If You Can't Beat Them


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Use a person not a machine” was the reply. What was the question?? A simple task of getting the required biometric photo for my passport was the quest. Five attempts not one that fitted the dimensions needed. Thoughts of a flight to other lands (planets) to resolve this problem, the question in an email posed was to the Irish Consulate in Barcelona. Help! have you any advice for getting these specified photos taken. I understood their reply. It was the machines that were wrong!!

Then a passing comment from a long suffering husband gave me the clue needed. It’s all in the development. Find a person that is used to handling photos from an aesthetic point of view. Spain has a very good system to provide the required photos for carnets and Spanish passport photos. They do not match the requirements in size and clarity for the north European passports. To make this quest even more difficult those consulted were not aware of the difference. With a handful of useless photos and the printed instructions from the passport office, a person was found that could produce the needed “mug shot”.

The tracking of this passport application was also hilarious. Each day I would type in the handling number to receive an update on the stages of processing. The words over the week were, handling, verified, confirmed, processed and issued, then finally dispatched. I am now awaiting the Spanish postage system via Madrid for my passport!! I thought this was a simple exercise.

There are many of you that will share in my belief that a task will be simple until the head bashing stage is reached. It is not always a lack of understanding of the scheme or communication. The trump card or should I say joker is that the Spanish system also changes with continuous frequency. This year there have been changes in the percentage of tax payable on selling your property. Also on the 16 February by Royal Treaty the paperwork and method of submitting applications for becoming a Spanish Resident changed. Gone are the ID cards for foreigners who are members of the EU. A simple certificate will now be issued. We have tested the new system and it does not work yet. The new forms were filled in, all the supporting documents were attached, copies supplied and the applicant queued for the mandatory 2 hours. They were turned away; the staff at the foreigners department did not know how to process them! We will try again as previous experience has shown, that new systems will come into force with time allowed for learning the process. The police and others will ask for a document that is no longer issued to you!!! Those with the ID cards will not be reissued with them, but the new certificate will replace the expired card.

As an Estate Agent dealing with foreigners relocating here, the amusing fact is that when you explain the above situations to local people they laugh, shrug their shoulders and explain to you that this is normal. They cite, with utter contempt, many other situations over the years that change time and time, saying that often they return to the former process!! I now understand why they have a general disregard for bureaucratic systems. “Think of it as another language that only they know”. The person saying this to me is a local solicitor!!! Not knowing their secret language, with no phase book available, I will continue with the old process of “trial and error”. I will adopt the local’s attitude to the situation; next week it will be my turn to try the new system. Armed with cynicism, good humour and a large amount of patience, a sun hat and a good book, I will join the queue again………. . with a new passport that is valid for 10 whole years hopefully this will be long enough to get the needed certificate!

Helen Rowe is the Overseas Marketing and Sales Consultant for Immobiliaria Rieres, Tortosa, Spain.




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