Spanish is the Bureaucratic Tongue


Spanish is the Bureaucratic Tongue

May 20th

“Spanish is The Loving Tongue”, sang Bob Dylan. It is also the tongue in which we must conduct the documentation required to make our dream a reality.

On May 20th we will fly to Santiago de Compostela, approximately 114km (70 miles) from our new home. It takes about an hour and a half by car, or we can take a train to Monteforte de Lemos (just over an hour) and a taxi to our village. I say “our village” like the house purchase is a done-deal. In our hearts, it is.

This is not to say that we have lost all reason, and bought a house without having seen it! That is what this trip is all about: matching the dream with the reality. And reality means legal necessities, such as obtaining a Número de Identidad de Extranjero – identification number for foreigners. Try introducing that in Australia!

So, this morning I printed off the appropriate forms and emailed the Consulate in Sydney for an appointment, to see if we can acquire the NIE before we tread Spanish soil.

I read all the time in ex-pat blogs about how irritating Spanish bureaucracy can be; as if negotiating a government department is easy in any country! Rubbing up against a “jobsworth” in Australia, the UK or the USA or anywhere else is always an unpleasant necessity, and it is with this in mind that I will take deep breaths and bash on with the paperwork.  Government employees are a breed apart. They have their sense of humour removed upon contractual agreement. If we can acquire the NIE before we travel, that will be one less potential headache. Should have done this sooner, but one learns…

The next thing is the drivers’ license. I can drive in Spain on my Aussie license for 6 months, after which time I have to take a test and obtain a Spanish license. In Spanish! No, they don’t translate everything into twenty-five languages, and they don’t allow you to sit the test in your language of origin – and rightly so. I will be driving in Spain, with road signs in Spanish. Perhaps Australia should adopt these policies?

Once the treasured NIE is obtained, we can open a Spanish bank account. Abanca has been recommended by a Scottish ex-pat of our acquaintance, and if you want advice on banks and money, ask a Scot – they did, after all, invent modern banking as we know it (Alexander Hamilton, Philadelphia 1791)

These are the chores that require patience, and dozens of photocopies of passports/ID cards/Birth Certificates, as well as numerous unflattering, unsmiling photos of applicants.

When we finally sit on our terrace, watching the sun set over the River Miño, we will forget the form-filling, and the frustrations.



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