Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Arrival - Your Papers Please

Like most countries, Germany doesn't just let you waltz in and take up residency.  I thought it would be smart to be a good alien resident and get my papers in order once arriving in Deutschland.

I had read pages of U.S. State Department info on what is necessary to take up residency in Germany, so I had a pretty good idea what the paper work drill would be like.  Also, having worked for Siemens I had a feeling for the level of process and procedure in a German organization.  Good thing too... German government bureaucracy is a well oiled machine.  That is if you consider well oiled to mean very, very slooooow.

Here's a few of the highlights...

"Your papers please?" "I don't think I have them on me." "In that case you will have to come with me."

Your Papers Please...

Right off the bat you need;

German residence permit: Aufenthaltserlaubnis

Confirmation of Address Registration: Anmeldebestätigung

Visa and Work Permit: Aufenthaltstitel (the Visa and Work Permit get real interesting)

Navigating Through The Land of Amt and Behörde (Offices and Authorities)…

Einwohnermeldeamt (located at city hall or Bürgeramt): This is where you register your living address with the authorities and fill out either the Anmelden (Moving in document) or the Abmelden (Moving out document)

Ausländeramt or Ausländerbehörde: Immigration Office or Aliens Authority office (this is one of my favorite Amts)

Führerscheinstelle im Ordnungamt: Drivers License Office (another of my favorite Amts)

ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V.): The German Auto Club (yes in deed, the Auto Club is a type of official authority)

…one must be persevering

Many States in the U.S. have a reciprocal agreement with Germany and other EU countries that will honor your U.S. Drivers License.  Just get a 7.00 € eye test and passport photos taken, then go to the Führerscheinstelle im Ordnungamt to fill out some papers, and pay a fee.  Presto - a Germany Drivers License

Hold on - no way is it that easy you say.  Well it is IF you only need a Drivers License to drive a car.  Whole different story if you also need the Motorcycle Endorsement.  No reciprocal for that!  Got to take the written and riding test that is administered by TÜV.  But, before you can take the tests you need to go sign up at a driving school.  They in turn assess when you are ready to take the tests.  Yep, drivers licenses are a hybrid process; go to the local government agency and then go to the private driving school and then go to the private testing agency and then the local government agency issues you a license.

It takes multiple trips to the Führerscheinstelle im Ordnungamt to finally get the information and process correct because each person you meet with seems to have a different interpretation of the rules.  Plus it always seems like "something is missing", when in reality nothing is missing.  But if you ask nice to please check again the missing item is usually there.

So, no drivers license yet.  I am studing for the written test and then can take the riding test after passing the written.

More perseverance - setting up a Bank Account

I opened a checking account a few days after arriving.  This was not too difficult, but certainly different than what I was used to doing.  I needed to wait to receive paperwork and bank card (sort of an ATM card, but not exactly) in the mail before I could actually do any banking.  The paperwork needed to be signed and returned to bank in order to enable on line banking.  I received the paperwork, but no bank card.  Turns out bank card making people didn’t know how to deal with the apostrophe in O’Dell.  So instead of dropping the apostrophe just like the airlines and credit cards they did nothing with the bank card.  After a few phone calls this got sorted out and the card arrived with no apostrophe – just like the airlines and credit cards.

Now I needed to set up on line banking on the web site.  After several tries and a request for a new password, because I screwed up too many times, I got it to work. 

Blue Dinksta
To do on line bill paying, etc you log in to the bank site just like you'd expect.  Then it gets different.  After filling in the bill pay info you need to complete any transaction by using this card reader (the Blue Dinksta).  After you insert the bank card you then hold the card reader up to the computer screen.  The two talk to each other for a few seconds and then you get a TAN (Pin Number) to enter.  Then your done.  Only thing is you need to do this for each individual transaction.

And then there's the Visa (no, not the credit card)

This will have to wait for the next installment - stay tuned 

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