3 Feb, 2012 @ 14:33
1 min read

NIE paperwork madness in Spain

By Antonio Flores

A ROW between the police and government is threatening to discourage hundreds of potential property buyers from taking the plunge.

It comes after the government ruled that the obligatory NIE number needed to buy a house can no longer be aquired by a third party.

This means that personal attendence is now mandatory and lawyers can no longer do this job for a client.

I mean can you imagine Russian millionaire Roman Abramovich having to queue up at 6am in order to get his form? Can you see a celebrity or footballer having to turn up at their local police station in order to buy a house?

Trooping back and forwards, paying the fee in the bank?

The consequences could be devastating for some buyers who might feel that Spain is not a country worth investing in if you need to go through such beaurocratic hoops.

And it is not just buying property. Setting up a business, signing up for a job and many other legal matters, people just don’t deserve this third-world treatment.

Worse than that, in Madrid, a city that aspires to become a European financial hub, you can expect a three month wait for an appointment to apply for the NIE.

Also, there is a total lack of uniformity in what documentation is required: some police stations in the Costa Blanca are asking for notarised documents of the property one wishes to buy, while others will accept a reservation contract and proof of payment of deposit.

The random nature of documentation requirements is perplexing to professionals and unbearable to investors.

Spanish Consulates, not particularly equipped to assist investors, have been commissioned to process applications and return an NIE number within five working days, a tall order for some such offices not used to dull admin work.

And that is if you have a consulate nearby. Cost-cutting has meant the Spanish Government is to close many (Manchester and Hamburg to name two), so if you happen to be a billionaire currently in Vladivostok or a footballer in Cheshire you might decide to buy elsewhere.

The property industry is dismayed by what are probably the weirdest, craziest and most idiotic laws around Europe, and we are all hoping that as with most things, common sense will ultimately prevail.

Eloise Horsfield

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  1. This is so ridiculous. I’m currently living in Madrid– married to a Spaniard and after 4 months don’t have my NIE card. In fact, the wait in Madrid was so long (eleven months!!!) that I had to go down to Cadiz where my in-laws live to request the card there. And although they gave me the appointment the same day (well I just stood in the line at 6 am!) I still have to wait an estimated 5 months to be approved and then go back to Cadiz for fingerprints… then wait another estimated 3 months for the physical card. Ridiculous in all ways!

  2. I am also married to a Spaniard for almost 30 years, but we married in India, and lived in Switzerland, France and Scotland for 28 years. I retired last year in Andalucia, and got my NIE in about 60 minutes (just time for a coffee and tapa at a nearby cafe) in Motril. All that was needed was an Empadronamiento Certificate less than 3 months old from my village and my passport. Very kind and smilly officer, and NO WAITING at all. Just shows that things can work out pretty well if you approach them cooly. Having served Scottish Local Authorities for 15 years as a frontline social worker, I can assure you that UK red tape is second to none.

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