Tag Archives: NIE


I hit my limit today.

Normally with the Spanish bureaucracy I take an “all-in-good-fun” attitude. Acknowledge the inefficiencies, and move on.

But today I had had it.

I had a frustrated lump in my throat.

People are so RUDE.

People are so DISMISSIVE.

No one ever takes any ounce of responsibility, and nobody EVER apologizes for ANYTHING.

Cognitive distortion: Overgeneralization.

I had had it.

I was seething (for me that’s a bit like wanting to cry).

I had been sick for more than a week; I knew that the 24-hour general strike was going to mess up my day tomorrow, and I was tired of everything being so convoluted and impossibly drawn out. (Nine months to get a residency card? I could have had a baby by now. Let’s get HIM a residency card.)

THIS is what I mean when I say, “In Spain you don’t wonder why there’s a crisis. You just wonder how they managed to hold it off for so long. It’s a wonder that the country hasn’t ALWAYS been in crisis. It’s a wonder that anything gets done at all.” (There’s a reason why ranting is the Spanish national pastime. Really. Look it up. No. Don’t.)

And then I got home.

As I jaywalked across the street from the metro toward my house, a man got something out of his car, (parked illegally on the sidewalk) and ran across the street holding a big walkie-talkie.

Vindictively, I thought, “I hope he gets a ticket.” He did, after all, park halfway on the sidewalk just metres away from a traffic police (agente de movilidad) office.

Curiously, I thought, “Who seriously carries around a walkie-talkie that isn’t a police officer? This isn’t my siblings and I playing in the backyard…

The man jogged up to his “companions” – a guy his age and four Roma-looking girls around my age.

“…And none of you have any identity documents?” I overheard the other guy ask, dubiously, writing on a notepad.


Plainclothes police officers?

Stopping foreign-looking people on the street and requiring them to show their papers or be taken into custody?

In the interest of blending in (not standing there gaping, as I wanted to do), I went up to my apartment and watched a bit from the living room window. They talked some more. Two police officers in uniform arrived and escorted the girls away. The plainclothes officers followed.

I’ve realized that the process of getting my NIE is going to be, at minimum, a ten-month ordeal. If I do get it, it will be within two months of my final departure from the country. A nice souvenir, rather than an effective identity document.

I’ve realized I’ll need to devote Friday morning to the pursuit of travel documents. And my underpayment of a tax by €1.68 because of outdated information on an official government website requires me to return to the office AGAIN before I can start the 45-day countdown to getting my real card.

But this reminded me. In Spain, my able-bodied, white girl privilege means that I’m not being stopped and detained and required to produce residency documents on demand. “Foreign-looking” (latino, black, non-white in general) people, friends and acquaintances, are stopped regularly and treated like second-class citizens.

This – the NIE, the fees on top of fees, the lines, the rudeness – this is not nothing. But this? This is not that.



In other Spanish news:

This story has been in the international news this week. It is not surprising to anyone in Spain, or anyone who has ever walked down or seen or heard about Calle Montera (one of the most central streets in the city), or walked on most any street in downtown Madrid in general.


1 Comment

Filed under Madrid

Autorización de Regreso, Part 2

It’s now five months since my original appointment to renew my NIE, and I have heard nary a word on its progress. I doubt very much that I will get it before I leave the country.

This presents a problem. Because, as previously discussed, each time you leave the country with the intent to return, you are supposed to have a costly (10 euros and TIME) piece of paper that says you are allowed to come back.

Back in November, I got my first Autorización de Regreso with the plan to use it for Christmas travel. Sidenote: On the day of my flight back to Spain from Canada, I helpfully misplaced the folder where I’d put it for “safekeeping,” along with my other travel-related photocopies. (Sorry Mom.) (I put it away absentmindedly while cleaning.) (I found it before I had to go.)

I connected through Frankfurt on my way to Madrid and no, nobody asked me for it.

Autorizaciones de Regreso are valid for three months, so that one expired on February 14th.

Over Semana Santa (Holy Week – the big-deal Easter holiday) I am going up to Irelaaaaaand, the homeland. So I need another Autorización de Regreso. It’s been so long since I got my first one that I consulted my own blog post to remember what I had to do.

And guess what I discovered? They have made the system EVEN WORSE. Marginally, yes, but in an important way.

When you go through the steps of getting an appointment to get the Autorización it leads to the page where you can select an appointment.

