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NIE Barcelona: How I Got My NIE Number & Residencia Fast

NIE Barcelona: How I Got My NIE Number & Residencia Fast

NIE Barcelona 2018 – How I got my NIE number & Residencia quickly in Spain


In this post I’ll telly you how I was able to get a NIE number in Barcelona and how I got past the obstacles the system threw in my way. Like many of you readers right now, I was going through the gruelling bureaucracy of trying to get a NIE number and my resident status or “residencia” in Barcelona just recently. As you probably know, all of those EU nationals that plan to stay in Spain for over three months required to sign into the Registry Central de Extranjeros by law. This means that you should get yourself that green, little card, if you plan to stay in Spain for longer than 3 months.

Once given a little green card, you will also have your own Numero de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE), which translates to Foreign Identity Number. As you can imagine, also I was struggling to find recent information online on how to get this piece of green paper with numbers on it.


  • I used Google’s time tools to find new posts and articles searching “NIE Barcelona”.
  • I tried to read only those articles that had been written within the past year, but I wasted a huge amount of time following old links leading to outdated information.
  • I read through numerous posts online and spent way too much researching how I could get a NIE as fast as possible.
  • Most articles I read through were about Spanish rules that have already expired.

That is exactly why I want to give you most recent information on how you can get through the process, like I did. 

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Cita NIE Barcelona – Do They Even Exist?


They do, but if you need to get your appointment fast, read this first to stop wasting time:

Here is what did NOT work for me when getting an appointment in Spanish

1. I tried to book an appointment online, also known as CITA NIE or Cita Previa. I kept visiting their website (link to the Barcelona NIE City Previa service is at the bottom of this page), but the issue was that there just were no appointments available. It wasn’t a matter of not having appointments left for this week, this month or even this year. There were just no NIE Cita Previa appointments for Barcelona in the system at all! I kept getting this error message: “En este momento no hay citas disponibles. En breve, la oficina pondrá a su disposición nuevas citas.”


2. I had read that you need to try to book your appointment at exactly 8 am, as the appointments would be released then. This did not work for me, there just were no appointments for NIE numbers available, ever. When we decided to move to Barcelona, we didn’t think the biggest challenge would not be finding an affordable apartment that we liked or arranging our moving boxes all the way to Spain from Malta. The NIE application was beginning to look like a monster that we would just have to tackle face on, although our odds were slim!


3. Some articles I saw suggested that I would have only a 2 minute window during the whole week to get an appointment – this would be 8:00 – 8:02. Some claimed the window would be at midnight at 00:00 while other sites tell you need to try at noon. None of these times worked for me. But just imagine how much coffee I was putting into my system! Going to bed after midnight and not getting sleep for all the stress… Then getting up with the alarm at 07:45 to get disappointed once again. I was beginning to believe these “Cita NIE Barcelona” nightmares that featured a certain office at Rambla Guispuscoa 74, were going to haunt me forever. In these nightmares the Oficina de Extranjeria Barcelona would mystically close its doors and relocate to the Himalayas when I was about to go in for my NIE number appointment.


4. Some of the sites I found online advice you to have a booking app ready and try getting the appointment through the app and the website simultaneously. This has to be done exactly when the Cita Previas are released in the system. Apparently the app is only available for Samsung devices, so as an iPhone user I was nowhere near the goal. I have gotten feedback from a reader that she had luck with the app twice – as you can save your details on the app and keep refreshing over and over, you stand a much better chance of booking a NIE appointment than going through the website.

5. In the past, people have been able to get a NIE without a Cita Previa. Many have travelled to nearby towns like Badalona or Girona early in the morning. On a few expat groups on Facebook I was advised to get to the Badalona police station for 5 in the morning. If you get there around 6 and you are number 11 in the line, you won’t get seen the whole day and you have to keep getting up after 3 in the morning until you succeed. This turned out to be a massive pile of rubbish. Someone from the same Facebook group travelled all the way from Barcelona to the Badalona police station and waited there from 5am onwards, only to be given an appointment for two weeks later. Apparently the authorities found out about the practice of Barcelona residents travelling over to their side and cut this option out of the limited pool of options of us expats.

