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Beat the queues: 25 official matters you can do online in Spain

Spanish bureaucracy is notoriously slow and convoluted but there are an increasing number of official matters that can be carried out online now, saving time and headaches for foreigners.

Beat the queues: 25 official matters you can do online in Spain
Photo: Richard Mcall/pixabay

Nothing is certain in life in Spain except death and citas previas (pre-made appointments).

Dealing with Spain’s public administration is without a doubt one of the downsides of daily life here for many foreigners.

We’ve previously asked you, our readers, how you found undertaking official matters in Spain, and answers ranged from a flat-out “remarkably annoying”, to others calling it “not terrible” and the more pragmatic saying “it gets better”.

READ MORE: 'The queuing is ridiculous': What Spanish bureaucracy is really like

“They need to review so many issues that could be done much simpler,” argued Karen Williams at the time.

And while much still remains to be done to improve many official processes, there are more and more trámites that can be done online now in Spain.

Here we’ve collected as many of these digital procedures as we can in the hope that they can make your daily life in Spain that bit easier.


Get a padrón certificate online

Registering on ‘el padrón' at your local town hall is one of the first things you will need to do when you arrive in Spain as you will be asked to provide the certificate for a whole host of bureaucratic matters.

You can find out more about the process here.

Whether you can do the process entirely online depends on where you live in Spain, with cities such as Madrid, Barcelona and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria setting up systems on their town hall websites which allow residents to submit their documents online to obtain a padrón.

Get a [email protected] account to handle tax matters online

The Spanish government’s [email protected] system is one of the tools you can use to fast-track and simplify processes by doing them online. You will need it to do a lot of the processes mentioned on this list.

Read more about it here in The Local’s guide.

Renew your digital certificate

Ironically, in order to get a digital certificate to be able to do most online processes available, you will have to go into one of your local public administrations in person.

However, once you’ve sorted this out, a lot of the official matters on this list will become available to you online, with a bit less hassle than through the [email protected] system.

You will also be able to renew or update your digital certificates through Spain’s National Currency and Stamp Factory (FNMT) here.


Get an appointment at Spain’s immigration office

Popping into your local foreigners’ office in Spain to request an appointment is no longer possible, so save yourself the time and headache of dealing with a poker-faced civil servant by first booking a cita previa for the process you have to complete, here.

Pay extranjería fees

Fee 052 for residency registrations and fee 062 for work permits can be paid online rather than at the bank if you have a digital certificate.

Check status of extranjería process and send in extra documents

You can find out if Spanish immigration authorities have approved or denied your request or if it’s still being processed, here.

It’s also possible to electronically submit extra documents that you’ve asked for, here.

Renewing residency and work permits

A number of foreigners’ residency and work permit renewals can be done partially or entirely done online, whereas the first-time round will require more visits to the immigration office. You can find more information here.

However, since mid-December 2020, Spain’s immigration offices are allowing more first-time residency and work permits to be processed online as this list on the Spanish government’s website details.


Request a working life report from Spain’s Social Security

A working life report (informe de vida laboral) is a document that contains important information relating to the number of days a person has worked, how much they’ve paid into the country’s social security system and thus what benefits are available to them.

You can request it from Spain’s General Treasury of Social Security here.

Find out your social security number

If you’re ever asked for your Número de Seguridad Social-NUSS or Afiliación-NAF, you can get it online here and print out a form.

Apply for Spain’s minimum income

Spain’s most vulnerable households and families at risk of poverty can apply for the ‘ingreso mínimo vital’, or minimum vital income, here.

Request or renew your unemployment benefits

If you have a digital certificate or [email protected], you’ll be able to do both here.

Find out your contribution base

The contribution base is a reference salary for both salaried employees and self-employed workers that’s used as a base for calculating the pension and other benefits they’ll receive such as parental leave sick pay.

If you want to find out how much your contribution base you can access it here.

Find out if you’re registered with Spain’s social security and your employment status

You can find out how you’re classified in Spain’s social security and print out a form through this website.

Check the processing status of your ERTE

If you’ve been made temporarily unemployed due to the coronavirus crisis or otherwise you can check the status of your ERTE online as well as other pertinent information relating to your benefits.

