This isn’t normally the type of post that we’d publish on The Real Tenerife but after some discussions on facebook yesterday we felt it might be useful to anyone living in Tenerife, the Canary Islands or even mainland Spain.
Up until two months ago we thought our residencia, the green A4 sized version, was permanent.
Purely by chance we discovered that the law had changed and it wasn’t. Basically there was an error on Andy’s Certificado de Viaje and when she went to the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) in Puerto de la Cruz to correct it, they pointed out that her residencia was about to expire.
Apparently, so they informed us, the changes in the law meant that the green A4 sized document titled Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión is only valid for five years from the date of issue. Note: Another Tenerife resident has told us that they were advised by an official clerk that as the wording on their green paper residencia included the phrase ‘COMO RESIDENTE COMUNITARIO CON CHARACTER PERNANENTE EN ESPANA’ (only added after 5 years) they didn’t have to renew.
Confirming what is and what is accurate information in Spain isn’t easy. A check of official government websites, expat forums and speciality ‘living in Spain’ sites confirmed one thing – there was a lot of conflicting evidence regarding whether the document was permanent or not. Opinions varied wildly and processes to renew even more. But the more reputable sites seemed to back up the need for renewal advice.
How to renew the residencia
Depending on where people live in Spain, what you have to do changes not only from region to region but within municipalities in the same province. So the process we had to follow in Puerto de la Cruz is peculiar (and I use the word deliberately) to us. But I’m outlining it to illustrate how odd bureaucracy can be in Spain.
At 9.30am on a Tuesday morning we turned up at the National Police station where applications for NIE/residencias etc. are administered – other documents like empadronamientos are dealt with by the town hall. Again, in other locations this can be different.
9.30 turned out to be too late. They had reached their daily quota of ‘customers’ by that time. The policeman advised us to return early the next day. Early meant before 7.30am.
So the following morning we dragged ourselves out of bed at 6 to ensure we’d get there early enough to be seen.
After that there was a whole bizarre little ritual of waiting with other ‘applicants’ in the street about 25 metres away from the entrance to the police station, being led up the street and into a dingy room at 7.30, led back out a few minutes later to write names on a blank piece of paper and then, about 8am, having more details taken by a woman who darted in and out of a concealed office issuing instructions to us all.
After this point it all became logical and the process took on a shape that should apply (more or less) across the board.
In the end the actual process was straightforward. All that was needed was a photocopy of our passports (1st page and the page with photo), a modelo 790 (issued at the office) and one other document which basically seemed to confirm we’d lived in Spain for five years (also issued at the office). We took our modelo 790 to the bank, paid €10.50 each, had it stamped and returned to the police station where we were seen within a few minutes.
Ten minutes later we emerged with the new, green, credit card sized certificado de registro.
This isn’t meant as a step by step guide on how to renew residencia as even with the final process there can be regional variations. The modelo 790 and €10.50 fee seem set, but friends on a neighbouring island had to produce photos where we didn’t.
It’s more about making people aware that the green paper residencia (certificado de registro) might only be valid for 5 years. Other sources still suggest that it isn’t legally required. But we travel a lot and aren’t taken any chances of being hit with full fares at a check in desk because our residencia is ‘invalid’.
As for the new one, the lady at the police station informed us that it was permanent… unless the law changes.
UPDATE: This is what the British Consulate has to say about the situation regarding renewal of certificados: “My colleagues at the British Embassy in Madrid have been discussing this issue with the Ministry who verbally confirmed that none of the green residency certificates or cards expire. A person holding a temporary residency certificate can choose to (not obligatory) apply for permanent residency after 5 years, and must meet the criteria.”
If the certificates don’t expire then, in theory, they should always be valid for the resident’s travel discount. Looks like we forked out €21 for nothing.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+