I carry a concertina file with every single piece of paper I may need to prove my identity and / or address every time I go near the authorities.
This is in part sensible practice, because you often have no idea what may be required (I list some of them below) and it saves an awful lot of running back and forth and standing in the same queues more than once. It is also in part because my parents generously gave me four names at birth, none of which are remotely Spanish, and the Spanish authorities must have, so far, at least seven variations on record.
My favourite variation came from Movistar, the telephone service, which has my middle names, Joanna Lamprey, as Yoanha Lanprey. My car is registered to Elizabeth Jonanna Lamprey (i.e. my actual surname doesn’t appear at all) and my new driving licence has, I think perhaps fortunately, been issued in the same name.
The main problem is that in Spain most people have at least four names including two surnames, their mother’s and their father’s. The mother’s surname customarily comes last. Most choose to use father’s surname as main surname but you do have the choice, every Spanish form you will ever fill in asks for 1st apilledo, and most have a separate spot for 2nd apilledo.
So along comes Elegsabiff with four names and quite often the authority I am dealing with decides I am too ignorant to know that my 1st apilledo is the third name, so they correct my mistake for me. Quite often said authority is in Madrid, or Granada, or Jaen, so I’m not there at the time to correct it back.
Even the ones that get it right struggle with the spelling – hence Elisabeth, Yoanha, Joann, Jonanna, Lanprey, etc. Those who do add in my actual surname invariably do spell it right. Nobody can pronounce it, though, so I always have to spell it out. It includes a Y.
Y is pronounced i griega. No, no reason, just thought you’d want to know.
So, flipping through my concertina file, I have
- My NIE – número de identidad de extanjero – has my name perfectly, in full, but shows me as being born in Durban, United Kingdom. Oh well, we in Natal always did call ourselves the last outpost of the British Empire. You’re asked for your NIE all the time. Learn the number by heart.
- My Padron – Joanna was skipped as being unnecessary / too difficult to spell / not needed on voyage.
- My official bank certificate, for bank details – Lamprey was skipped as being confusing.
- My permission to run a guest house from the Turismo y Deporte – Joanna not included
- My registration as self-employed (autonomo/a) and a tax payer is perfect – now – but originally had me as Elisabeth Joann etc
- The Fremap one reversed 1st apilledo and 2nd apilledo.
- My escritura (deeds for my house) are, phew, perfect. That’ll make the will much easier, so long as the name is right on the will.
- My medical card is almost right – who needs the final A in Joann?
- My residency card is perfect, but took three tries and the translator I luckily took with me getting really, really emphatic.
- My name on the tax register had two errors and eventually I had to get an accountant to correct it.
- Six photocopies of my passport – which I carry on me at all times.
In every single case I had to provide either my passport or a notarized copy at the time. I really hope there won’t be tears before bedtime with all these variations, not one of which was me being ditzy. If I lose this concertina file I suspect I will cease to exist.
I do rather wish my parents had liked the name Maria, and hadn’t bothered with the others, useful as they have proved as pen names.
A (rumour) can circle the earth before Truth can get its boots on – variations of that have been attributed to Winston Churchill and Mark Twain, among others, and Terry Pratchett quoted it several times in a Discworld book so I’m sure some think Pratchett was the source. How very appropriate that a quote regarding fabrications is probably wrongly attributed most of the time.
I saw a blog written by a dyslexic saying he was in good company and quoting a long list of famous dyslexics including, to my surprise, Agatha Christie. Lots of general comments, none protesting her inclusion in the list. I was even more surprised when I looked it up, the internet agreed: oh yes she was, she had to dictate all her books, even the very first Poirot.
Oh no she wasn’t. Oh no she didn’t. Not according to her, anyway, and you’d think she’d know. Yes as her books started selling she had secretaries but not because she had dysgraphia (inability to tell a coherent story) (seriously???) or dyslexia. She may not have liked typing but she wrote a fair bit in longhand even when she had a dictaphone or secretary, while she was plotting.
Put it this way, in her autobiography she talked about the writing of one of her best books, Absent In The Spring. It’s a Mary Westmacott book, not a whodunit, and it is absolutely seamless, a book that flows without a check. She said the idea had been quietly in the back of her head for a long time and when the time came she wrote it in one sitting, 70-something hours without stopping: slept for 24 hours, read it back, and barely had to change a single word. That is quite possibly as far from dyslexia as you can get, and something that turns other writers green. It is something we all dream of. Check the autobiography.
