In this previous post I wrote about everything you need in order to apply for your TIE for your non-lucrative visa in Seville, Spain. In this post I’ll talk about the experience of going to the appointment.
The details of this post won’t apply to the medical professionals who are working towards financial independence. But having the skill to obtain a residency in another country could come in handy.
Here is a brief overview of the timeline and related posts:
- initial non-lucrative visa application
- getting documents together for non-lucrative visa
- non-lucrative visa interview
- non-lucrative visa approval
- getting NIE and TIE in Spain
- 1st renewal application of non-lucrative visa – online
- non-lucrative visa renewal approval
TIE- Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero
As I mentioned, your non-lucrative visa stamp on your passport is good for 90 days and this last step, performed at the Foreigner’s Office, will allow you to get your 1-year stay and receive the residency permit card – the TIE.
This will definitely become your main ID wherever you go and whenever you are asked for your NIE. There is no such thing as a NIE card – there is a TIE card with your NIE number on it.
NIE – Número de identidad de extranjero
Your NIE number – which you should have received at your consulate with your visa stamp – is a number which you need in order to open a bank account, pay taxes, get hired, sell real estate, and establish utilities.
You could do with out but it’s a pain in the ass. And the Spanish government demands that anyone who stays here longer than 6 months obtain a TIE. I doubt they enforce it but still a requirement.
The NIE number will be printed on your TIE card. It’s the first thing the bank asked for when I applied to open a bank account.
For all intensive purposes, you’re still considered a temporary resident – but a resident, nevertheless. Once you’re a resident, you’re part of the day-to-day life here. You better start pronouncing everything with a -th.
Oficina de Extranjería
The process is different in every district and city. For Seville, I was emailed the address where I had to show up for my appointment and the appointment time. I shared that in the previous TIE post.
This was confusing because looking on Google Maps this office was going to close at 2:00 pm and my appointment was at 3:00 pm. With all the horror stories I have read about the Spanish bureaucracy, I decided to show up at 1:30 pm and see what’s up.
A quick word about Seville, Spain versus, say, Barcelona; government workers and people in general appear more helpful and friendly in Seville. Everything from opening a bank account to dealing with the Foreigner’s Office has been much more pleasant.
I started walking down towards Plaza de España early and hung out a little and had a coffee, then walked up to the guard right before they were going to close and he assured me that they would reopen again at 3:00 pm to service those with appointments. He even offered for me to wait inside but said it might be nicer for me to walk around and enjoy the view – all in Spanish – so maybe he was just telling me to fuck off but that’s what I understood.
Appointment for TIE
My appointment was at 3:00 pm and I have a feeling that’s the only appointment time they gave out because everyone was already queueing up at 2:30 pm which was unnecessary. Why queue up when you have an appointment!
You walk through the metal detector, the guard asks you for the copy of your cita previa and he hands you a number and you sit down. Another lady who cut in line didn’t have an appointment and the guard, though nice about it, turned her away.
Things move fairly fast. Only one woman working in the space and she seemed very friendly. She only kept saying “next” and didn’t call actual numbers. So another couple went ahead of me and I sheepishly flashed my number in case I was next – again, everyone was very civilized and they apologized and let me have my turn. I ended up getting drinks with this couple, later.
Here are the steps that happen once you sit down for your appointment:
- Funny banter with the lady where she thought I spoke Spanish and was trying to point out that the last couple was from the same city as me. Me: looking lost and drooling. Her: do you speak Spanish?
- She asks you for the packet of information you prepared and your passport.
- She enters your current address into the computer. Everything else was already in the computer.
- She asks you for the passport photo you took, I had 2 different sizes with me. She didn’t care which size so I gave her the one in which I looked less ugly. Me: attempt at humor in Spanish = major YouTube-style fail. Her: smiles at me; I resume drooling.
- She asks me to sign a paper with my photo stuck on it and another signature I had forgotten on the EX17 application.
- She then asks me to place my finger on the electronic fingerprint scanner. Right index finger. Then roll the index finger. Then left index finger. Then roll left index finger. Everyone else got this – she literally had to hold my hand through it. I died a little on the inside of shame but she was nice about it.
- She handed me a piece of paper and, short of using sign language, explained to me that I needed to come back in about 30 days to pick up my TIE card. She wrote the date and time on the piece of paper.
What I Expected
Here are a few things I expected to go poorly and instead turned out much more pleasant.
What I expected was a very stern person working in the office who would tear apart my application to find flaws. Instead, she was very nice and pointed out the missing signature on the application.
As for speaking Spanish, I speak very little of it. She made every attempt to explain things to me and was patient, making sure I understood her directions.
The waiting room was small. Some people started chatting and it was a pleasant atmosphere. If you get a chance, talk to the person next to you especially if you don’t speak Spanish, they probably do, and they will likely help you if you ask.
I didn’t think I’d make friends there but I did. Another person from the US had her appointment after me – the one that tried to go ahead of me. She spoke fluent Spanish and her friend was from Sevilla – we all got some drinks after and exchanged info. She said she would have been happy to translate for me.
Finally, everything went fast. I was the 3rd to last person and there were maybe 15 people total. I had the appointment at 3:00 pm and was out of the door by 3:53 pm.
I am writing a lot about the process of foreign residency mainly because it interests me but also because it’s a vital step for anyone considering living abroad for an extended period of time. Or for someone wanting to invest overseas. Or trying to live a lower cost lifestyle in retirement.
There is a huge financial difference between traveling and vacationing. The latter will drain you financially while the former can often save you money if your destination has a lower cost of living.
I have since learned that in 2008 many foreigners flocked to Spain when they experienced one of the worst economic crisis on the globe. These investors bought real estate and they rented it out. We’re not talking about the tycoon-type – lawyers, physicians, and those with money. They capitalized on a good opportunity.
That same cheap piece of real estate is now earning them very good rent money. That said, real estate is still cheap here and the rental market is caliente. But without a NIE, you can’t buy or rent out real estate.
Whatever the process is for obtaining foreign residency, it’s going to be quite similar to what I have laid out in these posts. I’ve reviewed the process for Germany, Poland, Italy, France, Netherlands and it’s just a different flavor of the same thing.
You’re essentially demonstrating that you can financially sustain yourself abroad. You can google freelance visa, self-employment visa, or entrepreneur visa for any country and chances are you’ll find something as long as you’re able to earn money independently. This could be from investments or from telemedicine or consulting work.