Back when I did this in November, you could select from a number of dates with a number of available appointment times.

I usually don’t work on Wednesdays, so I could choose a Wednesday appointment time. NO MORE. Look at this:

Now you get the choice between three specific times. No more, “choose the time that works for your schedule from a list of available times.” No. NO. Now it’s “Here are three available times. You can choose one of these and if they don’t work (for example, if you HAVE A JOB) tough luck, you can hit ‘cancel’ and try again later and hope for some different times.”


WHAAAAT THE WHAT? Why are you making this so difficult? Why can’t you let me choose from any number of available dates in the near future? Why do you insist on complicating things? Why do you make me feel like, actually, I don’t WANT TO COME BACK. Why don’t you love me? Can’t we just get along?

Anyway. Trip begins Friday, March 30 and I’m going to spend some time clicking and re-clicking to try to get an appointment time that works with my schedule. There are plenty of stories out there about whether or not anyone actually cares if you have an Autorización de Regreso, but I have heard of enough (I’m cautious… so even one would have been enough) cases where people weren’t allowed to leave without it (in-Spain passport control) or weren’t allowed to come back that I’m going to suck it up, pay the 10€ and click away waiting for a suitable appointment time.


Filed under Madrid

Autorización de Regreso, or in English: Ridiculousness

At the beginning of the month we had a long weekend (“long bridge” in common Spanglish). I spent five days in Porto, which is a beautiful, calm, nice city. I stayed at the best hostel I’ve ever been to, too – the Oporto Poet’s Hostel.

But I’m not here to talk about beautiful, nice, calm things. I’m going to tell you about my most recent experience with the Spanish bureaucracy.

This morning, I had an appointment to get a piece of paper called an “Autorización de Regreso” – permission to return to Spain after leaving, since my residency card (NIE) has expired and is in the process of being renewed.

Carrying your renewal documents around is just not good enough, and you need this form to re-enter the country any time you leave, if your NIE isn’t valid. I thought for non-EU countries, but no, it’s actually for ANY other country.

So, you pay 10 euros, bring them copies of the stamped forms that THEY gave you, and then they give you a piece of paper that says you can come back. Mine expires February 14th – they are valid 90 days. It is only valid once. Once you show it at passport control, they take it, then that’s it. If you want to leave and return again, you need another form.

No, you can’t get more than one form at a time. Even if you pay.

Technically, though, I imagine that you could have an appointment at 9:00 am, give them the photocopies, get the Autorización, have an appointment at 9:15 am, repeat, and have two forms …

Here’s what gets me. I am living in Spain legally. I don’t have a current NIE, which would permit me to come and go as I want (and as I feel is my right, but that’s a feeling and a perhaps not a fact, I don’t know, so never mind). But the REASON I don’t have a current NIE isn’t through any fault of my own, it’s because I’m waiting on the government to give it to me. And I’ve been in the process of renewing it since two months before it even expired. Which puts me four and a half months into the process, with no end in sight.

Here’s what I propose. When you have your appointment to renew your NIE and bring the twelve pounds of required photocopies, and pay the 16.32 tax, you can, at that time, pay a 10 euro fee for an Autorización de Regreso form, and get it, and it is valid until such time as they get their act together and give you your NIE card. It could even have a limit, for example, three months. Why not keep it at 90 days? And then the onus would be on them to get you your NIE within three months.

Because, dear Spain, as much as you are doing me a favour by giving me a job and letting me live and work in your awesome country, at some point, there has to be a little give and take. Am I not doing you a favour by helping some of your children speak better English? I am offering to keep the ridiculous 10 euro fee so that you don’t miss out on any cash (I hear you’re short of cash these days).

Back to today.

The appointment was near metro Aluche at 9:00 am – the address they gave me for the appointment was “Avenida de los Poblados, S/N, 28044). As in, Poblados Avenue, no number. Seriously Spanish. Giving someone a street and postal code and saying “Go!” is considered adequate direction this country. But really, it was easy to find.

Apparently it’s on the grounds of Franco’s big prison in Madrid – Cárcel de Carabanchel. Next to the driveway into the Oficina de Extranjeros, there is a mysterious door. Like, the rest of the building has been demolished, but they left the door and a few bricks around it. A cursory internet search yielded nothing, so anyway, mystery door.