She’s been added to a very specific list and I don’t think that’s fair. A young relative of mine had partial word-blindness, not full-blown dyslexia, and that was still a battle that was hard fought. Overcoming dyslexia, or working around it, is such a struggle and takes such perseverance that it builds formidable character. No wonder there are positive role models and success stories! Winning against a disadvantage, especially fairly early on, shapes your life.
It helps with every challenge we ever face if we know others have fought and won, that it can be done. But – how valid is the list? What possible benefit is there in adding a commercially successful writer who taught herself to read at the age of 5? Where is the role model, the success story? She apparently had a poem published when she was 11. What are we to say to our dyslexic 11 year-old who, flushed with success, has achieved a short slightly lopsided barely-rhyming poem – that’s nice, pet, but we’re not Agatha Christie yet, are we? No-one’s going to publish that, are they? Go back and try again.
Whatever we struggle with in life is tough enough without setting fake goals. Just saying.
Dying is the last thing I intend to do, but it seems where you die can make quite a big difference. Dying in Spain doesn’t only leave your British-trained friends and family with a language barrier to be surmounted, it is handled completely differently.
In the UK the process between death and farewell takes a while: apart from anything else there’s frequently a wait of a week or more for a date at the crematorium, there could even be an inquest, and it means lots of time for that assembling of the bereaved for a service somewhere along the line. So if you want that sort of delay, do try not to die in Spain.
Say you’re in Spain visiting a friend who drops dead, or falls down the stairs and breaks their neck (don’t let’s dwell but these things happen) here’s what you do and don’t do
- Phone the policia on 112 (the operators speak English) who will arrive pretty quickly.
- Normally the policia will accept the death as an unsuspicious tragedy. There is no mortuary van or private ambulance system here. They will call the nearest funeral director.
- He will bring a body release form. If you sign that form, you have just committed to paying all funeral expenses. He won’t take the body if you won’t. So this is definitely the point to look in your friend’s wallet for any card showing pre-planned funeral arrangements. If there is one, all is well, the funeral director will take the body and deal with the plan-holders, who will also know what arrangements were desired.
- The default procedure is overnight at the closest tanatorio, cremation booked for the first slot available the next day, off in a plain basic coffin to the crematorium by hearse, there’s a service for any hastily assembled friends and relatives, the funeral director may choose to add a flourish or two such as releasing a hundred white doves, and in the fullness of time an urn in handed over. All done and dusted. If you signed that body release form for your friend, and there’s no funeral plan to bail you out, that’s several thousand euros, ta very much.
- Autopsies are, for the main part, only required by the State for car accident victims, and while the authorities pick up that tab, they don’t pick up the tab for any storage delays. This is a hot country. Storage at a tanatorio can cost up to 1000 euros a day depending on location, time of year, demand: hence the speed, hence the expense.
Take the bloke who dropped dead on holiday in a rented cabin on a Friday night – the policia came, decided there was nothing suspicious, and called a funeral director to collect the body. The couple’s travel insurance didn’t specify what it would cover and his distracted wife couldn’t learn more, or sort out any finances, until Monday. Okay, said the funeral director, I’ll be back Monday.
And he left, leaving the bloke on the floor of the kitchen.
Or the chappie who was on holiday in another part of the country. He was covered for death expenses, had his card with all the contact numbers, and the hotel phoned the funeral planners and his next-of-kin. Quite a shock for his son, but after two days he got his head together enough to phone the funeral company to ask what happens next, when should the funeral be . . . there was an awkward pause. Um. Your dad was cremated yesterday.
This is no criticism of the Spanish system, which is sensible, efficient, and the accepted way of life death – but it isn’t something you want to learn the hard way, especially if you fall in with an unscrupulous or overly sentimental funeral director and the costs spiral higher than those doves.
The lesson here for the future customer is if you want to make specific arrangements, make them in advance, and make them easy to find. The policia routinely notify your banco, which will freeze your account(s) instantly, so it also makes sense for any couple with a joint bank account to have separate emergency funds. If nothing else, that will also pay for the rather nice Spanish tradition, in some areas, of a street party open to all in memory of the friend gone before.
A surprisingly large number of people plan to leave their bodies to medical research – unless you have a very unusual condition, that is no longer usually an option (anywhere – supply has exceeded demand) and even when it is you will still be expected to pay those tanatorio rates.
