One thing about moving to Spain that is a little difficult to get your head around is all the bureaucracy. It can be extremely confusing to work out what you need to live here legally, especially when your sat in the UK or your home country trying to work it all out. N.I.E, Padron, Residencia, its all foreign to us, literally!
We were very lucky that my Aunt & Uncle put us in contact with Frankie at FP Translations and without her help i’m not sure we would be living legally in sunny Spain today.
The first thing on my list was N.I.E’s. These are tax Identification Numbers (numero de identidad de extranero) that are given to all non Spanish persons living in Spain. You need an NIE number to do literally anything in Spain such as buying a property or car, setting up utilities and even buying air conditioning units we later learnt on a disastrous shopping trip to Leroy Merlin where we had spent an hour filling our trolley with lights, air con units, fans only to get the the counter and be told we couldn’t make the purchase without our NIE numbers which were at home, we returned the next day with our NIE numbers in hand to then not be asked for them, welcome to Spain where the rules are different every day! .
I spent weeks looking into how best to obtain our NIE numbers. I had read on the expat facebook pages you can obtain your NIE from the Spanish Consulate in the UK before you come out to Spain so I approached the Birmingham consulate who were out most local office but they don’t cover these services, I then tried Manchester, our second closest but was told they no longer do these services either, finally I contacted the London consulate. we thought that maybe we could make a day out of it and spend a day in London with the kids whilst getting our paperwork in order but after contacting them and reviewing their guidelines it became apparent that although this service was available you couldn’t use the consulate service to obtain your NIE numbers if you were planning on moving to Spain. so that option was now out of the window.
Thankfully in the meantime we had contacted Frankie who basically took all the stress out of it for us, she booked us an appointment at Elche police station for during our trip to Spain in May, we sent her copies of our passport so she could book our appointment and copies of the children’s birth certificates that she then would have translated into Spanish in readiness for our appointment. She also sent me a list of all the other things we would need for our appointment. Her fees at the time were 60 euro per person which is pretty reasonable for the amount of stress reduction we had by using her.
Items needed for our appointment were:
- Copies of our passports ( we were told to take multiple copies)
- Children’s birth certificates translated into Spanish & certified ( 70 euro each)
- Passport sized photos for all of us
- EX-15 form filled out before your appointment
- Tax to be paid for NIE application approx 10.71 euros
As we were paying Frankie to do our NIE applications she took care of the EX-15 form and paid the tax at the local bank on the day of our appointmet for us.
We arranged to meet Frankie at Elche police station 20 minutes before our appointment on the 21st May. Our appointment was at 10:15 am and was our firs appointment in Spain, we had been unpacking for days so were were glad to get out the house, the kids didn’t agree, they had had lazy mornings since our arrival and getting up and our the house by 9am was a bit much for them, cue massive dramas whilst we are trying to get ready, the joys!!!
We arrived at Elche Police station with about 5 minutes to spare and text Frankie to confirm we were here, or so we thought, it turns out there are many different types of police station and we were at the wrong one. for your information the correct police station is the Comisaria De Policia.
We were at the nacional de policia so quickly put the correct address into google maps and away we went.
When we finally arrived and had found a car parking space on a large waste land area that everyone else was parked on we headed towards to the police station, we were then approached by some strange men who were saying they would look after our car in broken English, this made us nervous but we didn’t have time to worry about it now as we were running late and we were opposite the police station so they couldn’t be that dodgy surely?
We met Frankie outside and went through the paperwork, shit, I had forgotten to bring photos, in fact i had totally missed photos of the list and hadn’t even had any taken. Sim was giving me a death stare, Frankie was slightly annoyed and I felt like an idiot!!!
Frankie explained that they would not do the application without photos and there was a 6 week wait for appointments now due to brexit but we were here anyway so lets see what they say. I was getting really worried, I knew we needed the NIE for the padron & school applications and to get our internet set up, we couldn’t wait 6 weeks as we would be back in the UK by then, I had really messed up.