How I finally got a NIE Barcelona appointment


We were running out of time, as we were also spending too much time apartment hunting at the same time. I turned to 3 agents that deal with NIE Barcelona queries and who take you through the whole appointment at the Oficina de Extranjeria Barcelona. The prices of their services were all pretty much on the same level, around 90€. As we were in a rush to secure a cita previa, I proceeded with the first agent that answered on a Sunday night. I was so thankful for getting the same day email reply on a weekend evening and it really lifted my moods from the dumps back to hopeful. I sent the agency the details of my passport – my name and the passport number. The payment was to be made after the NIE appointment. Now it looked like having the little green card in my hands was turning into reality!

My appointment was scheduled to be in 2 weeks based on my own availability, which was fine, as we were heading out of the country anyway. Soon we got some Cita NIE Barcelona documents to fill out online, which didn’t take me more than 5 minutes. We were also referred to a great insurance broker, who gave me a call on WhatsApp soon after and explained everything I needed to know about our health insurance options. If you are applying for the NIE with a job offer in hand, you don’t need to worry about a private health insurance, like I did.

On the day of my NIE Barcelona appointment, the agent turned up with filled out forms that I had seen online in the past, when I had been doing my research. Having him do all of the necessary paperwork was a massive weight off my shoulders, as these documents were all in Spanish. I was very concerned was that I could accidentally leave important information out. Now I didn’t have to concern myself with any of these worries and I could focus on more important things, like booking house viewings in my spare time. Actually house hunting had turned out to be another nightmare, which inspired me to write this post: Use these digital tricks to bust an apartment scam. Barcelona is full of scammers that try to steal your rent deposit and run with it, so don’t get fooled by these incredibly resourceful and clever criminals!

My Cita Previa at Rambla Guispucoa 74 – how my appointment went


We met outside the Oficina de Extranjeria Barcelona, which is located at Rambla Guispucoa 74. As standing outside the police station is not allowed for security reasons (the guards will tell you that), I waited in the pedestrian lane in the middle of the road. We had scheduled to meet at 8:00 with the but in fact the appointment was actually for 12 o’clock. Regardless, once the doors were opened exactly at 8, I and the NIE agent were first in line. It was great being there with him, as I watched other applicants trying to work out which queue they needed to be in. The correct line for those applicants with a Cita Previa (appointment in Spanish) was on the left hand side. Everyone else, who came without an appointment had to queue on the right.

We were the first ones to be given a number and after a couple of minutes wait, our turn was up. The whole appointment was in Spanish and the agent kept handing my documents over to the lady behind the desk. I found the whole appointment actually quite nice, as I trusted that the agent knew what he was doing. I didn’t have any concerns over my paperwork – they had been filled out carefully by a pro that speaks Spanish, understands the process and does this every single day. I knew things were going well when the lady reached out for a green paper card and printed my details on it.

And how long did my appointment take?

We were out of the Oficina de Extranjeria Barcelona exactly at 08:06. This was quite impressive, given that we had agreed to meet outside just before eight. Next I’ll walk you through the frequently asked questions so keep reading! 


NIE Barcelona - view


NIE Barcelona FAQ – These answers have been confirmed with a NIE agent


Can I get a temporary NIE?

  • There was lots of outdated information online regarding temporary NIE numbers. These don’t exist anymore (this was confirmed by my NIE agent). Applicants should now be added to the permanent system. This means that you should have a written job offer in hand when you walk into your NIE appointment, unless you intend to show them that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in Spain. I will tell you more about this below.


If I can’t get a Cita Previa, can I live in Spain without a NIE number?

NIE will be required if you plan to stay in Spain for 3 months or more. This also stands if you are an EU citizen. It is also needed to do any of the following:

  • Opening a bank account with some banks (see exceptions below)
  • Getting salary from your employer
  • Registering as a freelancer (autónomo)
  • Starting a business
  • Getting utilities accounts, such as electricity, water and an internet connection for your home
  • Paying tax
  • To become eligible to get a loan
  • Getting a driver’s license
  • Applying for social security benefits
  • Registering with the social services
  • Buying or selling a property and getting an insurance to that property
  • Getting a Bicing card that you can use to rent bicycles all year round for very low cost


Which documents do I need to get a NIE in Spain if intend to prove I can support myself financially and I don’t have a job offer?


