Cosas de España/Galiza
Lenox Napier calls us foreigners resident in Spain The Invisible Tribe. This is his latest article on the subject. Some comments it provoked can be seen below.
Also below is the promised article on the pros and cons of seeking Irish or Spanish nationality. In the latter case, this is what the Spanish call un calvario, now taking up two 5 years.
Today being May Day or Labour Day, there will be manifestaciones in Pontevedra city. The placard for one of these reads Somos Unha Nación, We Are One Nation, in Gallego. I suspect this is not a reference to Spain as a whole but only to the region of Galicia. The word ‘nation’ causes considerable problems here in Spain, especially in those bits of it which used to be independent centuries ago and would like to re-achieve that status. Imagine if that were the case in Germany or Italy. Or in the UK. Oh, it is . . .
Wow . . The first country to experience Covid-19, and the one that invented the defence strategy known as lockdown, is the only country still practising it. But the Chinese form is so much harsher than the British version, it is almost misleading to use the same term. In Shanghai, the biggest city now enduring the experience, millions have been physically barricaded into their homes, some crying out that they are starving. Those reporting infections are forced into vast quarantine camps. Vital office workers have been confined to their skyscrapers, sleeping at their desks for over a month now.
The Way of the World
Their masculinity under threat, men are turning to some very alternative treatments — including tanning their testicles. Testicle tanning a hitherto little-known practice that involves blasting one’s balls with red or near-infrared light in the hope it might boost testosterone levels. I think I’ll give it a miss.
Quotes of the Day
1.To pressure us to declare our pronouns – that is, to perform a belief in the fiction of an inner gender – is as obnoxious and outrageous as it would be to force a non-Christian to say ‘Christ is my saviour’. Compelled speech runs counter to the entire idea of liberty, and to the Enlightenment itself. No one should be ‘compelled by fire and sword to profess certain doctrines… to profess things that they do not believe’, said John Locke in his Letter Concerning Toleration. More here.
2. Depp vs Heard is an ugly, degrading spectacle. We should take this as a warning about where our victimhood culture can lead us. Ain’t that the truth. More here.
British TV ads display a desperate search for adjectives for the relevant product or service. The latest I’ve heard is ‘heritage’, as in the ad for a hotel ‘A heritage coastline you can see from your room’. As opposed to just ‘a coastline’.
Dummdoof: Lenox Napier reminds me that ‘doofus’ means dumb in American.
Finally . . .
Confined by Covid, I’ve been binge-viewing for the first time in my life. So, yesterday I watched 20 episodes of What We Do in the Shadows – using a VPN to view it on the BBC iPlayer. Although this is an American TV series – based on the film of the same name – the 3 leading players are all English. And a fine job they do too. I fear I’m falling in love with Nadja, if only because of her foul temper and bad language. Highly recommended, as they say.
For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.
1. Comments on Lenox Napier’s article
Mark Stücklin; Spanish Property Insight
The question you ask this week is one I’ve asked myself for many years. I think it’s partly due to the fact that foreign residents are not organised in any way and have no lobby. Nobody hears their voice, and the government just takes them for granted. The Modelo 720 shows how happy the Spanish government is to make life difficult for foreign residents.
An American resident down south
What you stated about the foreign residents is very true! So I thought I’d give you some feedback. We are retired Americans in Benalmádena—not wealthy, but have enough pension and savings to leave the US which is a mess.
We definitely feel ‘under-appreciated’ by the government. We love Spain, but have considered moving to Portugal, Italy or France for several reasons. We don’t even mind the famous Spanish bureaucracy—it is other issues.
1. Taxes are through the roof on our pensions, while we owe very little in tax to the USA. Portugal, France & Italy all have better tax schemes for retirees. In addition, it is extremely frustrating that Spain is issuing a Digital Nomad visa & giving these young salaried employees a tax break by allowing them to pay non-resident tax, which is much lower than resident taxation. Apparently, the government feels the Digital Nomads will spend more money on restaurants & bars! Retirees also spend a lot on going out—we rarely eat in, and try to always buy local products & use local businesses to inject money into the local economy. The government logic makes no sense & I’ll bet retirees spend more than younger digital nomads.
