What is the CIF Number in Spain?

If you want to work or buy a home in Spain, you need a tax number. Without it, you will not be able to get an employment contract or a purchase contract for a property. There are three types of tax numbers: NIE, NIF and CIF.

We already have written on our blog about the difference between NIE and NIF in Spain. But what’s the difference between NIE and CIF?

​​In contrast to the NIE, the CIF, the abbreviation for “Código de Identificación Fiscal“, is the tax number for legal persons, i.e. for companies, corporations and other organisational forms.

This Fiscal Identification Code as a term CIF was used by companies for tax transactions until 2008. The CIF disappeared after the entrance of the NIF, which allows the recognition of legal entities. But the term CIF is still used by many.

What is CIF?

The Spanish VAT number is called the CIF (Certificado de Identificación Fiscal). The tax identification number consists of a letter (usually A or B) followed by 8 digits (or 7 digits + letter for foreign companies). The first letter of the code designates a form of company. The letters used here are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, N, P, Q, R, S, U, V and W.

For example, the letter A stands for “open joint-stock company”, the letter B for “limited liability company”. The letter J, on the other hand, means that it is a cooperative or an association, and the G corresponds to a civil law partnership. In this code, the first two characters after the first letter indicate the province where the legal entity is established.

To comply with European standards, the CIF number is usually preceded by the letter “ES”.

While in many countries a separate VAT number is issued for the company, in Spain the VAT number is also the company number.

Who should have a CIF number?

​​Many foreign companies wish to trade regularly in Spain, work with Spanish companies or open a branch office in Spain.

In these cases, a CIF may be required or strongly recommended, as the CIF number is required to register a foreign company in the Spanish system. This also allows the company to employ staff in Spain.

How to get a CIF number in Spain?

You can apply for a CIF for your business at the Provincial Tax Office of your local municipality if you are living in Spain.

To apply for it, you must submit the following documents:

  • A written application (which must be signed by a representative of the company);
  • A document certifying the identity of the representative (ID, passport);
  • Certificate of good standing of the company, which must contain all commercial details (legal name, address, nationality, date of incorporation, legal means, representative, etc.).

If you need any advice regarding this topic, please contact our tax advisors in Barcelona by email or phone. At GM Tax Consultancy we can help you apply for a NIF (former CIF) number and everything related to setting up a business in Spain.

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