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I am finally on the path to owning an official identity card! The Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE) - The Foreigners Identity Card. In preparation for Brexit on the 31st December 2020, one of the things us Brits need to do is convert our flimsy green leaf NIE (Foreigners Identity Number) to real plastic.

And so,..I'm now the proud owner of.... an even flimsier A4 piece of paper that says I'm awaiting a proper ID card. And of course, the process wasn’t without it’s usual faff.

Previous visits to the police station have often been a fruitless waste of time. I'd arrive and queue for hours only to be told that I was missing a document, a photocopy, payment, I was missing employment even... and I'd have to return another day once I had everything.

But this time would be different. This time I was determined to go prepared so that nothing would be missing and it would be a smooth process. I was going to come out of that station with the TIE clutched in my hand ready for its appearance on Instagram stories!

The Preparation

I had read and re-read the relevant web pages, the emails and all the official information to ensure that I printed and photocopied all that was necessary.

The list was....

  • The "Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión". - my flimsy green NIE

  • A completed EX-23 form.

  • A valid passport. In the event that the passport is expired, a copy and the renewal application must be provided.

  • The Tasa Form accrediting the payment of the corresponding fee (model 790, code 12).

  • A photograph, in accordance with the requirements established in the regulations for a national identity document - their version of a passport-sized photo

  • Certificate of "empadronamiento" - proof of address dated in the last 3 months (no gas bill in sight here)

  • Minors must be accompanied by their legal guardian who must also carry all their ID documents.

The Appointment

I arrived bang on time. The officer at the gate measured my temperature and directed me to a queue. I've learnt that it doesn't matter whether you have an appointment or not, you still have to wait. Similar to that of a doctor's appointment. You never know if they're running on time or not. So I waited outside in a queue of socially distanced people and thanked the heavens that it wasn't raining. My appointment was at 10:15am. They finally let us into the building at 10:40 where we were directed to a waiting room. More waiting. Fortunately someone decided to call out those with appointments and prioritised them over those who didn't. At 11am I was next. Once sat at the desk, I, nervously, pulled out all the documents I had prepared.

The EX-23 completed and signed

The model 790 form, paid and stamped by my local bank branch.



The proof of address (empadronamiento - it's the only thing they accept)

Green NIE card (if you can call it a "card")

The guy glanced at the model 790 form and looked at me. Here we go.

"Lo unico es..."

Of course. There's always a "the only thing is....". What was I missing this time?! I've got everything on the list!

Apparently I paid too much. I'd selected the wrong option on the form and paid €22.10 instead of €12. My options were to return to the bank to reclaim my money, print another modelo 790, this time with the right box ticked, and go back to the bank to pay again, OR, to just forget it and give my hard earned money to the Spanish government. I decided that the first option wasn't worth it. I just wanted to get this process over and done with.

"Yyyyy..... necesitamos una fotocopia de tu pasaporte". WHAT?! A photocopy of my passport? Wait a minute. Let's backtrack to the list of requirements...

"A valid passport. In the event that the passport is expired, a copy and the renewal application must be provided."

In which part of these two sentences, does the word "photocopy" appear?! NONE. So why suddenly do I need a photocopy of my passport?! And of course they don't have photocopying facilities at the police station. But that's not all. Not only do they want a photocopy of the pages which contain my photo and details, but they also want a photocopy of each page which has an entry/exit stamp. Why? Goodness knows. Does being well-travelled enhance your chance of getting an ID card?

The Inevitable Run Around

Not everyone owns a printer. Most people, if they need to print something, do it at work when the boss isn't looking. Even then, the boss probably does the same when their boss isn't looking. However, where there is demand, there is supply. Across the road is a small shop that makes photocopies. These places are dotted all around the city. I never knew places like this still exist! After running over there and paying 80 cents, I took my travel history back to the guy who, whilst I was gone, had processed my application. He shuffled the papers containing my face and travel stamps into a pile and handed over another piece of paper - my proof that my TIE was on it's way.

The Inevitable Return

In 30 days I am to return to pick up my card. Another opportunity to queue awaits.

I must bring my paper proof and my passport. That's it?! Nothing else? I suspect another photocopy trip is on the way. I'll bring a folder full of photocopies just in case.

If you’ve had an experience that differs from this, please let me know and we can share the pain together to help prepare others.


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