Friday, 5 March 2021

Bureaucracy and Brexit in Budapest

We are not for making political statements. At least not here. Suffice it to say that since January 1st., and the end of the so called Brexit 'transition period', life for us here in Hungary has taken on a new meaning.

The National Directorate General for Aliens Policing, Budapest

It began back in 2019 when, at what was described as a 'Town Hall' meeting, but in reality a gathering of hopeful ex patriots in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Budapest, we were informed by the then HM Ambassador that we would be required to exchange our current residency cards at some future point for new, post Brexit ones as we relinquished citizenship of the European Union to be classed instead as Third Country Nationals. It would, we were assured, be a simple, straightforward matter. How things have moved on. Today the British Embassy chooses to communicate through a Facebook page! But that is another story.

'Get Ready for Brexit', 'Town Hall' meeting, Marriott Hotel, Budapest

Nothing could be more misleading. Yesterday, at the National Directorate General for Aliens Policing, we presented ourselves for interview, submission of application, photographs and finger prints, thus complying with the current ruling.

Way In.

The National Directorate General for Aliens Policing is a force not to be reckoned with. Situated in a desolate, outlying suburb of Budapest it is housed in an isolated, heavily protected former villa with an armed guard in attendance. Indeed, the possibility did cross our minds that in former times it might well have been a centre for serious interrogation.

Car Park - we arrived by taxi.

But before ever reaching that point, it became necessary to engage the services of a company to assist us with, and take us through, the application process. The form, some ten pages in length, in Hungarian, once downloaded had, on completion, with attached photograph and an additional paper, signed separately, to be scanned and forwarded to the Directorate before an interview date could be considered. That we also were required to include some authorisation from a Hungarian lawyer is neither here nor there.

Top page of ten pages needed for the registration application.

The interview itself passed almost without a hitch. The photograph attached to the application form, which itself had of course been sent in advance, was deemed unsuitable on the hard copy. Happily we were prepared for all eventualities and, knowing from past experiences that the gas bill of some date in 2011 might have to be produced, we were well equipped with a selection of holiday snaps, so to speak, from which to choose. That we had failed to mention the date of our marriage and the precise place of issue of our most recent passports did not, in the event, prove an impediment.

So, retrieving masks and gloves in line with Covid-19 rules and regulations, we fled the photography and finger print booth and made our escape. As we left, the steel, electric gates silently closed behind us.

Gates firmly closed.

The new documents should arrive, courtesy of Magyar Posta, within 30 days!    

  

96 comments:

  1. Sounds sinister. Was the Harry Lime Theme playing at any stage of the proceedings? Jx

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    1. Darling Jon,

      It certainly could have been, except that the two immigration officers [we had one each] were cheerful and helpful.

      When we first came to Budapest, with its blackened buildings, dim street lights and cobbled streets, we thought that we could hear that very tune playing inside our heads as we ventured 'behind the Iron Curtain'!!

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  2. I hope all goes smoothly. I've heard stories from other expats about red tape and exams and forms and so on. I guess you're not looking for hungarian nationality? I hope with your new cards in hand and covid less of an issue, you will eventually be able to go back and forth to your home in the UK?
    It all sounds a bit intimidating!

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    1. Darling Liz,

      We have all fingers and toes crossed that the post will arrive and our registration will be complete. However, our previous cards went 'missing' in the post and we had to unearth them in some far flung corner of Budapest several weeks later. And, when friends have been kind enough to send packages from the UK, many of those have gone 'missing' too. Sadly, we do not have the faith in Magyar Posta that we do for Royal Mail.
      Our next step may well be to consider dual nationality since a passport entitling us to travel freely within the EU is something we should very much welcome. That is a sad loss for us and Brexit.
      Intimidating it may be but, then, we suspect that in every country its equivalent of the 'Department of Aliens' can be a fear inducing place. One can only begin to think about how it must be to be a refugee.

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  3. Good luck, we have been waiting now 6 weeks for our Italian biometric cards, we remain hopeful. We will need to make another 2 hour journey to collect the cards, they don’t post or even despatch them to the local police for collection. At least the weather will be better, in January even with an appointment we had to wait outside in the snow, the process took 1.5 hours, still it filled in a morning.

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    1. Darling Jenny,

      We share your frustration and determination!

      We have heard, from people who have experienced both, that the Italian systems can rival the Hungarian ones for being overly complicated and time consuming. Perhaps they all hope to wear us down so that we give up in sheer exhaustion. As you say, at least we had the sun rather than your snow to make the wait more bearable.

      Still, we must all show that we are made of stern stuff and can continue the struggle to achieve the goal. The end result will surely be worth it?

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  4. Dear me, that sounds rather scary - not to mention complicated!
    I am glad you were allowed to leave the premises. That gas bill from 2011 obviously did the trick :-D

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    1. Darling Meike,

      Indeed, surely anyone who can produce a gas bill from 2011 deserves to be let into a country.:):)

      On all these official occasions we have a very thick and heavy folder which we take with us. We have learned from experience that when one just believes one is at the end of the transaction, the officer will ask for an additional document which, generally, one has not thought to bring along. So, we take everything with us. Utility bills from the year dot, licences, certificates and bank statements of every description, passports and supplementary photographs taken at yearly intervals, the apartment deeds etc.etc. It may give us hernias to carry it all....but it is worth it to see the smile disappear from the face of the officer as the required document is produced with a flourish!