  • The original health insurance policy, signed by the insurer
  • A letter from your bank, stating that your balance is at least 6 000 euros. This document should be recent and not older than 2-3 days
  • A tax document, stamped by the bank. This will cost you 10,60€.
  • Your passport and a photocopy
  • A receipt for paying your NIE tax at a bank. This should be done before your appointment. This is why I recommend using an agent – their company provided me with the tax papers so I could easily walk in and out of my Cita Previa NIE appointment in Barcelona


Do I need to prove I have money in my bank account if I have a job offer?

  • No you don’t and this is probably the best way for most applicants to apply for their NIE


Do I need a private health insurance if I have a job offer?

  • No, you should be covered within the public system but it’s good to check with your employer


Do I need a permanent address to apply for NIE?

No you don’t, as nothing will be sent to your address. Some use the address of their hotel, others their AirBnB or a friend’s address.


If I get a private health insurance for the NIE purposes, what will it cover?

  • You can discuss the price plans with your insurers but as a rule of thumb you should have the full coverage with no excess if you want your NIE application to be accepted
  • Usually private health insurances don’t cover pre-existing conditions
  • Usually private health insurance kicks in with an un-written 6 month rule: within that time frame you can only make a claim for accidental incidences like trips, falls or other accidents. When you see the doctor, make sure you get a stamped document that says: “person X has been diagnosed with X that is due to an X type of accident, which could not have been prevented”. 
  • That’s why you should also have an EHIC card from your country, if you are a EU citizen. According to some forums, you can still visit the clinic and send them a picture of your EHIC card once you get it, if you had to see a doctor urgently but it was not covered by your private health insurance. My insurance broker gave me an example: a client was diagnosed with cancer in Spain a few weeks after the insurance policy came into effect. The insurance company denied the claim for the treatment costs as they didn’t think it was likely that a cancer was not a pre-existing condition that had already been diagnosed in another country. This person was able to get great care in the Spanish public health system with the help of his EHIC card.
  • After 6 months with a private health insurance, they tend to get a bit more flexible with your claims


If I am to apply for NIE based on proving that I can afford to support myself without a job in Spain, how much money do I have to have on my bank account?

I was told to have 6 000 euros on my bank account. This could be a joint account with your partner (however we didn’t apply the NIE at the same time).


How do I prove I have these funds on my bank account?

You need a stamped letter from your bank. My bank tried to order me some kind of a certificate from the head office that would have cost 12€ and taken 4 days to do. This is unnecessary – a printed balance is sufficient as long as it is stamped by the bank.


What if I have under 6 000 euros on my Spanish bank account?

A small variation should be ok, when you plan to prove your finances at your NIE Barcelona meeting. I was 15 euros short to begin with, until I had been able to squeeze the last missing cash into the account.


What is the best Spanish bank account for non residents?

I personally believe in Banco Sabadell. Their app is in English and also offers the finger print login option. Another major bank is La Caixa bank. It’s good to choose a big bank, as other banks can charge you 2€ or more for any cash withdrawals from an ATM that is not your own bank’s ATM.


Which bank in Barcelona has English speaking staff?

Go to Banco Sabadell at Atlantico, Calle Muntaner 242, Barcelona. They are very familiar with expats and know what will be required to get the NIE. You can open your non-resident bank account without NIE, which is helpful, considering your circumstances! Make sure you go early as most banks close at 2pm for the rest of the day!


Can I apply for a NIE by proving I have the financial means to support myself and then accept a job offer or start freelancing?

Yes, as people’s circumstances change


Are you looking for travel insurance, flights or hotels? 

Here’s the partners I recommend. 


