Spanish agency wants my passport number
Thread poster: Gillian Searl

Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:01
Member (2004)
German to English
Sep 2, 2004

Hi!
I got an email from a Spanish agency today:
____________________________________
Thank you for your C.V. I am currently adding your details to our database of translators. Could you send me your British passport number?

Looking forward to hearing from you

____________________________________
I don't recall sending them my CV. So I asked why on earth they would need my passport number? I work for Spanish agencies and nobody asked me for this before. They replied saying:

____________________________________
There are several reasons why we request passport numbers from non-Spanish resident translators:
- Although transactions carried out beteween Spanish companies and overseas clients and suppliers are not subject to Spanish VAT, this is not something that is easily understood by the Spanish accountancy system/tax office. Given that all Spanish citizens hold an identity card that also serves for tax identification purposes, the Spanish system automatically assumes that the citizens of every other country do the same. Although the lack of such information is not required by law, this is not always understood by the corresponding official administration staff with the result that a) the company is unable to justify the source of overseas income, b) the company is unable to justify to the destination of overseas payments. The Spanish tax administration is not overly willing to accept a slip of paper with a name and an email address as due justification of a contracted service. In such cases, the payment made to the overseas supplier (translator) is considered as a personal expense of the company. Which is not the case.
- All the data relevant to our company is freely available either via the Chamber of Commerce or via our company website, not to mention via direct request from the company itself. Unfortunately, the same is not true of the great majority of people that offer their services as translators to our company. In contrast to the easy access to (non-confirmed) black-lists of translation companies that exists in the Internet, there is very little that we can do to verify the identity of the people that send us c.v. The inclusion of a DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad / Spanish Nacional Identity Document – obligatory as stated above) or passport is the minimum resource to which we have access in order to obtain some assurance with regard to the identity of the person with whom we are dealing. Please bear in mind that any problems that occur with the final client are naturally the responsibility of the translation company, not of the sub-contracted translator.
Given the above, we feel in no way that by requesting the only verificable means of identity to which we have access is in any way prejudicial to the translators with whom we work. Nevertheless, as I explained in my previous, this is by no means an obligation.
_____________________________
I'd love to have comments from you Spanish-based translators and those that work with them. Are you familiar with this? Am I being over-suspicious?
Thanks
Gillian


[Edited at 2004-09-02 14:33]


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 15:01
German to Romanian
+ ...
Hi Gillian Sep 2, 2004

I'm almost sure there was a discussion a long while ago on the forum about this. Did you try to search that?

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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:01
Member (2004)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
I tried searching Sep 2, 2004

maybe I was typing in the wrong words. Didn't come up with anything.

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Surtees
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's normal practice Sep 2, 2004

Gillian,

I'm a Brit but have lived in Spain for about 12 years now. I know it comes as a bit of a shock to the anglo-saxon mentality (invasion of privacy and all that), but what they say is true. Your national identity document no. is required for anything even vaguely official in Spain and I can see how they might have problems with the Tax Authorities if they can't cite it when justifying business expenses. As long as you're sure it's a bona fide agency, then I don't think you have anything to worry about. Good luck! Surtees.


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 15:01
German to Romanian
+ ...
type "passport number" Sep 2, 2004

and check the forums box only

Here are a few links (search for passport)

http://www.proz.com/post/38338#38338
http://www.proz.com/post/61293#61293
http://www.proz.com/post/59567#59567


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ooops Sep 2, 2004

Seems to me they have the wrong idea... the Inland Revenue office gives practitioners of liberal professions a VAT exemption number with respect to other EU countries. This is, at least, what most agencies ask for: not the passport number. I can't see that being of any use for tax purposes.

Can you clarify?

---------

P.S. Oh, sorry, I thought you were in the UK... I'm not familiar with the case of UK citizens residing in Germany. However, I personally feel (like Ailish below) that the passport number has no tax-related value, and that your identity for a tax-linked relationship could be verified in a more reliable way. Maybe your consulate knows - I suspect they would refer you to the German tax authorities.

[Edited at 2004-09-02 15:46]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just don't get it:-) Sep 2, 2004

Gillian Noameshie wrote:

THEIR REPLY: Unfortunately, the same is not true of the great majority of people that offer their services as translators to our company. In contrast to the easy access to (non-confirmed) black-lists of translation companies that exists in the Internet, there is very little that we can do to verify the identity of the people that send us c.v. The inclusion of a DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad / Spanish Nacional Identity Document – obligatory as stated above) or passport is the minimum resource to which we have access in order to obtain some assurance with regard to the identity of the person with whom we are dealing.

[Edited at 2004-09-02 14:33]


I just don\'t get it. The gripe about \'identifying\' individuals who send their CV. If it\'s such a problem, why bother with freelancers? And what does a passport prove? That you exist, no more, no less. More in their line to check other credentials, don\'t you think?

