So you’ve arrived in Spain after having been approved for Non-Lucrative Residence Visa. Congratulations! But you’re not done yet.
When your visa was pasted into your passport at the consulate, you likely discovered that it’s only good for 90 days or so from your stated arrival date in Spain. This is because though you have been provisionally approved for a residence visa, the last portion of the process actually takes place once you arrive in Spain. You’ll need to arrange for an appointment at the Extranjería (Foreigner’s Office), where you will apply for your Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (Foreigner Identity Card, or TIE), which will be your residency permit for the remainder of your stay!
We went through the process in Granada in April and May of 2018, and found that it had changed significantly from some of the other online accounts we have read– but that’s for the better. There is less paperwork to submit, and the entire process appears to be more streamlined.
Here are the steps to apply for your TIE once you’ve arrived in Spain:
1. Upon Arrival in Spain, Complete the Empadronamiento Process (if Necessary)
The empadronamiento refers to the legal requirement in Spain to present yourself to the local government and declare that you are residing in a particular municipality. Think of it as an ongoing census that the government uses to allot tax dollars, police protection, and investment in infrastructure to a particular city or region. It’s a very low stress process, and it varies a bit from city to city and region to region. Generally speaking, you will need to provide identification (your passport), proof of residence (the lease for the property you are renting or own, and/or a recent power or water bill in the name of yourself or your landlord), and the local empadronamiento form. As always, you may need to bring photocopies of any and all documents.
If all goes well, after a few days you should be able to pick up a certificado de empadronamiento, or (loosely) Certificate of Self-registration. Note: you may need to visit the office a few times, and the time it takes to become empadronado may vary. If your region requires a certificado de empadronamiento to apply for a TIE, start early!
In our case, the extranjería in Granada did not require a certificado de empadronamiento. In fact, we are still waiting to hear back about whether we are empadronado, and we’ve already completed the TIE process! I have heard that in other cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid, it’s required to do this first.
2. Make An Appointment for Each Family Member on the Sede Electronica Site
Officially, you are required to make an appointment at the extranjería that falls within 30 days of your arrival in Spain (or in the Schengen Area). Practically speaking, this can be a little tough in cities with a huge foreign presence like Barcelona. If nothing is available within 30 days of your arrival, get the earliest appointment available. The extranjería staff understand. If there are plenty of appointments available in the first 30 days after your arrival, I recommend making your appointment towards the end of that window to allow you the time to gather documents, complete your empadronamiento (if necessary), and to find long-term accommodation if, like us, you didn’t arrive in Spain with a signed lease.
To make an appointment at the extranjería, navigate to the Ministry of Public Administration’s Sede Electronica (electronic headquarters) site. If your Spanish is not strong, consider using something like the Chrome browser’s built-in translation capabilities. Here is the step-by-step process to obtain an appointment from the site:
- Click the “Acceder al Procedimiento” (Access the Procedure) button.
- On the next screen, select your province from the drop-down list. Since the city of Granada is in the province of Granada, we selected that. Click “Aceptar” (Accept).
- On the next page, you’ll need to select the nature of your appointment. Select “CNP – TOMA DE HUELLAS (EXPEDICIÓN DE TARJETA) Y RENOVACIÓN DE TARJETA DE LARGA DURACIÓN.” This option means “Taking of fingerprints (expediting of card) and renewal of long duration card.” Essentially, you are making an appointment to have your fingerprints taken and to apply for your residency card. Click “Aceptar” again.
- You will be presented with a list of documents that apply to your appointment type. They’ll be included in your confirmation email, but you may wish to cut and paste the list just in case. Click “Entrar” (Enter).
- Fill out the form with your NIE number (this is on your visa, in your passport, and probably begins with Y), Nombre y Apellidos (fill out exactly as it is printed on your visa, including any errant spaces they may have added, as was the case with our visas), and country of citizenship. Important note: Leave the Fecha de Caducidad de su tarjeta actual blank! This is only relevant if your are renewing a card, not if you are requesting a new one! If you fill in this field, you will not have access to appointments in the 30 day window after your arrival! Complete the captcha (No soy un robot) and click “Aceptar.”
- Finally, you will be able to select an appointment time and date. Do this, complete the process, and provide an email for a confirmation of your appointment. You will need several copies of this email (or your appointment confirmation page).
Congratulations! You’ve got your appointment, and you’re only a few steps away from picking up your TIE!
3. Gather all of your documents
If you completed the cita previa (previous appointment) process properly, you should have an email which not only confirms the date and time of your appointment, but which includes a list of the necessary documents for the appointment. Let’s make a list of all of the documents you will need.
- Two copies of the Appointment Confirmation email. You’ll need to bring two copies of this email to your appointment.
- Two (or three) European-sized passport photos. Depending on which part of the Sede Electronica site you believe, you will need either two or three passport photos. EU passport photos are not the same size as those in the United States, so don’t attempt to re-use the photos you had taken for your visa! In Spain, search for “fotos carnet” or “fotos pasaporte” to find a photo shop that can take these for you. We paid five euros per person for six copies of our photos. We ended up needing two– one was attached to the paperwork, and one was affixed to a signature card.
