How to Deal with the Spanish Bureaucracy


Throughout our visa process, my mother and I have had to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, and I wanted to share some of the good, bad, and ugly of moving to Spain.

A picture of the building we had to apply for our travel permits and residency cards


We applied for our visa in late May this year, and it was fairly straightforward. We had to bring in a large stack of papers and they were stamped and sent to Madrid for approval. The Spanish Consulate in Washington, D.C. told us it would be 2-3 weeks before we were officially approved. For my mom, these were the 3 most stressful weeks of her life. I knew we were going to get it, so I was not worried at all. In the US, we are used to either late or early. I have never even had a package delivered on time, only early or late. On 3 weeks to the day we had our approval. With the visa process, there are few struggles or complications outside of getting a few documents translated and apostilled. You just be prepared for a little bit of wait.


While the Visa was fairly easy to get, the process for our residency was a NIGHTMARE. First, we had to get our Padron, which took like 15 minutes (though it wasn’t delivered for maybe a month) and then we had to make an appointment to get our fingerprints scanned. Of course, we couldn’t leave Spain until we got the fingerprints scanned. We thought that would be simple, but noooooooo we had to make an appointment with the police station with the help of a lawyer. And it wasn’t for a month. Oh, and we couldn’t leave the country until we did. SO, on October 25th, we got our fingerprints scanned. They told us we could pick up our residency cards in 40 days. We walked out like we had just been granted citizenship. Right before we walked out of the front entrance I stopped and asked if we could travel before we got our cards. Of course, the answer was no, not without a travel permit. Of course, the permit is a whole other process.

Lessons Learned

There are so few experiences that do not teach us valuable lessons. In dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy, here are some of the lessons I learned:

  • Do Your research when it comes to appointments
  • Make sure you are setting appointments in your area
  • Set appointments as soon as possible
  • Plan your move when you won’t need to travel outside of the country for at least 3 months


As much as dealing with bureaucracy can be annoying, it is totally worth it to move to such a beautiful country!

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