Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in SpainSpanish/Galician Life
- The big new todays, of course, is the possibility of a law permitting euthanasia here in Spain. Which you can read all about here, here and, possibly, here. Not everyone is happy about this, of course.
- For Brits planning to drive in Spain after Brexit, the article below gives some advice.
- And for Brits planning to rent out a house in Spain after Brexit, here's the bad news about the increased tax you'll pay. BTW, an increase from 19% to 24% is not 5%, as claimed by the author; it's 5 percentage points, or 26%.
- Here's Lenox Napier on that highly critical UN report on poverty here in Spain.
- And here's The Local with the 10 'architectural wonders' in Spain we need to be reminded of.
- Galicia is the region of minifundios, contrasting with Andalucia, the region of latifundios. And they're getting smaller and smaller - and less economic - as they're subdivided among heirs on death. This is probably a factor in the mortality rate of villages in Galicia. 200 of which have gone in the last 5 year.s
- An insight into high level corruption in Spain can be gained by reading (in Spanish) about the activities in the last 10 years of this chap. Involving ministers and major banks. Here's something in English on him and the BBVA bank. With a link to his wider activities here.
- My UK bank sends me letters several times a year - on their charges, interest rates and policies. From my 2 Spanish banks - over 19 years - I've received nothing. Zilch, Nada de nada. So, it was a nasty surprise to see last night that I'm now being charged for ATM withdrawals. Which, of course, will add many millions of pure profit to the bank, without them having to do anything at all. Customer service in Spain hasn't advanced much during my time here.
The Way of the World
- Brown is the new black, I read. Time to dust down my old corduroy jacket. And
- Leather has changed; it's not scary anymore. Good news for those of us with 2 jackets made of the stuff.
- Word of the Day:- Tara: Tare, as in 'tare weight'.
- Phrase of the Day: Hacer mella: To make a dent in/impression on.
- A bit of perspective from Private Eye . . . During the last virus panic - SARS - more people died from falling down stairs than than they did from contracting it.
Driving in Europe after Brexit: why it's bad news for tourists – and even worse news for pets
British tourists and travellers currently enjoy unfettered access to the European Union and its 27 member states. But while driving to France and beyond will still be possible after the end of the ‘transition period’, Brexit brings with it new requirements that UK drivers must follow before embarking on a road trip in the EU.
These obstacles are far from insurmountable but driving in Europe will become more expensive and complicated than it was before. Most of these changes will come into force at the start of next year; until then, British drivers in the EU will continue to enjoy the same access and protections as they did before Brexit.
What is an International Driving Permit, or IDP?
An international driving permit (IDP) is essentially a translation of a national driving licence. It enables the holder of a domestic driving licence to drive a car or ride a motorcycle overseas. Until now, British drivers have enjoyed access to all EU and EEA countries, plus Switzerland, without the need for any extra documentation. But starting next year, UK drivers will need an international driving permit to use their cars in most European countries.
There are 3 types of IDP, however, and not all are recognised by every country. The two you’ll need for European trips are known as the 1968 Vienna Convention IDP and the 1949 Paris Convention IDP, which last for three years and twelve months respectively. Most of Europe uses the 1968 permit, but driving in Spain over longer periods of time (for example) might require the 1949 permit as well. You’ll need the correct document for each of the countries you plan to drive through.
Some countries, like Denmark and Belgium, won’t require an IDP at all, though you’ll need one for any countries that you drive through on your way there.
Where do I get an IDP?
British motorists can obtain an IDP from the Post Office. You’ll need to go to one of the Post Office branches that provides international driving permits with your photocard licence and a passport photo. If you only have a paper licence, you’ll also need a valid passport as proof of identification.
Each version of the IDP costs £5.50, so if you need both you’ll need to pay £11. A 1968 IDP lasts for three years, while the 1949 IDP will need renewing after just one year. Not having an IDP in a country where you need one could land you with a fine.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU?
Probably. At the moment, British people can travel without restrictions across every country in the EU. Brexit puts an end to that, and brings with it the prospect of buying a visa – or at least a document similar in function to a visa – to visit the Schengen area. British travellers will probably need to obtain approval via the planned European Travel Information and Authorisation System, and will be subject to security checks. If you are approved to travel, the permit will be valid for 3 years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes soonest. If your application is rejected, you will be given details on how to appeal.
Which other documents will I need to drive in Europe?
British drivers will now need a “green card” to prove that they are insured to drive their car abroad. You will need to contact your insurance company to obtain this, well in advance of your trip, as anybody driving in Europe without one could be breaking the law – penalties include not just fines and prosecutions, but having your vehicle seized too.
In some European countries, a separate green card is needed for a trailer, in addition to the green card for the vehicle towing it. Contact your insurer to obtain two green cards; checks might take up to a month, so make sure you have this sorted well in advance of your trip.
If you own the car you’re travelling in, you’ll also need to bring your V5C “log book” with you when driving abroad. This must show your most recent address in the UK. According to the government, it can take up to six weeks to update a V5C if you’ve changed your address or your name since the previous one was issued. If you do not own the car, you’ll need to take a VE103 vehicle on hire certificate to prove that you have permission to drive it to Europe.
What if I have an accident while driving in the EU after Brexit?
If you are involved in a traffic collision abroad, the resulting processes and paperwork could become a great deal more complicated. At the moment, UK drivers can make a claim via a UK-based claims representative. The post-Brexit future is unclear but UK drivers might have to pursue the driver or insurer in the country where the accident took place, and might not receive compensation if they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
What if I want to travel with a pet?