Although I’m not planning any imminent demise I don’t want to leave my daughter, who speaks no Spanish and lives a thousand miles away, tangling with technicalities: it seemed a good idea to get that useful card from English-speaking professionals tucked into my wallet, with a copy in my car documents. Too awkward to otherwise have some hapless guest here faced with the choice of either having to sign for my lavish arrangements, or stepping over my crumpled body at the bottom of the stairs for a few days, eh? So I am now sorted.
Ever researching on your behalf,
(I can talk for Africa: scroll towards the end if you want what I considered the 6 potent pros and cons re vaping generally, distilled from a dozen websites.)
Must be said that not a lot of people who watched the moon landing in 1969, or were grooving at Woodstock, are still smoking. Some are gone from us, for a variety of reasons which would include passage of time, moons, raves, smoking, etc. Many have quit in the intervening years. Hands up, though, if you started as a teenager, whenever that was, and a few decades have gone by, and you still smoke now.
No disapproving eyebrow from me. I was too young to be smoking in 1969 but I started as soon as I could – at 13 behind the biking shed (as one did) and coughed my lungs up (as one did) and persisted (as, unfortunately, one did). In the seventies smoking was something you could do indoors and out, in public as well as in private, and without breaking the budget. Times have changed a bit and yet some of us still defiantly smoke and still enjoy it but the pressure never stops quit-quit-quit-quit-while-you-can
In my case I had a stammer and was overjoyed by smoking. The standard therapist advice for overcoming a stammer is to pause before tackling a difficult word. That looked so geeky: but to suck in smoke before tackling a difficult word? Once you get over the choking stage, it looks entirely natural. So a few random decades have flowed under the bridge and apart from a 3 year break (which I didn’t enjoy) I am smoking still and I no longer stammer at all. But my best buddy in Spain, who has been smoking even longer than I have, has been ill and didn’t enjoy being ill and has now as part of his new and improved lifestyle invested in some pretty fancy vaping kit. I have an uneasy feeling in a week or two he is going to be very superior and patronising. Time to look up some facts and I looked at a dozen websites and cherry-picked what worked for me. Lots and lots of overlap on my 6 pros and 6 cons, try it for yourself.
I found, as you probably have, that vaping doesn’t get the best press. In fact there is growing terror that those pesky teenagers who started smoking at 13 (tut) are instead now vaping at 13 and that is generating some fantastic warning bells from, well, everyone. JUST QUIT AND STOP BEING A BAD INFLUENCE is the word on the street, and many add crossly that it isn’t the best way to quit and can lead to swapping one addiction for another.
By the way I’ve always thought the fastest way to stop teenagers thinking smoking is cool would be to force wrinkly wheezers back out from behind the bins where society has dumped us, and make us smoke in public, but that’s not the point.
The point – he wants to use vaping to cut down dramatically, with the intention of quitting altogether. I’m assuming you’re reading the blog because you’re considering that too.
The success rate is – meh. Alternating smoking and vaping has the lowest success rate of all. Having a gasper which can deliver a selectable low or high nicotine hit, and sticking to it, has a high success rate – but there’s that possibility of getting addicted instead to the gasper.
The cons are tricky:
- long-term studies aren’t available yet, because the trend hasn’t really been going long enough. However, lab studies on non-human subjects are fairly firm on the subject – this isn’t much better for you.
- In fact with words like ‘popcorn lung’ and ‘increased risk of heart attack’, not to mention faulty vaping kits and / or rechargeable batteries exploding, it carries some significant risks of its own.
- Reducing the risk of explosive kits, and getting real benefit, means forking out a hefty start-up price for something safe, adjustable, and which won’t run out of puff just when you want it most. Costs can start around the price of a carton of cigarettes (in Spain, where they are relatively affordable), and run really high, up to 1000€. This is not the time to economise. Buy the best you can afford.
- Once you have the kit, there are so many variations, flavours, mixtures and options for blowing a cloud that finding one you like could take a discouraging while. Some have stopped trying.
- Oh, and re those variations – this whole fad has blown up so quickly, and is moving so fast, that it is effectively unmonitored. There are options on offer which have never been tested on anybody or anything and you will be one of the guinea pigs finding out how bad the side-effects could be.
- You still need to smoke outside unless everyone else is vaping too.
That’s the bad news. The pros are potent too.
- Ongoing cost is minimal. Vaping vs smoking will save you LOADS. (I know, you’re using it to give up so you don’t need to know that but I’m mentioning it anyway.)
- Your breath, clothes and hair won’t smell, or you can choose a vape option which makes you smell like a rose garden, or a beach at sunset, or a chocolate milkshake.