Luckily Frankie knows the officers pretty well as a regular visitor for her work and we ended up with a really nice officer who took a shine to Keira and they agreed to let us bring the photos tomorrow when we were due back to collect the approved applications, I was extremely grateful and sim finally stopped glaring at me, the only issue was that Frankie was booked up tomorrow so wouldn’t be able to attend with us, we had to hope that we had the same officer tomorrow as our Spanish was non existent and we wouldn’t be able to explain the situation to them.
Now we had to head back to our car and hope it was still there, after all our bad luck today I wasn’t so sure it would be….luckily again we could see the car still sat there, we headed towards t speedily and everything looked ok, the same guys then approached us requesting money for looking after our car, what the …. we were not sure if this was normal in Spain do they have dodgy looking car park attendants? seriously one guy was hobbling with a walking stick & the other looked drunk but we didn’t want any hassle so gave them 2 euros & off we went, we found out later from my uncle that there are apparently druggies/alcoholics who hand around and try there luck rather than begging, its the only place we have ever seen them though so don’t worry its not a regular Spanish thing.
We left the police station on a mission, we needed to get passport photos and being new didn’t have a clue where to go for them. cue a phonecall to my aunt who recommended the post office in Benijofar which wasn’t far from our house. We headed there and had all our photos taken and given to us there and then. Result!!!
The next day we headed back to the police station at Elche, keeping the photos close and praying that the same officer was there and remembered us and our agreement. Me and the kids waltzed into the police station and turned round to see Sim had been stopped, eeek maybe they knew who we were and were trying to help, no, turns out you have to let the officer on the door know why your here, we missed this yesterday as we were to busy stressing about the photos. Anyhow after a little confusion we headed into the waiting room and joined the que, Sim let me take the lead, we could see the officer from the previous day and suddenly felt relief. unfortunately when I was called over it was a different officer, I started to panic thinking would he agree to let us have them still as we hadn’t followed the rules, did he know we had an agreement with the other officer, luckily again he seemed to know what was going on, he called the other officer over they had a chat and we were given our approved applications – we finally had NIE numbers yay.
When we got back to the car we saw the dodgy guys there lurking, we sped up and got into the car before they came over, I wasn’t willing to pay or argue with them so this was another positive result!
Getting registered on the padron is a much easier quest. we didn’t need a translator for this and all we needed to do was go to our local town hall, take a ticket and wait our turn.
Padron is short for empadronamiento, it is a register for the local authority and you are given a document dated for 3 months. It allows the local government to know how many people are living in the area and to allocate funds to them to be used for local services, town improvements etc
Items needed for registering on the Padron:
- NIE number
- House deeds or rental contract
It took us about 30 minutes to obtain our Padron documents. The document itself lasts 3 months but being listed on the padron is ongoing and only has to be renewed if you need a copy of your padron. For example if you are joining the doctors, buying a car, residencia, social security appointments, registering for school.
They speak really good English at Rojales town hall, it really was a very simple process. the renewal is even easier, takes 5 minutes and they just print you off a new document with an extended date.
Temporary SIP cards
These can also be obtained at your local town hall, we applied for ours whilst doing our Padron.
At Rojales town hall there is a desk located on the ground floor. We took our EHIC cards and showed him the padron documents and were given temporary SIP cards which then allowed us to join the local medical center. You can use the SIP card for emergency treatment as you would your EHIC card as a traveler abroad but they are only for temporary use until you gain Residencia. We have used ours to obtain medical certificates for school enrollment, to have vaccinations required for school and for standard appointments but were told we had to use private doctors/hospitals for Harvey’s autism requirements until we had residencia and permanent SIP cards.
- Ensure you read your lists properly!
- Take photocopies of all your original documents
- Take multiple copies with you to each appointment
- If you don’t speak Spanish, use a translator!
- Don’t presume anything, each appointment and each person you deal with will have a different opinion or requirements, you will learn to just go with the flow….
- There is no such thing as rushing in Spain, manana, manana
- Take your NIE document with you everywhere you go when your getting settled, you will never know when you will need it!
- Remember to update your padron after 3 months if you don’t get all your paperwork completed in this timescale
Frankie’s details should anyone like to utilize her services are:
The Citizens Advice Bureau Spain are extremely helpful if you need facts about anything relating to living in Spain.