You just got to love them, the pencil pushers, the white collar wearing ‘civil servants’ that may or may not grant you something that’s rightfully yours. To begin with. Yours, I said. Yours. Read and weep.
January 4th of this year Julie and I got married. We were on a holiday in Florida and on New Years Eve we decided to get married. The original plan was to get married on March 21st 2013 in The Netherlands. Start of spring, new beginnings, all that. Being spontaneous.
The decision was made, the date was set, and all that had to be done is to get our marriage license and get married.
That and organize a wedding. In 4 days. Including everything. Wedding cake, guests invitations, reception at home, catering, drinks, stuff for kids, hide the shotguns, well you know, the regular stuff. Oh and there was this little thing going on about moving from Florida to Alabama? Yeah that too.
Mom & Dad: You are awesome. We can’t thank you enough. We stop trying.
In short. We got married. We did!
Later – in The Netherlands
Administration. Immigration service. In order to get things official in The Netherlands you have to contact Immigration and the City administration in order to get the marriage legalized.
We were prepared. Three Apostille Stamped and approved copies of the mariage certificate, issued by the officials in Tallahassee and signed by the State Secretary.
The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille convention, or the Apostille treaty is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille (French: certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law.
Oh goody. The Hague. That’s my place of birth. Brilliant.
Convention in Action
We got three copies – certified copies – of our marriage certificate.Signed by the clerk at the courthouse in Pensacola and “officialized” by the people in the Florida State Capital Tallahassee and signed by every civil servant in the US – including, but not limited to the president.
There were so many stamps on those documents you would have to be a certified coupon user / collector to make out what it all was for.
We had made an appointment to get our marriage legalized in The Netherlands and off we went one early morning to city hall…
It’s a real small city hall. Actually it is a office meant for people that are living in the part of The Hague where we live. A bright lit place. A big screen that shows when it’s your turn to step towards one of the two desks.
There were three people waiting, including the two of us and three people working the two desks. Two operated as a team. One younger woman – that knew what she was doing because she could text on her phone using one hand. The other woman was “in training”. We don’t want to be helped by them.
Beep! #B78. Ok, our turn and our luck. We are going to be helped by the terrible twins. Like it or not. We get out 34 pounds of paperwork, licenses, letters, copies, immigration stuff and two mints.
Clerk #1: “Good morning, how may I help you?.
Us: “We would like to get our marriage effectuated. We have brought all the documents, copies, stamped, signed and approved by everyone living in the US. Apostille stamps have been issued and signed by the clerk from Tallahassee and the State secretary.”.
Cleck #1: “OK, looks fine. Let me get the paperwork done real quick…”
Us: “OK”. (Sometimes it’s better to not talk to much and give simple answers to simple questions to avoid adding complexity to a situation…).
Clerk #1 to Clerk #2: “Hey, everything looks fine to me. I am going to do the paperwork and then our lovebirds can go home and do what little love birds do.”
Clerk #2 to cleck #1: “Did they fill out form B049?”
Clerk #1 to us: “Did you fill out form B049?”. We are not there for clerk #2 and #1 is switching to parrot mode.
Us: “What is a form B049?”. Puzzled look on #1′s face…
Clerk #1: “Well, you know. A form B049. You have to fill out a form B049.”. Still in parrot mode, obviously… It’s going to be a looooong morning.
Clerk #1 switched to ‘action mode’ “You can fill out the form here, if you want”. We want, and she hands us two copies of the form. 6 pages worth of legal mumbo jumbo, Each question capable of changing your life – forever. We don’t know the answer to all those questions. They’re about previous marriage(s), kids you don’t know you had, pet’s you have left alone for a period longer than 5 hours and so on.
Us: “There are some questions we don’t know the answers to. We have to fill this out at home and send it to you.”.
Clerk #1 and #2 in close harmony: “We’re sorry, our policy is, that the form B049 never leaves this building. You can’t take it home with you and fill it out at home…”. I am beginning to look for those people’s “reset” button, maybe that will help their thinking processes. Some fresh rebooted memory and common sense.
Us: “Why can’t we fill it out at home” Chorus: “We’re sorry, our policy is, that the form B049 never leaves this building. You can’t take it home with you and fill it out at home…”.
I am starting to look for my Kalashnikov. I didn’t bring it. Their luck.
Clerk #2: “Uhmmm. We can call you at home, ask you the questions that way, you guys write down the answers and come back here to fill out the form B049. What about that?”.
Us: “Well it’s very inefficient to do it that way, but if it’s the only way…”.
They called us “You still have to fill out your form B049. You can make an appointment and fill it out at the city hall office in your neighborhood. Be sure to bring all the requested documents, like certified copies of your marriage licence, bearing the Apostile stamp. We’re open every day – except Saturdays and Sundays. We’re here to serve.” Red tape is an art…
I hope their texting fingers will start to rot and fall of. Thar!
So… what’s your most annoying encounter with red tape and what did you do? I think we could use some pointers… Beating the Red Tape!
Bureaucratic nonsense at airports drives me crazy