- Your fingers and teeth won’t be stained (your teeth may rot faster, but hey, that’s only if you become a vape addict and probably the least of your problems if you do)
- You can have a low-setting puff or two when you want (no having to finish, or stub out and waste, a cigarette when you only needed a puff)
- You can dial up a high-setting puff when you need a jolt – cravings are stopped in their tracks to reel away, gasping.
- The mere fact of making, and carrying through, the decision to change your life, is proving you’re statistically far likelier to bring in other life-enhancing improvements.
I tried his new toy and triggered the kind of coughing fit I haven’t had since I was 13. Then I dialled it back and tried more cautiously and it was – okay. If he cracks this, I’m going to have to follow suit, or give up the friendship, or face a social future of being patronised and smirked at every time I light a cigarette.
Maybe it’s time. (And century-old words like ‘gasper’ and ‘blowing a cloud’ definitely appeal to me)
Ever researching on your behalf
CS – a website connecting singles to other singles – is close to unique in having a lively blogging and forums facility. At the time I joined, around five years ago, it was international, multi-cultural and interdenominational, and the majority of the members were fairly careful not to step too heavily on the toes of others of different cultures and beliefs in the lively interaction.
At its best the CS blogs were a kind of Cheers, where everyone knew your name, long term members knew which blogs would be fun to banter on and which should be avoided (a few nutters grumbled about cliques) and people occasionally met up – I met around a dozen different members, over the five years, and enjoyed online friendships with people I would never meet, would never have met in any other way.
Joining CS changed my life. I said in a lifestyle interview that I got belatedly brave. When I joined I had become a recluse living behind my computer in Scotland, writing books and hoping if I left the real world alone it would return the favour. I only joined to ask single people questions because I needed answers for my books: the thought of going out and asking real people was unthinkable.
Now I live in Spain, still writing books in between teaching English as a second language and opening my very quirky old house up to paying guests, interacting with others every day, and all of that can be directly traced back to joining the website five years ago.
So CS was pretty special to me, and it was fun. Most of the bloggers were comfortable being single, sometimes drifting in and out of relationships while they waited without anxiety for The One, or sitting shiva for the One who had been lost, or enjoying the banter because for whatever reason real life couldn’t offer the same kind of sociability. There weren’t that many of us, a few hundred at most, some popping by regularly, some intermittently, and blog subjects ranged between being single, topical events, being single, old jokes shaken out for new readers, being single, the occasional attempt to save souls by offering various religions, being single, and every now and then some politics to spice things up. The being single thing, some blogs were happy about it, some furious and hurting, some philosophical, some raunchy, some advising. It was relevant to the site, after all. One other thing that made it unique – it was like a petrie dish of life itself, a tiny cross-section of international viewpoints from all ages on all subjects, often fascinatingly alien.
A couple of years ago disaster struck. Another blogging website for singles finally closed when it had become so toxic that it had only a handful of members left. The best of them had already come across and fitted right in but unfortunately when it closed its zombies lurched across and joined CS – for the most part the kind of Christians who would tar and feather Christ for not being American, or at least wearing a MAGA cap. They blogged relentlessly on their convictions, never joining any of the existing chats, ignoring what CS was as they determinedly changed it to what they had known (and destroyed), lost in their own obsession and speaking only to each other.
It was like exploding a hate bomb in Cheers. Politics and singles don’t mix. People obsessed with bigotry certainly don’t mix. Existing members tried to jolly them into chilling, or tried ignoring them, or disinterred unsuspected hates and prejudices to leap into the fray, exploding cyber friendships in the process. Many withdrew altogether, bored or disgusted or chased on their way by hostility and anger. So much anger, and so much of it illiterate into the bargain.
It reached a point where the minutiae of American politics accounted for the majority of the blogs – an occasional offering from a Normal always attracted comments and chat but Normals were becoming thin on the ground. (Okay, “Normals” is a loose term, we long-term singles aren’t, but some are more normal than others.)
Bigmouth launched a protest and a blog asking that politics be confined to a sub-section of the website and although many of the original members joined the protest saying yes yes YES my profile was promptly deleted by the site moderators.
End of an era. But when I say that one of the no no NO comments was “Bullshite Elegsabutt! (sic) You have a stick so far stuck up your arse you would always find something and someone to complain about,” you can see how far the change has gone. It is definitely time to go.
Please charge your glasses and join me in a toast to a singles website which changed the lives of many besides me. Thank you. No regrets – I knew when I lit the match that I was probably going to be burning my boats, but they were no longer seaworthy as they were. How nice it would have been if instead it had worked and the hate had burned instead. Que sera, sera.
