These procedures seem to change minute to minute but I have added a Citizens Advice Spain link at the end which I found useful, and my grateful thanks to them. The process had already changed slightly but not so much that it was impossible to follow.
Why, you may ask, a digital signature at all? I’d never heard of such a beast before I came here, but perhaps they are spreading everywhere. Certainly Spain has a lot of bureaucracy, and a great many forms to complete, and luckily many of these forms can be completed online rather than trekking through blazing sunshine to queue in a hot building for a chance to practice your Spanish (or lack thereof) with burócrata. However, such forms have to be signed – hence the firma digital. It is a certified form which downloads to your computer and can be attached to official applications as it proves that you are who you say you are. It’s a bit of a fiddle to get but saves endless amounts of time (and queuing to apply for things) once you have it.
In effect you apply via, say, CERES. If you follow the instructions properly (see the CAB Spain link at the end of this blog), you will be given a reference number.
You then find the closest official representative and present yourself with suitable proofs of identity. The official representative verifies you are who you say you are, confirms to the website that reference 8283838etc is indeed human and in existence, the website emails you a certificado which will download deep into the bowels of your computer, and Bob’s your uncle.
Dead easy, right?
Okay, my additional pointers to the CAB link are firstly you can’t apply via Google Chrome. It comes up as an unsafe site, every time. The choices are Internet Explorer (which doesn’t like me, and it is mutual) or Firefox, and after some fruitless faffing around on IE I downloaded Firefox and zoomed through the application.
(I like Firefox but it isn’t very good at translating and while it obligingly said WELCOME and my headings were in English, the text stayed stubbornly in Spanish so there was much hopping to the tab with the Spanish-to-English translator. Anyway.)
Done, and I had my reference number.
Now to be verified by an official – The closest official firma digital representative was, yay, the local council office, the ayuntamiento. Except that it wasn’t, anymore (this is oddly Spanish, information can be quite profoundly out of date, why bother to change the website?) The kind senora behind the desk explained it had now been farmed out to the local Casa de la Cultura. I rather wish it hadn’t, to be honest, since the official who handles it there works two evenings, and one morning, a week, and isn’t always there.
Still, on my third attempt I struck paydirt, presented my padron (see my previous blog), my NIE, my deeds and my passport (rule of thumb – take every piece of paper you own, you never know what you will be asked for) and by the time I walked home the email was already in my mailbox to download my certificado direct onto my computer. One two three done, your certificate is downloaded.
Um – where?
And this is where the other useful piece of advice comes in. If you, like me, used Firefox, click on the Firefox menu, top right hand corner. Click on Options. Search for certificates and when presented with a bewilderingly long list, select the ‘your certificates’ tab. It will be there. If not, download again. You can, and probably should, then load it onto a USB so that if anything happens to your computer, or you need to use another, you don’t need to start the weary process again.
I have also, under Options, switched Firefox to asking me where to file downloads but I’m not sure this would have helped – the firma hides out of sight and talks only to appropriately authorised websites. Human beings aren’t really welcomed into the equation at all. Our role is to haul documents around in street temperatures topping 30 degrees C until our task is complete and we can drop exhausted by the wayside.
Here’s that helpful link –
And of course now that I have my firma digital I can complete my application to offer accommodation, since I am already accepting bookings on my temporary licence. Another blog looms. Thanks for bearing with me here, guys. I need all the moral support I can get.