While Spain is not exactly a forefront of global e-government public services, nevertheless it offers a wide range of digital services available to the public since 10-15 years ago. Although there’s no such thing as a one-stop window (the closest thing that resembles it is located here and is totally user-unfriendly), and various government administration agencies operate their own digital systems, the good news is that to access many of these, such as Social Security Services or Spanish Tax Agency, you only need one digital signature. Today we’re going to talk about digital signature certificate, its applications in Spain and the easiest way to obtain it.
Digital signature, or digital certificate (el certificado electrónico) is basically a file that contains your personal identification data and it is used to identify citizens in the process of administrative interactions and operations with e-government offices such as Spanish Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria), Social Security Services (Seguridad Social), or Business Registers (Registros Mercantiles), among others. With its help you can modify your personal data stored in each corresponding service database, request, present or sign different applications or forms, ranging from tax declarations to various certificates and reports. Certain tax forms or documents can only be presented or requested through digital office.
This means that you can declare or pay your taxes, present appeals and claims, check existing traffic fines and pay them, request grants and scholarships – all this from the comfort of your home, with no need to make queues in government offices. The list of documents that can be presented or obtained through e-gov offices is enormous, here you can see the corresponding lists of two main e-gov offices (Spanish Tax Agency & Social Security Service).
Now that you know you can no longer live without a digital signature, it’s about time to find out where and how to obtain it. First of all, you need to be in possession of NIE number, which is your main identification number in Spain. Digital signature can be obtained from various sources, but today we’ll look at the easiest of them – through the official web-page of Spanish Royal Mint (Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre), аnd, more precisely, through its digital certificate section. The royal Mint web is only supported on Mozilla Firefox & Internet Explorer browsers (but not on MS Edge, which on many PCs has replaced the IE). We recommend to start the whole process in Firefox and will explain the reasons for it later. Once you click on the link above, you’ll see a button Obtenga o renueva su Certificado Digital (see pic.). Click on it.
Once you’re redirected to a new page, click on the option Persona Física, and follow onto the next page.
This next page offers you two options to obtain the digital certificate: either with electronic ID (DNIe), mainly available to Spanish nationals only, or by installing an executable file from the Royal Mint website. We’ll look at the second option.
After clicking on Obtener Certificado software you are redirected on a new page (see pic.) informing you of the four steps you need to make: first of all you execute the file downloaded from RM web, then, once executed, it generates a temporary application key, which is then send to your e-mail. You will then have to show this temporary application key together with your NIE and passport to a public servant in one of many state registrar offices (please consult the list further down the article). And as a last step you download the digital certificate on your PC, and start using it.
Hey-ho, let’s go? Please click on the first link and download the *.exe file (called Configurador FNMT-RCM). Those of you who decide to use IE browser, will have to do a pair of additional steps described on page 5 of this manual, so if you are not an advanced PC used, we recommend starting off in Forefox where the whole process will be a bit more intuitive. After that click on step 2 and follow onto the next window, where you need to insert your details (NIE number, last name and a valid e-mail address, since the temporary application key will be sent there). Please select Grado Alto or High Grade in the window “Elija longitud de clave 2048 (Grado Alto)”. After you’re done, click on “Enviar petición” and after a few minutes you’ll receive a following message:
Print this message and head towards one of the state registrar offices (list №1 и list №2), where you need to show the message and your ID documents (NIE & passport) to a public employee. Tax authority and social security offices require an appointment. Santa Cruz residents are attended without appointment in Subdelegación del Gobierno situated next to the Town Hall. The whole process takes a couple of minutes, and by the time you get back to your PC, a new message will be awaiting you:
The final step, or the actual digital certificate installation on you PC – can be done either by clicking on the e-mail link “Descarga de su certificado de Persona Física”, or from the RM webpage by clicking on step 4 (see photo above). Once the following window opens, you once again enter your NIE number, last name and a temporary key and press the “Descargar Certificado” button. From this moment on your digital certificate is installed on your PC and can be used for most e-gov procedures.