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Do you need an NIE number?

NIE Number – The Five W’s

What is it?

The NIE number (or “Numero de Identificatión de Extranjero”) is a national tax identification number that is required in Spain by any non-Spanish individual.  It is the foreigner’s equivalent to a DNI number possessed by Spanish nationals.

The NIE Number itself is issued on a standard A4 page, with the recipients full name (as written on the passport used during the application process), their place of birth, their nationality, and the number itself, along with a stamp and signature provided by the National Police.

Why do I need it?

The NIE Number is issued by the National Police of Spain ( and in accordance to Spanish law is required for the purchase or sale of any real estate, vehicle, or boat within Spain.  There are many other transactions that require the parties involved to possess an NIE Number.

The document is often used as a form of identification, and in many cases the original document is required (a copy is not sufficient).

When will I need it?

Once issued an NIE number, it will never change, irrelevant of marital status, name changes or residence status.


Where can it be used?

The NIE Number is a national number, and therefore the location of application is irrelevant as the number can be used throughout the whole of Spain and the Canary and Balearic Islands and Melilla.

Who can help me get it?

In order to obtain an NIE Number, there are several ways to do this.  Note the following:

  1. Apply in Person – To apply for an NIE Number in person, you must present yourself at a local branch of the National Police of Spain (the Guardia Civil).  The exact process varies from one branch to another but generally they follow the following steps:

    1. Download and print an NIE Number application form – this can be found at the Ministry of the Interior website at

    2. Complete the application form

    3. Take the form, along with your passport (and a photocopy of your passport) to a local branch of the National Police.

    4. When you arrive at the National Police station, you will need to take a number and stand in the queue.  Their offices are only open until 14:00 and it is recommended to get there very early as to get a number (e.g. 6:00 a.m.) especially during the summer months.

    5. Submit the application, and be sure to collect a receipt for your application, the administration of the Guardia Civil should inform you when your NIE Number document will be ready to be collected (normally 6-12 weeks from the date of application). 

    6. Return to the National Police station where you made the application in the time-frame suggested.  (It is wise to add an additional week, just to be sure it will be ready by then) and queue to get a number again.

    7. Present your receipt at the counter and you should be given your NIE Number document.

  2. Apply through a consulate – It is possible to apply for an NIE Number from outside of Spain via a Spanish consulate in your area.  This process varies from one consulate to another, but it is advised to call and confirm the process and expected timelines, the following is an average example of the process:

    1. Call your local consulate and make an appointment, be sure to be clear that you are applying for an NIE Number.

    2. Bring with you your passport, a photocopy of your passport, two passport-sized photos and the application form typed (not hand-written) – this can be found at the Ministry of the Interior website at You will also need to bring with you additional documentation if you are a non-EU citizen.

    3. The consulate acts merely as a postal service and will not be able to provide further information about the process of your NIE Number application.  They will forward your application to Madrid, and then onto a National Police station within Spain.

    4. When the National Police have received, and approved the application, they will forward the NIE Number document to the address provided in the application.  Note that in most cases this must be a Spanish address.

    5. The process from application submission till receiving the NIE Number document back in the home country of application is generally 8 to 14 weeks.

  3. Apply through a solicitor or Gestoría – This is the most common and fastest way of obtaining an NIE Number document.  Although the process varies from one company to the next, the following is generally the process:

    1. Contact a solicitor that specialises in the procurement of NIE Numbers

    2. Grant the solicitor with a Power of Attorney stipulating the right to apply on your behalf for this number

    3. Ensure that the Power of Attorney document (accompanied by a passport photocopy) is notarised and legalised (generally this involves obtaining the Apostille for the documents and many notaries can provide this as an additional service).

    4. Submit the notarised, legalised documents to the company

    5. The process will be handled for you, and the company will return the NIE Number document to you.

    6. The more reputable solicitors will be able to procure the NIE Number document on your behalf within 2 weeks from receipt of your documentation.

Further information regarding NIE Numbers and their uses can be found at NIE Number Direct Website

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