My appointment was at 9:00, so I arrived at 8:45 and got into line – there were hundreds of people about, and about 20 or so of them in line for the Autorización de Regreso. I was seen by about 9:20, and out by 9:30. The people who had 9:00 am appointments and actually arrived at 9:00 had a really, really long wait. They have photocopy machines there, outside, for people who forget a photocopy of one document or another. I know I did.

I have a lot of friends who aren’t bothering to get the Autorización de Regreso, and are just going to take their chances. Im not really a risk-taker, and don’t think I have particularly good luck, so I’m not going that route. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to get the form itself. It’s just the logic, or lack thereof, behind it that defies understanding.

Checklist for Autorización de Regreso:

  • EX-13 Solicitud de autorización de regreso (I left empty the section where it asks you to explain why you need to leave and how long you expect to be away.)
  • Tasa Modelo 790 – Codigo 052. Tick off 1.6.3 Autorización de regreso. Take to any bank. Pay 10 euro fee. Cry a bit inside.
  • EX-00 Solicitud de autorización de estancia y prórrogas. The stamped form from your NIE appointment. And a photocopy.
  • NIE card and a photocopy
  • Passport and a photocopy of the main page
  • Also bring the printout of your “justificante de cita” (proof of appointment) OR (like me) just write down the number and have it handy
You can make the appointment itself online here: https://sede.mpt.gob.es/icpplus/citar


Filed under Madrid

Updates on life and the NIE renewal process

Before I get to the good stuff (bureaucracy), let’s talk about me.

Some updates on life. First of all, it hasn’t rained yet since I arrived in Madrid on September 3rd. Cue Blind Melon – “And I start to complain that there’s no rain…” For someone who lived in Halifax for the better part of four years, that lyric is hitting a little close to home.

But in the last couple of days, there’s been a bit of a cold bite to the air, and when asked about the weather, my students have finally had to say something other than “sunny and hot!” Now it’s “sunny and cool!”

Halloween (and Halloween games, and songs, and candy) is around the corner, and there’s an election coming up on November 20. 20n is also the day that Franco died. Not a coincidence.

This newspaper clip that my Spanish teacher brought to class yesterday seems a fairly astute summary of the national sentiment going into the election.

From "El Periodico" (I believe)

I vote.

You win.

He loses.

We put up with it.

You get richer.

They lose their jobs.

This is the most accurate definition, and the third person plural can be out of a home, not receiving any assistance, etc.





Finally, I have some updates on the renewal process. (But not its outcome. Not yet.)

I made an appointment for for “empadronamiento” – to register to live where I do, essentially (? I think) for 12:40 on Wednesday the 19th. I don’t work Wednesdays.

The appointment was at “Plaza de Moncloa.” I wasn’t exactly sure if the building I was thinking of was actually “Plaza de Moncloa,” because if you google “Plaza de Moncloa” it doesn’t really show up as being one place or another. Anyway, as it turned out, the building is right across the street from my place so I was there 20 minutes early, having left my house at 12:20 for the 12:40 appointment.

The receptionist, a lovely, lovely young woman, gave me a number and a form to fill out, and directed me to the waiting room, where my number was already up.

Another nice young lady patiently showed me exactly how to fill out the form, and looked over my passport and housing contract. With the form filled out and documents in order, she printed off the form (called a “volante” apparently) that I need for the NIE renewal.

With the certificate in hand, I now had all the documentation required to finish up the NIE application. I asked the girl if she knew what I had to do, and she told me I had to go back to the original office where I’d started. Non.

I went back out and spoke with the receptionist. At my first appointment, they’d told me that I had to bring the documents to any Junta Municipal – and this building is the Junta Municipal del Distrito de Moncloa/Aravaca. I explained the situation to her and she looked over the papers, then told me I’d have to fill out a form as a cover letter. “But it might be a little bit difficult for you… Here, let me do it.” And she did. And then she filled out a second copy so that I would have one to keep. All I had to do was read, sign, and date.

Then she gave me another number, I went in and talked to yet another nice person, who took the papers and, fingers crossed, sent them off to the right place, so that at some point in the future, I get a shiny new NIE card.

All in all, this whole thing Wednesday took half an hour, and everyone was incredibly nice and helpful. I left seriously considering whether I should bake them cookies and bring them over, but I wasn’t sure how that’d be received.