And to the zombies – a pox on your houses.
The relevance to you, dear Reader, for patiently getting this far? Don’t let politics destroy your friendships and relationships. People can hold different views, despite professional and social media’s frantic attempts to set us all at each other’s throats. If you find yourself hating, it is time to re-examine your position – it may be time to walk away. When the self-obsessed media storm is over, we will still be left with each other – don’t have destroyed that.
I was thrilled to be featured in January as an Amazing Over Fifty on the LovingTheFiftySomething website – all too often when I’ve idly searched online for ‘over fifty‘ the links that come up show groups of impressively-preserved people demurely sipping tea and talking about how nice it is to be in the still waters following the white-water rapids of life. The women have abundant silvery hair in perfect chignons and the men are smiling to show their remarkable teeth and you’d be proud, honestly, to have them as grandparents but they didn’t seem people who would like or welcome scatty disorganized erratic types like me. LovingTheFiftySomething features – well, not necessarily erratic types! – but those still riding the rapids and refusing to be relegated to the sidelines. YES.
Anyway, in my scatty disorganized erratic way I’ve been taking lots and lots of advice on this whole living-in-Spain thing. It really doesn’t help that the 3 professionals I’ve spoken to had strong opinions on my only sensible route, but were touting 3 separate routes. Chris, who had sorted the car out, said firmly my best option was to become autonoma – self employed. I would file an annual tax return, I would go instantly onto the Social so be covered by the Health service, and residency would be guaranteed trouble-free, and rubber-stamped by the local policia without a murmur. However, he was away when it came time to do my end-of-year tax payment as a home-owner, and sent me to Ana, in a town about 40 miles away, who specializes in all things tax and legal generally. Ana was absolutely wonderful, drew up my tax document promptly and patiently answered lots of questions, but she felt autonoma was an expensive option for me. The problem was that I would have to pay all my taxes in Spain, on my international income, and while in the UK tax only applies after the first 12K, or thereabouts, in Spain the tax-free window is not only 6K, but once you cross that, you pay tax on the entire amount. Plus the Social, although for new registrations is only 50 euros a month, goes up steadily over 2 years until you are paying the whole 275 euros a month, and that’s a lot of money for someone like me who will never reap the long-term benefits of a Spanish pension – you have to have been paying in for 15 years. Better, she said, to go for Residency. I would need to prove a stable monthly income sufficient to support me, and take out a comprehensive medical aid, and then – Bob’s your uncle.
Comprehensive medical aids are surprisingly expensive once you are no longer in the first flush of youth. At a party I asked some friends what they did, and who they used, and they recommended Nina, right here in Motril. Since I knew I had to pay tax on my rental income from the house by the end of January, I went to Nina instead of trekking the 40 miles back to Ana. She said firmly that until we know exactly what is happening with Brexit (anyone else sick of that word?) I should remain a non-resident home-owner, pay my taxes (19%) on my rental income 4 times a year, and if Brexit brings in visa requirements which mean I have to leave the country 2 or 4 times a year, well, then we look at other options. So I have paid my taxes and have bought a little time to think through my options.
A surprising number of ex-pats are still unregistered, some scrambling a bit nervously now to become official residents, others waiting to see what will happen.
My Spanish vocabulario grows by the day – I am busy on a book with the working title Pidgin Spanish (based on a family called Pidgin who moved to Spain) which includes all the TEFL tricks of learning a second language, mini situational stories with handy dialogue, numbers for counting / telephones / the date / making appointments: the Spanish alphabet for spelling out your name and address: the rudimentary basics for linguistically-challenged types (ie me) to get by. I’m truly rubbish at languages – I spent 12 years in school in South Africa without ever mastering Afrikaans, which back then was the country’s second official language – but little by little the Spanish I need is being nailed into place. I can read documents, make myself understood with less wild mime, and every encounter navigated successfully is a joyful little oooh. It may never be published – how many others are there who simply can’t conjugate verbs efficiently, after all? – but it’s helping me no end. Roll on 2019, I’m braced for impact.
Maybe, just maybe, growing up is knowing when you’ve reached your comfort zone? I come from a family of strivers, raised with the stern mantra that winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. There are black sheep in every herd but generally it was try try try again, be the best you can be, put in the hours, burn the midnight oil, get out there and succeed!
