life and it’s useful to memorise it!