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.