Tenerife Tales
An Ex Pat´s Life On A Rock In The Atlantic by Sue Havenhand

Tearing Your Hair Out on the Spanish Paper Trail

I lost my driving license last week – not lost it as in having it confiscated for road naughtiness, no, lost it physically by being careless. Let me tell you, solving problems like this is a nightmare here in Tenerife, nothing to do with paperwork and documentation is simple – ever.

The actual process of getting a duplicate license in Trafico (our DVLA) is not so bad if you speak a bit of the lingo, but get this. You cannot simply say, “I´ve lost my license”. No. No way José. You have to go to a police station first and say, “I´ve lost my license”. They then give you a piece of paper called a denuncia which says on it “This person has lost her license”. Why, you may well ask? I have no idea.

Likewise, you cannot say “Please send my new license to this address, the address where I live”. No, that wont do. You have to go to your local council office, take a copy of your house deeds and ask them, “Can you give me a piece of paper that says I live at this address please?”  They do so, and off you go to Trafico with said piece of paper. In fact you need one of these “proof of address” papers often, when you buy a car for example, and even when you want to put your children into school. Paperwork breeding paperwork. I have to wonder, is the Canarian obsession with pieces of paper responsible for the destruction of the rain forests? I for one would not be surprised., and have a mental image of primates running to escape the chainsaws, all to provide paper to feed the  Canarian bureaucracy machine. What a sobering thought.
Visits to Council offices, Trafico, and other Government institutions are stressful affairs. Take every document you have, relevant or not, with a couple of photocopies in reserve, and you should be ok. If you’re lucky. When the stamp comes off the desk and is banged onto various papers then you’re more or less home and dry, this signifies the end.

Carrying identification is the law here. Thats fine by me, I don’t know why the English have a problem with it, other nationalities do it as a matter of course. But get this. Spanish nationals have their own photo ID card. Until a couple of years ago, we foreigners had our own version, called a residencia, a nice, credit card sized photo ID card. Perfect. Now however, that has been replaced by a silly A4 piece of green paper (look out Amazonia, we´re coming to get you) which carries no photo at all. So, as carrying ID is the law, what to do now? You guessed it, carry the green piece of paper around ( to prove resident status) and your passport for photo ID. How rubbish is that? To add to the inconvenience you are not allowed to fold said piece of paper, so you need to pop it in a plastic file for safekeeping. Arrrgh!! It’s like someone thought right, how can we maximise inconvenience for our lovely immigrant community? Yes, thats it, take away a handy little ID card and make them carry their passports and papers around at all times. Then, when they lose their passports and papers (and carrying photocopies of such is not allowed) the whole paper trail starts again, providing employment for the masses. Simples.

Right, thats me done for this week, I have a drawer full of paperwork to sift through, could be a while………….

Photos courtesy of Diana McGlone of  The One Stop Problem Shop, for all your paperwork needs made easy. http://www.diana-mcglone.com/


7 Responses to “Tearing Your Hair Out on the Spanish Paper Trail”

  1. Another great article Suzy just one slight problem, think you will find that it was the Brits (in the UK not here) who said we were not allowed the residencia cards, it was against our human rights!!! The Italians, Germans, etc still have them. So don´t I have human rights to choose what I want and what I don´t

  2. I hope you are armed with a copy of Tenerife Lifeline, Sue. We’ve tried realy hard to help expats through the paperwork jungle.

  3. *blushes*. thanks Sue!

  4. As always a great read Sue. And spot on as well.

  5. Oh so very true, & amusing to read…. God help us on the paper trail in Tenerife….


  6. Very funny article, well written, facts may have been mildly distorted for the sake of artistic licence, but really funny nonetheless!

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