Oh well. Done my time in the business rat race – rush rush RUSH impossible deadlines which got met, crazy high targets which were somehow achieved and of course the prize for winning is tighter deadlines and higher targets – annnnnnnnnnnnd . . . dropped out
Again. Deeeeeeeeeeeep breath. Nice, huh?
So – the modified ambition tradition. These promises I made to myself, and this promise to my restless ancestors – I will be the best I can be, at the various things I do, but I will not beat myself up because I’m not publicly winning at doing the various things I do.
I’ll stop every now and then, too, to smell the
And tomorrow, after some unavoidable delays, I start the fairly complicated road to formal residency. Fingers crossed
I don’t like the term boarding house, it somehow carries an indelible image (for me) of being genteelly shabby and smelling of boiled cabbage and I have no idea why, since I have never, to the best of my knowledge, stayed in a boarding house that fitted such a description.
The hunt was therefore on for synonyms, with a bewildering array of options from the handy website powerthesaurus.org – inn, rooming house, pension, hostel, hotel, lodging house, hospice, guesthouse, ordinary, tavern, fleabag, hostelry, doss house, flophouse and oh so many others – I liked caravansary but reluctantly gave it up when I realized I had to be able to put up 50 camels to really justify the name. It would be too crowded, and the dog would hate them. The neighbours might get upset, too.
I looked up several, and guesthouse is definitely the answer. Inexpensive lodgings, tick – I’d rather have guests delighted with what they are getting, than finding fault. In a house over a century old, at least in parts, there is fault to find and always will be. Private home with conversion exclusively for guest accommodation, tick. So the Casa Excéntrico, with the entire upstairs exclusively for guests, is now officially a guesthouse. By the way, that’s not a piercingly green carpet in the pic, it is fake grass. One day there will be new tiles but right now, fake grass is adding a suitably eccentric touch and coping nicely with the current, soon-to-be-sorted, occasional alarming mini-floods which burp up out of the overloaded storm drain. Spain doesn’t rain often, doesn’t rain for long, but it does rain hard.
After the crazy hubbub of August, where I was stripping rooms in the morning and making them up for the afternoon, one anxious eye on the clock so I didn’t forget to go teach between 1 and 4, things went abruptly quiet. No more ironing sheets in the laundry, leaning back so the sweat from my nose didn’t drip onto the pristine sheets. No more steaming the floors with the big fans on full blast so I didn’t pass out from the combination of 40 degree temperatures and the floor-steamer. No more thanking my guardian angel for making me decide on a 3 day minimum, I honestly don’t know how hosts can do this every day. Utter silence. The French guest who had booked for two weeks backed out two days beforehand saying eh, ‘allo, I ‘ave no memory of booking zees, and that was it until the Estonian lasses arrived.
Just as quickly it has gone back to hectic, it is an absolute mystery. October should be quiet, but I have both rooms booked at the moment, and a week’s break, and then both rooms booked again – I’m not complaining, just puzzled. I scrupulously refresh my calendars on both Airbnb and HomeAway regularly, they are the first options that come up for anyone looking on price, and now the market is booming again. Well, long may it last, although I’m rather hoping to use the week’s break to get the house ready for the anticipated winter guests from November onwards. Radiators have to be carried upstairs, a permanent cover built for the gas geyser (which currently has to be switched off and covered when it rains), and a tumbledrier not only sourced but housed. 320 days of sunshine a year is all well and good but the other 45 days are scattered between September and March, I’m a little behind. Until my builder-buddy Nick can get his car (and heavier tools) to the front door again, it’s all on hold. Grrr!
There’s an American guy in the front room who had originally booked for a weekend and keeps extending his stay – he’s house-hunting in the Lecrin Valley but becoming increasingly charmed by Velez itself and could even end up changing all his plans and becoming a sort of part-time neighbour. I can remember all too well being utterly bewildered by the variety of the places for sale between here and Granada! Originally he had short-listed two. One is a tiny (one bedroom) perfect villa just above the Alhambra, with a roof terrace with views of the Palace and Granada itself. The other is at the top of the mountain behind Niguelas, a solid cabin squarely in the national park with fruit and olive trees and views, on a clear day, to Africa, but it is 45 minutes up a winding unsurfaced track. He’s thinking he will probably buy both. I said he needs to look around more. He has the option of renting the Granada one first so will be off as soon as that lease is signed.
