Sunday, January 9, 2011

Finally (or how to get a Belgian ID in 12 easy steps)

After several months and several steps the kids and I now have our Belgian IDs.  Here's how the process worked for us...

1.  On our first full day in Belgium (early August)  we went to the in-processing center at SHAPE and visited the Belgian Police desk to fill in the appropriate paper work and have our photos taken.

2.  We (the kids and I) returned to the police desk the next week to have our photos retaken as the first set was not deemed acceptable.

3.  We began our wait.

4.  We waited until mid-September when our temporary SHAPE IDs were about to expire and went back to the Belgian Police desk.  They called the county ID desk - no answer.  Our SHAPE IDs which allow us access to the base were extended until the end of December.

5.  In theory a letter was sent to our house in October saying we could do the next step of the process.  We did not receive this letter.

6.  In November when Kyle was at the county office he stopped to inquire about the IDs but the office was closed.

7.  In December I went to the Belgian Police desk yet again as our IDs were once again about to expire.  This time upon calling the county office, there was an answer and a response that we needed to go to the county office to sign and pay for the IDs.  The process would not be complete for a few weeks yet, so we had to extend and get new SHAPE IDs yet again.

8.  The county office is only open 2-3 hours mid day on week days.  The kids had to be present for this part of the process.  If it weren't for snow days, we would have had to pull them from school to go sign for their IDs.  On a snow day we drove to the county seat, waited for the clerk to find our paper work, paid our euros and each signed our name to a piece of paper.

9.  Wait again for letters in the mail.

10.  Receive letters.

11.  Go to county office again (kids not necessary this time) within the limited hours of a week day.  Input PINs for cards.  Pick up cards.

12. (still to be completed) return to SHAPE and be issued final SHAPE ID cards good through the length of our stay here.

It only took us five months to complete this process and several trips to SHAPE and/or our county seat.

Before this I was not a fan of the DMV.  I have ended up in the wrong line and more than one line and I have waited for hours.  However, in most cases when you go to the DMV to get a license or ID or whatever, you usually walk out with it the same day.  Not the case here in Belgium.  I am quite glad to finally have this process all but done.

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