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  5. My goodness. It sounds like quite an ordeal. I don't like the idea of that gate. Is it really necessary?

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    1. Darling Loree,

      As it happens, we had the last appointment of the day which, in fact was noon!. So, it was closing time as we left. Nevertheless, the silent glide of the grey steel gates followed by the clang as they shut was a trifle alarming. Luckily, we were on the outside....

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  6. You were resourceful enough to have been well prepared! I trust all will be ironed out satisfactorily.

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    1. Darling JC,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      The Brownies and Boy Scouts prepared us well for all eventualities in life! Dib dib!

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  7. I'm with the others; it all sounds a bit daunting. Foreign bureaucracy always seems so much scarier than the home-grown sort. But I expect, since you're not new to the scene there, you'll not find it too much of a hurdle. Here's to documents speedily in-hand!

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    1. Darling Stephen,

      Thank you for your kind comment and good wishes.

      Yes, perhaps it is all to do with the strangeness of the systems, the foreign language and the difficulties of 'reading' the body language of officials in a foreign country.

      We thought that when we first came to Budapest in 2000 that, as it was a part of Europe [it was, in fact, prior to Hungary's accession to the EU]although the customs may be a little different, the cultural differences would not be so great. After all, we argued [to ourselves] we are all European. How wrong we were and how much we still have to learn.

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  8. Bureaucracy is much the same everywhere these days I fear - but must seem worse in a foreign language.

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    1. Dear Pat,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, bureaucracy does seem to be in evidence everywhere and is, in our view, more intrusive and extensive than ever before. And, the added problem of things being 'lost in translation' does not help, especially when in Hungarian which is fairly impenetrable.

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  9. Hello Jane and Lance, I had to go through similar machinations to get residency in Taiwan. Not so much high drama as you experienced, but the locals are experts in red tape. I bet I had to make over 15 visits to separate buildings, several of them multiple times. I never took anyone with me, but I did have my accountant coaching me.

    Here's hoping that all will be smooth sailing now with your paperwork.
    --Jim

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    1. Darling Jim,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Well, we have to say that our foray into Budapest's 10th District seems like a walk in the park compared with your adventures in Taiwan. Indeed, surely your experience counts for the red tape winner of the year award with only your accountant for support.

      All credit to you. Now, all we have to do is wait for the postman!

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  10. It all sounds stressful and even frightening! You are obviously wise to have everything you could possibly need with you on that visit. I do hope everything else goes smoothly for you!

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    1. Darling Bonnie,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Stressful certainly but not in the least frightening. It is the frustration of trying to understand the systems that is the worst of it all and, of course, knowing that we did not need any of this before Brexit. We definitely feel that we have lost 26 countries whereas the EU has lost 1.

      Hopefully, as they say, it is all now in the post!:):)

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  11. Having to relinquish your EU citizenship is daunting. It's good that you were so well prepared with documentation. Hope all goes well now.

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    1. Darling Linda,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Yes, underneath everything is the reality that Brexit has now happened and its implications become more apparent each day. Did anyone, we wonder, really know what would be the consequences and the cost?

      As in all things, being prepared is key when dealing with government departments. Considering the 'paperless' office is supposed to be with us all these days, we feel that in Hungary at least it just means that one must duplicate everything both on paper and online. Madness.

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  12. Sounds alright to me. Nothing too much needs to be read into the closing of the electric gates, normal security for an organised establishment. Always as well to be prepared with professional help. On a small Norfolk farm we had to engage professionals to assist in the completion of EU forms required by the EU to grow wheat that had been going on for decades without interference. Thank God that is now behind us.

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    1. Darling Rachel,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The gates closing were more akin to a grim and grey metaphor than to anything overtly sinister. Indeed, the armed security guard was rather more alarming than the gates. And, yes, the professional help was certainly worth every forint both in time and in peace of mind.

      We can sympathise with the bureaucracy in running any business these days both in or outside the EU. Indeed, we can can ourselves recall the days of pre-EU Hungary and our limited business dealings from the UK at that time. Now, it is the reverse situation and the paperwork and taxes have once again returned. So, for companies in the UK exporting to or importing from the EU, these must be trying and stressful times.

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    2. My first job in the Norwich Chamber of Commerce was processing export papers for local companies. My signature and seal were approved by foreign embassies in London. We exported then without a problem and no computers. We can do it again.

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    3. Darling Rachel again,

      To have approval by foreign embassies is always a bonus.

      In Budapest, the British Embassy functions through a Facebook page [we joke not] and messages receive an automated response. It seems that the personal touch of seals and signatures are definitely things of the past in this outpost of the Diplomatic Service at least.