The couple in the back room are absolutely lovely, but he’s French with a little English and a little Spanish, and she’s Spanish with no English and no French. We have the occasional glass of wine together and chatter away in three different languages. Builder-buddy Nick says I should stop being so chatty but I honestly don’t start the conversations. I’ll admit I do enjoy them and don’t run away and hide. And when we had a mini-flood yesterday (I really can’t WAIT for the roadworks to be finished and my non-return valve fitted) my lovely guest insisted on helping brush a substantial pool of water from the hallway back up the slight slope towards the atrium drain. They go today and will be missed.
My birthday falls around Halloween and I always take the day off – this year I have booked off teaching but will have the house full, so it won’t be completely relaxing. Just as well, perhaps. Wouldn’t do to be getting lazy.
If you move to Spain, and bring your own car, it has to be registered in Spain and the process is called matriculación. It takes, usually, a couple of weeks from the first technical report to bolting on your new number-plates. Allow for a month, to be on the safe side. I’ll outline what you should do and then, for anyone who likes to point and laugh, I’ve added at the end what not to do.
There are many agents who will handle the process, because every car coming permanently to Spain, whether from an EU or LHD country or not, has to be matriculated. Agent prices range from expensive to exorbitant. Most of the fees involved are fixed, and outlined below – it is the agent’s service fee which fluctuates. The English are thought to be rich and delightfully gullible and it is essential you go to someone recommended, and get a written quote.
- You can hand the car over and wait a couple of weeks for its return, but have your chequebook ready, that kind of service really costs.
- If you source the parts (i.e. the headlamps and rear lights), get them fitted, and take it to the ITV station yourself, you should reduce the service fee, and have the use of the car most of the time.
- If you speak excellent Spanish, plus have lots of bureaucratic experience, time, and patience, you don’t need an agent.
This blog assumes the middle path, i.e. you will do a lot of the running around yourself.
- Find your agent, and get your quote. My new agent’s fee for finishing what had already been done was 185 euros. Talk to other Brits about who they used, and bear in mind few will know, or perhaps admit, they’ve been conned – the important thing is to know roughly how much you should be paying, so that you know whether the quote is realistic or inflated. Without a written quote, you are risking being ripped off.
- The general expectation for a second-hand car with reasonable emissions is to expect to pay between 700 and 1200 euros for the whole registration – ITV, import duty, road tax, etc. That doesn’t include the costs of getting the car itself suitable for life in a LHD country, or any costs involved in the car actually passing its roadworthy test – see #3.
- There has to be a technical inspection, to advise what has to be sorted before you can present your car for the matriculación ITV test. For a right-hand-drive car, this will be mainly lights. Your headlights will need adjusting or replacing, your rear lights will need replacing unless they are perfect replicas of each other. Parts and labour could add several hundred euros to the price of the whole business.
- The técnico will also want paperwork, so you need to have your passport, NIE, padron and the vehicle’s logbook (the DVLA’s V5) ready when you meet him. He will tell you what needs doing, then meet you again to check it has been done.
- Once the técnico is satisfied your car now meets technical regulations he will put his report into the closest ITV station and they will make an appointment for your ITV inspection. The técnico fee is 90 euros.
- Unless your Spanish is good, it is worth taking a buddy who knows the usual ITV ropes or even paying for someone to take the car through the test for you. The testing process is similar to the MOT, but extra time and care will be taken for this first time, a great many questions are asked and orders barked out, and the price will be a one-off around 150 euros. (With this and every ITV, if the car doesn’t pass you will have up to a month to make changes and present yourself again. You can drive in the meantime, unless the fail is catastrophic enough that the car must be collected by a tow-truck for delivery to a garage.)
- The ITV certificate, DVLA log book, and all your proof of identity documentation must now to be taken, by appointment, to any Tráfico in the province. The fee for registration is 98 euros.
- My agent was doing this bit, which can be Spanish intensive (and in Jaen, an hour’s drive past Granada) and he wanted certified copies rather than be responsible for my original passport, etc. So that was a visit to a notary, and an additional cost for certified copies.
- It is at Trafico that you pay the import duty. This is based on engine size, i.e. the emissions as established by the ITV test. Car value can also affect it – a huge engine in a high value new car could be nudging the 2000 euro mark for import duty. My 9 year old Toyota IQ with its tiny green engine was zero. Thumbsuck figure to allow for in a secondhand car with a moderate size engine is 400 euros.
- You will need to pay the balance of the road tax for the year – road tax for everyone falls due on the 31st of December, I paid two quarters, 20 euros
- The new papers and your new registration number will be sent to you. You will need to source number-plates – 30 euros – and get them fitted.
- Notify DVLA and re-sort your insurance for your new details.