2. Driver’s licenses are a big problem here. When you’ve had a driver’s license for 50 years, it is a major pain & expense to be forced to take tests and pay for required lessons to drive. Have heard the exams in Málaga are backed up for 6 months! It has affected our whole life here. We had intended to buy a car, but now walk or use the bus. This is fine, but it totally affects where we can live as we must be near a bus route & grocery store, so are very limited in choice of areas. But the hassle of getting a driver’s license is a really big obstruction. The other countries I’ve mentioned have a driver’s license exchange program which makes a huge difference in quality of life.
3. Holiday rentals are out of control. Living by the coast is a goal & dream for many who come here. We are on our second coastal rental, but now realize it is all pretty much the same. Both buildings we’ve lived in are full of holiday rentals, with the associated noise & inconsideration of holiday makers. When the buildings aren’t full of vacationers, the apartments are being renovated to accommodate more guests and higher fees. It’s like living in a continuous construction site. We would move up the hill and away from the tourists, but then there is the problem of not having a car! The holiday rentals that many Northern Europeans are buying here are hugely driving up the cost of living on the coast. We’ve only been here a year, but the rents have gone way up in a place that only a year ago had a number of affordable rentals (we do not want to own).
I do keep up with the expat forum groups & of course, the Brits look at things different than Americans, but many Americans are deciding on Portugal or France over Spain due to the high taxation in Spain. For the wealthier retiring American baby boomers (which we aren’t), taxation is a huge part of their choice. They hate the wealth tax & a 35% – 45% tax bracket on income just does not work for them, as Americans are used to lower taxes in general. If you read the expat forums, this is a recurring theme (along with the driver’s license issue). But even for those of us in the lower income brackets—taxes are a big problem. We moved here from Florida, which is expensive, but in the end, being retired in Spain is not much cheaper, all things considered, though we prefer Spaniards and the Spanish lifestyle over Floridians! At least the currency exchange is much better than when we arrived, which helps.
We really enjoy your newsletters as they are very informative and concise regarding business & government news. We’ve been thinking of moving from Benalmádena into Málaga city as there is a lot more to do & you don’t need a car. We just renewed our non-lucrative visa for 2 years. Have not seen our tax bill yet, but if it is as high as I am expecting, we may not actually be able to afford to stay in Spain in the future, as it will end up depleting our savings.
Public policy in Spain is drafted with a mixture of the four Is: Ideology, Ignorance, Indifference, and Indolence.
2. APPLYING FOR ANOTHER NATIONALITY: SPANISH OR IRISH?
During the 3 years since the shock referendum verdict of mid 2016, there’s been a lot of talk of a Hard Brexit which would – eventually – remove from Brits all the rights they’ve had in the EU for several decades. These would include access to the Spanish healthcare system and visa-free travel for Brits and their kids. On top of this, there’d be new bureaucratic hurdles, including a different ID card to reflect our inferior status. For more information on the threats to Brits, try putting “Sue Wilson” or “Bremain” into the search box of The Local.
I’ve never believed things would come to such a pass – relying both on a belief in the power of the British Establishment to stop it and the common sense among all parties. At the back of my mind, there was also the security of knowing I could retain my rights by obtaining either Spanish or Irish nationality.
But it wasn’t until early this year that I was motivated by Conservative party developments – to investigate the respective processes, influenced a little upfront by the fact I’d heard a friend complain – over 2-3 years – about how the Spanish option was what’s called here un calvario. And this from a fluent Spanish speaker who’d lived her for many years. An important negative aspect was that the Spanish government doesn’t allow dual nationality and so demands that you give up your British passport.
