Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Of no fixed address

The British Embassy has a Facebook page called Brits Living in Spain. Lots of their posts are pretty good. Today there was one about applying for a European health card online and true enough there was a simple online form on the Ministry of Employment and Social Security's website for workers and pensioners. I filled it in and sent it off. An email came back to say my address didn't match anything on their database.

My address is easy. House number, Culebrón and postcode.

Postcodes in Spain identify a town or village. Culebrón is 03658 but the post office told us never to use that as mail would be wrongly sent to the sorting office in Salinas. Better to use 03650 they said. Some organisations have address checking software that matches the village name to the correct postcode and make arbitrary changes. Maybe the Ministry of Employment and Social Security is one of those organisations. So the mistake could be in the postcode.

Lots of Spanish internet databases require a descriptive word which is the equivalent of things like street, avenue, drive or crescent in the address and most of them will not accept a blank field. On the deeds to the house the descriptive term is Partida - a word that has lots of meanings but roughly translates as place or zone. On the equivalent of the Council Tax Register the Town Hall gave our address the prefix Caserío which loosely translates to hamlet. If a database offers either of these terms I use them. Sometimes the firm or agency I'm dealing with simply adds its own prefix and, quite often, additional information too. Our electricity provider for instance uses Calle (street) Culebrón and then adds bajo which is normally used for ground floor flats. True enough we only have a ground floor. The phone company has made up a different address which includes the word Aldea (village.) So the mistake could be the first word of the address.

Actually my name is nearly as fickle as my address. Barclaycard changed the spelling of my name to Christofer and on my health card and social security card my name is Christopher Joh as they ran out of characters. Online the phone company has given me a second surname. None of this matters very much as I get hardly any snail mail and most identification just happens through my ID number. I don't suppose my name is the problem.

All this makes it difficult to correct my address so it matches their database though. I looked at my tax return thinking there may be a link between Government databases but they have a different variation - Calle Rio Culebrón (Culebron river street) which I suspect is somebody correcting what they assumed to be a Brit misspelling of the address. From Caserío to Calle Rio.

I was told I'd got my first application wrong by an automated system so I thought I may as well have another go. I banged off another form. Maybe I can keep going till we get a match.

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