The Secretariat of Labour and Immigration has ruled that the obligatory NIE number can no longer be applied for by representatives with power of attorney meaning personal attendance is required.
This means anyone wishing to buy a property in Spain will have to arrive at the police station at 7am, wait in the queue for hours, go to a bank to pay the fee, and then return to the police station to apply for the number.
This will be required for anyone wishing to buy a property, set up a business, sign up for employment and many other legal matters.
Antonio Flores, from legal firm Lawbird, says that in Madrid you can expect a 3 month wait for an appointment to apply for the NIE.
Some Spanish Consulates are being used to speed up the process of applications and return an NIE number within 5 working days (RD 557/2011). As part of cost-cutting many consulates have been closed so you will have to find one first.
Flores thinks that this will stop many investors from coming to Spain. The big investors that Spain needs to attract are not going to willingly queue up outside the police station and wait hours for a number. They will take their investment to another, more accommodating country, with less red tape. This is another strange decision by the Spanish authorities at a time when they are actively looking for an increase in foreign investment.
Recently there were rumours that Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin was looking to buy a property in Marbella. Would he have to wait outside the police station on a cold, dark morning?