Thursday, 21 May 2009

legally resident

I am finally legally resident in Spain, having procured my NIE - Numero de Identidad de Extranjero - this week after many Catch-22 style antics. Well, not that many, but enough to stress me out.

Getting the number is free and easy, but getting the appointment is not - there's a 6 month wait which is why I only just got mine. You need it to pay taxes, get a bank account and so on. There's a 10 euro administration charge which you have to pay at a bank beforehand and take the receipt with you. After getting Nataly to help me fill in the forms, this bit was easy: 8.30am (my appointment was at 10pm) at the bank, queue for 10 minutes, pay, on the metro to the address on the form. I arrive in good time, just after 9am, and join the back of the queue that snakes its way out of the building along the pavement and across the road. I'd taken some marking with me to keep me busy. The line moves fairly quickly and as I approach the door a policeman asks to see my form. Noting I'm English he tries to be helpful: "You need line 5." Anyway, either he got his numbers confused or was just plain wrong, because after 15 minutes of queuing in line 5 I finally get my turn and am directed to line 7. I queue again. Finally I am summoned to line 9, to be told I'm in the wrong place altogether. "Donde de Reino Undido? Vale, debes ir a Puerta de Toledo," says the man at the desk, giving me an address. I'm a bit pissed off; not only is the address he's given me not on the form but I recognise it: I've been there before, with Kate when she wanted to change the address on her NIE - there (at Puerta de Toledo) we were told to go to a different office - the one I was currently in, in fact! I explain this to the man, and he bumbles off with my forms into a back office. Ten minutes later he comes back.

I still need to go to Puerta de Toledo.

Which is on the other side of town.

I just made it. Funnily enough when I finally got there, there was no wait and no awkward questions (just when I was really psyched up to get argumentative in my limited Spanish). Instead a nice woman checked the spelling of my name, stamped my forms, gave me a certificate and welcomed me to Spain.

I now feel truly at home.

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