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  13. I have thought about you both in recent years. First with Hungarian politics and then with Brexit. I hope all goes smoothly and you can continue to live comfortably, happily, and at ease.

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    1. Darling Mitchell,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      It is most touching that we have been in your thoughts. It was a happy find to see you still here in Blogland when so many have thrown in the proverbial blog towel.

      The political situation in Hungary continues to be volatile and government control seemingly tightens all the time on the freedom of individuals and institutions to control their own destinies. This is worrying.

      Coupled with Brexit and a global pandemic, these are the most challenging of times which we have witnessed in our lives. But, as we say so often, we are not in Syria, we have everything we need and we have many blessings to be thankful for.

      No matter where one finds oneself in life, there are always good and bad points. We certainly admire the way that you have both always made the best of whatever situation you find yourselves in. Keep on keeping on!

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  14. "Your papers, please." National Directorate General for Aliens Policing is such an intimidating departmental name. No matter, you got through it all without too much bother.

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    1. Darling Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are so right! To be an 'alien' is one thing, but to be policed is quite another. When we were ushered into the curtained booth for photographing and fingerprinting, we really did feel like criminals.

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  15. Dear Ones - to have come within such close contact with not one, but two "cheerful and helpful" immigration officers had to be a first anywhere on the planet! Hope all goes well and the mail brings your new documents - waiting 30 days will be a bit nerve-racking. Hope your taxi was waiting outside the steel gates!
    Happy days ahead. . . . .I'm thinking you can't even get into the UK yet can you? My brother and his wife haven't been able to get over from France since before Xmas.
    Sending hugs - Mary

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    1. Darling Mary,

      Thank you for your kind and generous comment.

      We had read the far from complimentary published reviews of the Department before our visit and were nervous at the prospect of what we were about to find. But, perhaps people only publish complaints rather than praise since our two officers could not have been more helpful. However, when they reached for the final rubber stamp, our hearts leaped with joy and not a little relief!

      We have been shielding since March of last year. It will soon be our lockdown anniversary. And, as we were advised on medical grounds not to fly, as the borders have been repeatedly closed and, then, post-Brexit, as we did not have the correct documents to return to Hungary, this has necessitated our being out of the UK for some 18 months. We would, of course, have been priority for a vaccine in the UK but foreign nationals are not even considered yet for vaccination in Hungary so the pandemic situation is no better either. We have learned patience if nothing else....oh yes, and bread making!


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  16. Wow, that was kind of a surreal experience! Good thing you are wise in the ways of bureaucracy and came prepared!

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    1. Darling Debra,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Truth be told, most experiences in Budapest tend to be surreal in some degree or another we find. The language is extremely difficult so one often feels somewhat adrift from things as even the slightest variation in pronunciation can have an entirely different meaning. This can be funny or dangerous just depending on the circumstance!!:):)

      Still, it means that life is never dull and each experience prepares one for the next adventure!

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  17. Dear Jane & Lance - apart from the ordeal of having to obtain your documents it must have felt strange having to travel to an isolated, and heavily protected villa with an armed guard especially as you have been isolating for almost a year. I know that when we were first released from lockdown last summer, at first it felt really stange and even other worldly to be freely out and about.
    Good luck, I am sure that you both charmed your interrogator and that your documents will appear safely in the post.

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    1. Darling Rosemary,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      We have only left the apartment on five occasions since March. Four were to medical appointments and then this was the fifth. On each occasion we thought that it would feel odd to be out and about in the world at large but, in practice, we did not feel this. It all seemed as if time had been standing still and we were just carrying on from where we had left off. Strange in itself.

      We have known from the start that with the underlying medical condition, even if we could be out and about we cannot do this as it is too dangerous. So, we settled for the long haul and it has certainly proved to be that. Now we have the hurdle of a vaccination since we cannot travel back to the UK and we are not a priority in Budapest. So, we wait.

      We have always worked on the principle that "one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar" and being kind to people does not cost anything. The smiles on the faces of the officers when, in Hungarian, we thanked them for their help and told them that they were very kind spoke volumes. It cannot be an easy job and we were sincerely grateful.

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  18. I agree with the previous commenters that you did have quite an ordeal. I wondered if you had a speaking or reading familiarity with the Hungarian language, but then you answered that question in saying you had assistance. And who wouldn't need help with that lengthy application? Yes, it's always best to take more documentation with you then could possibly be needed, just in case. It seems you were prepared for all outcomes. Finding cheerful and helpful people is always a good thing - anyplace. Hopefully, your new documents will arrive in the noted time.

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    1. Darling Beatrice,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Although we had been led to believe that the process is simple, in practice it was both complex and time consuming. So, having professional help which included both a Hungarian lawyer and a company which deals with these matters was absolutely necessary to guide us through the labyrinth of paperwork.

      In the end, the help paid off by a relatively smooth process at the Department of Aliens and you cannot imagine our delight as the final documents were stamped and sealed. Now, we await the post....

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  19. So good your emerged unscathed and simply must wait for your paperwork. I wonder what you would do if shut inside the clanging gate at quitting time?

