The one about the Great Residency Permit Hunt.

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 …


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