If I had a nickel for every time there’s been a confusion with my middle/last name (like not being able to find my medical records when I’m going to have a baby…) let’s just say that I’d be pretty well-off. I completely understand that here in Spain everyone has two last names (first the father’s and second the mother’s), and I understand that this can be confusing. However, not everyone living here (and paying taxes here I might add. Somehow the agency collecting my taxes didn’t get this wrong) is from Spain. I can see how this could be confusing the other way around in the US, classifying a first last name as a middle name, but I think the key is to be clear and specific whenever signing up for anything.
I tend to specifically state (and make a joke about it) to whoever it may be handling my paperwork when I’m signing up for something for the first time that I only have one last name. Despite this, I still constantly find it classified incorrectly. This has happened with all types of documents: bank accounts, hospital documents, health insurance cards, NIE (Spanish residency card), you name it.
A few examples:
- Right after getting fingerprinted at one time for one of my residency cards I noticed that the temporary card paperwork had my middle name as my last name. Good thing I caught that right there in the comisaría (police station) or who knows how long that would have lasted for…
- In another instance I was picking up hospital records while pregnant only to be told they had no records for me. Yep, turns out everything was filed under my middle name. If you have a baby here, make sure they put your child’s last name with your last name and not you middle name as a last name! Right after giving birth, as dazed and confused as I was, I asked this to the people with paperwork right there in the delivery room!
- There have been a few times where I’ve been trying to fill out an online form and there’s an obligatory “Segundo apellido” field. BancSabadell, for example, has this on their web contact form when you’re already logged into your client account. I don’t think I’m the only foreign client…here’s what I put in this field (in Spanish obviously) “I don’t have a second last name, and this should not be an obligatory field.” Of course when I finally got a response a few days later to my request this part was ignored.
My advice: apart from specifically stating that you only have one last name, make sure you double check any and all documents before signing anything.