So we are moving to Spain. We are not taking much of the 12,000 lbs. that we usually ship around the U.S. and we arrange with an international shipper to handle it. We decide to ship early so that our stuff is there when we arrive.
The U.S. rep tells us we need a “Baja Consular” for the Spanish Customs. This certifies that we have lived outside of Spain for over a year and these are therefore presumably second-hand effects.
She sends us a sample form – in Spanish to submit to the Spanish Consulate. Bob knows enough Spanish to know that this form looks odd, but he fills it in the best he can and sends it off with our passport information. He also sends a copy of the form to our friend, Xavi, who tells Bob what he suspected – it is for Spanish citizens returning from abroad. After some delay this is the same thing that the Spanish Consulate tells us.
So, Bob contacts the Spanish agent for our shipper. The agent asks for tax returns; electricity bills etc. to give to Customs as proof of having lived in the U.S. We send him all of that, reluctantly, with a copy of Bob’s Permanent U.S. Resident Card, which you lose if you are out of the U.S. for too long. This shows we have been in the states for 20 years.
Customs come back and say that this is not good enough, we need the Baja Consular. So we email the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona and receive a very prompt reply – since Bob is not a U.S. citizen they cannot help us and suggest that he contact the British Consulate since he is a British citizen. Bob replies that I am a U.S. citizen so they can create the form in my name. Certainly they say. Have her make an appointment in Barcelona and bring her passport. If we were in Spain – no problem, but the whole idea is we are moving to Spain with our goods.
We think about going to Washington to obtain it but the Spanish agent says that won’t work as the shipment is in Bob’s name not mine. Bob asks if we could change the shipment from his name to mine but does not get a response. Anyway, the U.S. Consulate says that we cannot obtain a Baja Consular anywhere other than a Consulate, which of course are all outside of the U.S.
Bob contacts the British Consulate in Washington. He is told that Britain never has and never will issue a Baja Consular.
We start considering Plan B, we will just pay the import duty of 300€-400€, cheaper than these options.
The U.S. Consulate as the final straw to complete this circle suggest that we contact the Spanish Consulate in the U.S.! If they would not give Bob a Baja Consular as a non-U.S. citizen, why would they think Spain would?
The point to this silly saga which took two months to complete the circle is that the need for the Baja was the only thing the U.S. shippers told us out of a raft of other documents we needed as you will have already read about. The U.S. shipper told us our belongings would be in Spain in 30 to 45 days, and let us go ahead and ship them knowing we were not in Spain yet. Anyone else contemplating a move, beware of doing this, as our goods would have been sitting in Customs for a month accumulating charges, but thankfully the ship was late. This allowed us to make our way through the paperwork, including the elusive Baja Consular. But only just.
Bob’s U.S. Citizenship
Bob is in the U.S. as a permanent resident (Green Card) and we realize that if he is out of the U.S. too long that he will lose this status. He applies for U.S. Citizenship. The website stated that the process will take 90 days. Sweet. Fairly quickly he has an appointment for the bio-dynamics and then the waiting begins for an appointment for the test and interview. I guess a presidential election and the holidays slowed things down. He finally gets notification that his test and interview is set for March 2nd. He starts studying the 100 questions about American history and government but to be honest he could have passed the test easier than most Americans. March 2nd arrives and of course he passes the test and the interview portion but you are not a citizen until you have taken the oath. The Oath ceremony is set for…March 29th! Cutting it close as we fly out on the 30th. This means that we need to drive back from my cousins on Lake Norman on March 28th so that we are here for the ceremony at 9:30am on the 29th. Our great friends, Doug and Juanita, offer to let us stay at their home for the night. They attend the ceremony with us in the morning which made it even more special.
Bob attempts to make an appointment at USPS on the 29th to apply for his U.S. passport but he is told that the earliest appointment would be in April and that it will take 8 weeks to receive the passport. So he goes online to the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona and is able to schedule an appointment for Tuesday, April 4th and it will only take 7-10 days to receive the passport. Really?!
Yes really, it actually only took six days, and on collecting it we were able to obtain the Baja Consular as he is now a U.S. Citizen, with a passport. The whole point of this piece of paper is to show we have lived in the U.S. for a period before coming here, but we filled in the form and said we had been in the U.S. for 20 years, and the Consulate could not have possibly checked that in the time it took to get it signed off officially. All is well that ends well.