To be able to do anything useful in Spain you will need a NIE number (Numero de Identidad de Extranjero). It’s basically a personal identification number that you need when registering anything, buying/renting a flat, school appliance, government registering, bank accounts and so on. Should be simple enough right? Riiiight?
To apply for NIE you need a reason that is applicable, the specified conditions are economical, professional or social. You need to be able to prove that you qualify for one of those three. One of the most popular choices is that you go to the bank to register an account. The bank will then give you a paper, with a stamp (very important in Spain), that you can use to motivate the need of a NIE. Then you need to meet an officer who will analyse your application. If approved, all details will need to be correct otherwise you need to book a new meeting, then you get a paper that you need to take to the bank to pay a few euros and get a stamp(!). Then you need to go back to agency and finally get that sacred number.
We started our quest for NIE almost a year before we moved abroad by going to the bank in Palma and register a bank account when on a short holiday visit. The bank suggested that we apply for NIE in the Embassy in our home country. We thought OK, we can do that. Noooooo… the embassy then stated a month later that this was not an important reason enough for them and pointed us in the direction of Spain instead. We took a deep breath and agreed to arrange this when we get down there.
When arrived in Palma we continued our search for the holy grail/NIE again. The next step, after having the bank paper, was to go to the Office de Extranjero. Well, apparently you can’t just go there, you need to start by registering for a time slot with an officer. After browsing around in Spanish governmental sites for a couple of hours without actually identifying where to register for this meeting we asked the oracle(bank). They helped us by sending a link where we could register for a meeting. Finally! The governmental site even had an english translation. Awesome! Lets press that register button! … nothing happened? The site refused to load. We tried Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Same result, the page was undeniable broken, and this on a page that probably all foreigners in spain needed to use whenever the needed to see a governmental officer in whatever effort. Insane.
As full feathered computer nerd I refuse to give up and after a while we identified the problem… it was only the english version that was broken! We could use the Spanish version! (Yes, we actually speak some Spanish and google translate can to the rest)
Finally we were able to start the registering process. It was simple enough, some names, birth dates, passport numbers, office of choice, etc. Then pressing that registering button…
Seriously!?! The government does not have time to meet us? Sooo… when our children are not allowed to attend school by as they do not have personal identification numbers or when we can´t rent a place to live the reason is that the government does not have time to meet us? We are trying to be patient and imagining that we should be grateful that the errand isn’t more complicated than it is…. such as applying for a bus card or booking of a dentist.
The quest for the holy NIE will continue…
Update October 2019 – To get around this insanely ridiculous situation we did what most expats do, we went to a Gestoria. A Gestoria is a place where you can help with all administrative things such as NIE, tax, buying a home, insurance policys and so on. The Gestorias has a fast lane into the government and can therefore fix things that is challenging. Of course they will charge you for this “support” which is why we wanted to do it ourselves in the first place. In cases such as this we really did not have a choice and now we have our NIE:s and the children was allowed to go to school.