My favourite NIE and Residencia horror stories from readers

The cleaner saves the day


Someone recently commented this post with an experience of their own. This guy had travelled to the Oficina de Tramitació del DNI i del Passaport – Sant Feliu de Llobregat office. This trip was made in August 2017. He had got there at 8:15 and there were 15 others waiting to be seen. At 8:30 a police officer shouts something from the steps. Some visitors stay put whilst others head towards the door. At 9 sharp the doors are opened. Those asking for numero de NIE wait whilst those applying for a passport are prioritised. My reader is given number 3. Whereas numbers 1 and 2 are seen quickly, numbers 3 and 4 have to wait 3 hours. After 3 hours he tries to speak to someone about the appointment as it’d be nice to be able to use the bathroom too once in a while. With Google Translator in hand, he wasn’t able to work out what the answer may have been.


Finally it’s his turn. As the employee doesn’t speak a word of English, a cleaner is brought in to discuss the needs of the applicant. The cleaner translates that he is applying for the NIE for the first time. Luckily the employee then fills out most of the form on behalf of the applicant. Next, the cleaner steps in again to save the day by guiding the applicant to a photo booth in the town centre. A copy of the passport was taken and an invoice for something, what ever it was, was 2,70€. Next the photographer guided him to a bank nearby, where he paid 10€ for something. My guess is that it may have been the tax document. Returning to the police station, the applicant walked straight back to the desk of the lady he “spoke with” earlier without too much care for the waiting numbers.


Total: 5 hours spent and a massive need for a toilet break! 


This is by far one of my favourite NIE number stories. DreamWorkAndTravel congratulates this applicant for his perseverance as he is now a holder of that precious document! Do you have a crazy NIE story you would like to share with us? I would love to share it with my readers! Drop me a quick email from the “My Partners” page!

Empadronamiento Barcelona


I will soon apply for the Padrón from the city hall. I will of course let you know how it all went! The empadronamiento is a census and registering yourself on one is compulsory for anyone, who is planning to live in Spain for over 6 months of the year. There is no fee involved, which is good news!

Here’s a few frequently asked questions about the empladronamiento application process in 2018


Do I need padrón or empadronamiento?

You should apply for one if you are planning to do any of the following:

  • Applying for a health insurance card
  • Buying a car or another vehicle
  • Planning to get married
  • What documents do I need to get the empadronaimento in Spain?
You should bring these along, when applying for the padrón:


  • Your passport and a photo copy
  • NIE
  • A receipt for paying the rent
  • Proof of address, which can be any of the following: the original copy of your rental agreement that is written in either Spanish or Catalan. This tenancy agreement must be for over 6 months and it should have been signed within the last 5 years. If you own the property, you should bring the original copy of the title deeds, also known as “escritura”. If you only rent a room, you need a written document from the owner, stating that you live there. You also need a signed copy of his or her ID. If you wish, instead you can also bring along a “autorización expresa, which is a document signed by someone who is already registered at the same address. You will also need to take a signed copy of this person’s ID.


Good luck booking your NIE appointment in Barcelona! The site is entirely in Spanish too, which is convenient for us foreigners!

Still not sure about something regarding your NIE application? Then have a look at this official source


Other sources:

Policia Nacional

Ministerio del Interior

Oficina de Extranjeria de Barcelona


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Use these digital tricks to bust an apartment scam

Use these digital tricks to bust an apartment scam

Use these simple steps to catch an apartment scam


I am currently in the middle of apartment hunting and have already reported an apartment scam in Barcelona within the first couple of few weeks. A scammer attempted to rush me to sign without seeing an apartment also in New York. I have also learnt bitter lessons in London and Malta in the past, so I look out for common red flags. As I have experienced apartment scams first hand, but have also busted more than I can count, I want to help you by sharing my tricks to avoid these criminals.

Apartment scams occur incredibly frequently around the world, especially in the big cities. I have encountered dozens of fraud attempts of criminals in different countries, who try to exploit our vulnerability and desperation. Anyone desperate enough looking for a home is an easy target, and there are large sums of money involved in house deposits and “taking-off-the-market” fees. These high fees make an apartment scam a profitable business for a criminal gang.

However, I have a few digital tricks up my sleeve, which can help you find out if an advert is potentially an apartment scam. 