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    1. Darling Joanne,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We can see that you share the same thoughts! Yes, locked inside the Department of Aliens even sounds frightening and, as the gates slid shut, we did feel relieved that we were on the outside!:):)

      In addition, a new lockdown was being officially announced by the government whilst we were in the office, so those gates will be firmly shut for some time to come, we feel!!

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  20. What would have happened in Hungary, had the British not exited the EU? Covid aside, would life for citizens from EU countries have continued normally in Hungary?

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    1. Darling Hels,

      Thank you for your comment.

      As Hungary is now in the EU, we would have been able to simply carry on with freedom of movement without the need for a visa and so on. There have always been border checks when entering Britain because the UK was never part of the Schengen arrangements. So, for more than fifteen years we have been able to simply go back and forth between Hungary and the UK and, indeed, the whole of the EU freely without any need for anything other than a passport. Now, all has changed, so registration is vital for us to stay in Hungary without the need for a visa which, in itself would be time limited.

      We feel particularly sad for our young students who have set a goal for themselves of studying at a UK university. Now, EU students no longer have access to a student loan, require a visa to enter the UK [at considerable cost], need to pay to access the NHS [at considerable cost] and must now pay international tuition fees which are very high in comparison with home fees. Needless to say, they are now looking elsewhere with the Netherlands a firm favourite.

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  21. Gracious, all that makes me feel anxious. Bureaucratic machinery is erratic and maddening, sometimes. I will say the Prayer of St. Michael that all is okay and in 30 days the new documents arrive, correct and all in order.

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    1. Darling Holly,

      Thank you for your kind and touching comment.

      We always associate St Michael with St George, the patron saint of England, in fearlessly slaying dragons and defeating the dark powers. So, we are touched by your kindness in thinking of us and holding us close in your prayers. We are sure that all will be well.

      And, whatever our trials and tribulations, we must all count our blessings in these strange and troubling times. So many people are having to deal with terrible situations, all made so much more difficult with the pandemic.

      So, we keep on keeping on. If we all try to make our own corners of the world kinder and fairer then maybe the future will indeed be brighter than the past.

      Take great care, dearest virtual friend, and stay safe.

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  22. This sounds kind of scary! I hope all goes smoothly.

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    1. Darling Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Stressful, certainly. Scary....less so. And, we have to say that the joy of escaping with all documents stamped and sealed was worth it!!

      We know that you too are waiting patiently in these uncertain times. We just have to hold on and believe that all will be well.

      Now we wait for the post!! And, you must take care and stay safe.

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  23. Reading of the plight that so many British people find themselves in because of Brexit fills me with so much anger. I dare say the average person who voted for the promises on the red bus and the end of immigration would only shrug at hearing of your circumstances.
    On a lighter note, without doubt the one document we have found most useful, if not essential, in dealing with any official in France, is an up to date EDF bill!

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    1. Darling Jean,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We do try not to think too hard about the vote, rather to concentrate on how to come out of the other side of Brexit in a positive frame of mind. At times it is difficult.

      We are just wondering about what people think now about the derisory pay rise offered to NHS workers compared with the 'red bus' promises. As we are certain that the amount of money that was alleged to be saved from Brussels payments has been spent several times over in funding Brexit itself, surely people will ask why this money has not been safeguarded for the NHS. This will, of course, be 'lost' no doubt in the statistics of COVID. All so sad in our view.

      Yes, we joke not about the gas bill, as we had to produce gas and electric bills dating back 8 years. Fortunately, as we pay online, the records are available. However, they must be printed out on paper!!!

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  24. I do hope this all turns out well for you both. Why are humans so difficult. We make our lives hell when it should be a wonderful experience. I think I would have be very frightened, it sounds like a horrible place.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Darling Briony,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Human behaviour never fails to fascinate either with its incredible selflessness or its extreme cruelty, no wonder that we need to take refuge in the Natural World to reflect and find peace. There is such a calming rhythm to the seasons that at times such as these do give reassurance that all will be well.

      Stressed, certainly, but not frightened. In the end, we always hope that a winning smile and some kind words will do the trick. They worked!

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  25. Re postal services: they have all gone to pot since COVID. I used to regularly order knitting wool from the UK, but had to stop when two lots went missing. Recently, a package coming at great expense with DHL went back and forth and round about, as described in my latest blog post. Online shopping has increased during lockdown but cargo space in planes has decreased.
    Re red tape: we now have green tape in Australia, where useful industrial projects are held up by the green lobby and result in extra delays.
    Re black and dirty Budapest in the past: when I worked in Vienna, I drove a brand new white car. On a visit to Budapest, I left it parked for 4 days. It became fifty shades of grey, to coin a phrase.

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    1. darling Margaret,

      Thank you for your most interesting comment.

      The postal service in Hungary has never been reliable and, in the past, much has gone missing and simply never arrived. So much so that we have always advised friends not to send anything through the postal system which was a great shock to us after the total reliability of Royal Mail.