FYI – The second form I filled out as a cover letter says:

Datos Solicitante: (DNI/NIF/NIE, Nombre, Apellidos)

Domicilio a efectos de notificaciones:

Expone: “En referencia al expediente # — por la solicitud de autorización de prórroga de estancia por estudios, aporto documentación requerida.”

Solicita: “Sea aportada dicha documentación a mi expediente.”

Documentación adjunta: “Documentación medios económicos, seguro médico (fotocopia), certificado del centro de estudio, certificado de empadronamiento (fotocopia).”

Administración/Organismo al que se dirige el presente escrito: “Área de trabajo e inmigración – OFICINA DE EXTRANJEROS”

Leave a comment

Filed under Madrid

NIE Renewal, or “Spain being disagreeable”

To live and work and study in Spain, foreigners need to get a document called the “NIE” – Numero de Identificacion de Extranjeros. Like most things that involve bureaucracy, this experience can be hit and miss. One friend spent eight months in the country in visa hell. Other people have zero issues. I am in the middle.I had my NIE renewal appointment yesterday, and have decided to post my experiences here. The rules have changed in the last months, apparently, since the advice and instructions given to me by the program I work for, BEDA, were… a little off.

My original NIE expired on September 1st, so on July 20th, before heading back to Canada, I called to make an appointment to renew it so I could stay another year. They gave me the appointment for October 11.

In September, I got a call from a hidden number, saying that my appointment location had been changed, from Padre Piquer to to C/Faustino, 23, at Canillejas, where there is a new Oficina de Extranjeros.

Today I took the metro across the city, and was seen within five minutes of arrival at the office.

… This is practically unheard of in this country. For comparison’s sake, last year my appointment was at 9:00. I arrived at 8:15 to line up, went in at 9:00 when the office opened, took a number, and waited 15 minutes or so. The line behind me by 9:00 comprised upwards of a hundred people.Back to today. I got a charmer of a lady. At one point, she actually sighed and rolled her eyes at me when I had only one copy of a form instead of two. Oh, nothing if not professional.

Before this appointment, they might not tell you anything about what to bring, or what they do tell you may be wrong, but let’s face it, that is your problem and your fault, not theirs, and you really should have known better.

Be prepared to spend a lot of money on photocopying.

¡OJO! If you’ve changed addresses since you got your original NIE, you need a Certificado de Empadronamiento. A housing contract is NOT enough. Nor are utility bills. Nothing else works. If it were that easy, the bureaucracy would collapse and people would lose their jobs and DO YOU HATE PEOPLE? Go register in your neighbourhood and make like you really live here.

Never mind that last year, all you did was use your friend’s address and they didn’t ask any questions. No more talking.

So really, well before your NIE appointment date (OOPS!) make an appointment with your friendly neighbourhood empadronamiento office.

You can make an appointment for this online.Select: Tipo de servicio “Atencion al ciudadano” –> Gestión “Padron” –> Office in your neighbourhood.

Finally, we have now arrived at the actual appointment itself.

You will need:

1. The paid tax: Tasa Modelo 790

(You fill this out online, print all 3-4 pages of this form, bring it all to the bank, and pay the tax – BEFORE they will even see you for an appointment.

For student NIE renewal, it was 16,32.)

2. 2 copies of form EX-00 “Solicitud de autorización de estancia y prórrogas”

Note – these are new forms – anything from last year or perhaps even a couple months ago are no longer valid. Bring EX-00.

3) Your current passport and 2 photocopies of EVERY page in the passport.

4. Your NIE (and student card if you have one) and 2 photocopies of these.

5. Photocopy of your health insurance policy (seguro médico) and póliza de repatriación – to show that if you die in Spain, your insurance covers repatriation of remains, or whatever.

(BEDA-ers, photocopy the first 4 pages of your Caser Salud Activa booklet and the whole Repatriacion document.)

6. The original document of your current contract, in colour, stamped, signed. And a photocopy, just because.

7. Evidence that you completed your studies/contract in 2010/2011, ie, a colourful, stamped, signed letter from your school. (“Certificado del centro de estudios que acredite que ha prestado servicios durante el curso 2010/2011”)

8. Bank statement from the last 6 months showing all transactions – stamped by the bank. (“Movimientos bancarios de los 6 ultimos meses, sellado”)

 9. Your certificado de empadronamiento, which people smarter than me will actually have by the time their appointment rolls around.
There. It all seems so simple laid out in order in a nice list, doesn’t it? Yeah. Take a hint, Spanish government.


Filed under Madrid