From British to Spanish
With Brexit fastly becoming to its deadline, many Costa resident British expats ponder over the idea of becoming Spanish national - Irena Bodnarec brings us the story of broadcaster Dave Rowland, who renounced his British citizenship and became a Spanish national
MANY Brits make the move to Spain and feel totally at home here – but realistically very few would go so far as to do what one such expat did, renounce their British nationality and become a Spanish national.
That is exactly what Dave Rowland did and he couldn’t be happier.
His first taste of Spain was a holiday with his parents, aged around 10 to Cataluña under the Franco regime – certainly pre-package charter holiday era and they drove all the way from Devon.
Even at that tender age, he totally fell in love with the country and literally had to be dragged screaming back into the car when it was time to return to the UK.
His experience to Spain sparked an interest in the Spanish Civil War – something that he is now very well read up on and somewhat of an expert on the subject.
Therefore, in the early 90’s he jumped into a camper van with his then girlfriend and Jack Russell and drove via Plymouth to the Costa Blanca – and never looked back. He guessed that with his background as a professional diver – at the time he was working in a government approved diving school it would be a transferable skill within a holiday resort.
He plied his trade for a few years during the tourist season and also worked as a tour guide.
He was determined to learn Spanish but classes were virtually non-existent back in those days so instead, he decided to totally immerse himself into the Spanish culture.
He refused to watch any British television, instead tuning into local stations - probably the best way to learn and chose a small typically Spanish village on the outskirts of Benidorm to call home.
His one concession was listening to OCI International radio and he vividly remembers the presenters talking about Spanish news and events and what a load of nonsense and inaccuracies they were broadcasting to the English speaking community.
So what did he do – he called in and told them so! Giggling at the memory, Dave said that they replied with “So you think you can do better?” to which he cockily replied “yes’ and so a new career in broadcasting began.
Nowadays, he is often contacted by the BBC and is a regular contributor on Radio 2, Radio 4, 5 Live, Radio Wales and Radio Ulster on all things Spanish and is currently a breakfast presenter on Fresh Radio Spain, from 8.00 until 10.00 informing Brits living here what is happening – as realistically, not many would be reading the Spanish papers.
Totally disillusioned with the direction that the UK was going, he decided that he wanted to apply for Spanish nationality and so began the process in early 2010.
For him it was a personal choice and one that felt right.
He applied in Villajoyosa and back then, he was the only British person to have gone through the very long and laborious process. It would take three years and 6 months of checks – and boy, are they rigorous and exhaustive.
For those even contemplating of applying, firstly you have to have been resident for 10 years – meaning 10 years on your green residencia card, be totally fluent in the Spanish language and integrated into Spanish life. They do check!
He had numerous interviews with officials - police, judges, just about everyone bar the local shopkeeper and in June 2013 became a Spanish citizen, complete with DNI card and Spanish passport.
In the last local elections, he stood as a councillor but unfortunately was eight votes short of being elected.
Currently, there are only two expats who serve on local councils – Victoria Curtis in Finestrat and Carol Saunders in Calpe.
Maybe with the elections due next year it may be food for thought but Dave has a number of projects on his to do list and as well as listening to him on the airwaves, you may one day also be reading his works as an author.