I’ve been devoting much of my time recently to “trámites” – a word with no exact English translation.

We say “Tengo que hacer trámites” when we talk about doing paperwork – which can also cover obtaining

and completing forms, queuing, paying the required fee in the Bank, going back to the first office with the stamped copy, etc.
In the last week I have accompanied several members to local government offices, Health Centres(Centro de Salud, Puerto del Carmen and San Bartolomé) and the Police Station in Arrecife to make applications, denuncias and act as an interpreter. As you may well know, few of these “trámites” require only one visit.

However, the benefits of becoming officially resident and registering in your Municipality (getting “Empadronado”) are sometimes only noticed when you need something urgently and the authorities ask for copies of all these documents, so it´s important to devote some time and energy to get them!

Where to start?
The NIE is the number that identifies a foreign/European resident in Spain, and it is the first thing to be done. It is a personal number that is unique and exclusive and it doesn´t replace, but rather complements, the documentation the European Citizen must have for identification purposes: the national ID number or Passport.
The NIE is essential for a large number of actions and proceedings in Spain, which means that it should be applied for as soon as you come to live in Lanzarote.

Once the application is made, processing a NIE may take about 10 days. The office will issue a date to collect it. You can only do that in person, unless you have a representative who has been given a Power of Attorney. Remember to take your passport with you when you collect your NIE, or you´ll need a return trip!

The date of collection given to the gentleman I accompanied yesterday was the 5th July, within five working days, so he was quite happy.

Please take into account that the only hours to do this are 9.00 to 11.00 – don´t get there after 10.00 as you risk queueing and then not having enough time to do everything before the office closes.