Register for electronic notifications with Spain’s State Employment Service

If you want to get alerts and notifications from Spain’s SEPE you can do it here.


Check if you have traffic fines

If you suspect you’ve got a traffic fine or you want to double check the information you’ve received, you can do so through the Directorate General of Traffic’s website here.

Change how you receive notifications of traffic fines

Equally if you prefer to change how you receive the notification from SMS to in the post or vice versa, this is also an option through the website mentioned above.

Check how many points you have on your driving license

If you don't know how many points you have on your driving license, you can also check this on the DGT’s website.

Hand in documents to the DGT to exchange your foreign driving license

EU and EEA driving licences are valid in Spain but for foreigners from other countries, the chances are that you’ll have to exchange your home-country licence for a Spanish one. Fortunately, a lot of the process can be done online starting here.

For British nationals in Spain who have struggled to get an appointment for the exchange their licences before Brexit, there is more information here.


Find out a property’s land registry

You can find out a Spanish property’s cadastral reference, as well as other information such as its dimensions and when it was built, here.

Request a birth certificate

If you’ve just had a baby you’ll need to get a birth certificate from Spain’s Civil Registry as it will contain all the vital information about your newborn (name, place of birth, parents’ names) and you will also need it for other official matters.

Luckily this can also be requested online here.

Make an appointment with your local public doctor

You don’t have to go in person to the public hospital or call over the phone to request an appointment with your doctor in Spain.

Each region has its own website so our recommendation is to Google “cita previa medico” and then your region’s name and look for the website that starts with “sede”.


Request your digital certificate to be used on any browser:

It could because you prefer Safari over Chrome, or because you keeping getting redirected to different browsers, but having your digital certificate approved across the board can be very handy.

You can download the software here.

This Spanish website has more detailed information about the installation process.

Install your digital certificate on your mobile

If you’d rather handle official matters on your mobile or tablet, you can install your digital certificate on both Android and iOS.

It’s more complicated on Apple devices as this explainer in Spanish shows.

Member comments

  1. This information alone is worth the price of subscribing! So happy I paid for membership. This is a legitimate review/comment.

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Rampant branch closures and job cuts help Spain’s banks post huge earnings

Spain’s biggest banks this week reported huge profits in 2021 and cheered their return to recovery post-Covid, but ruthless cost-cutting in the form of thousands of layoffs, hundreds of branch closures and the removal of many ATMs have left customers in Spain suffering, in this latest example of ‘Capitalismo 2.0’. 

A man withdraws cash from a Santander branch in Madrid.
More than 3,500 Santander workers lost their jobs in Spain in 2021 and a further 2,000 more employees working for Santander across Europe were also laid off. Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

Spanish banking giant Santander on Wednesday said it has bounced back from the pandemic as it returned to profit last year, beating analyst expectations and exceeding its pre-COVID earnings.

Likewise, Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA said on Thursday that it saw a strong rebound in 2021 following the Covid crisis, tripling its net profits thanks to a recovery in business activity.

It’s a similar story for Unicaja (€137 million profit in 2021), Caixabank (€5.2 billion profit thanks to merge with Bankia), Sabadell (€530 million profit last year), Abanca (€323 million profit) and all of Spain’s other main banks.

This may be promising news for Spain’s banking sector, but their profits have come at a cost for many of their employees and customers. 

In 2021, 19,000 bank employees lost their jobs, almost all through state-approved ERE layoffs, meant for companies struggling financially.

BBVA employees protest against layoffs in May 2021 in Madrid. Spain’s second-largest bank BBVA is looking to shed 3,800 jobs, affecting 16 percent of its staff, in a move denounced by unions as “scandalous”. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Around 11 percent of bank branches in Spain have also been closed down in 2021 as part of Spanish banks’ attempts to cut costs, even though they’ve agreed to pay just under €5 billion in compensation.

Rampant branch closures have in turn resulted in 2,200 ATMs being removed since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even though the use of cajeros automáticos went up by 20 percent in 2021.

There are now 48,300 ATMs in Spain, levels not seen since 2001.


