How to apply for a Spanish Criminal Record Certificate

If you are applying for a Visa, either to Spain or another country, you may need to provide a Spanish Criminal Record Certificate if have you lived in Spain for longer than 6 months during the past 5 years. Due to unfortunate bureaucratic circumstances in Andalucía in 2011, after my first year as an auxiliar I was unable to extend my NIE, which forced me to reapply for a Visa in the US in order to return to Spain for a second year. In this case, I was required to provide this background check.

Fortunately, the process is not too tedious if the steps are followed correctly.

Where do I apply?
Visit, specifically here. Read this very carefully, attention to detail is key.
An English version is available here. The English version helped me understand confusing parts of the Spanish version, however it is missing many details only included in the Spanish version, so be sure to read both.

I was told you can apply online, however the link on their website did not work. So I was forced to Express Mail my documents to Spain following the steps posted on their website.

What documents do I need to send?
1. A 790 application form. Download and fill this out in black ink, all capital letters.
2. A receipt of your BBVA wire money transfer. Google search a BBVA Compass bank in your area. For the year of 2011, the fee that you will need to wire is 3.54 Euros. The details of the Account Number and Account Holder for this wire transfer are located in the link above. This receipt needs to be included in the documents you send to Spain as proof you paid the fee.
3. A copy of your passport or form of identity. Make sure this form of identity is current! My mistake in this process was that I sent a copy of my NIE from the past year that had expired. Thus, I received my paperwork back in the mail announcing that because my form of identity had expired, the whole application was void. I also had this copy of my NIE card certified by having it notarized, although I’m not sure if that was necessary.

Send your documents Express Mail to:
Central Office of Citizen Services of the Ministry of Justice
Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, 3
28071- Madrid.

Although it costs $29 for Express Mail at the post office, I recommend it to make sure these documents will arrive quickly and efficiently to the Madrid office. As I mentioned, my attempt was unsuccessful in this process, but it took exactly 2 weeks to receive a reply in the mail from them, so it appears they stay true to the timeline listed on their website of processing the form within 3-10 business days.

An exception was made for my Visa in the last minute, so I did not have to repeat the application, but anybody who succeeds in this process, please comment here about any discrepancies or details that I have missed.

Good luck!

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3 Responses to How to apply for a Spanish Criminal Record Certificate

  1. avatar Paulo says:

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your valuable info. I also met the problem like you as my paperwork was sent back because they said I have no a valid visa. What does it mean because I have lived in Spain for 4 years and never come back there? I am a Taiwanese citizen.

    If I want to apply this certificate, how can I do that apply a new visa? what’s the form of identity I need here?

    Thanks so much for your help!

  2. Hi Paulo

    We are living in Alicante and must request a Criminal Report. Our NIE is expired so planning on sending in a copy of our passport. Do we have to have the passport certified in some way or is a copy sufficient?



  3. avatar Ryan says:

    Hi all!

    I had a similar situation: I had lived in Spain 2 years prior to returning and had had a visa. I was applying from San Francisco, and completely forgot that I might need a background check from Spain along with the other mound of documents. The horror! It was the day of my appointment with the consulate, one month before I was supposed to leave.

    Lucky for me, they said that it would be better to wait until I was in Spain to get that done, so that I could do that at the same time I applied for by residency card. That was just my experience though, and it could depend on the consulate agent you’re working with.

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