- Carta de resolución. It may not immediately be obvious what the document list is talking about, but it’s a letter or printout showing the approval of your visa. Not to worry, it’s easy to get. Just go to this site, fill in your NIE number, the date you initially applied for your visas (your appointment date at the consulate), and your year of birth. You’ll be redirected to a page that reads “Información sobre el estado del expediente de extranjería.” It should include a lot of data about you, and the words “Resuelto – Favorable” (Result – Favorable) indicating that you were awarded a visa. Print two copies of this page.
- Valid Passport. You will need your passport with the visa affixed within, and you will need to be able to show the stamp in your passport when you entered Spain (or the Schengen Area). Make a photocopy of all of these pages and bring both the original and the photocopies to your appointment.
- Paid M790 Codigo 012 Form. This is the part that causes the most confusion. As with most administrative functions in Spain, you will need to pay a fee to apply for your TIE card. You will need one M790 C012 form, completed and paid, for each member of your family. Essentially, you will fill out the form electronically on the national police web site, which will generate three copies of the M790 C012 form with a unique barcode and number. You will take all three copies to the bank, which will keep one of the three copies. You’ll take the remaining two copies to your appointment, where the staff will take a copy, leaving you with the final copy showing that you paid your fee. Here’s how to get the form filled out:
* Go to this link and click “Rellenar formulario y descargar” (Fill out form and download).
* Fill out all fields in the Identificación section.
* Under the Autoliquidación section, the only thing you should do is click the following option: “TIE que documenta la primera concesión de la autorización de residencia temporal, de estancia o para trabajadores transfronterizos.” This is the correct option for an initial application for a TIE on a non-lucrative residence visa. If your visa situation is otherwise, another option may be correct. For clarity: the Non-lucrative Residence visa is considered a temporary visa, not a long duration visa.
* Under the Declarante section, indicate your current city under Localidad (as this is part of your signing and dating of the form).
* Under the Ingreso section, for Formo de Pago, you will probably want to select En Efectivo to pay the fee in cash, unless you know that you will be paying the fee by transferring money from your Spanish bank account, and you have confirmed with your bank accepts payment for government fees with an account transfer.
* Complete the captcha and click “Descargar impreso rellenado” to download a PDF of your form.
* Take the forms to your bank and pay the fee (15.60 Euros per person in 2018) prior to your appointment at the extranjería.
The email you receive will indicate that you should bring a copy of your expired TIE card and photocopy as applicable, but as a first-time TIE applicant, you don’t have a card and can thus disregard this requirement.
4. Go to Your Appointment
On the date and time you selected, go to your appointment at the address in your confirmation email. A small note: if your province or city doesn’t have an extranjería, your appointment may be at a police station. The procedure shouldn’t be much different.
When we arrived at our appointments in Granada, we passed through the metal detector and showed our appointment confirmation emails to a greeter who helped us to take a number. Both the email and the people present at the office caution you to listen carefully for your number to be called, as missing it will result in you having to book a new appointment!
Our numbers were called and we were guided into an office filled with staff at desks. Honestly, this part of the process was very low-stress. We were asked to present out documents, and as with our visa appointment, we had already organized them in the exact order specified by the confirmation email, one packet per person, plus a packet of photocopies each. Being extremely well prepared seems to be the ultimate bureaucratic superpower in Spain. It will never work against you to spend an extra few minutes making sure your paperwork is well organized.
Be aware that, at least in Granada, few of the extranjería staff seem to speak English, so speaking Spanish well gives you another edge. If all else fails, I suggest bringing an adorable newborn and letting all the ladies in the office who insist on holding him or her do so. It worked for us.
If you’ve prepared your documents properly, your passport photos will be pasted onto a packet of paperwork and onto a signature card which you’ll be asked to sign. You’ll give a series of fingerprints electronically. Finally, you’ll be presented with a letter from the office indicating that you are a legal resident in the country pending the outcome of your TIE application process. You’ll be instructed to return after approximately 30 days to pick up your residency card!
5. Pick up Your Residence Card!
This is the easiest of all of the steps. 30 days after your successful appointment, return with the following:
- All members of your family
- All passports for your family
- TIE letters (received at last appointment) for your family
Let the greeter know that you are picking up your Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero. You won’t need an appointment this time. You’ll be ushered in to see a staff member who will check your identification, take your fingerprints, and present you with your TIE! At long last, you are a legal resident of Spain for the remainder of your visa!
Are you applying for a Spanish visa, or do you already hold one? If so, share with me your experience getting your TIE, or ask me any questions if I can help you with your own process!
Update: If you stick around for a year, you may also need some help renewing your non-lucrative visa, and I can help you with that, too. After you do that, you’ll have to go through the whole TIE process over again to get a new one!
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