The process of getting a NIE is no piece of cake. You will have to jump through hoops and get a fair amount of paperwork done.
We have already written articles explaining what you need to get your NIE in Barcelona. Today I am going to talk about some of the most common mistakes foreigners make when trying to get a NIE.
Not booking a Cita Previa
Public service in Barcelona is very fussy. They don’t care if it is out of laziness or the fact that you just couldn’t decipher the endless explanations written in Spanish in the puzzling official website, if you don’t follow the exact rules, they will probably send you home.
Learn the words “Cita Previa” (appointment), as you will need them if you want to take care of any sort of bureaucratic issue in Barcelona. Public service offices usually have overcrowded waiting rooms, which is why the public service officials go nuts if you don’t have a Cita Previa booked.
If you did your due diligence, looked up everything online or even tried to call (they rarely answer the phone), you can still be misinformed about the procedures. Try to get information with people who have gone through the same process and look for answers in online forums.
Becoming trapped in an endless loop
While you do have to be employed (or about to become employed) to get a permanent NIE, there are ways in which you can get a temporary one.
I have been severely scolded by the receptionist at the Comissaria de Policia in my district for sharing this information in front of her, but I have been through that process, having to go back countless times, desperate to understand what was it that I needed after al. I can’t stand seeing other foreigners go through the same.
When I was looking for work in Barcelona for the first time, I felt trapped in a loop. The SEAP wouldn’t give me a NIE because I didn’t have a job, and I wouldn’t be called for interviews because I didn’t have a NIE. I was desperate, not knowing how to escape this situation when a friend informed me that there was such a thing as a temporary NIE.
I went back to the Comissaria de Policia and explained, with pleading eyes, that I needed a temporary NIE to look for a job because no one would hire me otherwise. The nice man behind the desk issued me a white sheet with a temporary NIE that was valid for three months. Armed with this sheet, I was finally able to get a job.
Turning into dust while waiting in lines
After having had to wait in countless lines to get things done, I learned one or two tricks to get things moving faster. You already know booking a Cita Previa will speed up the waiting process at the Comissaria de Policia, but here are a couple of pieces of information that are useful to have when they send you to the bank to pay taxes for your NIE. If you have a bank account in Spain, go to one of the branches of your bank to pay for the tax. I used La Caixa and after waiting a long time in line, someone told me I could use the ATM to pay. If you don’t have a bank account in Spain, you will have a limited time slot to pay for this. Banks usually accept payment for the NIE between 8:30 and 10:15 am, otherwise you will have to pay the next day and have to go back to the Comissaria de Policia.
Not having something to read
Having an appointment will make things move faster, but not so fast that you will just be in and out of the Comissaria de Policia. And if you have not booked a Cita Previa but they decide your reason for being there is good enough that they will award you with numbered ticket, don’t start doing a happy dance – you will most likely have to wait close to an hour (or more). To keep from losing your cool while waiting for your turn, always carry a book, magazine or even a couple of Sudokus and crossword puzzles with you. It may be a hassle to carry them, but I guarantee you will be happy to have them with you when number 25 is being called and you realize your number is 67.