Digital nomads comes from different regions of the world and timing regarding activities changes everywhere. I will make an effective résumé of the main activities you might be involved when staying or living here, specifically talking about my and community experiences in Gran Canaria.
Getting a NIE
Depending on where you are staying it will take more time in big cities, like Las Palmas, compared to smaller ones. Once you call or make the online reservation (online or by phone) your appointment will be in the next 15 to 30 days. Bringing the appropriate documents is key to avoid having to make another booking! Once at the office the NIE card will be issued on the spot or 1-2 days after.
Mobile phone contract
You can get a pay-as-you-go or contract simcard both online or at the providers shop (Movistar, Orange, Yoigo, Vodafone etc). If you order online it will take around 7-9 days for the SIM to arrive but often online offers are more advantageous.
I suggest to check the main providers offers online which are always better compared to those at the shop. Once signed the contract the company will send someone to check your fiber line (if you have it) and install the service. It will take around 4-15 days for the whole process. Remember that even if the provider says online that your house is reached by fiber it might not be true. Always ask your neighbors if they have fiber, in this way you’ll know if the right cables arrive in your street.
Opening a personal bank account
If you do it online it’s quite fast to open a bank account for personal use and within 3-5 days you will be able to operate. If you need a bank account for immediate use I suggest N26 which is online only but has a great user experience app and great support plus their debit and credit cards are all supported by Google and Apple Pay.
Opening a business bank account
When speaking about business we have to remember that if you are an autonomo you are able to use your own bank account for business purpose or, for practical reasons, you might choose to open another bank account. In both cases timings are similar to the personal accounts. If you open an SL or SA things get more complicated, usually it takes 2-3 weeks to open a position for these entities. Personally I got extremely unlucky and it took me 2 months to open a bank account plus 3 months in total to receive 1 credit and 1 debit card.
As you can expect it was a big problem not being able to operate for such long time, so I got suggested to open a Wise (ex Transferwise) business account (paying a small fee) which got operating in 24 hours, connected to my company and allowed me to make payments. Please remember that not all online banks have deals with the Spanish government so in most cases you will not be able to pay company taxes which is key.
Recently N26 Business accounts have been allowed tax payments so you should take it in consideration.
Operating at a physical bank branch
Sometimes you might have to physically go to a bank. Take your time for that! I suggest going in the early hours 15 mins before opening times if you want to be in queue for only 10-15 mins. Otherwise make sure to have 20-40 mins to be served.
Going to the bank is very popular in Canary Islands and most institutes are closing lots of branches.
Registering your foreign car
Bringing your car from a foreign country might be an option. You will probably find an agency for the complex bureaucracy parts you don’t want to get involved into. Mainly the company will make sure the car is legal for being imported to Spain (you can’t import a car with GLP for instance!), arrange the appointment with ITV for the official car check, arrange the plates. Between documents (7 days), ITV appointment (5-7 days), plates (1-2 days) I would reserve at least 3 weeks for the whole process.
Registering with a doctor
It is quite easy once you are employed in Spain or open your own company. You will be given a paper that states you are paying Social Security. With that paper you can take an appointment online, by phone, or in person with the closest Centro de Salud. Usually within a week you will be registered. Remember, the Centro de Salud office will probably tell you to come another day to get your card (like 3-4 days later). They only don’t want to print it on the spot because they are “tired”. Ask them to do it, they have the card printing machine behind their desk.
Taking a doctor appointment for residents
It is very easy, you can do it online or by phone on the address/numbers provided once registered. You can even choose the exact time of the day for a phone call or appointment in person. Usually within 1-3 days you’ll be able to see your doctor. Of course it depends on how busy they are but the whole system is quite flexible.
Contracting electricity and water
It is very easy and you do it online, within 7-10 days you will have the confirmation or a request for more documents but the whole procedure will be quite neat.
Contracting electricity for the first time for a building
For this process it takes a lot of time. The local cables provider (E-distribución) needs 1 month to come and see how to proceed to connect the building. After 2-3 weeks they will issue a document stating the connection for your engineer. Once the engineer has completed the project (2-4 weeks) and the electrician has ordered the main connection equipment (it takes 1 month to receive it), finished the installation and documentation (1-3 weeks) you will be able to ask for the connection which will take 1-6 months. So in general expect between 4 and 10 months to connect electricity.
Asking for a quote (presupuesto)
This aspect might astonish most of Nordic people. In Canary Islands asking for a quote takes quite some time. Personally I had to ask for dozens of quotes and the overall timing has always been the same. There are very few exceptions of good professionals that answer you in 1-2 days. Most of them need 1-2 weeks for any quote. From a complex electrical installation quote, to a dishwasher one, it takes a lot of time so I suggest to ask for a quote and after 2 days send a reminder, and after other 2 days send another one. Locals don’t forget because they don’t want to sell, simply it works like this here. Sometimes I receive quotes months after I asked, even for tools or services worth thousands of euros.
My overall suggestion is multiplying by 2 any delivery or service time you are told. If you are told it will take 2 weeks to finish a job it will be 4 in 90% of the times.