NIE number explained

13 March 2019

By Larraín Nesbitt Abogados

What is a NIE number?

This will be one of the first questions you will be asking yourself when you move over to Spain. Succinctly, a NIE number is a tax identification number for foreigners which identifies you before the Spanish Tax Office and allows you to file and pay taxes in Spain.

Why do you need a NIE number?

Any activity in Spain that requires you, as a non-resident, to pay taxes will need you to apply for a NIE number. A NIE number does not preclude your tax residency. The below is an open list on why it is required:

  • Buying & selling property.
  • Renting out property.
  • Connecting your property to utilities.
  • Inheriting assets in Spain.
  • Opening a bank account.*
  • Taking out insurance.
  • Importing/buying/selling a car.
  • Importing/buying/selling a boat.
  • Working in Spain (short-term jobs under 3 months only)
  • Studying in Spain.
  • Claiming benefits.
  • Obtaining a mortgage or any other type of personal loan.
  • Can be used to enrol in a town hall census.
  • Some elite private foreign schools require a NIE number from parents and/or new (foreign) pupils to enrol them!

Who needs a NIE number?

  • Any foreigner who becomes resident in Spain for tax purposes.
  • Any non-resident who plans to own assets in Spain i.e. real estate, car, boat etc.
  • Any foreigner who plans to work, study or start a business in Spain. 


What does a NIE number look like?

A NIE number is issued by the National police on a standard A4 size of paper which also has your name, surname, date of birth and nationality. Example: Y-12345678-R.

How to apply for a NIE number

  1. Apply abroad in person, through a Spanish consulate.
  2. Apply in person in Spain before a Spanish National Police station or Oficina de Extranjería.
  3. Apply by representative. You can appoint a law firm, such as us, to act on your behalf as proxy using a Power of Attorney specific to NIE numbers.

What is required to attain a NIE?

  • Passport.
  • Fill in the relevant application form in Spanish.
  • Pay the administration fee.
  • Justification on why you need it e.g. contract


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