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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

An expat mom's small victory- we have a passport!

These are our passports- mine and the children's!

This was supposed to be a rant post. You know, the one where I complain endlessly about the ridiculousness of international beaurocracy. The one where I describe in great detail how hard it is to get things done when everybody tells you something different, and in different languages.

But this won’t be that kinds of post. It will be a victorious post in which I describe in great detail how we managed to get Markian a passport and a Polish passport at that.

But first, I actually do need to rant, because what would a blog post be without a rant? So I don’t know if you read Anabelle’s post about her difficulties with getting married. Not due to problems between her (French) and her husband (Portuguese). But because, despite the EU has done a great deal to help couples like hers - and mine, getting any formalities done is still a pain in the neck. Besides, my experiences of getting married were rather similar, and also required international cooperation between three countries, help of both of our families, and lots of nerves. I still think it’s a miracle that we arranged a whole wedding in all of 4 months.

Another thing that annoys me even more is the way authorities deal with children who have a dual citizenship. I really wanted Klara to have both passports- a Polish and a German one. And then, as we like to say in Polish, “the stairs began”. Each country had different ideas on what had to be done in order to get a passport for a child. Some required us and the children to be registered in our home countries. Others didn’t want it and required proof of not being registered. It took thousands of phone calls, going to embassies, and asking both of our families to help us out with acquiring information and getting the necessary documents.

Another thing is that some countries prefer the children to have only one nationality, and the children then are required to choose. While for some expats this is not important, it is to me because I want my children’s many cultural identities to be mirrored in their official documents.

Getting passports for Klara and Julia was a nightmare, and we realized that we needed to go through it again. We are invited to a wedding in June and we’re taking Markian with us- this is a topic for another blog post. The wedding is in Italy and of course, we needed a passport for him.

Thus began the phone calls to embassies and family, the questions, the getting documents ready. We didn’t have all the documents to get a German passport for Markian. We didn’t have everything ready for a Polish one, either. Until I called the Polish embassy where the kind man explained that since this is Markian’s first passport, the document is not needed. He listed all the documents I needed and I had them all. We went to the embassy, anxious that we missed something or that the kind man on the phone forgot to mention some Very Important Document or other.

None of that happened. The lady smiled, took our 27 euro, and told me to come back next week to collect the passport. This Monday, I did just that. The passport is only valid for a year, but we can use it without problems, and we have a year to get all the necessary documents for a “real” passport (his is only temporary).

I am proud. Not only did the help come from my own country (thank you, Poland!), but Markian is the only one of my children to have a Polish passport. Again, yaaay for Poland!

What about you? Do your children have dual citizenship? Was it just as hard to get formalities done? Can you relate to this story?

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  1. I could write for hours here. Hope you don't mind another rant. I'm Polish too. The amount of trouble me and my English husband had in order to get married in Poland is unbelievable. The obstacles were created by both the state and the Church. We had to travel back and forth between our countries trying to collect all the necessary documents. Then they all had to be translated by a certified translator. It cost us a lot of nerves and a small fortune. At the end we were informed that the Polish registry office will keep the original of my husbands birth certificate forever. He was furious! He still often mentions that. But all ended well and the wedding happened. I'm glad I persevered so I could get married in my home town in the same church where I'd been christened. And the service was bilingual :-)
    I also want my children to have dual citizenship and I was told I have till they turn 18 to apply for their Polish passports. Not done it yet as I'm still trying to shake off the trauma with organizing my wedding!

    1. Yes, every expat seems to have a similar story of formalities being a nightmare... we got married in Germany because it was easier, and the ceremony was in German as well, but the guests were very multicultural. Another reason for a wedding in Germany- I was (GASP!) 8 month pregnant with Klara- I'm not entirely sure whether we would have found a Polish priest who 1) knew German, 2) would have been fine with me being pregnant in so little time.
      As for the formalities I can't believe we don't have an EU norm on this...and as EU citizens we have it easy! My friends from the US, Turkey, Costa Rica and elswhere have it much harder and I don't even know what I would do if I were in their shoes!

  2. For our US-EU wedding (actually come to think of it we weren't EU yet then, but whatever) we would have faced similar bureaucratic hurdles, so we opted for an official US wedding and unofficial CZ one so everyone who wanted to come could come. To get married in the US, my husband needed...a valid passport. He kept asking different offices and having different people call to check, but all the information said no, just your passport. When we went to get the marriage license he had extra documents (translated birth certificate, etc.) with him just in case, but didn't need them. We then had our marriage certificate apostilled and got a CZ and SK one issued on the basis of that. Effective and saved us a lot of paperwork getting married here.

    The hardest part about the passports was getting a three-week-old baby to keep her eyes open and look straight at the camera for the US passport.

    I think our main bureaucratic hassle is that I can't get citizenship here (without giving up my original one) and he can't get legal status in the US without moving there and me 'sponsoring' and proving I can support him. Immigration laws are stupidly written.

    1. Hi Melissa, thank you for sharing your experience and I'm glad it was easy for you!Oh yes, I remember also how hard it was to persuade my babies that they need to keep their eyes open. And yes, immigration laws ARE stupidly written.

  3. Paperwork and the new laws regarding issueing of passports meaning remote locations and the NEW CAMERA THAT THEY COULD NOT OPERATE fully. My newborn was perfect in behavior but camera not. Took 1,5 hrs to take the Picture, the mother waiting in line behind me was Crying from stress for what was to come when it was her turn. In the end they asked us to take our own pic (???? really?? - if they couldn't, who supposedly knew all the rules, how could we?). Eventually they found out that "oops, it WAS approved from the first shot!" This has at least made me forget about most of the paperwork! Have a nice day!

    1. Hi Globatris, this is ridiculous! I can't believe it all came down to a stupid picture and they said you could have taken it yourself, and the first sho was already fine after it took you an hour and a half to get the picture- and with a small child! Sorry you had to go through all this. It only serves to illustrate how ridiclous beaurocracy is, and international beaurocracy is even worse!


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