      Oh dear, now different colours of tape intended presumably to tie everyone up in even more knots than before.Black tape would be the colour of choice here in Budapest, we imagine. As you say, although the buildings have been cleaned the air pollution is still quite problematic. In addition, it is still a cash economy here so 'black books', tax avoidance and black holes in centralised systems result in more than fifty shades of grey in everyday life.:):)

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  26. I remember well the intricacies of French bureaucracy. We always went to official meetings armed with every document we could think of and, of course, the prized utility bill! Somehow we always got through unscathed.

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    1. Darling Sue,

      Thank you for your comment. Clearly, you know the drill too. Have paperwork, will receive more paperwork which produces more paperwork and then, finally, if one is lucky, produces the one crucial piece of paper which is actually needed!

      Repeat the process for every new paper required which will take place at least on an annual basis.:):)

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  27. A most interesting tale. Watching our British expat friends go through a similar process in Greece, here, simply referred to as getting their 'biometric cards' we still shake our heads at how simple the process is for them compared to the process used for Americans which involves killing many trees for the paperwork required and much patience for the time involved for the review - our renewal was 4.5 months . . .

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    1. Darlings,

      Yes, we really must not complain since for us this is a mini nightmare and yet for others in far worse situations it can be a living hell.

      We can imagine that at least if one is inside Europe the systems are a little easier compared with those applying to people outside Europe. When we were termed 'Third Country Nationals' it really came home to us how much we were on the outside of things rather than in the centre.

      A four and a half month wait seems like for ever. We wish you well with it all. Whatever, keep calm and drink tea....or, perhaps, something stronger!

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  28. Dear Hattatts,
    Always so many Stempel. Lived in a communist country. To this day have trouble being at ease with anyone in uniform. You are so wise in that you bring along every scrap of paper that might be relevant. Good Luck.

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    1. Darling Gina,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are right. Always so many stamps and so many different sizes, shapes and colours. It quite mystifies us to know how the officials know which one to stamp where!

      Although Hungary is no longer Communist, we can well imagine how life must have been for you living in such a country. The bureaucracy that occurs now is nothing, we are assured by Hungarians, compared with how it used to be and the length of time taken to acquire the documents is at lightening speed compared to previously.

      When we first came to Budapest, the sight of armed guards in banks, museums and every government building alarmed us but, over time, we have become used to it. However, it all adds a sense of intimidation when entering such places where one feels much more like a criminal than a guest.

      Thank you for your good wishes, we trust that the documents will be in the post!!

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  29. I hope it didn't distress you both too much, being held at gunpoint inside a Hungarian gulag, being interrogated by a Rosa Klebb lookalike, you are English doyens of good taste and the apogee of refinement and she knew it, thus, releasing you both in an instant with no further questioning.

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    1. Darling, darling Mitzi,

      Thank you so much for your comment.You are too kind.

      How well you know us and how perfectly have you summed up the situation. If only you had been with us, then truly all would have been well. Either that or we would now all be trying to have a jolly time in the National Prison.:(:(

      Being held at gunpoint was the least of our problems. Our distress came from the acres of notices pinned to every plastic surface covered with official stamps and, seemingly, with our limited Hungarian, naming and shaming the individuals who had failed to show up to receive the final document. Where were these poor people we wondered.... but, then, we had to concentrate on finding the 2011 gas bills!

      In fact, our interrogating officers were charming young women, looking chic and smiling [occasionally].However, Colonel Rosa Klebb, police officer at her right hand, security guard at her left, sat behind our two delightful officers and watched proceedings through half closed but alert eyes. We knew that at the slightest provocation, she would pounce. Fortunately, Colonel Klebb seemed to be preoccupied with the news [over the wireless]of a stricter lockdown arriving imminently. So, perhaps, that saved us since, given a nod from the Colonel, transactions speeded up and we were whisked outside in a flash. Narrow escape!

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  30. Ah, bureaucracy. Well, it sounds like you handled everything well. Preparation is the key! Brexit is such a nightmare on so many levels.

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    1. Darling Steve,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Oh yes, how right you are. The true nightmare that is Brexit is slowly but surely revealing itself to us. First, a long lost bookcase [more, perhaps, in a future post] and now registration for aliens. What next?

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  31. I shall refrain from giving voice to my thoughts about Brexit, this being a respectable blog and not a place for abundant expletives! Suffice to say the disruption caused for so many for so little gain makes my blood boil.
    We can identify with your experience of shielding. Mike and I have ventured beyond the gate only three times in the last year (less three days), for very similar reasons to yours. The last occasion was this week for his first vaccination, the next will be in a week's time for mine. The walls close in after a while don't they. It wasn't so bad in summer when I had the garden to keep me occupied. Winter has been less easy. What struck me about being out and about is how little appears to have changed.. everyone going about their business as normal. Little evidence of social distancing, no masks (except at the vaccination centre), traffic jams, even though we are supposed to be under 'lockdown'. We will continue to shield for a while yet.
    I hope all goes well with the documents and you have reached the end of a frustrating process.

