As most of you know, I hate paperwork.
So when after a lot of effort I received my residence permit in 2002, and it appeared to be only valid for 4 months, I quickly decided that it was not worth the effort. Fortunately, coming from another EU country I have the privilege to not really need it in daily life, so there was no problem. I can use my Dutch documentation for identify myself.
The only thing I can't do is to buy expensive goods as a new car or a house. I had forgotten completely about these limitations, until we started looking for a new car last summer. We did buy the car on MJ's name, but I decided to go for it again and hope that they would give me a longer lasting residence card. That was in August 2005:
I started by obtaining the necessary papers and filling them in. I also tried to phone to the immigration office to get an appointment for delivering these papers. After two weeks, I got my appointment, which fortunately was after the business hours of my office.
After leaving the office I went to the immigration office to deliver all papers I had prepared: a special form, copies of my passport, copies of my current, expired, residence card, copies of my last salary statement, an extract from my record in the town hall…
Fortunately I had understood the cryptic instructions correctly, and all papers were in order. They told me that they were going to study my request, which was going to take them a full month!
Time to find out whether they had approved my request. Unfortunately, this can't be done with an appointment, so you simply had to queue up at the immigration office. I told my boss that I was going to arrive late, and joined the queue two hours before the office was going to open. I only had about 20 people in front of me. I already knew from last time that I would have to spend the whole morning in the queue if I would not be there before they open their doors. After spending three hours on the street, and waiting 20 minutes more inside the office, I finally got a bunch of papers back; my request had been approved. I had to go to the bank to pay the administration costs and then to the police office to get my residence card. I payed directly, and decided to visit the police the next day, since the queue was too big already.
I told my boss that I would arrive late again, and joined the queue 90 minutes before opening time; the queue at the police station is smaller. This time I only had 12 people in from of me. After waiting two hours on the street, I was allowed to enter to show the papers I received at the immigration office and place my signature and fingerprint on a special form so they can create my residence permit. They need one full month for doing this.
Because of the cold and the amount of work I had in December, I didn't go to pick up my residence permit until three weeks later. Once again I told my company that I would arrive late and once again I had to queue on the street, but this time only 45 minutes. Almost five months after filling in the forms I finally received a little card, which fortunately is valid until 2010.
Renewing my residence permit has cost me €7, but most of all a lot of precious time. I spent about 6 hours waiting in queues on the street, 45 minutes in queues inside offices, and have been out of office during 3 hours. To me that sounds like I have wasted a lot of time for a simple administrative request. I mainly have been transporting papers from home to one office, and from one office to another; something which could easily have been done by mail. I know that I have to show up in person to get an identification document, but does this have to be for each and every step??? And why do they need a full month to check my history and approve my request and a full month to print out a little plastic credit-card sized pass???
As most of you know, I hate paperwork.