So, I took look at the relevant Spanish web page and, finding the English hard to follow, decided to have no more to do with that option and moved quickly to investigate my Irish option. This was available to me because my grandmother was born in Ireland and, thus, my father had automatically been an Irish citizen. Ironically, I don’t think he ever knew he was both British and Irish. As very many folk born on Merseyside are.
Over the next few months, I got together all the certificates and photos required by the Irish government to allow me to go onto the Irish Birth Register. Once achieved, I could claim a passport. When all was ready, I took advantage of a visit to my elder daughter to take the papers to the Irish embassy there and duly lodged them with a nice lady. I now wait on confirmation of registration. This used to take only 6 months but, such has been the rise in applications, it could now take 9 or even 12.
This article is a (shallow) comparison between the Spanish and Irish processes and my caveat is that I’m much more familiar with the latter than the former. So, it’s not something to rely on if you’ve no choice but to go the Spanish route. The government page will be a good start as regards this – if you can figure out what the English text means – but must, I’m sure, be augmented by talking to someone who knows more than I do about it. And I’m told that many people need to take at least an interpreter with them when they go to talk to the Registro Civil about their application. Possibly even a gestor.
One final point in this preamble . . . I don’t know much about the challenge of getting British nationality . other than the residence requirement is 5 years, against a norm of 10 in Spain – so I can’t compare it with either that of Ireland or Spain
All that said, this is my overview of how the challenges differ. I won’t be at all surprised – or upset – to be told I’ve got some things wrong.
The Irish process involves, firstly, an application to go on the Irish Birth Registration and, secondly, a passport application.
The Spanish process involves at least one (multi-stepped) stage and probably a subsequent passport application.
Who to Apply to?
Spain: The Ministerio de Justicia.
Ireland: The Dept of foreign Affairs and Trade.
Spain: I think on the internet but suspect visits to some offices will also be involved.
Ireland: Only on line.
Web Page Information
Time from start to finish
Spain: 3 to 4 years, possibly even more.
Ireland: 6 to 12 months
Spain: A lot. See the web page: At least: 1. A period of residence which depends on your status; 2.Certificates of birth etc.; 3. Proof of ID; 4. A Spanish language diploma 5. Evidence of ‘sufficient integration’: 6. Proof of residence; 7 Criminal checks in both Spain and the UK.
Ireland: 1. A parent or grandparent born in Ireland; 2. Certificates of birth etc.; 3. Proof of ID; 4. Proof of residence.
Most importantly, there’s no requirement for residence in Ireland; your entitlement is based on descendence rom an Irish native.
Complexity of the Process/Ease of Application
Spain: High. The English of the web page is poor (What is a ‘literal certificate’?); the application form will surely be long and complex; you might have to deal with a Spanish bureaucrat and, if so, the language of communication will surely be Spanish. So, as I’ve said, you might be well advised to pay a gestor help you.
Ireland: Low. There is a short form of only 4 pages with a 2-3 easy questions on each page; the English of both the advice page and the application itself is very clear; you’ll only have to deal with a computer. Finally, If anything more is needed beyond what you’ve sent, an email will be acceptable. I can’t imagine this being the case with the Spanish option.
Risk of Getting Something Wrong and Slowing Things Down
Spain: €102, plus the costs of certificates and of everything else you have to provide or do. A language diploma, for example. The fees of any gestor are, of course a piece of string.
Ireland: €270 plus the costs of any certificates you need to get in Ireland or the UK. An easy process, with prices for slow or fast delivery. There are several sites which will help you identify the dates and details of the certificates you might need, becaause you don’t already have them.
Keeping Your British Passport
Spain: No (in theory, at least)
Spain: High, I imagine.
Spain: High, I again imagine.
Finally, my sympathies go out to anyone who has no choice but to go the Spanish route. And, if you haven’t already started on this odyssey, you might find that any transition period ends before you get Spanish nationality.
In other words, you really should have started before the referendum was held!