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    1. Darling Jessica,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      The full impact of Brexit is slowly being revealed we feel and even our worst fears are being realised. Although the increased bureaucracy is irritating and time consuming, that is not, for us, the most depressing part. Rather it is the sense of a loss of freedoms within 26 countries and a feeling that the case for remaining in the Eu was not made sufficiently well, perhaps in the belief that it was self evident. And the cost.... unbelievable.

      It is perhaps the case that those of us who have already brushed with life threatening illnesses have taken the case of COVID very seriously from the start. And, yes, the shielding has been long and hard but one feels that there is little alternative since, as you say, so much of the rest of the world just carries on regardless. Quite simply, we shall have to keep waiting until it is safe and that seems a way off at present.

      But, how wonderful for you to have your garden with Spring in evidence all around. New schemes, connecting with nature and just being tired from the physical work all help to give a light at the end of the tunnel.

      So, continue taking care. All will be well, of that we are sure. And, the world of adventure can continue in one's imagination whilst the waiting game continues.

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  32. Fourth and final attempt at leaving a comment (not sure if it's a "blogger" thing or my internet...AGAIN! but you are fortunate that my comment gets shorter with each attempt. Holding my breath. "Third Country National" you say? Sounds a bit ominous to me...or at least disparaging LOL. Unfortunately, I believe the insidious lock-down on individual rights and freedoms has, like COVID, spread worldwide. Here in the states, our speech and writing are both blatantly censored; movement is underway to do away with our constitutional right to keep and bear arms; and great efforts are being made to outlaw, or at least penalize, independent thinking. It has become a scary place. That is, however, unless you are a non-citizen crossing our border illegally. Then you will be welcomed with open arms by our "resident in the whitehouse". You'll be able to enter the country without having to bother to comply with any of the legal procedures of immigration, or go through any of the bureaucracy (even if you are a criminal); you won't be subject to the quarantine requirements or travel restrictions we citizens are; you will be provided free health care and given a free stay at a hotel; and you will be able to then bring your entire extended family along. I must have been napping when down became up and right became left. Crazy I tell ya. Fingers crossed that your documents have a smooth and uneventful journey form "there" to you. Like Hungary, our postal service has been a bit on the "sketchy" side but, since COVID, has gone into a complete nosedive. Yikes. ~Robin~ (PS... My apologies for not replying to the delightful comment you left on my last blog post, but I was busy trying to find a place to bury Buddy's and Hubby's bodies. JUST KIDDING. Seriously, I was trying to catch up the best I could once my internet was finally restored and never achieved that goal before losing it again. Methinks properly catching up is an unattainable goal at this point.)

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    1. Darling Robin,

      Thank you so very much for your determination to leave a comment.

      After the terrible time you have had at Cranky Crow Towers, we are grateful for a sign of life from you. Thankfully, we are also able to give a sign of life after our visit to the Department of Aliens.:):)

      The world does seem to have started spinning more furiously on its axis of late and, alas, it is not an option to just stop, get off and start again. One wonders whether all the problems are able to be understood let alone fixed by anyone and in the meantime a greater divide between people, the haves and the have nots, seems to get ever wider.

      Perhaps your unattainable goal of ever catching up on Blogger is just the same in the world at large. Can we all ever catch up? And, what, indeed, is it that we are wanting to catch up with? Increasingly, we just want and try to give kindness. It seems an answer of sorts.


      Delete
  33. We are suffering the same hassles here in Italy. We have been to the Turin Questura, fingerprinted, form upon form and stamp tax upon stamp tax paid and we now await the new "biometric permesso di soggiorno permanente" which by the way is only valid for 10 years even though deemed permanent, with no date for issue in sight. Wonderful Brexit the gift that keeps on giving!! Ro xx (N.W.Italy)

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    1. Dear Rosemarie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      First, we must tell you of the wonderful laughter you have given to us by your truly magnificent Brexit motto.."The gift which keeps on giving". how perfectly apt and maddeningly true this is, but how we have laughed!! Thank you so much.

      We wish you well with the Italians and have to say that it is strangely reassuring to know of others in similar situations to our own across the continent.

      Fingerprinting seems to be the order of the day. Perhaps we watch too many crime dramas but we had expected an inky pad and someone rolling our fingers onto a paper sheet. No, even that has become digitalised with just a green light emitting device and a 'ping' when complete. Clearly, instead of 'Budapest Noir' we now have 'Budapest Green', not nearly so romantic but perhaps more efficient.

      Whatever, good luck with all your forms and if you do have a blog, please let us know where to find you.

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for your lovely reply. Sadly I don't have a blog ~ a life far too boring to write about, except when Italian bureaucracy rears its inefficient head. I have been in Italy for 45 years now and really thought the struggle with papers, stamps and "permessi" was over. Alas not! I really enjoy reading your blog. Have a good & safe week/weekend. Ro xx

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    3. Darling Rosemarie,

      How kind of you to return.

