Your Spanish NIE Number, Explained

One of the first things most people do as soon as they move to Spain, after they’ve found somewhere to live, is apply for an NIE number. This is because this little number is so vital for making your transition to living in Spain much smoother: it is needed by all foreign nationals who wish to conduct legal or tax activity in Spain. That includes, but is not limited to: buying a house, being legally employed, and even setting up your utility bills.


Here’s everything you need to know about securing your own NIE number, and how to use it:

What is a Spanish NIE Number?

An NIE number is effectively apersonal and unique tax identification number. Every person who lives in Spain (including children) is issued one, and it is used to track all of your financial and legal activities whilst you’re in Spain.  If an activity involves contact with the tax office then you’ll need an NIE number to undertake it.

Every Spanish person is issued with an NIE number when they are born, and all foreigners with financial interests in the country are also required to have one, regardless of whether they are a resident or non-resident in Spain. This includes children, who cannot access social security benefits without an NIE number.

Wondering when to apply for your NIE number? You can apply for one straight away if you have a job to start, alternatively, European citizens are expected to apply for a NIE number after three months of residence in Spain. If you are a non-EU citizens then you will will typically receive their NIE application along your Spanish residency, once the appropriate visas have been issued . Official residents in Spain who have their NIE number then need to register on el padron, which is the Spanish census register, and acts in a similar way to the UK’s electoral roll.

How Can You Use Your Spanish NIE Number?

You’ll be amazed at just how many everyday activities that you take for granted require you to have an NIE number to complete them once you are living in Spain. A comprehensive list of some of the most common of these is included below, for your convenience. Because of this, it would be almost impossible to live in Spain without a Spanish NIE number:

Open a bank account

Being legally employed

Paying taxes in Spain

Buying or selling motor vehicles

Becoming self-employed

Registering a business


Studying in Spain

Getting a Spanish driver’s licence

Arrange utilities (but not a mobile phone)

How Do I Apply For a Spanish NIE Number?

The process of applying for a Spanish NIE number varies very slightly from region to region, but no matter where you are living, you will need to arrange an appointment at the relevant office closest to you and take the NIE application form (known as the EX 15 form) with you: you can secure a copy of that here. Although it is possible to view a version of the form in English, the form you submit must be completed in Spanish: if you are not a Spanish speaker, then you may wish to ask a friend or collegue to assist you in completing the form and making the application.

Other documentation you’re likely to need includes:

  • Your original passport (this must be a valid, current passport and not expired) plus one clear photocopy of your passport
  • Two small and recent passport sized photos of yourself
  • Government fee (This was €10.71 in 2018), which you should pay at the bank using a 790 NIE form before your NIE card can be issued.

Provided you have all the relevant documentation, the process of applying for your NIE card should be relatively straight forward. If you’re not sure what documentation you will need, please check when you make your appointment, or prior to arriving for your appointment, to avoid disappointment. In many regions, you will be asigned your NIE number straight away.

Note: Once your NIE number has been issued this is permanent, and will not change. You are assigned an NIE number for life, so take good care of it!

 Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Is now the right time to turn your dream of Spanish home ownership into a reality? If so, you'll need to be prepared and understand the costs of buying a property in Spain as well as maintaining a property here. Why not get in touch with our team of property experts: with year’s of experience in the industry, we’re committed to helping you find your dream property in Spain, today.