Spain didn’t invent bureaucracy, France did (another reason to mock the French) but Spain has taken theirs to a new level of obnoxiousness.
Today I took the first (of many) step in renewing my Tarjeta de Identidad Extranjera (TIE) for the coming year. This little piece of plastic is my Spanish green card, allows me to legally enter and exit European countries for the next 12 months, and scores me some fabulous discounts on touristy things. It is also a colossal pain in the ass to obtain.
To renew your TIE in Galicia you must go to the police station that has jurisdiction over your region. In my case, going to the police station means an hour-long train ride and 15 minute walk, because I technically work in the province of Pontevedra, even though I live in Santiago (and not too far from our police station). Efficient, no? So I made the trip, almost getting lost in Pontevedra because I hadn’t been there since last December.
Once I got to the police station, I waited 10 minutes and then was informed by the funcionario that she had no f**king clue how to process my renewal because she was new. And her supervisor was on a coffee break. “Come back in 30 minutes” she suggested, ever so helpful.
I decided to go get passport photos (which I’d probably need anyways), muttering unpleasant things about the Spanish government while I left the building. When I came back, 40 minutes later, the supervisor in question happened to be wandering in the door behind me. Great, I think. I can get something done. She proceeded to tell me that I needed to fill out another form, go down the street to copy it (why the office has never bought its own copy machine, I’ll never know), as well as give her copies of my passport. No problem on the last one. I already had several copies of my passport.
“No, copies of all the stamps too.”
Misunderstanding my question and pointing at the stamps, “Yes, these are stamps.”
“The stamp I got when I entered Spain last week?” I asked, to confirm.
“No, all the stamps. Even if they aren’t for Spain.”
I have 4 pages of stamps in my passport. Most of them are completely irrelevant to my presence in Spain this year.
So…50 cents for all those stupid copies, and of course it was raining outside.
Went back to the office, AGAIN, and took yet another number. Wait, twiddle thumbs, mutter curses against the Xunta de Galicia.
Finally, finally, I got all my papers okayed and stamped, signed and glued (yeah, don’t ask). Then, of course, they inform me that they will call me in a week or two so I can come back and do other things. Like pay them. And get fingerprinted. And still not get my card until late November.
Total estimated trips to Pontevedra this fall: three.
What the funcionarios said when I explained why Santiago-living me was at their office: You totally should have been able to do this in Santiago!
I. Hate. Bureaucracy.