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Guide to obtaining an NIE Number

in Expat Life, Expat Tips and Hints, Moving to … Expat Guides

As Indalo Transport is based in Spain as well as the UK, we often get asked various things by our clients regarding the processes involved here. As we have been in Spain for a combined 70 years and have done a lot of things for ourselves, we are more than willing to pass on our own experiences.

As always, we must point out that we are not legal experts, so it is always best to seek professional legal advice, as everybody has different circumstances and requirements.


So, what is an N I E ?

Before you are able to buy a property in Spain, or legally obtain a rental agreement, purchase a car or enter into any sort of contract, you will need to get an NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero). This number is the identification number in Spain for everyone who is not a Spanish citizen. Life is pretty much impossible without one. You will need it to get connected to utilities, obtain a mobile sim card, and most importantly for the Spanish state – for instance to pay tax and register on the health system.

Much is spoken about Spanish bureaucracy and how it can be a pain, but once you have your NIE number it stays with you for life. Therefore it’s well worth jumping through a few hoops to get one. The final product is a certificate that carries your number and can be produced to make life a whole lot easier.

There are two main ways to get issued with an NIE Number and certificate. You can either do it from the UK before you come to Spain, or you can do it once you arrive. I’ll explain how both process work.

Applying in the UK

If you are in the UK you can go to the Spanish Consulate in London, or Edinburgh. As you cannot make an appointment for this you are advised to get there early. Be aware – that they will shut at 1.00pm!

I can only describe the experience as rather like visiting a very large post office where you take a number, and wait your turn. You will need the following documents:

  • Your original passport and 2 additional copies of your entire passport – not just the photo section.
  • Two copies of the application form EX-15. These can be downloaded from the consulate website along with instructions – website link to the Spanish government in English here http://bit.ly/347pQYv  By the way, DO NOT sign the form, as it must be signed in the presence of the official handling your application at the consulate. This form must be completed before you attend the consulate, it is not a form available on the day.
  • A document that can be used as proof of your requirement for an NIE number. This might be a property sales document, or a tenancy agreement in Spain.
  • Original proof of 3 years address history. A utility bill, bank statement, or similar, showing both your name and address at that time. One for each year.
  • Payment for the application is made on the day at the cashier’s office. There doesn’t seem to be a fixed cost for this, but the cost is usually less than a tenner!

And finally, and very importantly, take additional copies of everything just in case!

If this seems complicated, I can assure you it really isn’t that bad. Just be prepared with everything and be early. In the case of my wife and I, it was a process that saw us in and out within an hour. We then spent the rest of the time sightseeing in London.

Your NIE certificate will be sent by email from Madrid usually with 10-14 days.

One final note. Your certificate will state that it is valid for 3 months. This applies to its use, you will need to use your number within 3 months, after that the number is attached to you for life and there is no need for a further certificate.

Obtaining an NIE in Spain

If you intend to live in Spain, this is the only way to get an NIE – you must visit and apply once you are physically in Spain.

The easiest, way of getting an NIE number in Spain is to authorise a third party to obtain one on your behalf. Many companies specialise in this and a simple online search will give you many options. Better still obtain a personal recommendation or ask the Gestor handling the purchase or rental of your property.

Although not excessively expensive you should be aware that you will be paying for a service and that service and time will reflect in cost. But this is by far the easiest way of doing things.

You will need to grant your representative poder (power of attorney). This will need to be signed in front of a notary and it must grant them expressive permission to obtain the NIE on your behalf.

You will need to provide your representative with your original passport, and you will need to get a copy notarised. This is usually just a quick visit to the notary’s office and is quite painless. Other than that you can simply provide a notarised copy of your passport, but if this has been notarised outside of Spain you will also need Hague Apostille.

If you don’t want a third party to act on your behalf, you can always go through the process yourself. The process is the similar that described earlier when visiting the Spanish Consulate in the UK. The documentation required is the same but you will need to make an appointment at your provincial Immigration Offices (oficinas de extranjeros) to present your application. You may also need to make payment at a bank near to the office before returning to complete the process.


Good Luck!!