As a non-Spanish national with any formal dealings with Spain you are going to need an NIE. That may sound like a tongue-twister. To add to the confusion, you will hear NIEs phonetically referred to by Brits as ‘En-eye-ees’, ‘Knees’ or ‘Knee-Yays’, whilst Spaniards pronounce it ‘Knee-yeh’ (singular) or ‘Knee-Yes’ (plural). However you prefer to say it, in all cases NIE stands for Numero de Identificacion de Extranjero, which translates directly as a Foreigner’s Identification Number.
Why you need an NIE
The acronyms don’t stop there - Spain operates a national ID system and Spanish nationals have a DNI, which stands for Documento Nacional de Identidad (National Identity Document) and a NIF which stands for Numero de Identificación Fiscal (a Tax Identification Number).
Since June 2011, non-Spanish nationals with economic, professional or social interests with Spain are required to have an equivalent - the NIE. Without one, you will not get very far in negotiating any official processes in Spain, particularly anything relating to tax.
If you are party to a Spanish property transfer, an NIE is needed to file tax forms which, in turn, are necessary for registering the property in your name. Once you own Spanish property, an NIE is essential for any official dealings in Spain, such as opening a bank account, applying for a loan, or buying a Spanish registered motor vehicle.
The process of obtaining an NIE
As a UK based British National, your conventional choice is between the following local process in Spain or the Spanish Consular route in the UK.
If you are buying a property, the estate agent or other local Spanish adviser should be well versed in helping you obtain an NIE during your trip. Across most of Spain, and in many areas popular with Brits, the application process requires two personal visits to a local police station - one to make the application and another to collect the documentation (typically up to two to three weeks later). In each case, you may have to wait for up to a few hours in addition to any time involved travelling there.
If you are based in Spain or plan to extend your stay beyond a flying visit, then you may be prepared to do the necessary legwork, which should prove a good gentle introduction to cutting through Spanish red tape.
The Consular route
You can apply for an NIE via the Spanish Embassy/Consulate. However, the downside to the Consular process is that there is little in the way of help with the necessary form-filling and it takes at least four weeks to complete which may delay your ultimate objective in Spain. In our experience, the Consular route tends to be unreliable and frustrating, especially when transactional deadlines need to be met in Spain.
Help from Buckles
If you are UK based and struggling to find the necessary time to do the job yourself, we can help in circumstances where many local advisers cannot.
In most areas of Spain, you are required to make the application by visiting the local police station personally. In most cases, it is no longer acceptable to delegate authority to someone else to apply for and collect an NIE on your behalf. However, in those areas where delegation is permitted, we have established relationships with professionals who can make NIE applications for you. We arrange for you to sign a Spanish Power of Attorney quickly and conveniently at your local Notary office in the UK. The Power of Attorney authorises us and trusted professionals in Spain to obtain your NIE without you having to travel to Spain or personally attend the Consulate.
Our service is beneficial if you need to obtain an NIE relatively quickly. If your local advisers are unable to obtain NIEs using Power of Attorney, then the hassle involved in flying to Spain for up to three weeks to apply for and collect your NIE, or make separate trips to Spain for each step, is best avoided.
Typically, you need our help if:
- You bought your property a long time ago, have managed to get by without NIEs and now need to dispose of your interest; or
- You are due to acquire Spanish property by way of an inheritance, gift or a transfer between co-owners, having not previously had any formal dealings in Spain
Getting in touch if you need help
If you or someone you know need help with applying for an NIE from the UK quickly and easily, then speak to Dennis Phillips on 0115 985 3473 or another member of our Spanish team at Buckles Solicitors on 01733 888888.