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Barcelona Village

Sorting out the paperwork

For Spanish bureaucracy there's a lot of walking pieces of paper around from one office to the next. Nothing is really joined up systems-wise. Despite the need for an identity card and an NIE and potentially proof of residence, you would think they could just dial it up on the computer and that's it. But they can't and paper needs to be walked from office to office, often with long queues. But we have discovered there is no real rocket science to the paperwork - you don't need a great legal brain, just perserverance and the time to wait. In general the people at the desks are helpful and sympathetic if overrun by the inefficiency of the process.

To get it done you sort of have to allow three goes at most offices, so they become reasonably familiar (we started to feel that the Education office at Bruc was another home, then number of times we needed to go there to get schools sorted out).

  1. Find the office and pick up the necessary forms (sometimes just find the office - you may find it's the wrong office, or closed, or too busy)
  2. Complete form and take it back with what you think are the necessary documents and photocopies
  3. Take it back again with the proper set of photocopies and documents you should have had at 2 then you're largely done

Given that offices are generally open 10am-2pm and there is often walking and transport from one office to the next, the process can be long-winded. Not only this, but you find yourself stuck in queues. If you end up in the wrong queue (it's happened to us at least twice to us), you have to queue again doubling the length of time.

Oh, and an additional word of advice - even if you think you know exactly what you're doing always take all the documents, not just the ones you think you need. The number of times you turn up to deliver a form only to find there's a pre-step or a query and you need to get an 'etiquette' or similar before the form can be submitted is untrue. Having just spent an hour and a half going to the tax office and back and now have to do it again because I didn't have my NIE.


This is the easy bit oddly enough, given the fuss that is made of it.

Residency card

From the EU you don't need one, but it can be handy - our only use of a Gestor so far though.

Getting internet and a fixed line phone

Some people won't bother, but if you need an internet connection you need a fixed line which normally means dealing with Telefonica.

Bank accounts - item one on the list

Easy things first

Proof of residency (for schools)

If you don't have children this might not apply, but you will need a proof of residency document - Empadronmiento or Padron - before you can use education services

Health service registration

After NIE and residency you can get the health card

Other bits

Like insurance, resigtering as a large family, driving licences, business status etc

Health system

The health system seems to be similar to the UK with state provision available to all and options for private health.

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