Spanish bureaucracy: can’t be beaten

They now been in Spain for just over 3 months. It definitely felt like home. They’d taken on the Spanish bureaucracy challenge. So far, so good.

In need of a NIE

G’s NIE was applied for and received within a week of arrival. Grimble already hers, sort of though, carelessly, she’d lost the official documentation. The NIE was more than just a number. It was evidence of existence. Without it, you couldn’t even purchase a SIM card for the phone. Grimble had the number just not the paper. In a country where paperwork had more bearing on life than the Catholic Church this could present issues.

Perplexed by the padron

The Padron from the town hall in Canillas was paperwork challenge number two. Canillas was their district. Why wouldn’t it be? It was further away than the town halls of Viñuela, Velez Malaga or Alcaucin and up a monster hill. It stood to reason it would be here. The Padron was the equivalent of the electoral roll. Being listed allowed the town hall to apply for additional funds for the ever increasing population. That seemed advantageous for all and should have been straightforward.

In the pouring, torrential rain, armed with a poly pocket of all the paperwork they possessed , they arrived at the town hall. The woman behind the desk immediately tried to thwart their plans. She claimed they needed their landlady (currently working in China) with them. Grimble stood fast to no avail. She’d checked the government website. Not that the official rules and regulations actually necessarily applied in small town Andalucia.

Social media everywhere

She stormed out to the local cafe, where G and Grimble had a restorative coffee. Deftly, Grimble commenced a social media Spanish dialogue with Canillas town hall.

The faceless Messenger discussion tried to back up the receptionist. Grimble was having none of it. She wasn’t descending that cunting hill, now akin to a waterfall, without the sodding Padron. She stood her ground, despite the evident language barrier and mentioned Madrid, official forms, the fact that they were still EU citizens. There was a brief Andalucian digression on the subject of work opportunities in China and they were told to return to reception.

Back at the town hall, the receptionist acted like she’d never seen them before. She took all their paperwork and processed the Padron with a smile.


The only remaining dispute was which area Grimble had lived In Sevilla, previously. Despite a photocopy of the lost documents clearly stating Alameda and Grimble confirming it, the woman denied any such location existed. The only Alameda was in Malaga, no other existed. Grimble realised it was futile to argue further even though the Sevilla Alameda was known throughout Europe as party central Andalucia and succumbed to the receptionist’s greater wisdom on the barrios of Andalusian cities.

She claimed the town hall would email them when they could collect the papers but Grimble knew this was falsehood. Two weeks later, she used Messenger again and was told of course the forms were ready.

Overall, the official documents had been less onerous than anticipated. Grimble still had to get a new residencia card with a new address. However, even a trip to the police station to do a denuncia, denouncing herself and her stupidity losing vital documents, had been mercifully swift. Her date to meet officials to reissue the papers had been set.

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Annette Juniper Grimble

Follow us as we blunder through our lives. When should we put up the Christmas tree? Should we move to Spain or just go on holiday? Will we ever clear out the cupboard of doom? Is it a prosecco night or a red? Have I really got anxiety or do I just need to toughen up a bit? Here I am, getting closer to a very significant birthday. Not one with a zero in it but one which will allow me to feasibly remove the shackles of sensible employment with some cash in my back pocket and a song in my heart. As that point draws nearer, G and I face our mid life with apprehension and joy.

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