      It saddens us to read that you feel you have "a life too boring to write about" as we are sure that this will not be the case. In our experience, it is often those who state that they have lives worthy of rock stars that really are the most tedious.:):)

      Italy is such a wonderful country in so many ways and we have Italian friends who we love dearly, but it can be maddeningly chaotic. So, there it is, perhaps, a love hate relationship. Still, that adds spice to life!
      Take care and stay safe. J and L xx

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  34. Well done both for being prepared. I cannot imagine either of you being at all flustered in those situations, however unusual or time consuming, and maybe you enjoyed a lovely lunch when it was done? I hope so. As I type I can see a huge box of paperwork and a shredder on the table that I intend to utilise later...for many years I have kept everything, but now......time for a lot of things to go.

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    1. Darling Libby,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      The thought of a lovely lunch, eaten al fresco in the sunshine would, of course, have made the day complete. However, to match the mood of the moment, we had a chilly wait for a taxi in a slight fog whilst we gazed on a derelict factory without a single soul in sight. Soup and a sandwich at home for lunch restored us!

      Much as we love the idea of shredding and dispensing with documents that otherwise clutter up one's lives, we dare not part with a thing these days. Folders of information grow and grow and whole cupboards are now full of them. It is true that the last eight years of gas and electric bills were needed for our previous encounter with the 'authorities' so now we keep everything just in case. One day we shall hire an industrial shredder and join you in a minimalist life!!

      Delete
  35. How clever you are to be so well-prepared, with copies of every possible form of identity. The barbed wire, bleak walls, and isolated villa speak of Cold War times, and look very intimidating. Nonetheless, I know you will have charmed the officials and surely your paperwork will be completed within the required times. Good luck, and thank you for the interesting insight into Hungarian ways.

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    1. Darling Patricia,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      We did feel some sympathy for the workers arriving each day to the Department of Aliens and Policing since a more depressing sight would be hard to imagine. As you say, it all had a "cold War' feel about it both metaphorically and actually. At times, one can feel that the 'Iron Curtain' not only still exists but is firmly drawn closed.

      So, like the good Boy Scout and Brownie that we are, we remain prepared for every eventuality....or so we think!!

      Delete
  36. I thought I'd commented when I first read this a few days ago and browsed through all the comments but, as is often the case with me, I got distracted and didn't follow through. It's only just now when I responded to your comment on my blog that I tried to recall whether I'd done so.

    There is nothing like being fully prepared and treating officials like that with calmness and civility. I have often wanted to make a smart remark to a border control officer (see Welcome to America) but I have always resisted.

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    1. Darling Graham,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Early or late, no matter, your comments are always welcome. We spend half our lives being distracted so we completely understand the situation. Sometimes, even remembering the day of the week is challenging:):)

      Yes, we are sure like you, we always think it best to approach officials with respect and a mountain of paperwork. We read your account of entering the USA with wry smiles as we could exactly picture the situation. In Hungary, we are always mindful that our Hungarian is poor and so the officers are dealing with us in a foreign language. No wonder that so much gets lost in translation, leading to frustration on all sides. Still, we survived.:)

      Delete
  37. What a hassle! Red tape and bureaucracy has landed. Shame you guys have to go through such hassle for now, completely unnecessary had if...

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    1. Darlings,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Hassle is nowadays more a way of life than an unusual event. If only.... but then, that is all water under the bridge as they say....

      So, onwards and upwards and hold tight to the gas bills!

      Delete
  38. It would, we were assured, be a simple, straightforward matter.
    I'm sure that this was a clue as to how complicated the paperwork would be!
    Sx

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    1. Darling Ms. Scarlet,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Of course, how perceptive you are. We should have known that if a member of HM diplomatic service was saying this then, actually, crisis management, hard hats and body armour would be needed before anything could be expected or undertaken.

      Sometimes we do feel very foreign in this foreign land.....

      Delete
  39. Sounds an alarming procedure - and even a bit scary!

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    1. Darling Stephanie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Indeed. No wonder tourists stick to the Danube panorama instead of venturing to the tenth District.:):)

      Delete
  40. My dearest Jane and Lance,

    The problems with the bureaucracy are very tiresome, to say the least. It is wonderfully generous of you to share your first-hand experience. I don't know about you but I often feel very small in a situation like this especially when it comes to confronting an official, sitting behind the desk, who holds all the power in his/her pen and stamp for one's status determination. Another thing that I notice is that they rarely smile. I often wonder if a particular temperament is needed or attracted to go into this calling. Edmund Burke was right when he wrote: “The same sun which gilds all nature and exhilarates the whole creation, does not shine upon disappointed ambition.” (Observations on a Late State of the Nation, 1769).

    Well done to you both, my dears, for your perseverance, patience, preparation, intuition and understanding. I hope you gave yourself a nice treat (a glass of wine, perhaps) when you arrived back safely to your beautiful home.

    With warmest wishes, ASD

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    1. Darling ASD,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Yes, how perfectly you describe the feeling of being in such places as the Department for Aliens. Somehow all the desks, the chairs in serried ranks, the official looking notices on every surface, stern looking officers and even sterner looking security guards all conspire to make one feel inadequate.

