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Information for expats in Spain and those living in Spain

NIE Numbers

All expats in Spain and those that decide to come and live in Spain should apply for an NIE number. NIE means numero de identificacion de extranjeros ( Identification number for foreigners.) This number is issued by the National police, Direccion General de Policía,  that deal with expats and it basically gives you authorization to stay in Spain and it is required when dealing with general paperwork e.g. the banks will ask for your NIE number when you open a bank account, you need an NIE number when you buy a car, when you buy a house and you need an NIE number when you take out insurance to name just a few things where this number will be requested.

The paperwork that is necessary to obtain your NIE number is a photocopy of your passport, they will also need to see your original passport, you have to fill out the application form and also a separate form which has to be filled out and taken to the bank to pay the fee for having applied for the NIE number. Usually they issue you with the number there and then but if not you will be informed when you can go back and collect it. You have to apply in person for your NIE number at the local police station, more information is given on the Ministerio Del Interior website, but it is in Spainsh! You can get an NIE in your home country by visiting the Spanish Consulate but this will cost a lot more than actually going yourself when in Spain. More information is on the British Consulate in Spain website.

Spanish Wills for expats living in Spain

It is highly recommended that if you are an expat in Spain or living in Spain, that you make a Spanish Will and this will cover your assets and rights in Spain. A Will is signed in front of a Notary and the Notary is then obliged to register this Will at the Central Registry of Spanish Wills ( Registro de Ultima Voluntad). The certification numbers of all Spanish Wills are kept here in order to ensure that the estate is neither sold nor transferred illegally. A duplicate of a Will can be obtained if necessary and an we always that an English translation is done of the Will so you know exactly what you are signing for.

A Spanish Will covers your assets and rights at the time of death which means that if you buy or sell properties or cars or change bank accounts you don´t have to keep amending you Will and Wills are held not by a Solicitor they are registered at the Central. The only time one would have to make a new Will is if you want to make any changes in your Will. Making a new Will then revokes the old.

If you should die intestate or in other words having No Will in place The Spanish Law of Succession determines who inherits.  Just to give an easy example and a good reason why to have a Will, If you own a Spanish car and it is registered in your name and your die without a Will your family will have great problems selling the vehicle.

We work closely with Ubeda Retana and Associates who offer legal, tax, accounting and administrative services to Spanish and foreign clients

Driving Licences for expats in Spain

If you are an expat in Spain or living in Spain permanently it is advisable to apply for a Spanish driving licence. You can drive on a UK licence as long as it is one of the new style licences ( plastic card and counter foil) the old type licence is not accepted and you can get fined for driving on this type of licence. The documents required for changing your licence would be a copy of your NIE number, Copy of your passport, up to date Certificate from the town hall confirming where you live ( Certificado de empadronamiento) 4 photos and a doctor’s report from a medical centre that issue the standard reports relating only to driving licences.

Making a Spanish Police Report

This can be done by telephone, by calling Tlf 902102112. They will take all the details of the accident or crime commented and you will be required to pick up this report from the nearest police station (usually the National Police)  within 48 hours. They will request your NIE number or passport number and will need to know your address. This police report then opens up an investigation on your behalf and if necessary it will go to court. If you have a theft in your property a Police report is always required or any insurance claim usually Insurers insist on a report. If you go directly to the Police station and no not speak Spanish it is a good idea to take a translator with you. Always take your passport or some form of identification with you when going.

Padron from your town hall

When you do any form of Legal paperwork in Spain and you have to confirm your address, this is done by requesting a Certificate from your Local Town Hall. This Certificate is called a Certificado de Empadronamiento. It is most frequently requested when you are buying a car.


It is not a good idea to let your passport expire or even leave it to the last minute should you have a trip planned. You can renew your passport up to nine months before it expires and the passport office will add any unused time onto your new passport. If you contact the  British Consulate in Spain they will advise and renew your passport.

More Information for expats living in Spain

If you are an expat in Spain or just living in Spain then you may find useful information on the following websites and forums:

Expat Insurance in Spain

It is fundamentally important to ensure that you have expat insurance in Spain. The Insurance Centre provides specialist expat insurance for expats living in Spain, see our comprehensive list of insurance policies available for more information:

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