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The NIE in the purchase of real estate

Posted by Robert Marekovic on 30. June 2023

What exactly is the NIE – Número de Identidad de Extranjero?

The NIE is of great importance for foreign residents and property owners without residency in Spain. Similar to the DNI for Spanish citizens, the NIE is a document that must be possessed by anyone who does not have Spanish citizenship and lives in Spain or has economic, professional or social interests (Art. 206 Regulation of Organic Law 4/200 on the Rights and Freedoms of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration).

There are three types of NIE

1. NEVER for residents who have their center of life in Spain or live there more than 180 days a year.
2. NIE for non-residents (NIE para no residentes), e.g. people who want to buy a property in Spain.
3. Provisional NIE (NIE provisional/temporal): Has a validity of only 90 days and can serve as a bridge until one receives the official NIE.

The NIE is required for many transactions, official business, tax matters and much more. It is omnipresent in Spain and hard to imagine daily life without it.

The NIE is also essential when buying real estate. It is required for the actual purchase of real estate, as well as for related tax matters. However, this is where a limitation comes into play. The NIE can be applied for either locally in Spain at the Extranjería or at a Spanish consulate in the home country. As with most government agencies, the time involved is unpredictable and it may take several weeks or even months to receive your final NIE.

So do you have to wait that long to buy your property?

Sometimes things have to happen quickly – you receive an offer for a property, the seller doesn’t want to wait long or for other reasons you don’t want to delay the purchase for months.

And what is the solution?

When applying for the NIE, you can apply for a provisional NIE (also known as a white NIE). This is valid for 90 days and can be used for real estate purchases if you can prove that the process to apply for the official NIE (green NIE) is in progress.

In the case of a real estate purchase, this fact is noted in the notarial deed of sale, and the buyer must visit the notary after receiving the official NIE to add this NIE to the deed of sale (this involves a cost).

For the handling of the application for the NIE and the provisional NIE, it is recommended to hire a Gestoria or a corresponding service office, which will take care of the entire process and the appointment application, document provision, etc.

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