I’m going to show you how to bust an apartment scam with these simple steps

  • When you are approached by someone posing as the owner or an agent, check if the photos of the rooms have been used anywhere online before, to check if this is a potential apartment scam. This process anyone can use online is called “reverse image”.
  • If you use Google Chrome, simply right-click the image and select “Search Google for Image”. You will get Google’s search results of those websites where the image has been featured. For an alternative way to test the image, scroll down.


Checking with Google Chrome: right-click the image and select Search Google for Image

Checking with Google Chrome: right-click the image and select Search Google for Image


  • If this doesn’t work, go to:
  • Download the picture of the room on your computer. If you have an URL (online link) of the picture, you can also use that to check if you are dealing with a potential apartment scam
  • Upload the room picture on TinEye or paste the picture URL in the field


reverse image 1

Upload the photo or paste the link into this field


  • If this picture is someone else’s picture and it has been downloaded by fraudsters to use in their fake apartment ad, you will get a list of all of those websites, where this image has featured. See the example below.


I uploaded a stock photo of a picture frame to demonstrate what your search results look like, if the picture has been taken from somewhere online

I uploaded a stock photo of a picture frame to demonstrate what your search results look like, if the picture has been used somewhere online. (This example URL is only posted to show you how the list looks like, the URL pictured above has no connection to apartments or scams)


  • If the picture has not been used anywhere online in the past, you will get zero results, like in the image below


Zero results: it is likely that this photo has not been stolen and used for other purposes

Zero results: it is likely that this photo has not been stolen and used for other purposes (*edit: This ad turned out to seem too fishy for me to proceed in the end, so if you come across it when apartment hunting, I take no responsibility for the consequences)


  • However, as there are billions of images floating around internet, TinEye can’t possibly list them all, so there is some room for error. Also, it takes a while for new pictures to be “crawled” by the internet bots, ie. recognised by these services.
  • Before making up your mind, there’s one more check you can do online. If you are renting through a company, go to Trustpilot and paste the company’s website URL into the field. I have just cancelled a viewing of a dream apartment due to poor Trustpilot and Tripadvisor ratings. Other users had been kind enough to warn us, future customers, about deposit scams by the short term letting agency I was about to deal with.
  • You should also search for other rental apartments in the area and see how much they are going for. If the price of your apartment is suspiciously low, you may have encountered an apartment scam. Have a look at RentIndicator, this site lists the average rents in the city of your interest. And what I like about this site is that you can check rent averages for a specific neighbourhood or the whole city. Apartment and room averages are listed separately. I have just learn through RentIndicator, that if I widen my search area by a kilometer or two, the average square meter price drops by almost 10 euros.


cheap hotels


When should you look out for an apartment scam?

Your emotions can get in the way of reason, when you think you have just found your dream home. You may think you have to act fast to snap it off the market, before someone else finds it. The fraudsters tend to play the pressure card: you may be told that they have another applicant and they want the confirmation from you now. The risk of getting caught up in an apartment fraud increases, if you are moving to a new city or country and try to book a place before your arrival. Many of us have been raised in environments, where apartment scams unknown, and therefore we are completely unprepared to deal with these situations. Sometimes it doesn’t even occur to us that criminal gangs can be so professionally arranged and appear like real rental companies. 


Examples of apartment scams

Using AirBnB or Housing Anywhere – how to keep safe

  • If you contact a host through a platform like AirBnB or HousingAnywhere, make sure all communication is had over their platform. Don’t agree anything over the phone or your email. I’m a firm believer in these services and think they are great, as long as you follow their rules. After receiving your message, the fraudster makes an excuse to get your email address. The criminals do this to move the conversation away from the platform, which records every message that is sent. This way, there is a smaller chance for them to get caught. Next, they might try to get your address and ask you to send a payment. The fraudster I busted in Barcelona asked me to email them, as they “were at work and couldn’t speak”. Then over email, they asked for my name and address and claimed that the keys would be sent to me using a courier service. Before that, I would receive payment instructions via mail from the company. But in reality, they would fake a letter or an email and send it to the address provided by me, hoping that I would make a deposit payment onto their bank account. Never pay any fees without seeing the apartment, unless it is accommodation recommended by your university or your employer.
  • When in doubt, contact the customer support before paying anything or giving away too much information


