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Why you need a digital certificate

Why you need a digital certificate

Have you got your electronic signature yet? If not, then get a move on! Everyone will need one soon. Spanish government agencies are insisting that we interact with them online, and it’s about time too! Do you remember all those bar codes and printed forms? Now you can forget them! But to be able to sign online forms with the same legal enforceability as a handwritten signature, you need an electronic signature that identifies you and stops anyone else from tampering with the contents.

I obtained my electronic signature from my local council a few years ago, and it’s been invaluable. I just had to take along my NIE certificate and fill in a form. The clerk then issued a form with a number and I downloaded the certificate from a website. This expired after two years, and I received an alert from the certificate issuer and easily renewed it. There are several types of certificate available, such as CERES (Certificación Española) which verifies and guarantees communications among citizens, companies and other institutions. It is administered by the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre (the Spanish Mint).

If you are self-employed, then there are numerous services available to you when you have a digital certificate. Firstly, you can sign forms and other electronic documents very easily over the internet. You can also issue electronic invoices, saving trips to the post office or the need to deliver bills personally. You can also carry out formalities at any time of the day or night, which has to be better than queuing at local government offices.

The certificate can be used in ministries and state and regional public agencies, your local council and private bodies such as professional associations, universities, etc. It will save you money (my tax accountant charges a minimum €18 for doing even the smallest jobs, which I can do myself in two minutes with my certificate). For example, you can download forms, check and change your registered address, submit your tax statement, pay taxes, request postponements, answer claims and requests and obtain certificates.

When it comes to the Social Security, it is well on its way to becoming 100% digital. Armed with your certificate, can get the record of your working life, change your address, check your pension situation, get duplicate documents and change your contributions with your digital certificate, as well as many other important formalities. The Ministry of Work and Immigration will also allow you to request and process benefits, publish and manage job offers, and the Spanish Patent and Mark Office accepts applications for trade names and industrial design registrations.

For more information, see https://www.sede.fnmt.gob.es/en/certificados/persona-fisica

Juliet Allaway

Written by editor