Apart from losses caused by the coronavirus crisis, Spain’s financial institutions have justified the lay-offs, branch closures and ATM removals under the premise that there was already a shift to online banking taking place among customers. 

But the problem has been around for longer in a country with stark population differences between the cities and so-called ‘Empty Spain’, with rural communities and elderly people bearing the brunt of it. 


Caixabank laid off almost 6,500 workers in the first sixth months of 2021. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA/AFP

Just this month, a 78-year-old Valencian man has than collected 400,000+ signatures in an online petition calling for Spanish banks to offer face-to-face customer service that’s “humane” to elderly people, spurring the Bank of Spain and even Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to publicly say they would address the problem.

READ MORE: ‘I’m old, not stupid’ – How one Spanish senior is demanding face-to-face bank service

It’s worth noting that between 2008 and 2019, Spain had the highest number of branch closures and bank job cuts in Europe, with 48 percent of its branches shuttered compared with a bloc-wide average of 31 percent.

Below is more detailed information on how Santander and BBVA, Spain’s two biggest banks, have reported their huge profits in 2021.


Driven by a strong performance in the United States and Britain, the bank booked a net profit of €8.1 billion in 2021, close to a 12-year high. 

It was a huge improvement from 2020 when the pandemic hit and the bank suffered a net loss of €8.7 billion after it was forced to write down the value of several of its branches, particularly in the UK. It was also higher than 2019, when the bank posted a net profit of €6.5 billion.

Analysts from FactSet were expecting profits of €7.9 billion. 

“Our 2021 results demonstrate once again the value of our scale and presence across both developed and developing markets, with attributable profit 25 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in 2019,” said chief executive Ana Botin in a statement.

Net banking income, the equivalent to turnover, also increased, reaching €33.4 billion, compared to €31.9 billion in 2020. This dynamic was made possible by a strong increase in customer numbers, with the group now counting almost 153 million customers worldwide. 

“We have added five million new customers in the last 12 months alone,” said Botin.

Santander performed particularly well in Europe and North America, with profits doubling in constant euros compared to 2020. In the UK, where Santander has a strong presence, current profit even “quadrupled” over the same period to €1.6 billion.

Last year’s net loss was the first in Banco Santander’s history, after having to revise downwards the value of several of its subsidiaries, notably in the UK, because of COVID.

The banking giant, which cut nearly 3,500 jobs at the end of 2020, in September announced an interim shareholder payout of €1.7 billion for its 2021 results. “In the coming weeks, we will announce additional compensation linked to the 2021 results,” it said.


The group, which mainly operates in Spain but also in Latin America, Mexico and Turkey, posted profits of €4.65 billion ($5.25 billion), up from €1.3 billion a year earlier.

The result, which followed a solid fourth quarter with profits of €1.34 billion, was higher than expected, with FactSet analysts expecting a figure of €4.32 billion .

Excluding non-recurring items, such as the outcome of a restructuring plan launched last year, it generated profits of 5.07 billion euros in what was the highest figure “in 10 years”, the bank said in a statement.

In 2020, the Spanish bank saw its net profit tumble 63 percent as a result of asset depreciation and provisions taken against an increase in bad loans due to the economic fallout of the virus crisis.

“The economic recovery over the past year has brought with it a marked upturn in banking activity, mainly in the loan portfolio,” the bank explained, pointing to a reduction of the provisions put in place because of Covid.

In 2021, BBVA added a “record” 8.7 million new customers, largely due to the growth of its online activities. It now has 81.7 million customers worldwide.

The group’s net interest margins also rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to €14.7 billion, said the bank, which is undergoing a cost-cutting drive.

So far, it has axed 2,935 jobs and closed down 480 branches as the banking sector undergoes increasing digitalisation and fewer and fewer transactions are carried out over the counter.

At the end of 2020, BBVA sold its US unit to PNC Financial Services for nearly 10 billion euros and decided to reinvest some of the funds in the Turkish market.

In November, it launched a bid to take full control of its Turkish lending subsidiary Garanti, offering €2.25 billion ($2.6 billion) to buy the 50.15 percent stake it does not yet own.

The deal should be finalised in the first quarter of 2022.