Monday, 6 June 2011

A legal Alien.

Before moving over here, somone gave me a helpful list of all the things to get done before you leave Belgium, and when.  One of them was contacting the Commune to let them know that you will no longer be living in the country as of the date you leave and the other involved calling the Belgian (or British - I forget now) Embassy to let them know that you will be moving to England.  It was then that I found out that I was moving to England as an 'Expat' seeing as I have Belgian ID and as far as the Belgians are concerned - am Belgian.  Through and through.

Admittedly, people have never really understood which nationality I am (half English, half Belgian - by marriage) as I wasn't born in England and have spent very little time here previously - apart from 9 horrible years in boarding school and holidays dotted around the world.  Some people enjoy that nomadic way of life, but I certainly didn't so was happy when I finally found my roots, albeit not in England.  So after 25 years living in a country that I was - and still am - happy to call "home", I had to move and then decided living in England to be a good idea.  But I hadn't realised that I would be moving as an 'Expat'.  It all seems so wrong.

When I am eventually installed in my new house and have paid off a few bills the woman at the end of the phone has instructed me to contact the Belgian Consulate in Manchester (I think - all this seems to have happened months ago) to let them know that I'm here, shove some bills under their noses as proof so that they can issue a new ID card with my new address.

In Crewe.

Well, if I can travel around as before, using my ID card, then it's much cheaper than having to buy a passport.

The day I need a passport to travel to further shores outside the EU will be the day I can afford to buy one, so in that respect, it's not such a bad idea.  No doubt I shall still be sent Belgian election forms every two years, but it's a fair price to pay to avoid the horrendous expense of a passport.

So hi England.  I'm a furriner.


Daddy Papersurfer said...

There's a Belgian Consulate in Manchester? ... *finds a feather and knocks himself down*

Blazing said...

We are all European now, or so they tell me, Zoe.

Richard said...

DP, there is indeed. A leafy grove in Poynton apparently. Don't even have to get on the tram, straight up the A34. She'll need her ID card. Buggered if I know anyone of good standing to sign a passport application.

Anonymous said...

Z, you just need an ID card (and appropriate air or train fare) to go from, say, Crewe to Amsterdam to Rome???

What a difference a handful of years makes. Back when you needed a passport to travel through Europe, I only needed my drivers license to enter Canada and Mexico (and used just that to visit both). Now you just need an ID card to travel Europe, and I need a flipping passport to get out of the US -- even if I'm just walking across the border!

Oh, well. I'm sure that, at least, you're well on your way to becoming Crewe's greatest expert on Belgian politics. . .and I would never have thought you were an Alien from looking at your pictures!

Anonymous, too

lom said...

Well you learn something new everyday, I thought you needed a passport to leave the UK to go anywhere

Guyana-Gyal said...

But you sound so delightfully posh[ly] English. Or is that how the Belgians speak English?

Zoe said...

DP, apparently so.

Blazing, Brits are not European. Not like Europeans, anyway.

Richard, I can't see myself ever needing a passport so that's sorted.

Anon, too, as a 'Belgian', and a Belgian ID card-holder, I can travel all over Europe with just my ID card. No passport needed. If only England would take a look at the Belgian system (and no doubt, other European countries - my ID card cost me €13 and is valid for 5 years) they may see the benefits of having one.

lom, I'd have been up shit creek without a paddle if I had needed a passport to get out of this country whenever I visited my parents.

GG, for a Belgian, my English is pretty good - I think.

johng said...

99% of England doesn't want to be European, it costs us too much!!

Keith said...

So, you're just another immigrant are you? Still, never mind, it's nice to have you here.

The Cartoonist said...

Hold on - Belgian election forms? Why? The country has been working fine without any government for quite a few years now, so why the hassle?

Zoe said...

God knows, Ralf - habit?

Hannah Joy Curious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah Joy Curious said...

I can relate Zoe! I too have lived mostly a "life of away" and the only link to the country that issues my passport is a series of consulates abroad. On the rare occasions I go back to the motherland, folks look at me askance and wonder what hole I've crawled out of. No matter where I am in the world, I never seem to be one of "them"... which makes me a foreigner, just like you.

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