How to get your Spanish documents – NIE, TIE, Padrón, residence permit and everybody else – done!

NIE, TIE, Padrón, greencard, residence permit, driver’slicense, healthcare card… though talk. I know dealing with documents and bureaucracy is not the best part of moving to Spain, so I’ll do my best to be on point. As you may know, Spain is a bit bureaucratic, but I’m glad to let you know that this process was less painful than I had anticipated and, in my opinion, the Spanish bureaucracy was quite efficient and nice! Boy, the people that work in the Police in Malaga (pictured below) and in the Ayuntamiento (Mayorship) in Benalmadena were so pleasing that I almost feel like going back to get more paperwork done. Really, outstanding.

Above: the Police in Malaga, where a lot of documents get done; mainly, NIE and residence. Do you see those people in front of the building? They are probably booked and waiting for their turn to enter the building.

In this section, we will check the main documents you’ll need once you arrive in the country: NIE, padrón and residence permit, also known as either TIE or greencard. These documents can be obtained on your own, especially if you speak Spanish, or with the help of a gestor, which is an accountant familiar with the local document procedures. If you choose to find one, check our foolproof method to find a good gestor; also, make sure you choose someone that lives near or in the city that you chose to live in Spain. Further on, we’ll deal with the driver’s license exchange (in the cars and driving section) and with the healthcare certificate.

For some of the documents it matters whether you are an European citizen or not, and the procedures are different depending on that. The Spanish official websites do provide enough information on what to bring to each appointment, but it is all in Spanish and mixed with a lot of other information.  For some of the documents you need to have a phone number in Spain, as this is a mandatory field while booking an appointment and some appointments will require your confirmation through message; so your first step to get your documents done is really to get a phone!

Great tip: find yourself a file folder like the one in the picture, with at least 30 plastic sheets. As you get your documents copies, forms, new documents and so on, you can have them all with you when going to the next appointment. We have one and it really was a life saver because some meetings required more documents than we expected. Thanks to our folder, we had everything with us every single time. To be completely fair, our folder has now more than 50 plastics filled…

We chose to hire a gestor but where not lucky and ended up doing much of the documents on our own. As we are a mix of European citizen husband and non-European wife, plus a minor kid, we got to know a lot about document procedures, and so we can write about them! If you want to avoid all that “knowledge”, finding a good gestor is a good way to go. Let me start by helping you with that.

Next: A foolproof method to find a good gestor

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