Craigslist scams, Gumtree scams and other forums

  • Craigslist and Gumtree are full of fraudsters, as well as legitimate landlords. The scammers may ask you to transfer a deposit or “taking-off-the-market” fee via bank transfer, MoneyGram or Western Union. You may think it is safe to do, as the person who withdraws the money must have an ID in the name of the recipient you set. But the criminals wouldn’t suggest using these services, if they didn’t have a way to fake an ID fast. This is an incredibly typical apartment fraud so don’t fall for it.
  • Buying a credit report scam: now this is an interesting one. I’m glad to be able to share insights with you as I work in digital marketing and understand this scam inside and out. In the credit report scam the “landlord” requires you to purchase a credit report that you have to pay for yourself. I work in affiliate marketing, which means that I know a lot about how people earn money online. If the landlord points you to a certain site to use to purchase the required credit report, this may mean that they do not have any intention of renting you anything. They have probably invented an imaginary apartment online and stolen the photos somewhere. The reason why they give you the particular website to purchase the credit report from is because they actually get commission for each client they refer to the credit report company. So how does this work in practice? It’s like in all digital affiliate marketing. The browser inserts a cookie into your browser when you first enter the credit report website. If you buy a credit report within the next three months or so, the cookie will recognise that you were first referred to their website by the fraudster, because you used their special link you never realised was there. After the sale, the credit report company will pay a commission to the fraudster’s bank account for referring a new client (you) to their business. The scammer earns a living by setting up this system that is typically used in a lot of digital marketing. It is very unfortunate that the credit score company does not know that the fraudster is not a real and honest marketing partner. They will not have a clue that they too are dealing with a professional scammer. And what is worst about this scam is that the fraudsters can automate each step. They can themselves actually be mountain climbing or deep sea diving but you receive automatically triggered and scheduled emails from them, prompting you to buy the credit score report and to send it to them. As a piece of advice, if you don’t think the landlord answered your specific questions, it can be a sign of an automised email chain. If you are asked to provide a credit report, you should be able to choose which ever credit  report company you want. If they want you to provide a report from a particular company, they should still not dictate which website or link you should use to buy it. And finally, it would make more sense for the landlord to acquire this report themselves and to add this cost into their admin costs, as YOU could technically  be frauding THEM by photoshopping the real report.
  • It’s not uncommon to get offered free accommodation in exchange for sexual favours. This occurs frequently, especially if you are female and post your own ad with your picture, looking for an apartment. I have seen the strangest offers, trust me!
  • If the apartment ad has many spelling mistakes or doesn’t have enough photos to show what each room looks like, this may be a red flag too.


Other apartment scams

  • The person showing you the apartment may pose as an agent or the landlord. Their plan is to get a deposit off you and then disappear. This may be the current tenant or someone else with access to the key.
  • Your landlord rents the apartment to two or more tenants at the same time. This is how the apartment scam works: they may ask the current tenant to leave the apartment for the day, as they are “performing maintenance work”. In fact, they are showing the apartment to the new tenants. I have been a victim of this apartment scam myself: the landlord didn’t expect the old tenant to return back to the apartment, so we were told to move in halfway through the month. The contract was signed to start on the 19th. However, the tenancy of the actual tenant would only run out at the end of the month. When the landlord got busted for having two renters in one apartment, he blamed us for moving in too soon – but in fact he collected the rent from two tenancy agreements.
  • You should take inventory of the furniture, other household items and the shape of the apartment. If you rent a legitimate apartment and your landlord doesn’t suggest going through the apartment together, you should do it yourself. In this case, it is highly recommended that you take photos of every little scratch and fault in the apartment and list all of the household items on an excel sheet. Send them as email attachments to your landlord on the day you move in or before it, if you took good enough photos in the viewing. This way they are less able to fabricate reasons to keep your deposit. Personally I have been scammed around 400€ this way, as we did our inventory walking through the apartment. Luckily I had emailed photos of some faulty items to the landlord at the start of the contract, so he wasn’t able to charge me for those.
  • “Bait and switch” scam: this is a scam where you respond to an apartment ad that seems almost too good to be true. The company seems legitimate, so you pay for the deposit. Before the move-in date, you get an email saying that the apartment is no longer available, and you are given other apartment options to choose from (these are less desirable options). Your request to get the deposit back is denied and as you are too close to the move-in date, you feel that your best option is to move in this other apartment and try to claim some money back later.
  • You move in and later the actual owner of the house returns from a holiday. You have paid a deposit to a fraudster who stole the key or broke into the apartment while the owner was away.
  • Landlord’s hacked email: the apartment ad may be real, but the landlord’s email account has been hacked. This type of fraud is difficult to detect. To keep safe, you should call the number and speak to a real person. Next, you should confirm everything on email. Keep cross-checking and if there are any suspicious signs, it may be wise to walk away. Often the real owner of the email account has no idea they have been hacked.
  • Pay first payments through AirBnB -fraud: you may be redirected to a similar looking site created by fraudsters, but as it’s not AirBnB running it, your money will be lost


