This is the most common experience of any expat in Madrid. It has happened to me three times. Obviously prevention is better than cure but I think it’s one of those baptisms by fire or initiation into life in Madrid.
Remember, Madrid is home to numerous pickpockets operating in the central areas like Sol, Gran Via and all over the metro. The pickpockets are known to police as here if you steal something under €400 it’s not considered a crime, all you get is a slap on the risk. Hence, pickpockets are rife and highly active. There was a case where one thief was caught 400 times in a year!
On a positive note, violent robberies is very rare and armed robberies even less common. Spain is considered a very safe country to live.
I’ve seen people be incredibly careless with their possessions.
Here are my tips to avoid getting pickpocketed:
- NEVER leave your bag unattended
- NEVER leave your bag on back of your chair
- NEVER leave your mobile phone on the table in a restaurant or on a bar.
- ALWAYS keep your wallet in your front pocket or your bag zipped and in front of you.
- ALWAYS take your bag to the bathroom with you and don’t leave it with your friends.
So the worst has happened, you’ve been pickpocketed… you’ve lost your cards, your TIE / NIE, abono transporte or whatever valuables you had in your wallet.What to do next?
Word of warning: as you may well know most funcionarios don’t speak English, a lot of these complex steps will require a decent level of Spanish as even the government websites are completely in Spanish too.
Here is a step by step guide.
1. Call your bank and cancel your cards. Many international banks will offer emergency codes that can be used in a cash machine to take out emergency cash. Unfortunately in Spain the banks are still behind with the times and you have to call your bank to cancel and order a new card and the only way you can take money out is by going to a physical bank with a form of ID to withdraw cash.
2. Go to the police. You will need to file a report with the details of the incident. This paper is essential as it’s the only way you can get a new identity card. If you’re lucky this might be a painless experience, for good measure, bring a Spanish speaking friend if you don’t have a good level of Spanish. Often police don’t speak English. You can also do an online denuncia to save the waiting time at the station, here is the link:
3. Once you’ve obtained your police report which is issued on the spot you can apply for an appointment for a new identity document at this link:
4. To get a new abono transporte go to one of the offices listed here. They will deactivate your card and transfer your balance to a new card and issue one on the spot. It costs about 9 euros. Remember to present your police report and another form of ID such as your passport.
If you apply by post it can take up to five days to send you a new card. Make sure you free up lots of time as there might be a wait.
5. If your identity card has your photo and current address it’s important to notify the police and your bank. A student of mine had her wallet stolen recently and someone tried to go to her bank and commit identity fraud to extract money from her bank account. Luckily the bank teller was vigilant and noticed something was wrong or her bank account could have been cleared out.
6. Tasa 790. The police will give you a form and tell you the amount of tax you need to pay. You need to go to any bank and present your ID and the form and make the payment in cash. You will receive a justificante or proof of payment which you need to present to the identity card office. This needs to be presented at your appointment.
The tasa for non-EU residents is around 21 euros but ask the police who give you the form to specify the quantity. For EU residents it’s 10.70 euros.
You can fill in the form and print it out here:
7. Before your appointment to get a duplicate of your identity card make 4 copies of everything. You will need:
- Copies of your passport, front and back pages and for some non-eu resident a copy of every page or your passport.
- Copies of your identity card if you have it
- Copies of formula EX15 for and EX17 for
- Proof of payment (justificante) for the tax applicable for the new card Tasa 790 found here
- Copies of your empadronamiento
- Copies of your social security number or registration
- Passport photos if you’re non-EU.
For non-EU residents the office you have to go to is in Avenida de Poblados near Aluche metro and Cercanías station. They don’t accept people who haven’t made an appointment. Be prepared as you might have to wait in the sun as the waiting room is outside and you have to line up like cattle to a slaughterhouse while they let a small number of people in and out.
For EU citizens the office you have to go to is in Avenida de Padre Piquer 18 near acampamento metro.
The option you must choose to get this particular office is “CNP Certificados UE”. Any other option will direct you to the wrong office, I learnt this the hard way!
You must make an appointment online before going as none of these offices will take people without appointments.
8. On the day of the appointment
Go early and have all your documents ready. Even though you’ve made an appointment it’s often done on a first come and first served basis. Be prepared that they may try to catch you out by asking for copies of documents you didn’t bring. Bring EVERYTHING PLUS COPIES!
Worst comes to worse you might be asked to make another appointment and come back. But if all goes to plan you should get everything sorted.
For replacement TIE cards there is a waiting period of about a month and for EU residents they issue you with a certificate on the same day!
So there you have it! Good luck!!