Today, I have been to apply for my new TIE identity card (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero).
Strictly speaking, Brits in Spain who already hold the green “certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión” don’t need to exchange it for the TIE just yet. However, as I changed address at the end of last year, and for one reason and another (Spanish bureaucracy and COVID) have only just been able to update it on the official register, the next step was to update my residency document, which, given that we’re no longer EU citizens, meant applying for the TIE.
It also seemed like a good idea to do it sooner rather than later anyway, given the political situation – not that I think having or not having the card will make a blind bit of difference to my rights, but perhaps it was better to do it now while there is still some goodwill to be had.
Anyway, it was all pretty straightforward. I’d been worried that I needed to wait for my new work contract (which I do now have) but actually, as an existing resident, it was less of an application for residency and more of a bureaucratic exercise in exchanging one document for another. All I needed to show was proof it was me in the form of my passport, proof I was already resident in the form of the green card, and proof of my change of address in the form of the certificado de empadronamiento.
I made my appointment for 11.45 – I would have preferred a little earlier, but you take what you can get. Unfortunately, as we’re no longer EU citizens, we don’t get to go to the police station in the city centre any more, so I had to trek out to the one in Patraix, about an hour’s walk away from home.
So, off I set. I grabbed a Valenbisi as far as the station, where I got some more ID photos taken (long story, but basically if you’re applying in Valencia don’t worry about getting the 26 x 32mm size pictures you’ll see everyone banging on about – normal Spanish passport size photos are the order of the day!) and then walked the rest of the way.
I arrived at 11.20 and had to hang around for ten minutes before I was allowed to join the queue, although actually, as a UK citizen, I was given a special queue all of my own! They called a few people forward before me and I was starting to wonder why I’d been made to stand to one side, but then I was called in and sent in to an office all of my own. I guess the process is different for us Brits than for other non-EU applicants.
There was no chair (perhaps as a precaution due to COVID?) so I had to stand throughout, which struck me as a little odd, but no harm done. I handed over my application form, proof that I’d paid the fee, my passport, green card, Padrón certificate and photo and waited while the woman did her business. She asked me to take my mask off briefly so she could check my appearance against my passport – logical, but it felt weird to be taking it off in a police station of all places! – and then I had to have my fingerprints scanned into the system. All in all, it probably took 15 minutes, and I was out again, blinking in the sunshine.
I’ve been told to phone in 20 days’ time to find out which batch number they’re up to. If it’s mine or above, I can go in to collect my card – no appointment necessary.
And that’s that.
How do I feel? A bit sad that I had to do it, that I’ll be carrying the non-EU identity card instead of the EU one, even though as photo ID it is much more practical. Sad that it will say on it ‘extranjero’ rather than ‘ciudadano de la unión’ which sounds much friendlier and more inclusive. But also relieved that my application is in the system and once I get the card, it will be proof of my rights under the withdrawal agreement. And I am assured that whatever happens with the NI protocol, citizens rights are untouchable.
So, life can go on.