Next I will discuss some red flags that you may have not taken into account, so keep reading.

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Apartment scam: look out for these red flags

  • You are being rushed into making the decision. If it is a popular apartment, real agents will keep showing it to other people, until someone reserves it. So they shouldn’t have a reason to push you into a rash decision. However, some agents are eager to get the commission before another agent gets it, which makes it an unpleasant experience for the person viewing the apartment.
  • They seem very eager to give the apartment to you. They may say that they have other people waiting but they think you seem reliable. Most landlords want to check your paperwork first, before signing the contract. This means credit checks, criminal checks or financial checks, such as work contracts or bank statements. If the landlord doesn’t want to perform these checks to ensure you are a good tenant, this is suspicious and a potential apartment scam.
  • You are asked an unusually high deposit or an agency fee. They may just take the money and disappear.
  • The landlord is unable to show you the property, as they are out of the country.
  • You are told you don’t need a contract.
  • The landlord or agency wants all of your information before the viewing.


You can look for more information on apartment scams by Googling the following phrases:

  • Craigslist apartment rentals and scams
  • Craigslist housing scams
  • Craigslist rental homes and scams
  • Craigslist homes for rent and scams
  • AirBnB scams
  • Gumtree scams
  • Barcelona apartment scams
  • Paris apartment scams
  • Berlin apartment scams
  • Rome apartment scams
  • London apartment scams


*Update June 2017*

We have just blocked another apartment scam today. At least we are quite sure about it, and we are just waiting for a confirmation. We were shown an apartment that was being renovated. When it came to checking our papers, the agent sent us his email address on Whatsapp, so we can send the pictures of our passports, bank accounts and national insurance numbers over. But it was a Gmail address. Next I asked which company he is from and he told me that the apartment is being advertised through company X. I asked if I can have the official email address of the company X, as I cannot send confidential documents to Gmail addresses. His response was: “this is the email address that is being used”. So I replied: “great, I will visit your office tomorrow before noon, as I cannot send these documents to a Gmail”. I didn’t receive a message back.

Having done this, I sent another email to the company’s official address to see if this is a legal transaction I am considering to make, or am I being scammed. I will know more tomorrow… Don’t let your desperation to get in the way of securing your back – do your best to check the agent’s legitimacy, visit their office and speak with other staff members to check that everything you have been told matches with what they know.


If you have found this post useful, please take a second to share it, as it may save a lot of money for a friend of yours at some point.

Check out these things to keep in mind, when apartment hunting in Barcelona. Although the article is written with Barcelona in mind, these guidelines apply in any city you are unfamiliar with.

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a security professional or in any way related to law enforcement. Using these tips can give you an indication if the photos have been used in another context online, but does not guarantee what you see is not an apartment fraud. So please don’t make rash decisions. I am naturally unable to take any responsibility for your actions. If you fall for an apartment scam, don’t feel too ashamed to call the police. You should also inform the advertiser’s site or leave a review on Trustpilot or TripAdvisor.

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