      Perhaps 'disappointed ambition' is at the heart of the problem. Perhaps the officials really wanted to be space travellers, judges or fashion models but never quite made it and, so, they join the Department and, once in they never leave. Certainly, the Chief Controller looked as if this could definitely be the case, but we have hopes for the two young women who assisted us. Yes, perhaps post-pandemic they will break free, travel the world and become aliens themselves in foreign lands.:):)

      How well you know us.... champagne [the Hungarian variety is £2.50 per bottle] was the order of the day. Does a bottle between two seem like celebrating or drowning sorrows?

      Sending love to your delightful hideaway by the sea.
      J and L xx

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  41. Oh my! That sounds rather frightening and complicated. They certainly put you through your paces, don't they? But it looks like you came through with flying colors. Hooray!

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    1. Darling Jeanie,

      Thank you for your comment and for following.

      The Hungarian authorities are certainly very well practised in the art of bureaucracy. The more paper the better is really the mantra. And, even if a process can be completed entirely online [as this one was], nevertheless, it will still be necessary to appear in person and to produce paper copies of everything in duplicate, signed with a blue pen. Indeed, sign in a black pen and one starts all over again.

      But, we seem to have survived....now we await the post!

      Delete
  42. Oh dear, that sounds like an ominous building like a prison, or as you said, interrogation center. I am glad you emerged unscathed and ready to receive the documents you need after your ordeal of all the paper work.

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    1. Darling Terra,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Alas, our imaginations do get the better of us when we go to such places and, sadly, we do seem to have to go to such places quite regularly. In this case, it really did seem like a remnant from darker times and one did wonder if there were some people there who were still waiting for documents several months or even years on!!:):)

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  43. This is so odd sounding to an American. We see the EU as this all-encompassing, modern power. I am honestly surprised to see that all the various comprising countries maintain their idiosyncratic powers. I supposed that it is the same the world over. In the US we have Barney Fifes, in other parts of the world they are Tin Pot dictators. Petty little people/institutions holding their petty little powers close.

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    1. Darling Kim,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Living between two countries as we do, we make comparisons all the time and it simply serves to show what variation there is even across one continent let alone the world at large. When we first came to Hungary, we thought that there would be cultural differences, of course, but we did not think that these would be as different as they are. History, inevitably, plays its part.

      For many years there was no overall majority in the parliament which although this led to a general malaise of ever doing anything, now, as the government has a large majority, that power is wielded with all manner of outcomes, some of which are difficult to understand or support.

      Delete
  44. What a palaver! Contrary to you and your dislike of political comment, I am furious that lies and deceit were employed to pull the wool over people’s eyes. I have my resident status now (although digital proof often gets mislaid in officialdom) but I retain my European passport. Now that I am alone I would dearly love to go back to the continent but old age doesn’t make that very easy.

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    1. Darling Friko,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Yes, it is all very frustrating and it does make one angry that people were manipulated over what is such a significant decision. It should never have come to a simple 'Yes' or 'No'.

      It is now our wish to obtain a European passport and, quite possibly, our next step will be to try to obtain dual nationality. So, do hang on to yours. We could never have imagined that we would contemplate such a step but, to gain freedom of travel in Europe, this is definitely something to consider seriously.

      It is very difficult to advise, if indeed you are seeking any advice, about what to do in your circumstances. Where you live is so beautiful but that also comes with a big responsibility. Making major decisions alone is quite frightening, but, perhaps, you should take advice about moving. However, in our experience, it is never a good idea to go back....best to go to something new.

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  45. I have made my peace with Brexit for there is no point in ranting for ever - though I occasionally shed a tear at the shallowness of it all... I empathise with the administrative hassle - it is much the same in France where paperwork is next to Godliness. I always get there in the ned, but doubt I'd manage in Hungarian.

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    1. Darling Mark,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are so right to have "made your peace with Brexit" since it is exactly things such as this which are completely out of one's control, that can cause undue stress and worry. Best, to simply make the best of things and, of course, fill in the forms!!

      Hungarian is indeed a tricky language so finding oneself in an administrative whirlwind is doubly complicated. However, we are not sure how our school French would stand up either. Whatever, seeking the help of experts fluent in the language seemed the best policy for us....but these things always come at a price.

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  46. I was opposed to Brexit for years, ever since I heard of the idea of even having the referendum. I don't get furious any more about it but I am sad to hear about how difficult things are being made for people who went to live in EU countries in good faith. I hope you haven't got problems with pensions, etc.

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    1. Darling Jenny,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      We totally agree that the idea of a referendum on something as complex and wide ranging as Brexit was never going to have a successful outcome, at least not in our eyes, and so it seems it has been proved.

      With each passing day, we find the situation becomes more complicated and stressful. We have yet to receive the new registration documents. It is said that these may take 70 days to arrive!!. And, to add to the complications, we now are caught between healthcare systems as we do not work and so have further complications in order to receive a vaccine. We have already been shielding for more than a year and, at present, we see no immediate end in sight.

      So, patience is a virtue they say and we are learning that!!

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