Would-be buyers struggling to get Spanish NIE number appointments on their own

spanish nie number

NIE number. Click to enlarge

You can’t buy a property in Spain without an NIE number, which you have to apply for by appointment with an immigration office. But I hear it’s proving impossible to get an appointment, at least in some popular coastal areas, so how do you solve the NIE problem if you want to buy a house in Spain?

It’s been twenty years since I applied for my own Spanish NIE number at a police station in Barcelona, and though I publish a popular guide explaining the Spanish NIE number, what it is, why you need one, and how to get one, I don’t deal with any NIE number applications, so I was unaware that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an appointment with immigration office until a reader called Ian got in touch with the following question:

We have been trying to book an appointment to obtain an NIE number to facilitate a house purchase, but for the last few months there have been no appointments available around the Alicante region, do you know why it has become so difficult ? We have tried booking an appointment online but all offices, Alicante, Benidorm, Denia etc. advise that no appointments are available. As a result, those wishing to buy in Spain are unable to do so. This must be having an effect on the property market in Spain, and we now have both a lawyer and consultant attempting to secure us an appointment.

So I asked around on Facebook and it quickly became clear from the feedback that it’s almost impossible to get an NIE number appointment these days in popular areas without the help of one of the lawyers or gestors who are well connected with officials and can help you apply for a Spanish NIE number in return for a fee that ranges from around €30 for a partial service to as much as €200 or more for a full service, though I’ve seen a few reliable outfits offering a full service for €150.

I get the feeling you might not want to hand over money to some of the outfits advertising an NIE number service online. It might be the last time you see that money, so I personally wouldn’t use any of the NIE number services unless it came with a credible recommendation. In the New Year I’ll put together a guide to NIE number application services that can be trusted.

In the meantime, you can read a Facebook discussion of the current difficulty of getting an NIE number appointment below. I assume you can still get an appointment on your own in areas where there is not much foreign demand, for example in the north of Spain, but if you need an NIE number to buy a property in southern Spain, it looks like your only option is to pay for the service.

About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based Spanish property market analyst, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008).

4 thoughts on “Would-be buyers struggling to get Spanish NIE number appointments on their own”

  1. Chris Nation

    Mark, people may find the same problem with booking an appointment for signing up as a resident, something of major importance with BREXIT looming [31/12/2020, not 31/01/2020. In my state of mind a.t.mo, 31/12 is in the ‘looming’ category]

    Here in VLC I found the online appointments site reporting ‘No appointments available’ day after day, sometimes several visits per day until, one day – take your pick! Dogged persistence paid off.

    It would be sad to take the view that lawyer/gestors have had a word with the NIE offices round the back of the bike shed, to mutual advantage, as the Valencian architects must have done with the Planning Dept when the pointless, useless ‘DECLARACIÓN RESPONSABLE DE OBRA. Typo II’ was foisted on even the most modest of refurbs, in VLC at least.

    But old habits die hard and it would be an understandable view to take.

    1. Mark Stücklin Post Author

      Hi Chris, it might be that they are just block booking all available appointments, rather than corruption, but who knows. Whatever the case, it means that people have to spend an extra few hundred euros to jump through bureaucratic hoops, rather like you beloved declaración de obra II in Vlc.

  2. Mark Stücklin Post Author

    I’ve heard back from the reader who I mention above. He says “My understanding of the situation is that the larger law firms are block booking appointments for their clients seeking NIE and residency which they facilitate to their clients for 200/300 euros, any excess appointments are subsequently cancelled and picked up by agents who then sell these on for 100/200 euro. Thus individuals are unable to secure their own independent appointments and save significant costs paying a few hundred euro for a document that should cost about €8.50.”

    So basically some sharp operators are taking advantage of Spain’s notoriously inefficient national bureaucracy to make a few hundred euro out of foreigners. Just another inconvenience and cost for people looking to buy in Spain or move to Spain.

    I also hear, as some people have commented above, that applying through the consulate or embassy back home is quicker and cheaper, so bear that in mind. I also hear that, if applying in Spain, it does actually matter what time of the day you apply online. There are certain windows of time in the week that get better results, I guess when they update the database of appointments that have been cancelled.

    One person in Barcelona who has been trying for a year and a half to get an appointment with Extranjería told me that you have to apply for an appointment in the province where you live, even if you are told by others that you can apply anywhere in Spain. She wrote to me saying that “Both the Ayuntamiento and the local police station told me “esto es nacional y se puede hacer en cualquier provincia de España” so off I trotted to Tarragona (where I got an appointment easily in August), only to be sent back to Barcelona at the door because, they said, each province has its quota.”

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