The provisional NIF/NIE for quick transactions in Spain

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In Spain, the Tax Identification Number (Número de Identidad Fiscal / NIF) is a vital tool for citizens and companies. However, in certain cases, for example, if there is a delay in obtaining your definitive NIE (Foreigner Identification Number), the need to carry out procedures immediately may require obtaining a provisional NIF. In this article, we will explore what a provisional NIF is, how to obtain it and when it may be necessary.

Before we do this, let us explore the differences between a NIF and an NIE number:

The NIF (Tax Identification Number) and the NIE (Foreigner Identification Number) are two identification documents used in Spain, but they serve different purposes:

NIF (Tax Identification Number)

  • The NIF is a tax identification number assigned to Spanish citizens and residents.
  • It is also used to identify businesses, entities, and other organisations engaged in economic activities in Spain.
  • The NIF can be used by both Spanish citizens and foreigners residing in Spain.
  • The NIF is assigned to you by the Spanish Tax Authority (Agencia Tributaria)

NIE (Foreigner Identification Number)

  • The NIE is a tax identification number assigned to foreigners who need to carry out procedures in Spain, whether for work, economic, social, or administrative reasons.
  • It is commonly used by non-resident expats who need to conduct legal or financial transactions in the country, such as property purchases.
  • The NIE does not automatically imply residency in Spain; it is simply an identification number. If you later apply for residency, this number will be displayed on your residency card.
  • The NIE is assigned to you by the National Police

In summary, while the NIF is a general tax identification number used in Spain, the NIE is specifically designed to identify foreigners who need to carry out procedures in the country. Both are issued by the Spanish Administration, but their use and purpose are different.

Now that we understand both types of identification numbers, we can move on to what a Provisional NIF is and in what cases you may need one.

What is a Provisional NIF?

This number is essentially a temporary solution that allows individuals and entities to perform tax and administrative transactions while awaiting the issuance of the definitive NIE.  

In what situations might I need a Provisional NIF?

  1. Urgent real estate transactions:

When buying or selling a property, you may need a provisional NIF to complete the transaction quickly.

  1. Participation in public auctions:

Those participating in public auctions, where the presentation of a NIF is required, can obtain a provisional NIF to participate without delay.

  1. Inheritance and succession:

In cases of inheritance or succession, where quick tax formalities are necessary, a provisional NIF can be crucial.

In the above situations, there may be an urgency to sign in front of a notary or make a payment to the Spanish Tax Office (Hacienda) and appointments for NIEs (Foreigner Identification Number) are not immediately available. In this case, the Provisional NIF is a great option as you will receive a provisional identification number that will allow you to carry out the necessary tax formalities immediately.

Once you have been able to obtain your definitive NIE number, this will replace your provisional NIF. If in the future, for example, you required a NIF number for another transaction then you would use your definitive NIE provided by the National Police.


The Provisional NIF in Spain is an effective tool for those facing situations that require immediate tax intervention. It is important to note that the provisional NIF has a limited validity, so one should proceed to obtain the definitive NIE as soon as possible to avoid long-term inconvenience. By understanding the process and the cases in which a provisional NIF may be needed, individuals and businesses can ensure that they meet their tax obligations in a timely manner.


If you would like to arrange an appointment with one of our specialist lawyers or one of our advisors, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For more information, please contact Pellicer & Heredia on +34 965 480 737 or send us an email to info@pellicerheredia.com.

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