Legal Advisors Barcelona


One of the main questions (or worries) for foreign companies or people who want to set up or invest in Spain is how to get the Tax identification Number in Spain.

Let´s see the five main cases:

  • NIE (Tax Identification Number in Spain for individual foreigners): it can be needed  as a shareholder, as a Director of a company in Spain,  as tax residents in Spain (as employee, autónomo) or in case you buy real properties in Spain.

In this case, the procedure can take some weeks or months, a least in this moment (May 2021) as sometimes it is extremely difficult to get an appointment to apply for the NIE. As usually the person who needs the NIE is not living in Spain we strongly suggest to grant us a power to AGL in order to get the NIE instead of coming personally to Spain the day of the appointment. This power can be signed in Spain, if possible, in order to avoid more steps that can delay the procedure. Otherwise it can be signed in your country.


Another possibility is to get the NIE through the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in your country, but you should ask there how long it can take the procedure as it depends on each country.

  • NIF (Tax Identification Number) for foreign companies: it is needed for companies that will be shareholders of the Spanish companies or companies that need a Spanish Tax Identification Number eg for VAT purposes. This procedure is more difficult than getting the NIE as natural person and can change among countries. Usually it is needed an excerpt of the Chamber of Commerce or Mercantile Register with the apostille of the Hague and (probably) translated into Spanish. With these documents the NIF for the foreign company can be requested in the Spanish Tax office directly by AGL, after granting a power to AGL for this procedure.

Remember than in some of the cases both (NIE for natural person and NIF for the shareholders if it is a company) could be necessary to set up a company in Spain.

  • NIF (Tax Identification Number) for new Spanish company: this is the easiest procedure. After setting up the company, the NIF is requested and obtained almost immediately.
  • European VAT Number for the new Spanish company:  after obtained the NIF, some companies need the European VAT Number for transactions with other companies in the EU. In some cases this is the most difficult procedure and can become a real headache for the companies. After the start of activities in Spain, the company can request the European VAT Number but we find delays from the tax administration to give it as usually they ask for documents to check that there is a real activity in Spain: rental agreement, list of employees, activity of the company, explanation of operation with EU companies, etc. Some companies with no employees or without own offices  (eg they have the social address in a business center) can have problems to get the European VAT Number as the Spanish tax office asks if the company has a real activity in Spain or it is what it is called “an empty-box”, as the company has no employees and no premises. We have clients that had to wait some weeks or even months to get the European VAT Number or in some extreme cases the Tax office hasn´t given it as the company couldn´t prove to have a real structure in Spain.
  • EORI: this is the Tax Identification Number needed before Customs office to import / export from /to non EU  countries. In this case the procedure is quite immediate, specially with a digital signature / certificate.

As a summary, the important point is to have clear the procedures to prepare and that some of them can take some weeks or even months. Specially important is to keep in mind the problems that can happen in order to get the European VAT Number in case the new Spanish company has no real structure in Spain (employees and premises),.

You can contact us in case you need help to set up a company in Barcelona or to get Tax Identification Numbers in Spain.

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