For members


How to save lots of time on official matters through Spain’s online [email protected] system

If you want to avoid Spain’s dreaded “cita previa” appointment system, here’s what you need to know about the [email protected] digital certificate options that will allow you to handle official matters from home.

How to save lots of time on official matters through Spain's online Cl@ve system

Bureaucracy is undoubtedly one of the aspects of life in Spain foreigners find hardest to deal with, even if they’ve been living in the country for years and speak fluent Spanish.

The requirement of having a prior appointment (cita previa) for pretty much every official public process, the convoluted government websites and the blasé attitude of many civil servants makes it hard to get things done quick and efficiently.

Fortunately, there’s been a push towards the digitisation of bureaucratic matters in recent years, meaning that there’s a growing number of “trámites” (processes) that can be carried out online.

Currently the main ways to access the Spain’s national and regional departments electronically are the digital certificate (certificado digital), the [email protected] Pin, the permanent [email protected] and the autosignature (AutoFirma).

That’s right, they could’ve kept it simple with just one system, but instead there are four, and Spanish nationals also have the DNIe at their disposal.

Unfortunately, these rather generic, similar sounding names are what makes it complicated from the start to know what each one does or which one’s best.

In this article we will explain Spain’s [email protected] system in depth, as the temporary key (clave) and the permanent “clave” allow you to complete most of the digital processes available in Spain right now (stay tuned for future explainers on the other digital options mentioned above).

What’s Spain’s [email protected] system?

It’s a digital signature system which allows you to do all kind of official processes safely from the comfort of your home, and a way for the government to know it’s actually you, as you won’t be going into the office in person for them to identify you.

One code can be used for everything from filing your tax returns and plenty more fiscal matters, to applying for unemployment aid or other subsidies and paying for traffic fines.

Both the the [email protected] Pin and the permanent [email protected] are fully integrated into the [email protected] system and fullfill the same purposes.

READ ALSO: 25 official matters you can do online in Spain

What’s the Permanent [email protected]?

The “[email protected] Permanente” is pretty much what it sounds like, a password system that’s valid for a long period of time (although not permanent the government website clarifies) which is suited for people doing lots of official processes online often.

It works with a username (your NIE, foreign ID number) and a password which only you must know, plus an extra level of security which comes in the form of an SMS sent to your phone. This system also you to access a cloud-based signature.

What’s the [email protected] PIN?

It’s a temporary [email protected] password system valid for a short period of time, intended for users who use do these online processes more sporadically.

In this case the system is based on username or ID code that you choose but with a PIN code that you’re sent every time you start a session, and which will always be different, so need to memorise or write down any passwords in this case.

Image: Biljana Jovanovic/Pixabay 

How can I register for [email protected]?

To get either [email protected] PIN or the permanent [email protected], first you have to register in the [email protected] system.
Start by going the English language version website of [email protected] here

If you don’t have a digital certificate, which is what we’ll presume in this explainer, you will have to click on “Registrarse en [email protected]” and enter your NIE and the support system.

This is an obstacle for some foreign residents in Spain as the “número de soporte” doesn’t always work when added (check here to find out where to look for the support number on your residency document) 

Some foreign residents have commented on Citizens Advice Bureau that adding a C and a 0 (zero) before the number has worked for them whereas Spain’s tax authority says that you should contact the national police to revise and update the information of your card.

According to the Agencia Tributaria, the support number consists of 8 numbers preceded by the letter E.

If you’re successful you will be asked to enter your date of birth and your fiscal address, then you will be able to request the Letter of Invitation.

Once you receive the letter, you will find it includes a Secure Verification Code (CSV) that’s made up a total 16 numbers and uppercase letters.

This will allow you to continue with step 2, where you will need to access the “registrarse en [email protected]” page again, fill in the same details as before and check the option “I already have an invitation letter” before pressing the “Continue” button.

Then you will have to fill in the 16-character Secure Verification Code (CSV) and once it has been validated, type in the mobile phone and email to complete the registration process.

You’ll get a confirmation message saying that you’ve been registered and to remember the pin codes obtained.

Alternatively, if this process still seems to complicated or you run into problems, you always register for the [email protected] in person, at one of the various registration offices.

Social security offices, tax departments and regional citizen advice buildings often offer help with this service, but as you may have guessed already, you’ll need a cita previa (pre-booked appointment).

Find out where your closest government office to do this here.

You must show your NIE, provide your mobile phone number and an email address.

