With an eye towards future-proofing, if you’re in Spain or planning a move here, you’ll want to consider getting a digital certificate upon arrival. What’s that? You may well ask. Trust me. It’s a good thing.
In the US, we have a certain amount of governmental paperwork we need to fill out to get things done. Some people think the government should be smaller. I actually think the government is supposed to be us helping to facilitate the smooth running of our lives. They should keep roads up, provide fire protection, and make sure we can live in comfort and without fear for our health. As a result, the government should be robustly performing duties that make our lives safer and easier. Regulations aren’t always a bad thing. Just ask the people without power, heat or hot water in Texas right now. Sadly. Small government and Freedom is mighty chilly with your AR-15 as cold comfort, cause it won´t cook your dinner for you or keep you warm when icicles are hanging in your house. Hopefully they have a dog!
In Europe, and in Spain, the administrative state is an art form. Getting a degree or certificate in Government Administration is an actual thing. This allows you to perform tasks that are government related for every day citizens. And you get paid for it. Why wouldn’t people just do their own paperwork? Because its not easy. Even if you speak the lingo and understand the system. It can be crazy making. My approach thus far has been to mostly appear wildly confused and stupid. Its easy to pull off because when it come to the Spanish bureaucracy I am both of those things. It worked for me for awhile. Now when people learn I’ve been here three years they realize this is my permanent state, and their patience is perilously thin.
These days, its even more difficult with the pandemic. Offices are closed. Staff is reduced. Many offices require appointments now, when before they allowed walk ins. But the catch is that there are no appointments to be had. More crazy making.
Enter the Digital Certificate. If you got one of these before the pandemic you are good to go on many, many things. Most of governmental interactions require paperwork and stamps, but with the digital certificate (where your identity has been certified) you can do most things online electronically. Want to notify the DGT (DMV) of an address change or a lost license? With your Spanish digital certificate you can do it online. Want to register with Social Security? Yup! It works for that too.
The national government uses a digital system called Cl@ve, and you can access this system only if you have first acquired a digital certificate at the lower level of the the Spanish bureaucracy. In the US, there is a lot of emotion around a national identity card. I’ve heard people quote the Bible to me about the mark of the beast from the book of Revelations. Not kidding. Too big brother for them. But here it works on many levels. Identity theft is very difficult – if not impossible – if you have to get a digital certificate with multiple documents with your photo, and stand in person to prove you are who you say you are.
But in the days of Covid, its nearly impossible to get a digital certificate on your own. Not because its a hard process but because you can’t get an appointment in person to verify your identity in person. I am thru the step of all the online forms and getting the verification codes so we can take them, and all the documents in my plastic folder, to the office to get certified. But we can’t get an appointment due to Covid. However, you can go to a gestor and have them request it on your behalf. This costs, of course. A couple of hundred euros. But it will make life infinitely easier, even post Covid. Fewer trips to a DGT or Social Security office. You can even submit your Padron (townhall re-registration required by foreigners every 3 years) using your digital certificate. No longer relying on a friend to accompany you to the various offices so you can navigate the language or complexity. You can do it all from the comfort and contagion-free safety of your own home.
Our three year anniversary of moving to Spain is coming up. We have to re-register with the town hall. Are there appointments to do that? Nope. Ugh. Perhaps I’ll let it expire and just do it up north.
Due to Covid restrictions, and my ongoing convalescence, I have a great deal of time on my hands to wander aimlessly through the governmental websites learning all sorts of new things. Watching videos on how to navigate the bureaucracy. Yes, there are people who take the time to record these from their apartments and post them on YouTube. I bet Tik Tok has a few, too. Perhaps incorporating more music and dance. Its a governmental maze I’ll admit to getting lost in. Some people wander down rabbit holes for conspiracy theories like that weird QAnnon thing. I’m more interested in the legal setbacks for opening a business, trimming my trees, or farming restrictions while living on the Camino De Santiago.
Its kind fun. I’ve learned that I must not cut down trees within 3 meters of the edge of a road where pilgrims walk or I could get jail time. They need their shade on hot days. Or if I want to open a business it must be related to ‘fostering the spirit of the Camino’. For instance, if I opened a dog grooming salon it should be for dogs walking the Camino with pilgrims. I will admit to meeting pilgrims who could use a little grooming, too. Maybe that would be allowed. The Xunta de Galicia and the Ministry of Culture shall be my guide via this 32 page document posted online. As long as I don’t violate rules, and ask for permission before building, I can avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Good news trickles in every day.
So it seems up in Lugo I will be submitting plenty of paperwork, and this digital certificate will come in handy there, too. Nothing is impossible. We just need to hang in there a little longer. And get a digital certificate.