Simplifying the Spanish system for you

burocracyWe always hear about how complicated, frustrating and time-consuming paperwork and bureaucracy can be in Spain, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult as long as you know exactly what to expect, have the correct documents (including the all-important photocopies) and are prepared to wait a little. Obtaining an NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) The NIE is a unique individual number that foreigners require in order to conduct any business, as well as for purchasing property or vehicles, and to generally be an official resident in Spain. Your NIE is your identification number in Spain, which you will need to file taxes, open a bank account, and for almost all other paperwork in the country. Both EU citizens and non-EU citizens will be issued an NIE number and certificate. In order to register you have to attend your nearest Policia National police station and be prepared to wait a while. There are no appointments or reservations, so arrive early (from 7am) and join the queue, which will already be forming outside. Documents required when applying for an NIE:

  • Two copies of the NIE application form (printable online)
  • Original passport and a photocopy
  • Two passport photos
  • Details of your current address in Spain

A personal statement or letter explaining why you are seeking NIE registration (business/work located here, renting long term, buying property or accompanying a spouse, for example). Signing on the padrón When you empadronarse, you are registered as a resident of a town on the list of local inhabitants. This will entitle you to many benefits, especially regarding family life and children, and is mandatory in order to receive free healthcare in Spain. You will need to go to your local town hall or ayuntamiento and take with you:

  • Passport and a photocopy
  • Proof of residency (deeds to your house or rental contract) plus photocopies
  • NIE number or certificate

Registering for social security You will need this in order to work in Spain and to receive benefits, including help with childcare and national healthcare. To register at the nearest social security office or Tesorería General de la Seguindad Social (TGSS) you will require:

  • NIE card or certificate
  • Passport or proof of identity
  • Photocopies of both

  Registering for national healthcare As long as you are a resident in Spain and can prove that you have made tax contributions in the country, you are entitled to free healthcare for yourself and your children. In order to obtain this you must visit you nearest government medical centre to apply for your health services card. You will need to take with you:

  • Certificate of Empadronamiento plus photocopy
  • Numero de Social Seguridad (social security number)
  • Passport or Identity document plus photocopy

Registering a birth This is a straightforward and fairly easy process; the only pressing factor is the time in which it has to be done, which is only eight days after the birth of the child. In order to register you have to visit your nearest registro civil; if the parents of the child are married, either parent can register the birth. If not married then both parents must be present. You will need to take with you:

  • Original and photocopy of NIE/Residency and passports of both parents
  • Paperwork provided by the hospital (signed by the attending matron and including all details of the birth)
  • Padron certificate from your local town hall

The main thing to remember is to always allocate ample time, as although Spanish bureaucracy has speeded up greatly in recent times, it can sometimes still be a lengthy process. And remember the age-old adage ‘when in doubt, take a photocopy’ as its better to be safe than sorry! Buena suerte!