When you have your appointment, double check that the civil servant has filled in your details correctly as there are often typos with foreign names.

How do I get a [email protected] PIN?

Download the app available for iOS and Android, you’ll have to activate it following the steps given. After that, you can view the PIN obtained from the web on your mobile device. Here is the link to the app and instructions in Spanish. 

These are the steps you have to follow:

1) Fill in your NIE/DNI number. 

2) Select the button that says ‘Utilizar la App [email protected] PIN para obtener el PIN (recomendado)’. 

3) Fill the date of issue for your NIE/DNI, as well as the expiration date, if you have one. 

4) Click on ‘Deseo personalizar la generación del PIN’ which translates as ‘I want to customise the generation of the PIN’. Then you’ll be able to choose the 4 characters which will make up your [email protected], together with your PIN. Next click ‘Obtener PIN’ or ‘Obtain PIN’. 

5) A notice will be displayed in the browser informing you that the PIN is available. You’ll then get a notification from the app letting you know that everything has been performed correctly. For security reasons, you’ll have to put in the pattern or code to unlock your phone, after which your PIN will appear, followed by its validity time. 

6) To enter the app now, you must put in your PIN and login to identify yourself. 

You must use the PIN you have received to access the system before 10 minutes is up. If you have not accessed [email protected] within that time, you will have to request a new PIN. Once identified via your PIN, your can access the services that [email protected] allows until you disconnect from the Electronic Office or close your browser. 

How can I get a permanent [email protected]

If you want to be permanently registered for [email protected], because you need frequent access to the system, you can do this by following these steps:

1) To activate your [email protected] as a permanent user, you must access the activation service where you will be asked to enter your username (your DNI or NIE), your email address and the activation code that you received when you registered. If you have forgotten your code or need a new one, you can regenerate it by clicking on ‘Regenerar código de activación de [email protected] Permanente’.  

2) If they are correct, the system will send you an SMS with a single-use numeric code (One Time Password, OTP) that you must type in the corresponding field. If it is correct, the system will allow you to set the password you prefer, as long as it complies with minimum security characteristics. This password will be the one you will have to use from now on every time an electronic administration service requests it.

You can also unsubscribe from the permanent [email protected] using your password, whenever you want. 


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For members


EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about cannabis clubs in Spain

Spain’s cannabis clubs are appealing for many foreign residents and tourists, but there are many misconceptions about them. Are they really legal? How do you find and join them? Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis clubs in Spain.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about cannabis clubs in Spain

In the past, Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops attracted cannabis users from across the world.

But a recent crackdown in the Dutch capital has led many to search for new places to enjoy a smoke and some weed-themed tourism.

In the last few years, Spain has emerged as another destination for travelling ‘stoners’, as well as a place where foreign residents can indulge without fear of ending up in jail.

The existence of cannabis clubs, or rather, associations – asociaciones cannábicas as they’re known in Spanish – is a draw for many, although they are often as misunderstood as the law on cannabis in Spain more broadly.

These aren’t simply shops that sell cannabis, or bars you can stroll up to and buy a joint from.

Rather, they are highly regulated, often secretive places that exist in a legal grey area. If you are interested in visiting one, whether on holiday or if you already live in Spain, there’s some rules you should know about.

The Local has broken down everything you need to know about cannabis clubs in Spain.

The law

First things first, what’s the law on cannabis in Spain in a broad sense? 

Although there is some confusion among tourists, cannabis use in Spain is not legalised but decriminalised.

It is not illegal to smoke weed in your own home, or in other private property such as an association.

Attitudes to personal consumption are relatively lax in Spain, generally speaking, given that it is done on private property.

READ ALSO: What’s the law on cannabis in Spain?

Simply put: Spanish weed laws make the distinction between personal consumption in a public space and personal consumption in private.

Many foreigners don’t realise that it is illegal to smoke outdoors or in the street, as they may have seen locals or tourists smoking on a park bench, at a bar terrace or down at the beach. But this is illegal and, if you’re caught, punishable by fines. You’ll also have your stash seized by the police.

In fact, even possession in public is illegal. So, if you are stopped by the police for whatever reason and are carrying some cannabis with you, even if you’re not smoking it, you could be subject to a fine and will at the very least have your stash taken.

Cannabis clubs and associations

One legal loophole that exists in Spain is that of its famous ‘asociaciones cannábicas’. These are private member’s clubs where you can consume cannabis within the confines of the property.

