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How to save lots of time on official matters through Spain’s online [email protected] system

If you want to avoid Spain’s dreaded “cita previa” appointment system, here’s what you need to know about the [email protected] digital certificate options that will allow you to handle official matters from home.

How to save lots of time on official matters through Spain's online Cl@ve system

Bureaucracy is undoubtedly one of the aspects of life in Spain foreigners find hardest to deal with, even if they’ve been living in the country for years and speak fluent Spanish.

The requirement of having a prior appointment (cita previa) for pretty much every official public process, the convoluted government websites and the blasé attitude of many civil servants makes it hard to get things done quick and efficiently.

Fortunately, there’s been a push towards the digitisation of bureaucratic matters in recent years, meaning that there’s a growing number of “trámites” (processes) that can be carried out online.

Currently the main ways to access the Spain’s national and regional departments electronically are the digital certificate (certificado digital), the [email protected] Pin, the permanent [email protected] and the autosignature (AutoFirma).

That’s right, they could’ve kept it simple with just one system, but instead there are four, and Spanish nationals also have the DNIe at their disposal.

Unfortunately, these rather generic, similar sounding names are what makes it complicated from the start to know what each one does or which one’s best.

In this article we will explain Spain’s [email protected] system in depth, as the temporary key (clave) and the permanent “clave” allow you to complete most of the digital processes available in Spain right now (stay tuned for future explainers on the other digital options mentioned above).

What’s Spain’s [email protected] system?

It’s a digital signature system which allows you to do all kind of official processes safely from the comfort of your home, and a way for the government to know it’s actually you, as you won’t be going into the office in person for them to identify you.

One code can be used for everything from filing your tax returns and plenty more fiscal matters, to applying for unemployment aid or other subsidies and paying for traffic fines.

Both the the [email protected] Pin and the permanent [email protected] are fully integrated into the [email protected] system and fullfill the same purposes.

READ ALSO: 25 official matters you can do online in Spain

What’s the Permanent [email protected]?

The “[email protected] Permanente” is pretty much what it sounds like, a password system that’s valid for a long period of time (although not permanent the government website clarifies) which is suited for people doing lots of official processes online often.

It works with a username (your NIE, foreign ID number) and a password which only you must know, plus an extra level of security which comes in the form of an SMS sent to your phone. This system also you to access a cloud-based signature.

What’s the [email protected] PIN?

It’s a temporary [email protected] password system valid for a short period of time, intended for users who use do these online processes more sporadically.

In this case the system is based on username or ID code that you choose but with a PIN code that you’re sent every time you start a session, and which will always be different, so need to memorise or write down any passwords in this case.

Image: Biljana Jovanovic/Pixabay 

How can I register for [email protected]?

To get either [email protected] PIN or the permanent [email protected], first you have to register in the [email protected] system.
Start by going the English language version website of [email protected] here

If you don’t have a digital certificate, which is what we’ll presume in this explainer, you will have to click on “Registrarse en [email protected]” and enter your NIE and the support system.

This is an obstacle for some foreign residents in Spain as the “número de soporte” doesn’t always work when added (check here to find out where to look for the support number on your residency document) 

Some foreign residents have commented on Citizens Advice Bureau that adding a C and a 0 (zero) before the number has worked for them whereas Spain’s tax authority says that you should contact the national police to revise and update the information of your card.

According to the Agencia Tributaria, the support number consists of 8 numbers preceded by the letter E.

If you’re successful you will be asked to enter your date of birth and your fiscal address, then you will be able to request the Letter of Invitation.

Once you receive the letter, you will find it includes a Secure Verification Code (CSV) that’s made up a total 16 numbers and uppercase letters.

This will allow you to continue with step 2, where you will need to access the “registrarse en [email protected]” page again, fill in the same details as before and check the option “I already have an invitation letter” before pressing the “Continue” button.

Then you will have to fill in the 16-character Secure Verification Code (CSV) and once it has been validated, type in the mobile phone and email to complete the registration process.

You’ll get a confirmation message saying that you’ve been registered and to remember the pin codes obtained.

Alternatively, if this process still seems to complicated or you run into problems, you always register for the [email protected] in person, at one of the various registration offices.

Social security offices, tax departments and regional citizen advice buildings often offer help with this service, but as you may have guessed already, you’ll need a cita previa (pre-booked appointment).

Find out where your closest government office to do this here.

You must show your NIE, provide your mobile phone number and an email address.

When you have your appointment, double check that the civil servant has filled in your details correctly as there are often typos with foreign names.

How do I get a [email protected] PIN?

Download the app available for iOS and Android, you’ll have to activate it following the steps given. After that, you can view the PIN obtained from the web on your mobile device. Here is the link to the app and instructions in Spanish. 

These are the steps you have to follow:

1) Fill in your NIE/DNI number. 

2) Select the button that says ‘Utilizar la App [email protected] PIN para obtener el PIN (recomendado)’. 

3) Fill the date of issue for your NIE/DNI, as well as the expiration date, if you have one. 

4) Click on ‘Deseo personalizar la generación del PIN’ which translates as ‘I want to customise the generation of the PIN’. Then you’ll be able to choose the 4 characters which will make up your [email protected], together with your PIN. Next click ‘Obtener PIN’ or ‘Obtain PIN’. 

5) A notice will be displayed in the browser informing you that the PIN is available. You’ll then get a notification from the app letting you know that everything has been performed correctly. For security reasons, you’ll have to put in the pattern or code to unlock your phone, after which your PIN will appear, followed by its validity time. 

6) To enter the app now, you must put in your PIN and login to identify yourself. 

You must use the PIN you have received to access the system before 10 minutes is up. If you have not accessed [email protected] within that time, you will have to request a new PIN. Once identified via your PIN, your can access the services that [email protected] allows until you disconnect from the Electronic Office or close your browser. 

How can I get a permanent [email protected]

If you want to be permanently registered for [email protected], because you need frequent access to the system, you can do this by following these steps:

1) To activate your [email protected] as a permanent user, you must access the activation service where you will be asked to enter your username (your DNI or NIE), your email address and the activation code that you received when you registered. If you have forgotten your code or need a new one, you can regenerate it by clicking on ‘Regenerar código de activación de [email protected] Permanente’.  

2) If they are correct, the system will send you an SMS with a single-use numeric code (One Time Password, OTP) that you must type in the corresponding field. If it is correct, the system will allow you to set the password you prefer, as long as it complies with minimum security characteristics. This password will be the one you will have to use from now on every time an electronic administration service requests it.

You can also unsubscribe from the permanent [email protected] using your password, whenever you want. 


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Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.