I appreciate their argument about the State Admin, they can be very thick sometimes if you happen not to slot into their neatly categorised world (more than their job\'s worth). But I still don\'t see that having a passport number would resolve this problem.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:01
German to English
VAT ID No. Sep 2, 2004

Gillian,

All they need is your VAT ID No./USt-ID-Nr., which identifies you as a registered business in another EU member state. A passport number is personal (not business) information that shouldn't be required for any legitimate business relationship.

They'll be wanting to know your religion and marital status next!

Robin


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Jesús Marín Mateos  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Give it to them!!!! Sep 2, 2004

Hi Gilliam,
We all know what the theory is but I understand that when they submit their accounts or whatever it is there is a number missing which is your DNI/NIF (id or tax number).Probably they don't have to provide this number for non-spanish citizens but it depends on the person who is checking the documentation and what the agency wants to avoid is your payment being treated as personal expenses which it isn't.
To be honest I don't think anyone in Spain could check a British passport number but if they are happy with it just give it to them.
I am Spanish myself and know how bureaucratic it can get.
Good luck.


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Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:01
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Any identity number Sep 2, 2004

I worked for a Spanish yacht service company - we always had problems trying to invoice understandingly unwilling fellow Europeans, especially if they were private persons and/or did not have a VAT number. Why on earth the Spanish Tax authority wants an identity or tax number on all the invoices, sent out or received, is beyond me. Bureaucrazy, I guess...:)
Anyway, if you have a VAT number that should be enough information for them, and they would not need it until they actually start working with you. If you do not have a VAT number, apart from the consequences that would have for taxation itself, they would need your passport number (as that is the only other number that is accepted) - but, again, not before they start working with you. Maybe they have one of those intelligent data bases that start beeping if you do not add a tax/identity number. The fact that you are based in Germany probably makes things more complicated for them, unless you have your German equivalent of a VAT number and then the British passport number would be of no use to them anyway.

In Spain you have to show your identity card / (=tax number for free-lancers) for everything. If you pay by credit card, if you go to the bank (unless they finally recognise you) etc.

[Edited at 2004-09-02 22:45]


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:01
German to English
+ ...
I would be cautious... Sep 3, 2004

Jesus Marin wrote:
...
To be honest I don't think anyone in Spain could check a British passport number but if they are happy with it just give it to them.
I am Spanish myself and know how bureaucratic it can get.
Good luck.


Just give it to them?! Let me point out here: she has *no business relationship whatsoever* with this company, and has not sent them her CV. They apparently contacted her, out of the blue, asking for random information.

All you who recommend her giving out that information: do you also reply to those Nigerian scams asking for your bank account information? Or the Paypal emails requesting you to re-enter your credit card information?

I understand about bureaucracy; if I were billing such a company, I would try to get them to accept my VAT number first, and then might consider giving them my passport number, if it all sounded legit and they wouldn't accept anything else. But this situation is completely different, in my opinion. Gillian, under the circumstances it sounds weird to me; I wouldn't waste my time with them.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:01
German to English
+ ...
Excuse the sarcasm Sep 3, 2004

"Thank you for your C.V. I am currently adding your details to our database of translators. Could you send me your British passport number?" (I don't recall sending them my CV.)

= I am getting some work experience with this company, and to keep me occupied the boss has asked me to key in all this information off the Internet. Would you have some time to help me?

"Although the lack of such information is not required by law, this is not always understood by the corresponding official administration staff"

= Our bureaucrats are incompetent and obstructive, but this is a tradition in our country. Would you please help us to humour them?

"The Spanish tax administration is not overly willing to accept a slip of paper with a name and an email address as due justification of a contracted service."

= We have progressed from using coloured beads as a currency to the Internet era without encountering commercial concepts such as "invoice" along the way. Please be patient with us!

"All the data relevant to our company is freely available either via the Chamber of Commerce or via our company website, not to mention via direct request from the company itself. Unfortunately, the same is not true of the great majority of people that offer their services as translators to our company"

= We are honest. We must be, because we have a website! Unfortunately, we generally deal with crooks, so please understand that we must also treat you as such.

Marc


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:01
German to English
Another thought Sep 3, 2004

Gillian,

Just another thought. As any fule kno, you can do lots of interesting things with somebody's bank account details and passport number. I'm not suggesting that this particular agency has any ill intentions whatsoever, but it's just not the sort of information you give out to anybody, and most certainly not to a customer. Hell, even the Finanzamt doesn't know my passport number, and in fact no authorities here in Germany do (at least officially) since I got a new passport.

Under the EU VAT regime, all you need to do is give a VAT ID No. and forget everything else, as the reverse-charge mechanism then kicks in and you don't have any VAT liability in the destination country (e.g. Spain in this case).

Robin


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 15:01
English to French
+ ...
LOL Sep 3, 2004

MarcPrior wrote:

"Thank you for your C.V. I am currently adding your details to our database of translators. Could you send me your British passport number?" (I don't recall sending them my CV.)

= I am getting some work experience with this company, and to keep me occupied the boss has asked me to key in all this information off the Internet. Would you have some time to help me?

[/quote]

I would send this very copy to them, all the more you never send your CV or made any contacts with this agency.


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