Cannabis clubs are non-profit organisations created within the ‘right of association’ contained in Article 22 of the Spanish Constitution and the Organic Law 1/2002.

Cannabis clubs are usually set up to be like bars with music, and often have pool and foosball tables.

It is worth noting, however, that because of the legal ambiguity of these clubs, membership is not entirely risk-free and some are occasionally subject to seizure by police who try to exploit the legal grey area. 

In Catalonia – the capital of cannabis clubs in Spain, where 70 percent of Spain’s clubs are located – Catalonia’s Superior Court recently ruled against them.

A member of the Sibaratas Med Can Club rolling a joint in Mogán on the southwest coast of Gran Canaria. Photo: DESIREE MARTIN/AFP

How to find them

As they exist in a sort of legal loophole, cannabis clubs are understandably low-key. You won’t see them advertised as you walk down the street, and often you won’t even find an address online.

In order to find one, you’ll need to do a bit of research. Search online for clubs in your area and you should find some listed. Some will have a phone number you can call, others just an email address, and you’ll need to make an appointment in order to visit. 

In terms of physically finding the clubs, some are particularly secretive and refuse to give out the address via email or over the phone. In some cases, you’ll be given the name of a street and sent the exact address or building once you’ve arrived. The clubs can be discreet and hidden, so don’t expect a huge marijuana leaf or Bob Marley flag to guide you there.

READ ALSO: Pharmacies in Spain will be able to sell medical marijuana by the end of 2022

How to join

In order to join, often you’ll have to be introduced or referred by a current member. In some clubs, membership is by referral only, so if you’re just hoping to pop in on holiday it won’t be possible. Often these are the more local clubs for Spaniards and residents.

The clubs that do accept tourists will sometimes require you to make an appointment. Once you’ve found the place and arrived, you’ll need take the following documents to most clubs:

– Passport or ID

– Address (if you’re a tourist, the address of an AirBnB or friend’s house is often accepted, but not hotels)

– Membership fee (this depends on the club but is usually an annual fee of around €25 to €100)

It is worth noting that this membership fee, legally speaking, is not to pay for cannabis, but rather for your membership of the association and right to be a member – socio in Spanish.

How does it work?

So, you’re registered and now a socio. How does it work?

Cannabis clubs operate somewhat similarly to coffee shops in Amsterdam, or dispensaries in the United States, in that you enter and there’s staff working who can explain and recommend the different strains, types, and prices on offer.

You are then free to relax and smoke in the club, and make use of whatever facilities this club has. Most have a bar, TV screens, some of have pool tables and games consoles.


A cannabis club worker displays different varieties of marijuana that she sells. (Photo by ROBYN BECK / AFP)

The rules

Often the rules depend on each individual club. 

Generally speaking, the rules are as follows:

  • Photos aren’t allowed.
  • Guests are allowed, but usually have to be signed in with photo ID, and members have limits on how many and how often they can bring non-member guests.
  • No underage guests.
  • Limits on how much you can take from the dispensary (daily/weekly/monthly).
  • You can’t take your cannabis with you when you leave, technically speaking (more on that below).

Leaving the premises 

Now, here’s where things can get a little complicated. Remember the law on cannabis in Spain? Legal to smoke in private, but illegal to smoke (or even have on your person) in public?

Often when you join a club, the staff will tell you that you can only smoke your cannabis in the club and that you mustn’t take it outside the premises. Some are a little more relaxed, and say if you want to do that it is your decision – meaning basically that you’re on your own once you have left.

That means that, thanks to quirks of the Spanish legal system, you can legally smoke cannabis inside the association and in your own home, but walking between the two places with cannabis (possession alone, not smoking) is illegal.

Does it make sense? Not entirely. Is it the law? Yes. Cannabis clubs exist to try and create safe, legal spaces for people to enjoy smoking cannabis together, so it is recommended you use your discretion not to attract attention to the club or cause undue legal problems for it. 

Simply put, the moment you step foot outside the association with cannabis on your person you are breaking Spanish law and putting the association at risk. In Spain the founders of some clubs have even gone to prison.

Note, it has also been known that plain-clothes police officers at times hang around outside popular associations and stop people coming and going in order to fine them. In Spain, fines (multas) for cannabis possession in public can cost you up to €600.

In any case, weigh up your options depending on where you are in Spain, ask yourself how likely is it that you will be stopped by police on your way home, and consider carrying a bag or Tupperware in a rucksack which will make the smell of the cannabis you’ve bought less pungent and noticeable.