Our guest writer Stuart has some news!
I disappeared from the blogging scene for a while, following a return to full-time employment, a house move and, as of four weeks ago, a baby boy!
It seems there’s nothing quite like becoming a father to remind you of the more important things in life, and give you another incentive to get on with it! So here I am, back again, and ready to share some new experiences.
When I moved to Lanzarote in 2009, I wasn't planning to settle here and raise a family. Come to think of it, I didn't really have a plan at all, and as usual, where there is a gap, life steps in to fill it for you. Seven and a half years later, I'm a fiancé, step-dad, and now father, happily living the (relatively) quiet life in rural Lanzarote. Life of course just got a whole lot busier, as the parents out there will understand, but I must say we're thrilled with our new not-so-little son, and I'm sure we'll catch up on all the sleep, and recover from the all the worry eventually!
I'd like to give a little insight on what it's like to start and raise a family as a foreign national in the Canary Islands, which at times has it's complications, (mostly concerning paperwork), but on the whole, is a great experience and one I would very much recommend.
We chose home birth over hospital birth, and are pursuing what some might call 'alternative' health and environmental considerations, which in turn bring their own challenges and rewards. I'll spread this journey over a few blog posts as our son grows and we learn more.
To start with however, I'll outline the rather tedious, but necessary paperwork that needs to be completed after the birth, and then we can get on with the more interesting stuff.
Step One: Civil Registration
Your newborn must be registered with the Registro Civil. If you had a hospital birth, then you can do this at the hospital. You must of course have chosen your child's name by this point, and present the ID documents of the parent(s) as well. In most cases, this will mean your NIE and passport. Already being familiar with paper chasing in these islands however, for the last three weeks, I have carried with me in a folder, everything I owned that I thought might be useful, just in case.
If you had a home birth as we did, you can still register your baby at the hospital if less than 72 hours have passed since birth, but if this time has lapsed, you will need to go to the office of the Juzgado de Paz in your local municipality, with all your ID, and a signed document from the midwife that delivered the baby, confirming the date, time and location of the birth, and the details of the parents. The midwife will know what form he or she needs to complete.
You will then receive your Libro de Familia, (in our case, later the same day), which is an important part of your child's ID documentation.
A little note about surnames... In Spain they would usually take the father's surname followed by the mother's surname as the child's twosurnames, regardless of whether or not the parents are married, and this is how we registered our son. It may be however that when we come to step three below, the fact that we are a mixed nationality, non-married couple might mean we have to register his surname differently. We decided to cross this bridge at a later stage however, when there is less time pressure on completing all the paperwork.
This first part needs to be completed as soon as possible as after birth.
Step Two: Empadronamiento
This is where you register your baby as living with you, in your home. With the Libro de Familia, an official copy of your own Certificado de Empadronamiento, and all the previous ID documents already mentioned, you then need a trip to the local Ayuntamiento. Aside from having to wait an hour for the lady to come back from her coffee break, it was a very quick and easy appointment, but they then require 2-7 days to complete the process, and for your child to appear officially in the system. At this point, you can return to collect your child's Certificado de Empadronamiento, which you will need for the next step.
Step Three: Passport
It may seem a bit early to be applying for a passport, and we weren't intending to do so until the Seguridad Social requested it as proof of our son's nationality. They require either a passport or, proof from the Consulate that we've applied for one.
Being born in Lanzarote doesn't automatically qualify you for Spanish nationality if your parents are not Spanish. I'm British and my fiancée is German, and we chose, purely for administrative ease, to apply for a German passport. We're a little short of Embassies and Consulates in Lanzarote, but the German Consulate sends a representative to a doctors clinic in Playa Blanca once a week, and you can apply for a passport in person there.
British passports however have to be organised through the passport agency in London (it's apparently no longer a service offered by Consulates), and with all the other things to think about during those first couple of weeks, I didn't want to waste any more energy investigating at that stage. Now I've done everything that needs to be done, I'll call London and see about a British passport too.
Step Four: Registration with the Seguridad Social
For this, you'll need to get an appointment by calling 012, and following the instructions. You can't just turn up to the office and wait in line. Even with an appointment you will most likely need to wait a while once you get there, but without one, you won't even get through the door. You could even book this appointment before you've completed steps one, two and three, because it's unlikely that you'll get one from one day to the next. You should have enough time to complete the first three tasks before your turn at the Seguridad Social in Arrecife.
Take your proof of passport application, Certificados de Empadronamiento (yours as well as your child's), Libro de Familia and your passports and NIEs to your appointment.
I arrived still a little confused about the process, but they were very helpful, and once I'd got to a desk, I was done in ten minutes. I understand that there are forms that you can download via the internet to complete before you get there, but it wasn't a problem for me that I turned up without them.
You then receive yet another a document, that you now need to take to your local Centro de Salud to collect your child's Tarjeta Sanitaria.
It's worth knowing that although your child must be registered with the Seguridad Social, prior to this they can still receive medical attention if necessary, because by default they will be covered by the mother's registration.
At this point, your child is fully registered and officially part of the Spanish system.
Step Five: Tarjeta Sanitaria
Take the document you received at the Seguridad Social to your local Centro de Salud, and collect your child's Tarjeta Sanitaria, which you will be asked to present at every subsequent visit to a doctor or the hospital.
I completed all this within the first two weeks after birth. It's a bit of a manic time, but unfortunately that's just the way it is.
YOU MUST DO THIS WITHIN 15 DAYS OF BIRTH!!!
There is one more very important thing to know, which we only found out because a friend of ours had recently become a mother and told us about it. You can receive up to €100 per month from the
Seguridad Social per child under three years old. It's called Deduccion por Maternidad and you can apply for this via their website, but a five minute phone call to this number was much easier: 901 200 345. You will need some information from your previous year's (or the year before that) tax return to add to the usual ID information.
In my next post, I'll talk about how to organise Maternity and Paternity leave.