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"We used Paul to help us organise a wedding in Ronda for my English daughter and Scottish son-in-law. It was a very tricky matter, because it is not normal for foreigners to marry in the town. Nevertheless, we persevered and Paul did all the interpreting, talking to officials and making phone calls on our behalf. Needless to say, the wedding went perfectly, with a large part of the thanks going to Paul."
Mary Jackson, Colwyn Bay, Wales, May 2006

Bureaucracy in Spain PDF
Monday, 04 July 2011 06:00

We’ve all been frustrated by Spanish red-tape – el papeleo. It’s one of the worst things about living in Spain. And how often have we gone to a utility company, the tax office, the Town Hall or the bank to find that the person we need to see has gone for breakfast?

The best way to get something done is to go in person and speak cara a cara to the funcionario. Phoning up is usually a waste of time. And go early – eg, from 8.30 am – before they nip off for their desayuno.

And another thing - despite having very sophisticated computer databases, records and software, they still like lots of paperwork to file away (or lose!). Talk about the "belt and braces" approach ...

Take a look at this amusing film about the subject. It’s in Spanish, with English subtitles, but it’s pretty obvious what’s going on:

© Paul Whitelock

Tags: Spanish red-tape, papeleo, breakfast, desayuno, paperwork, funcionario, cara a cara, paul whitelock, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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