A row between the Secretariat of Labour and Immigration and the Central Police Department in Spain has meant that if you wish to get an NIE number (Tax Identification Number) which is necessary for any legal transaction in the country (such as buying or selling property) you will now have to present yourself in person to do so. While, up to this time, foreigners could have a legal representative with Power of Attorney (POA) apply for this number on their behalf, since January 3rd 2012 it has been necessary to appear personally in Spain to get the number.
According to solicitor, Antonio Flores, “the consequences can be devastating given that NIE numbers are now required for almost anything and many people will just not feel that Spain is a country worth investing in if you need to queue up at 6 AM at police stations, get a ticket, walk to a specific bank to pay the fee and then go back to the police station to apply for the number: buying property, setting up a business, signing up for a job and many other legal matters just don’t deserve this third-world treatment. In Madrid, a city that aspires to become a European financial hub, you can expect a 3 month wait for an appointment to apply for the NIE.”
Flores goes on to state that there is a total lack of uniformity in what documentation is required: for EU and Non-EU citizens alike, some police stations in the Costa Blanca are asking for notarised documents of the property one wishes to buy, others will accept a reservation contract (original or copy) and proof of payment of deposit and if you are not around to pick the number up, you will have to give an official power of attorney to someone if you are in Ibiza. The random nature of documentation requirements is, he says, perplexing even to professionals and unbearable for investors.
You can carry out the transaction at a Spanish Consulate, if there is one close (the only Irish one is in Dublin), but Flores says these are not particularly well equipped to assist investors, so you can expect significant delays.
Spain is, of course, very prone to shooting itself in the foot when it comes to attracting investors to its shores, we should not be surprised that it has found yet another way to deter them, but we still love it, or so it would appear.
No doubt the anomaly will eventually be ironed out, but for now, prepare for a lot of frustration when applying for an NIE in Spain.