Are you ready to live out your European adventure in sunny Spain? Whether you’re a non-Spanish citizen or an EU citizen, one of the key documents you’ll need to obtain before you can purchase property or set up services like internet or phone connections is a NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero). This unique identification number serves as the Spanish equivalent of a tax identification number and is required for a number of transactions in Spain.

Getting the document can be a real headache if you don’t know where to start so we’ve created this guide! In our step-by-step procedure we’ll cover the process and all of the necessary documentation you will need. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time buyer, we’ll show you how to get your NIE number like a pro. So if you’re ready to take the first step toward purchasing property or setting up services in Spain, let’s get started!

What is a NIE Number?

If you’re ready to move to Spain from another country, that’s amazing! But before you can sign on that dotted line and sip sangria on your terrace, you’ll need a NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero).

Think of it as the Spanish equivalent of a tax identification number. Think of it  like a secret code that unlocks all sorts of transactions in Spain. It’s a unique identification number that the Spanish government issues to non-Spanish citizens, including both EU and non-EU citizens.

This nifty little code is essential for anyone looking to conduct business or reside in Spain for an extended period of time, and it’s especially crucial for property buyers. Without a NIE number, you won’t be able to sign contracts or pay taxes related to your property purchase. Plus, if you’re staying in Spain for more than 183 days per year, you’re required to obtain a NIE number for tax purposes.

Everything runs off of your NIE number in Spain. It literally is the first thing people ask for when dealing with you. That includes property purchases, rental contracts, cell phone and broadband contracts and more.

Why is a NIE number necessary for buying property in Spain?

Under Spanish law, all property transactions must be recorded in the Land Registry, and a NIE number is necessary for this registration process. This means that if you’re looking to buy property in Spain, you’ll need a NIE number in order to complete the transaction.

In addition to being necessary for the registration process, a NIE number is also required for paying taxes related to the property purchase. This includes the Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales (ITP), a tax levied on the transfer of property ownership in Spain. Without a NIE number, you won’t be able to pay this tax or any other taxes related to your property purchase.

The NIE number is an essential document for anyone looking to purchase property in Spain. It is necessary for the property registration process and for paying taxes related to the property purchase. So, if you’re dreaming of owning a casa in Spain, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your NIE number!

Our Step by Step Guide to Getting the NIE number 

Getting the NIE number in Spain can go one of two ways, super easy, or super difficult. Now I know that doesn’t help you nor does it get your mental space into a happy place. But these are the facts.

I’ve seen people make an appointment and walk out with nothing in hand and a massive frown on their face. On the other hand, the lucky ones are able to come out with their NIE number with no problems.

So this guide is designed to give you the best chance of success. If I can say one thing about any paperwork dealings in Spain it’s this: Be Prepared! They don’t have a photocopier, a stapler or any resource to help you. They will simply send you away and force you to make a new appointment.

Step 1: Make an appointment with the Foreigner’s Office<h3>

The first step in obtaining a NIE number is to make an appointment with the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros). You can do this online or in person at your nearest Foreigner’s Office.

The link to schedule an appointment is here.

The appointments can be far in the future as some of these offices are quite busy while others are quiet. Expect to wait a month just out of safety.

By law, you have 90 days from your arrival date in Spain to process your NIE number so bear that in mind when you go to make an appointment. Book early and use an experienced lawyer if you need any help. Typically a lawyer can cost between 100 euros to 250 euros per NIE number.

Step 2: Gather necessary documents

Before your appointment, you’ll need to gather a few necessary documents. These include:

  • A completed NIE application form (EX-15).
  • Your passport and a photocopy of the passport (including all pages). Be 100% sure you photocopy every single page of your passport!
  • Proof of payment of the NIE fee (see Step 3).
  • Any additional documents required by the Foreigner’s Office, such as proof of residence or employment. This usually will not apply if you are new to the country. If you are a resident from another EU country and are moving to Spain, you will need your residency from your departing country.
  • In some provinces, you may need a notarized letter to state why you need an NIE in Spain. It can be your intention to buy a home in the country. You can obtain one of these by contacting a notary’s office. It is simply a letter of intent.

Step 3: Attend appointment and pay fee

On the day of your appointment, arrive early. Bring a translator if you can just to be on the safe side. Be sure that you have everything in hand including your documentation and passport(s).

The office will check the paperwork and determine if you have everything in order. If so, you will be asked to pay a processing fee for your NIE number.

The fee varies depending on the location and the reason for obtaining the NIE number, but it’s typically around 10-15 euros.

Step 4: Picking Up Your NIE Certificate

Upon successfully applying for your NIE, you may be given your number right away. We have heard of some offices needing a few days to process everything, but it does go pretty fast.

Your NIE number will be printed on a standard piece of paper so bring a protector or folder and keep it in a safe place.

Congratulations, you now have your NIE number! It does take a few steps and preparation, but it is a crucial step toward your property purchase.

In the next section, we’ll provide some tips to help make the process of getting a NIE number even smoother.

Tips for getting a NIE number

Getting a NIE number can be a bit of a hassle, but with a bit of preparation and organization, you can make the process go much more smoothly. Here are some tips to help you get your NIE number like a pro:

1. Schedule your appointment early

As mentioned earlier, you should 100% schedule your appointment early. If you can’t find an appointment in your time frame, check the website constantly as any canceled appointments will become available.

I’ve seen it happen personally where a last minute appointment is free so keep checking. Again, here is the link to check appointments.

If you find a free appointment, book it right away and just cancel it if it doesn’t work.

2. Double-check your documents

We can not stress this enough! Spain has zero patience for people unprepared. You will not be able to photocopy anything nor can you run down the street to do it. You will simply be turned away.

Do a final check the night before and one more time before your appointment. Be ready and you won’t have any issues.

3. Be prepared to pay the fee

The fee associated with your NIE application will need to be paid. We recommend using cash. Not all offices have a card reader. Even if they do, you’ll only find out after you arrive so save yourself the trouble and bring some cash.

4. Be patient

The process of obtaining a NIE number can take some time, so be patient and prepared to wait. Depending on your location and the time of year, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to receive your NIE number.

Generally, I’ve seen people receive their NIE number the same day as their appointment. But in some large cities, you may have to wait a few days. In extreme cases, you may have to wait a few weeks.

To help prevent this, be sure everything is in order. We know a lot is riding on this document and obtaining it unlocks all of the next steps in your property timeline.

5. Don’t make any travel plans until you have your NIE number

Once you arrive in Spain to apply for your NIE, it is important that you remain in the country. Once your application is turned in, you will need to be present to receive the certificate. Leaving will add extra complications to your process and you may have delays.

We’ve heard of some lawyers who can pick your NIE up for you, but it is vitally important that you arrange that ahead of filing your application.


While it may seem like a daunting task, getting your NIE number is an essential step for anyone looking to purchase property or conduct business in Spain.

In this guide, we’ve covered the basics of what a NIE number is, why it’s necessary for buying property in Spain, and how to obtain one. We’ve also provided some tips to help make the process go more smoothly.

Remember, the process of obtaining a NIE number can take some time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end. With your NIE number, you’ll be able to sign contracts, pay taxes, and conduct business in Spain with ease.

If you’re looking for the perfect property in Spain be sure to look at our listings. We only work with the best agents who have a history of excellent professionalism and service. There are properties in all price ranges and sizes to start generating ideas. Now that you’ll have your NIE number, your move to Spain is well underway!