So a very, very approximate quote for the whole business is 900 euros –
Agent 185.00 (variable)
Técnico 90.00 (paragraph 5) (fixed)
ITV 150.00 (paragraph 6) (fixed)
Trafico 98.00 (paragraph 7) (fixed)
Import duty 400.00 (paragraph 9) (variable per car)
Road tax 40.00 for the year (paragraph 10) (variable per car)
New plates 30.00 (paragraph 9) (fixed)
Trafico will take the righthand page of your DVLA logbook. Do NOT forget to fill in the export section of the left hand page, when you get your new registration, and post that section back to DVLA.
You must carry your registration certificate in the car at all times, and your insurance certificate. (And your hi-vis jacket and at least one triangle, but you already knew that)
Your budget – The 900 euros doesn’t include whatever mechanicals were required. I decided on new lights all round and the parts / labour cost just under 500 euros. If I’d had to pay import duty, the car would have cost 1400 euros instead of 1000 – I also had to re-insure it for the next year immediately, so it was an expensive month.
That had been factored into my decision to bring it, and knowing then what I know now, I still would. However, you’ll usually be advised to buy a car here, and yes, I agree. The reasons I didn’t follow that good advice –
- I love the car, have owned it most of its life, I know its mechanical and service history.
- I couldn’t have sold it privately, considering its age and that I was a private seller, for more than about 1000 quid at best thanks to a paint problem Toyota had in 2009 with the opalescent paints used on the IQ models. They admitted the problem, but stopped making good once the cars turned 7. Mine lost its first (so far only) palm-sized flake of paint at the age of 8. Thanks for that, Toyota.
- I couldn’t buy the equivalent make and model in Spain for less than 4000 euros, and then I wouldn’t have known anything about its reliability or history
- Cars in Spain don’t rust, and they have double the lifespan and resale value of UK cars. I couldn’t expect to buy anything guaranteed reliable for under at least 3500 euros.
A year ago, therefore, I had known I would have to pay around 1000 euros for the luxury of bringing my own much-loved reliable little car to Spain. No problemo.
So that’s how to matriculate your UK car in Spain. You could read on for a grin at how not to. Experience may be cheap at any price but you don’t have to learn by your own mistakes if you can learn from the mistakes of others . . .
How NOT to matriculate your car – Rule 1, don’t leave it to the last minute – although it is supposed to be within 6 months, you are, at least in theory, covered by your MOT until that expires, especially if you are travelling in and out of the country in the car. However, if you had a bang-up-to-date MOT and keep forgetting the necessity to matriculate until a few weeks before the MOT expires, you are taking ludicrously stupid chances. Don’t. Sod’s Law is waiting.
Don’t try to do it in August. Spain kicks back into holiday mode in August. The ITV stations only open until siesta, they don’t re-open for the late afternoon / early evening as they do the rest of the year. Half the people you will need are on holiday. A process that normally takes a week or two will drag on for weeks and oops, there you are, illegal.
Don’t start the process with someone who is closing their business down. Oh, I know that sounds too stupid to need saying, but Antonio was highly recommended, spoke good Spanglish, and was an agent with a garage – could do the paperwork AND any repairs. Sure his garage was being knocked down for the road to be widened but not for about 4 weeks and the whole matriculation only takes a couple of weeks, right? No problemo.
As per the last blog, lights were eventually fitted and the técnico put his report into Motril ITV station and applied for an inspection date for my full in-depth roadworthy test.
Problemo. We’d run out of time for Antonio to complete the process. I had been fed into the system and could continue, but I’d be dealing with agents who only spoke Spanish, paying for who knows what, unable to understand what I should be doing and worst of all, no-one had yet given me a quote. Insanity to launch into something like this without a written quote, and when I said I had to have one, there were shrugs and no entiendo. WHOA. Don’t get into the bigger money without a quote. I ended up having to switch horses midstream, which had its own problems.
The agent I switched to is the guy I probably should have gone with all along and life would have been far simpler. However, he doesn’t like working through Motril. The técnico had to withdraw his documents and resubmit them to Orgiva. He took a week to do that and I got the distinct impression there is a history between him and my new agent, who said I would have paid a fee running to several hundred euros. Orgiva, being smaller, would, my new agent said, be able to give me an appointment within days.
Well, not so much, the wait was three weeks, so I was definitely feeling like a pawn in the games people play, but hey. In the meantime the MOT had run out and I learned all about buses and taxi services and how to kick myself for leaving the whole thing to the last minute. In my case the whole procedure took about 9 weeks.
Ever researching on your behalf.