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.