Mandatory Requirements to Buy Real Estate in Spain as a Foreigner

Whether you are a European citizen or a non-EU citizen, if you are not Spanish, you must comply with two administrative requirements before you can finalize a real estate purchase in Spain.

There are two requirements you must comply with in order to finalize a real estate purchase in Spain as a foreigner (EU national or not).

The first document you must have is:

  • A NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER FOR FOREIGNERS (locally known as NIE, or “Número de Identidad de Extranjero”).

You can apply for it:

  • In your country of origin (at the local Spanish Consulate), or
  • In Spain (at the local police station).

It is usually easier, quicker and cheaper to get it done in your home country but if, for whatever reason you cannot apply for it abroad, you can always get in Spain, either in person or via a proxy (with a Power of Attorney with an immigration lawyer, or your realtor, as myself).

“White” NIE (temporary one).

When applying for it, it is important to let the officer processing it know that you are requesting your NIE for real estate purchasing purposes, as it will be a temporary one printed on a white A4 sheet of paper, which is why, it is sometimes referred to as the “white NIE”.

It usually takes up to two weeks to receive your NIE. You can always request to get it by email first if you are pressed for time, and by regular post as soon as it is ready to be sent out.

In time, you will receive a permanent NIE, which is a small credit-card sized green card.

The second requirement you must comply with to purchase real estate in Spain as a foreigner is:

  • A SPANISH BANK ACCOUNT from where the funds to pay for the property will be taken.
A bank account in Spain is a must-have to buy real estate in the country if you are a foreigner.

Some Spanish banks offer accounts for non-residents wishing to purchase real estate in Spain. After the purchase is complete, you can close the account or switch to a checking account to have your Spanish utility bills or house insurance on it, for example.

Whether you are in the country or abroad, I can help you open a bank account in Spain in a week. Ask me how.


A NIE and a Spanish bank account are mandatory to sign the “Escritura Pública” (closing documents and title deed), i.e. the last step in the purchasing process.

However, you can still make an offer and “reserve” a property with a down payment before obtaining them. Talk to your REALTOR® to check your options and best ways to move forward if this is your case.

Whether you are in Spain or abroad, I can help you get both in a timely manner so that you can close the deal on your new house in Spain without hassle.

Contact me today to discuss how I can help you obtain your NIE and/or open your Spanish bank account and forget about the stress of time-consuming paperwork.

Bárbara Pintos · REALTOR®
Accredited Buyer’s Representative®
San Sebastián, Spain

Ph: (+34) 644 074 958


If you are buying a property in certain areas of Spain (the cities bordering France, for instance) like Hondarribia or Irún and you are a non-EU citizen, you will also need a special military permit granted by the Ministry of Defense as part of an antiterrorism program.

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