There are many advantages to having a residencia (residence permit), for example, inter-island flights are 50% cheaper.
Being a resident, which means having a so-called residencia, has many benefits on the Canaries. As a resident, you get discounts on admission to many tourist attractions, such as the Cactus Garden, you get cheaper parking at some car parks with attendants, inter-island flights and ferry trips are half price. What‘s more, with the residencia you also get your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), which you will need if you want to buy a car, rent a house, or bring your household goods to the Canaries by container without paying import duty - and which anyone who spends more than 90 days at a time on the Canaries has to have anyway.
How do you apply for the residencia?
Applications for both the NIE and the residencia go through the Policía Nacional, on Lanzarote in Calle Timón s/n, Arrecife; on Fuerteventura in Calle Herbania 28
in Puerto del Rosario.
You need a NIE in order to initiate any sort of business transaction on the islands, e.g. buying a house or car, or setting up a business. The NIE is a tax identification number for foreigners, and there is an application fee of €9.27. The credit card style Tarjeta de Residencia has not been in use for some years now. The old plastic card has been superseded by a green A4 sheet, which together with your passport or national ID card confirms that you are a resident. Also known as the ‘foreigner’s certificate’, the document contains your NIE and other personal details and, as already mentioned, gives access to a good number of discounts on the islands. It costs €10.10.
To obtain it, you will need: your passport and a great deal of patience. It is recommended that you apply for the residencia (the green A4 sheet) as well as the NIE, even if you only really need the NIE as the procedure is just about the same for both. Go to the Policía Nacional, ideally in the morning, to collect the application forms you need. The Policía Nacional is open from 9 am, but 15 minutes later the queues can stretch right out of the building. You will need to present your passport or national ID card when applying for your residencia, and then you will be given a number of forms which need to be filled in and copied. You also have to make a copy of your passport or national ID card. You then have to take the forms to a bank and pay just under €20. Payment is made in cash at any bank. The bank will stamp the relevant form to confirm payment. You can also download all the forms from the website of the Spanish ministry of the interior (http://www.mir.es/SGACAVT/modelos/extranjeria/modelos_extranje/ex_14.pdf)
Then you take all the copies and forms, and your passport or national ID card back to the Policía Nacional. They will retain the documents and tell you when you will be able to pick up your ‘foreigner’s certificate’. If you do not have a passport and you are asked for it at some point, you can point out that you are an EU citizen. Your application still has to be processed even without a passport. One final piece of advice: your chances of getting your residencia without complications will be greatly improved if you arrive at the Policía Nacional armed with plenty of time and patience.