What is a NIE and how do I get one?

27 July 2015 2 Comments Category: Just Landed

If you just landed and need to open a bank account, you´ll need a it. If you are here to study, work, buy or sell property or even apply for a business permit to set up a business or get a driver´s license, you won´t get anything done without it. We´re talking about the NIE, a Spanish tax identification number, assigned by the Spanish authorities to any foreigner. Keep reading to learn how to get one and how it works.

The NIE, short for Número de Identificación de Extranjero (Identification Number for Foreigners), which is unique and personal. It always starts with an X, followed by 7 numbers and a letter and is required for all resident and non-resident foreigners with financial, professional or social affairs in Spain, regardless of whether you are a European citizen or from a non-EU country.

You´ll need it to pay taxes too, both income and annual wealth tax, known in Spain as Patrimonio. In other words, getting your NIE is something you should sort out as soon as possible. All you must do is follow these guidelines. But keep in mind that regulations in Cataluña might differ from those in Andalucía, for example. If in doubt, check the list of immigration offices in Spain here.

How to apply for a NIE? You can do it in person, via a Spanish Consulate abroad or through a representative in Spain.

Whether you are a EU citizen or not, everyone must fill out two copies of the Ex-15 application form and sign. By the way, would you like to know the name in Spanish for application? Solicitud.

Together with the solicitud, you must attach a photocopy of the main page of your passport and two recent passport photos. If you are a non-EU national, a photocopy of your entire passport is required plus proof of your legal entry into Spain. In some cases, a valid entry stamp on your passport is enough.


Other documents you need are a valid address in Spain and a document proving why you need a Spanish NIE. This could very well be a real estate contract showing you are going to buy property, a job contract from a Spanish company or a company ownership certificate. You can also attach a bank letter proving you have sufficient funds to live in Spain without working.  Students just need a school acceptance letter.

There is one more thing you will need in order to complete the application process: pay a small tax at the nearest bank after completing your application. In return you will be given a stamped receipt, which is proof of this payment.

Before taking all documentation in person to one of the immigration offices, usually in designated police stations, you must apply for an appointment online

Making an appointment online. Make sure you seek assistance from a friend or lawyer, in case you have trouble reading or understanding it, because it´s only in Spanish.

Once you present all your documents, it´s time to wait. The process can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks so just relax and be patient. In the meantime, you will be given a resguardo (an official receipt and proof that you are waiting for your NIE) and a date after which you can collect your NIE. Remember, the time you wait depends on the region you live in and the time of year.

You can get your NIE on your own with a bit of help, patience and time. Remember, if you can afford it, you can always hire an immigration lawyer who will make the entire process a breeze. For more detailed information on documents and processing, visit the Government Website.

Do you already have a NIE? Do you have any helpful tips for other expats who are starting the process.

Photo Credits: David WallSteve Snodgrass