Monday, 8 October 2007

A new identity card and its problems

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Time for a new Swiss identity card. I will be off to London in a months time and my Swiss identity card gave up two years ago. I only realised this a week before I went to London last year, but last year organised a new British Euro passport so travelled with that to and fro. I find if you have two nationalities, then you might as well use them. Out of Switzerland with the Swiss idientity and into England with the British passport and vice versa. Last year I was out and in with just the British one and that worked ok. That was probably why hubby said why are you bothering to get a Swiss one when the British one works both ways. I actually didn’t have a clever answer so just left it as an open question.

In any case the first part of swiss identity card adventure took place this morning. I checked on the Internet where I have to get my card and there was a site from our local Kanton showing where in the nearby town of Solothurn the office was for applying. I thought it had been moved – we have had such a building boom in Solothurn lately, it becoming the largest bulding site in Europe now that Berlin has been finished, it had naturally shifted and was now in the part of town where the county police used to be.

The building is very large and is shaped like a “U”. I found the sign showing where everything was, so walked in the door and found myself confronted with a very long corridor. I walked along the corridor and found each one of the many doors had a sign from “senior citizen problems” to “come in and sit down and talk about it”, but no passport office. I then asked a gentleman passing through but he told me he was only a workman coming to repair something so I went to the next office and asked. “On the first floor” was the answer. So I went up two flights of stairs and found – guess what – another three corridors. Eventually I found in small letters “Passbüro” which was exactly what I was looking for. There was a glass screen and in the corner behind the screen there was a gentleman typing away on his typewriter (or was it a computer). In any case he gave a friendly nod and said someone was coming. He then called his assistant who was in another office hidden behind the one at the front. I explained I wanted a new identity card and she said I would have to apply at my local council office. “Big deal” was my thought, but this being untranslatable in Swiss German, I asked what she meant. She told me that all such things are now dealt with locally and no longer centrally, unless of course I actually lived in Solothurn. I told her that I got my last identity card in Solothurn, but she told me that is no longer possible. Because of the danger of terrorists and other such things, it has all be decentralised.

The man who was typing then came to the window and told me it was no longer possible to get my card here. Needless to stay I was slightly (actually more than) irritated as I had taken an hour off work to organise the whole business. Not being able to win against the wheels of civil servantude I left. When I got back to the office I phoned up hubby – the man who said why bother – and he said he will go along to the local office in our village (which is actually only open 3 hours a day) and get the form for me. He phoned me back 30 minutes later to say I have to put a personal appearance in, which means tomorrow morning. In the meanwhile hubby – who said why bother – had decided to go to the local photographer and get a photo done for a new identity card and would come with me tomorrow as he decided he also needed a new identity card - again I didn't have a clever answer. He was told at the local council office for passports etc. that the card would cost seventy Swiss Francs and if you combined it with a passport it would be 120 Swiss francs, which is quite cheap – sort of Swiss special offer. They also mentioned that if you want a Swiss passport then you have to go to Bern for it they were now Bio something or the other and you just can’t apply anywhere (just 40 kilometers down the motorway from where we live). When I think of what I went through two years ago to get a British passport in Switzerland, then it seems to me it is much more difficult to get a Swiss passport in Switzerland. Part two follows tomorrow.

See the corridor - one of these days I will probably get arrested for being a sort of camera junkie or anglo-swiss paparazzi

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