One of the funniest and annoying at the same time adventure can be a waiting time to update your documents in Spain. I mean your residence card. All foreigners, non-European, who have been living here for a few years, may understand what I am talking about. Once you get your NIE (Número Identificación Extranjero = Foreign Identification Number), your Spanish “passport,” let’s say, you will need to renovate it every year. You will be asked for this card almost for everything in your attempt to be integrated into social life in Spain: to open a bank account, to register a library card, to subscribe for Bicing (a bicycle sharing system in Barcelona), to buy a monthly transit card, etc. Renovating procedure is a journey where your nervous system should become steel. Because it can take an eternity. Let me explain it.
All this procedure is happening in several steps. First, you should get an appointment in the Aliens Office and present your documents for applying for an NIE card. If you are not sure that you have all the required documents, you can’t just go and ask for a consultation, you should get an appointment for it. And there are no available appointments. You have to wait for a particular date when they upload these appointments on the website. All the arrangements should be getting from this site. So, you might wait to get an appointment for a few months. Once you got an appointment and applied your documents, you should wait.
Officially it can take 2 months, but I know people wait 4 months. What happens after these months? You get a resolution — favorable or not. Sometimes it can be “requerido”, which means some documents are missing and you have to bring them. So, after getting your “favorable” you should ask for another appointment, National Police office, where you present your documents again and request the card. And then you wait again, 1 month until you will get your card. This card is also as a permit to travel in Europe, on the territory of Schengen. Let’s sum time for these formalities: 4 months + 1 month = 5 months to renovate your 1-year expiration card. Well, it’s a lot of time. But you have to keep the master’s piece of mind while doing that. Or you can find another way to get all these appointments.
There are Pakistani guys, the owners of those small convenient shops, and copying places in Barcelona. For 20 euros they will help you to get your appointment as soon as possible. How they do that? Well, it seems like they spend all day at their shops and have plenty of the time, they can look for an appointment on the Aliens office website, and some of them know that exact day when employees of Aliens office upload available appointments. So you just leave all your information and €20 to those guys, and they will have your back. I even don’t remember where I heard about this trick, but many foreigners know about them. I never used their service, but I am very curious, and once, while printing documents at one of those copying places, I asked if I can have this service and the Pakistani guy told me the price and asked when I will need the appointment? Like, this week or next week? I know some friends of mine used their service and it worked out for them.
There is another way to make easier this struggle to get an appointment: to talk to guards of the Aliens Office. They know everything. And if you will be quite polite talking to them in Spanish and ask for some advice, they will explain to you everything and give some useful tips. To resume, to survive here, you better learn Spanish at least to be able to communicate with the guards and all helpful people. To open a bank account, to register a library card, to subscribe for Bicing (a bicycle sharing system in Barcelona), to be able to subscribe for free Social Insurance, to buy a monthly transit card, etc. Renovating procedure is a journey where your nervous system should become steel. Because it can take an eternity.