How to Get a Spanish NIE

Spanish NIE’s – The Basics

NIE Defined and Basic Requirement

1) It’s a Spanish tax identification number for foreigners. It’s required to do almost anything in Spain.

2) Apply. You can apply at the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your resident country or in Spain. You must be in Spain legally when you apply.

Two Types. (1) Resident NIE and (2) Non-Resident NIE

There’s a BIG difference between the two:

1) Resident NIE. It’s for a citizen of the European Union (EU), Switzerland, Iceland or Norway only, and this person will also be a *resident of Spain. *See below for a definition. With this NIE, you must report and pay income taxes in Spain on your world-wide income. So don’t apply until you speak with a Spanish tax attorney. We work with one in our office. This NIE is on a document called a ‘Certificate of Residence’. 

2) Non-Resident. It’s for everyone else: all non-EU citizens and EU-citizens who are not a Spanish resident. It’s a piece of paper with the NIE written on it. It only allows you to do certain acts in Spain, such as hire utilities and buy property. It does not allow you to live or work in Spain. To do this, non-EU citizens must go through the immigration process and obtain a visa. 

Where Do I Get a NIE?

This depends on your country of citizenship.

1) Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Norway apply at the local police station (comisaria). In Barcelona it’s on Rambla Guipúzcoa. 

Appointment. You must get an appointment online (cita previa). See the link below. It’s hard to get an appointment. You should try at 8:00 am on a Monday morning or hire someone. Your appointment will be set three to six weeks in the future. Print out the appointment confirmation, you’ll need it to get in.  It might be easier to apply at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country. https://sede.administracionespublicas.gob.es/

2) Non-EU Citizens. They go to the Spanish immigration office called Extranjería. In Barcelona it’s on Passeig Joan. They also need a cita previa as described above.

What Documents do I Need to Get a Resident NIE?

You’ll be living in Spain so it’s a long list: 

  • Form EX18 (the application)
  • Appointment confirmation
  • Your original passport plus a copy of the photo page
  • A recently dated, signed and stamped bank statement in your name only that shows you have at least 5,164.60€ in the bank. This figure as of July 2017; it’s subject to change. If you have dependents the amount is higher. A local bank is recommended.
  • Health Insurance. The policy must include ambulance, hospital and have no co-pay. You’ll need the full original policy, dated, signed and stamped by the insurance company. A local company is recommended. USA policies are almost always rejected. If you have a job or job offer, ask your employer if you have a work contract. If so, you should be enrolled in Spain’s public health system so you won’t need to show insurance. 
  • Resident Registration (Empadronamiento) certificate. To get this you register as a resident with the city government (Ayuntamiento) in the neighborhood where you live. You must prove you live there by showing a signed rental agreement (lease) with a duration of at least 6 months and proof that you’re paying rent. They will check to make sure that the person on the lease is the owner of the property. If you don’t have a lease, go to the nearest Ayuntamiento and ask how you can prove your residence.
What Documents do I Need to Get a Non-Resident NIE?

It’s a short list because you won’t be living in Spain:

  • Form EX15 (application)
  • Appointment confirmation. If you don’t have time to get an appointment, you need a letter from a Noatry Public explaining the emergency.
  • Your original passport plus a copy of the photo page
  • A letter explaining why you need the NIE (Carta de Motivo). It’s best to get this from a Spanish Notary that sets forth the reason: to buy property, accept employment, etc. However, some offices accept a letter from a bank.

Note: You don’t need to show money in the bank, health insurance or an empadronamiento certificate because you are not living in Spain.

Pro’s and Con’s of having a Resident v. Non-Resident NIE

Before you proceed beware:

1) Taxes. With a resident NIE you must file an annual tax return in Spain reporting your worldwide income. If you file in your native country, you might get a tax credit for the taxes you pay in Spain. With a non-resident NIE you don’t have to file a tax return in Spain. If your spouse has a resident NIE, you might be considered a resident too, obligating you to file a tax return. Tax questions are tricky. Please talk to a Spanish tax attorney (abogado fiscal) before you, or your spouse, apply for a resident NIE. I can refer one.

2) A non-resident NIE does not allow a non-EU citizen to live or work in Spain. They can only live in Spain 90 days at a time or 180 days in each 365-day period. 

* Spanish Resident Defined. You are a Spanish resident IF

  • You live in Spain for 183 days or more per year
  • You live in Spain for less than 183 days but you don’t have a home elsewhere so your principal residence is in Spain
  • Your ‘central economic activity’ is in Spain or it’s where you earn most of your money
  • Your spouse or a child live in Spain. Then a presumption arises that you live in Spain. You can rebut this with evidence that you live and pay taxes elsewhere. But beware, if your spouse is a resident you might be forced to pay taxes in Spain even if you don’t have a resident NIE. This issue comes up all the time.

Questions or Comments? Please let me know. Mark at [email protected]

3 Comments on “How to Get a Spanish NIE”

  1. Dear sirs,

    I am an American citizen who has been a resident of the UK for more than 40 years. I also work and pay taxes in the UK.

    In 1999 my wife (a British citizen), and I purchased a property in Spain. How can I acquire an NIE? I’m told that I now need this number to deal with services in Spain including my bank account.

    1. Jerome, You can apply for a Spanish NIE at any Spanish Embassy in the UK. If you purchased property in Spain, however, you needed a NIE to sign the deed. You should contact the notary public where you signed the deed. If you’re in Spain you must get an appointment for a time to go to the nearest police station and apply there. You can email me or contact a NIE specialist in the area where you live. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: Searching for property in Barcelona - Spain Advisors

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