In order for me to live (legally) in the Netherlands, I’ve had to do a few things. One, of course, was to be approved to live here with husband … and this came with the condition that I learn Dutch in a ‘timely’ manner (3 and a half years, to be precise) and basically also learn how to be a functioning member of Dutch Society .
One of the things you also need to do is apply for, and of course have approved, a residency permit. It’s an application, a couple of interviews, and once you’re approved, you’re allowed to legally stay here for the duration of your permit. That’s pretty reasonable, right?
The paperwork itself isn’t too hard – (except it’s all in Dutch, which is a bit tricky initially, but they do give you 3.5 years to learn the language 😉 ). Initially, I did my application in Hoofddorp – not necessarily the closest office to my house, but close to my inlaws house – so it was convenient. No surprises though when I got the letter that my permit was ready to pick up from Utrecht – a much closer office to my house.
12 months later, when my renewal was due, I dropped it back to the Utrecht office because it was closer, of course. And then my letter came that I needed to pick it up from … Zwolle.
Dutifully, I picked my renewal up in Zwolle. It’s not that much further to travel for me to Zwolle, so when the time came for me to do my exams in Dutch, I decided that it was just as convenient to do the exams there, as well as the queue was much shorter there. So I did them in Zwolle. And then my results came in.
I needed to pick them up from south-west Amsterdam. Of course. And that was so convenient too with 2 year old twins … so off I went to pick them up.
This time around, when my permit came up for renewal, I could send it electronically and tick the office I wanted it to go to. Naturally, I chose Zwolle. This was great! I got a letter after this then telling me my permit was approved, but that I needed to update my biometric images as well. So I go to Zwolle as told, do the images, make jokes in Dutch with the staff, and came out confident that myself that everything was ok.
And then I get my letter telling me my permit was approved.
You can pick it up in Utrecht. You have to be kidding
I think I’ve established that this is some bizarre Dutch integration ritual where you are forced to see as much of the country as possible. I worked out I’ve pretty much covered around 750 kilometres chasing the ability to reside in this country legally. That’s around 15 hours of public transport time. All for a piece of plastic.
At least for the next 5 years I can sit back and wait patiently for where the government will send me next. I mean, I haven’t really done Groningen or Maastricht yet …