In 2007 my aunt died in the UK. As her executor and heir I had to get access to her bank account. That meant having my signature to a document witnessed by a notary or an officer of Barclays Bank. I phoned the British consulate in Barcelona and arranged an appointment. I turned up with the document for signature, my British passport and my Spanish ID card. I signed the paper, a consular stamp was affixed to it, I paid a fee and that was that.
Now my wife is in the same position with regard to her mother’s estate so she phoned the consulate. She was told to make an application by email. She did. This is the reply that she received.
We are very sorry to learn of your recent bereavement. Please accept our sincere condolences.
[This is blatantly untrue and insincere. They send a form letter without acknowledging the sex of the person they are writing to, even though they know it]
Thank you for your e-mail.
Please be aware, this service may also be provided by a Spanish Notary or a UK Lawyer in Spain. You may find this service can be provided more quickly and at a lower cost than offered by the British Consulate. Please refer to the following links for a Spanish Notary or English Speaking lawyer in your consular area.
[Not all UK lawyers are notaries. Many of those who work in Spain are likely to be specialists in corporate, financial or property law. Moreover, although it mentions ‘a UK Lawyer in Spain’, the link in fact goes to the consulate’s list of English-speaking Spanish lawyers – quite a different matter.]
If you wish to proceed with your application at the British Consulate, please email us scanned copies of the following documents.
* A completed & signed appointment request form, attached.
[This form is reproduced below.]
* Original valid British passport or Passport/National ID of your country of nationality.
* Your Certificado de Emapdronamiento (Town Hall registration certificate) or original, valid Spanish Police Registration Certificate (green document which bears your NIE number and your address), or other proof of address. Please refer to the following link for suggested list of documents which are accepted for proof of address. Please note the proof of address must match the address stated on the declaration.
[That hyperlink does not lead to such a list.]
* Death Certificate of deceased.
* The document to be sworn at the Consulate.
* If the document to be signed refers to any exhibits, a copy of each exhibit.
* If the document refers to the attached will, a copy of the will.
[Why on earth is all this documentation required for the simple act of witnessing a signature?]
Once your application has been approved we will contact you within four working days of reading your e-mail to confirm that you have provided the correct documents and to tell you how to book an appointment or to request further documents.
Consular Services | TEL: 902 109 356 | FAX: 00 34 91 714 6403
[There is no name at all despite the ‘sincere condolences. It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that they just can’t be bothered to provide the service and are being deliberately obstructive. The title of this post refers to the song by Noël Coward.]
With apologies to several British diplomats who I know will read this.
Click to enlarge images.