Many processes in Spain require visits to offices to get some paperwork certfied. Your Padrón is a good example – its only valid for three months. If you need to do something with it after three months, you need to get a new copy certified. That is another trip to your local ayuntamiento (council) office. Your TIE, social security and taxation are all processes that would benefit from a certificado digital. Imagine being able to print out a Padrón whenever you needed it? That’s what a digital certificate gives you – the ability to do many processes from home.
The cost is FREE, but does require one trip to an Oficina de Acreditación for a person to verify you are who you say you are.
Ok, sounds good – how do I get a digital certificate?
The digital certificate service is provided by the Spanish Royal Mint (the FNMT). This website explains everything you need to know. The certificate you are after is called the certificado electronico ciudadano (electronic certificate for a citizen), and the process you will be following is Obtener Certificado con acreditación presencial (obtain a certificate with in-person acreditation).
If you prefer, you can change the language of the FNMT website to English by clicking the globe in the top right where it says ES, and changing to EN. Some parts do not translate, so I think it is always worth trying to manage in Spanish if possible.
Download the FNMT software
You need a computer, either a Windows PC or a Apple Mac of some description to install a Java-based program which generates the certificate. We used a Windows 11 PC, but as the program is Java, any version of Windows or Mac capable of running a modern browser should be fine.
You download the software from here. Run it, and it appears to do nothing, but what it does is install something into your browser for the next step.
Fill in the details
Once the software is installed, go to step 2 (Solicitar Certificado). Fill in your NIE number, surname, and your email address (twice to confirm). You can leave the first tick box unchecked, but you need to tick the second one to accept the conditions of the certificate. Then press Enviar peticíon to confirm the process. You will be asked to provide a password for your certificate – dont lose this – and also make it a decent password!
You should receive an email within minutes from FNMT after doing this. Keep this email safe as you will need this later. It contains a Código de Solicitud that you will be asked for.
Visit the Oficina de Acreditación
Next you need to prove your identity in person at one of 2400 Oficinas de Acreditación. Click this link to find an office near to you and book an appointment for FNMT acreditación. Ours was at one of the campuses of the University of Murcia, so do not be surprised if your nearest is not in the typical government office.
Another important point — you will need a valid Spanish telephone number to book the appointment. Yet another reason to get a Spanish mobile phone or SIM card!
The appointment is very quick. At ours, the person behind the desk, wanted the code from the mail we got from FNMT, our passport and our TIE card. A few seconds later we received an email from FNMT inviting us to download the certificate.
Download the certificate
The link to download the certificate is here and has to be performed on the computer you installed the FNMT Java software earlier. You will need your NIE number, surname and the code from the original FNMT email they sent.
Like most things it sounds much more complicated than it is really. The whole process was very easy, and hopefully will make future processes much easier – negating the need to book appointments at offices. I will update this article when I get an opportunity to try out my digital certicate!