Moving house, whether in the US or Spain, requires many administrative procedures. And here, since we moved during the first half of the year, it requires even more. Of course, there was the padròn, which we took care of in the first two days of moving into our new house in Palas de Rei. But there are others, and the clock was ticking.
Moving to a new state in the US comes with several challenges. I’ve done this a number of times and you have to figure out how to switch all the utilities into your name, where you’ll bank (if your bank isn’t nearby and online banking isn’t practical), and how you’ll switch out your driving license to the new state, and register your car. There will be other, perhaps smaller, things but these are the biggies.
In Spain, you don’t have to switch out your driving license when you move to another province because the license is national, but you do need to notify the DGT (Spanish DMV) that you have moved. In theory, they say you can do this online with a digital certificate. I spent a significant amount of time on their website and we couldn’t figure out how to trigger our digital certificates to allow us to complete it. I really, really didn’t want to make an appointment and go all the way to Lugo (city) to the provincial Jefatura. Plus, you only have 15 days from the date of your padròn, – saying you moved to the province – so time was running out and I would have missed the deadline, incurring a fine.
But, being the dog with a bone that I am, I dug into the deep recesses of the DGT website and found out in some random .pdf that we, living in the rural locale that we do, could ease on down the road to a very small town 10km south of Palas called Monterosso. There, they will take our applications at their Concello office to change our driving license addresses, and our car registration. It’s a small place. There are a few of these town hall office in Lugo province that will perform this function. I guess it makes sense because they can’t force the entire population to drive all the way to Lugo (city). And, as I have learned, after our Tavernes Blanques digital certificate acquisition in Valencia, small towns are the best place to get something done quickly and without an appointment. Less bureaucracy.
We arrived in the very sleepy town of Monterosso right when the office opened first thing this morning. So much ‘first thing’ that we beat the Covid door monitor to her post in the lobby, and she had to record our phone number and take our temperatures after we had already finished up. They are all about contact tracing at the Concello de Monterroso.
I had everything ready to go. Our applications, our freshly minted padròns, passports, driving licenses, NIE cards, our European car circulation certificate. The whole nine yards. But they were not happy to see us.
The first guy got a lady who promptly told us to go back to Palas de Rei. I told her that the DGT website told us that Palas does not do this operation and that we were directed to come there, since it’s the closest town to Palas who does this service And that we couldn’t get to Lugo (which was not strictly true). Another woman arrived. She and the first woman huddled over our paperwork. They came back to us and asked for more documents. I took out the plastic folders and began to empty the contents on the counter, as Jeff took off for the car to empty out the glove box and bring back everything in there.
Every single thing they asked for, we had. This seemed to make the first woman unhappy. She couldn’t think of anything that would keep her from doing what we needed. Finally, we got a heavy sigh and a ‘Vale‘. She sat down and did each operation one at a time. 30 minutes later and we are legal, and so is our car. Yay! This is important because I have an appointment with the ITV to have my car inspected next Wednesday.
For those who live in a state that requires an emissions test, that is what this is and so much more. They will inspect the tire tread, the wiper operations, the turn signals, the safety equipment, the door locks. Everything. It should be a barrel of laughs. They will verify our car is properly registered. And they want to see we have paid our insurance.
When we were driving home from getting our addresses changed, Jeff shook his head.
‘Every time we have to go do administrative stuff here, it reminds me what all immigrants feel like. How confusing things are and how difficult it is to do something in a language that isn’t your own. You feel stupid. They think you’re stupid. But you have no choice. I think of those people I used to work with at Microsoft. Newly arrived from India or China or Eastern Europe. They spoke some English but they had no idea how things work. And how people treat immigrants in the US. Now, we know how they feel.’
He is right. We do. But we are lucky. Usually, people ask us if we are from Ingleterra (England). When we say Estados Unidos (US) they usually perk up and help us. But not always. Still, we are treated with much more deference than other immigrants in Spain. And certainly, much better than how we treat immigrants in the US.
I dropped Jeff off at home so he could work. But I needed that insurance certificate so headed into Melide to the Mapfre office to get the certificate that shows I paid our car insurance. The agent there was a lovely and took care of everything without a fuss. So, I’m ready for our appointment next Wednesday. Then I got cocky.
It’s tax time and I need to get someone to file ours for us in Spain. I don’t want to use the firm in Barcelona. They charged us €2500 to file our taxes last year. I feel like we got ripped off. This year, it should be very simple but I need a professional to look them over and file them. This, however, is proving a challenge here. Not one gestoria office has welcomed my business. Not one. A lady today essentially kicked me out of her office when she learned my español was not up to snuff. I wanted to tell her she could spend the fee she would charge me, just like any Gallego in town, but she wanted nothing to do with me. So I may end up in Lugo or Santiago. I don’t want our lawyer in Lugo to do it because I would like to keep our legal and financial lives separate. From a fee charging perspective.
So far, the preponderance of people here have been great. Helpful, accommodating. Many people actively correct my Spanish without feeling shy. I like that and I appreciate their willingness to help. We are almost at the limit of what we need to do to ensure we are ready to go with Spanish bureaucracy in Galicia. Moving here is much easier than it was moving to Valencia. We know the system now. And we know how to find what we need, and to get it. Every hurdle can be overcome. It just takes some deep breaths and some gratitude. And I have plenty of both. Oh yeah, and a decent hair dresser. 😉 It still stings.