Your EU pet passports will no longer be valid from next year. Pet owners are advised to start planning their trips four months in advance if they plan to go to Europe with a dog, a cat or (for some reason) a ferret. The animal will need a vaccination against rabies and a microchip, with a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its most recent vaccination. This sample must then be sent to an EU-approved laboratory in order to prove that the vaccination was successful. Then, you must wait three months after approval before you travel, though you will need another trip to an “official veterinarian” for a health certificate no more than ten days before you travel.
To get this certificate, you’ll need proof of your pet’s vaccination history, its microchipping date, and the rabies antibody test result. This certificate will be valid for ten days for going to the EU, four months for onward travel within the EU, and four months for re-entry back to the UK. Your pet will need a new health certificate for each trip to the EU.
What about my car insurance?
Currently, you don’t need a Green Card to drive within the EU, EEA, Andorra, Serbia or Switzerland, and that state of affairs would probably continue were we to leave with a deal. However, were we to leave the EU without a deal or any reciprocal arrangements, your British car insurance policy document on its own will not be recognised as the legal minimum cover to be able to drive in Europe.
With that in mind, if you’re planning to drive in Europe post-Brexit, you will need to arrange for a Green Card, which serves as evidence of motor insurance cover when driving abroad. These are usually available free-of-charge from your car insurance provider, and will cover you to drive your car in non-European countries. Be warned that these can take as long as a month to arrange, so it’s worth making sure they’re in order early on.
It’s also worth noting that some countries require you to have a separate Green Card if you’re towing a trailer or caravan – so make sure you check if that’s your intention and, if necessary, ask your insurer for two Green Cards – one for your car, and the other for the trailer.
What about other insurance? Will my EHIC still be valid?
No. British people travelling to EU countries currently have access to free healthcare thanks to their European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC. It is valid in any country in the European Union, plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. From next year, however, this is unlikely to be valid, and British tourists will probably have to obtain insurance to cover them in case they are injured or fall ill while abroad.
Will my GB numberplate still be valid?
This is still one of those unknowns. GB stickers are a requirement when driving in the EU at the moment, but a numberplate that displays the Euro symbol and a GB identifier is currently allowed in lieu.
We couldn’t come up with a definitive answer as to whether that will remain the case once we’ve left the EU. Nevertheless, Government advice is to display the GB sticker irrespective of whether you currently have a numberplate that features a GB identifier.
Can I still hire a car in the EU?
Yes, you can. However, as above, you’ll need the correct IDP for the country you’re visiting. Your car rental provider may refuse to hand over the keys if you fail to present an IDP.
Can I still be sent a speeding fine from the EU?
Thanks to the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive, which has been in force since 2017, it’s now very easy for European police to trace you and your car and issue you with traffic and speeding fines, and potentially even points on your licence.
However, without a deal – and potentially even with one in place – this directive would no longer apply. That would therefore make it much harder for European police forces to trace British drivers, and in theory, could result in far fewer fines being issued to British-registered cars.
Don’t imagine that this will give Brits free reign to break speed limits abroad, though. In many European countries, on-the-spot fines will still apply, and many police forces are endowed with the ability to seize vehicles there and then. If they’re aware they might not be able to enforce a fine issued later, the chances are they might be more inclined to do so.
What if I’m involved in a crash in the EU?
Currently, if you’re involved in a car accident in the EU, you can make a claim off the back of that crash via either a UK-based Claims Representative, or the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
However, should we find ourselves outside the EU without any agreements, UK residents will need to bring an insurance claim against either the driver or the insurer of the other vehicle(s) involved in the crash in the country where the accident happened. This may need to be done in the local language.
And worse luck if the driver is uninsured or untraceable; if that’s the case, there’s a strong chance you won’t receive any compensation at all, as the legal mechanisms aren’t in place to find the driver and claim against them.
Will I be able to travel through Dover after Brexit?
There’s no suggestion that you won’t be. However, depending on the final outcome of Brexit, there may be some disruption. The Government had advised travellers to expect, in a worst-case scenario, “very significantly reduced access across the short strait [of Dover] for up to six months”.
In other words, delays to freight traffic in the even of the hardest forms of Brexit might result in far less capacity for tourist traffic on ferries and trains across the English Channel. That’s without mentioning the increased difficulty of travelling to the port itself that may come about if Operation Stack is put in place.
However, if the outcome is a softer form of Brexit, the likelihood is that these issues won’t come about. Should we enter into an agreement which allows freight to remain relatively frictionless across the Channel, it’s unlikely that the hold-ups will be anywhere near as bad, though there may still be a few small delays here and there.
What about other ports like Portsmouth and Ramsgate
Other Channel ports are unlikely to be as severely affected as Dover in the case of a hard Brexit as their longer crossing times mean they’re less heavily relied upon for just-in-time freight. However, travellers could still face delays at other channel ports as traffic is likely to spill over from Dover if delays mount
Will I still be able to buy cheaper alcohol and cigarettes in France, or 'duty-free'?
Most likely, yes – but possibly not as much. The UK Government will probably decide to maintain the current personal alcohol and cigarette import allowances from the EU in the short or long term. But if it doesn’t, those allowances will probably be brought into line with current allowances for goods brought in from outside the EU, which allow up to 16 litres of beer and up to four litres of wine – just over half a case. You can also bring in up to a litre of spirits over 22 per cent alcohol, or up to two litres of other alcoholic drinks with up to 22 per cent alcohol, or any combination thereof.
As far as tobacco is concerned, current allowances cater for one of either 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, or 250g tobacco, or a mix thereof.
- Galicia Living is a new property development outfit here in Southern Galicia (As Rías Baixas), owned by a friend of mine. So, if you're looking for a house here, get in touch with them. And, if you're particularly interested in the lovely Miño area down on the border with Portugal, let me know on email@example.com and I'll send you my write-up on it.