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If you want to buy a house in Spain, rent a car or take out a telephone subscription, a NIE number is required for all financial matters. Without this number you simply cannot go anywhere! Requesting a NIE number can sometimes seem very difficult, but luckily this is not too bad – even if you don’t speak Spanish!


A NIE number in Spain is an identification number for foreigners and it stands for “Número de Identificación de Extranjeros”.  Both residents and non-residents must have this document. You can request a NIE number in different ways, and luckily you only have to do it once. This number is and will remain your personal identification number in Spain.


If you wish to stay in Spain for more than three months, you must request a Spanish NIE number. This is in fact your proof that you are legally staying in Spain. Without a NIE number you can’t actually build a life in Spain, because you need one to:

  • Make a tax return in Spain
  • Buying a house in Spain
  • Buy a car
  • Rent a house in Spain through official channels
  • To work in Spain
  • Take out insurance
  • Open a Spanish bank account
  • To follow a course at a Spanish university

In short, you need a NIE number for all official acts in Spain.


Anyone staying in Spain for one of the following reasons:

  • Working in a Spanish company
  • Doing a paid internship
  • Working as a self-employed person or freelancer
  • Visiting a friend or acquaintance for a longer period of time

Again, if you are not coming to Spain for 1 of these reasons and are staying for less than 90 days, it is not necessary to apply for a NIE. And we strongly advise against that, since it will take quite a lot of time to make an appointment, as you will read below.



You can apply for a NIE through the Spanish Consulate In London, Manchester & Edinburgh. Preferably do this well before departure, then you can be sure that your NIE will arrive on time. It can sometimes take 8 weeks before you receive the NIE! Where the NIE document was previously only valid for 3 months, it is now valid indefinitely. If you now have a NIE document with an expiration date on it and for which an instance is difficult, then you should go to the Comisaria de Extranjeros. Then you will receive a new NIE document without an expiration date. The NIE number of course remains the same, because that is personal.


In Spain you can only go by appointment.

  • Make an appointment at an Oficina de Extranjeros. If there is no Oficina de Extranjeros, you must report to the police with the request to be registered in the central foreigner register.
  • Download the Modelo 790 / código 012 and Modelo EX 15 forms
  • Go to a bank with the Modelo 790 completed form
  • With completed form Modelo EX 15, go to the Oficina de Extranjeros or Police
  • You get the NIE number right away


You can also choose to outsource your NIE application to an external party. This costs considerably more, but saves a lot of stress and speeds up the process enormously. Parties that mediate in applying for a NIE will quickly cost you € 90, but you will receive the following in return:

  • The external party makes an appointment for you
  • Tells you exactly which documents and what you must complete
  • Will go to the appointment with you
  • And often you are outside within 10 minutes with your NIE


1. Can I also request a NIE number without an appointment?

You normally can´t. It is so busy at most police stations that it will not work. At the larger police stations in Spain you may find that you can walk in to request a NIE number. You have the best chance on Monday morning very early. You must have met all the requirements in advance. The procedure remains the same in all cases, whether you are requesting an NIE number with or without an appointment.  

2. Can I request a NIE number in the UK?

You can indeed also request a NIE number in the UK. This is sometimes very useful if the waiting times at the police stations in your area increase considerably. You can do this through the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in London, Manchester or Edinburgh, as we have already explained. You must then go through the same steps as above and take the same forms (completed and printed). A difference is that it can take up to 8 weeks for you to receive the NIE number. So keep this in mind when you are planning your departure to Spain.  

3. Do I always have to request a NIE number myself?

If you do not want to apply for a NIE number yourself, you can get a lawyer or a gestor (legal assistant) in Spain. He or she knows exactly how to walk the roads and he or she knows the people and the mentality. This can save a lot of time and frustration. Of course you do pay for the services of this lawyer. But when you see that it saves you a lot of time, it may just be that you think it is worth these costs. Some lawyers or gestors have good contacts at the police stations, so that they can arrange a faster appointment. But never assume this!  

4. I don’t have a Spanish address yet. What should I enter on the form?

On the NIE application form it is important that you enter a Spanish address. Ask your broker, future employer or friends if you can use their address if you don’t have a permanent place of residence yet.

Would you like to read more about the buying process in Spain? Read our article “Buying Property in Spain