Tag Archives: consulate general

Identity headaches in Brazil

I had an appointment at the federal police office in Lapa recently. It’s the big building in São Paulo where foreigners need to sort out their papers and Brazilians get their passports…

I was due to collect my RNE – my permanent ID number that effectively gives me an identity in Brazil. I have a social security number already, which has allowed me to at least open a bank account and get a phone contract, but the RNE is needed for anything more complex.

When I went to collect it they told me they can’t issue it because none of my papers show my mother’s name. My passport, driving licence, marriage certificate, birth certificate… nothing shows the name of my mother. I offered to write it down for them, but they wanted some kind of proof – not just trust in me that I would give them the correct name.

I had to leave empty-handed. None of my documents show the name of my parents, so I wondered what I could do. Eventually I found that the British Consulate General issues certificates of identity, which seemed like the answer so I paid them a visit today.

They refused to give me an identity certificate because I could not prove the name of my mother… but they did at least show me how I can make a request for a new birth certificate to be sent from the UK with my parent’s names on it.

So I now need to apply for a new birth certificate, so I can then get some consular ID, so I can then get my RNE, so I can then get my Brazilian driver’s licence… each document appears to be waiting for another one to be approved.

Welcome to Brazil, where a passport and original birth certificate are entirely useless if you can’t tell someone the name of your mother!
Brazil Presidential Election in London

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Indian bureaucrats as charming, friendly, and helpful as always

I need a visa to visit India, so I went and lined up at the Indian Consulate General an hour before it opened today. I waited and waited in the hot sun. Eventually I could go inside… there was a rush for places, with several people just barging through and acting as if they know the Consul General personally so they would not need to queue to be seen anyway.

I’ve seen all that before at many Indian government instituations, so that was no surprise, but when I presented my papers they asked for my residency card – the ID card I should have as a foreigner living in Brazil. I told them it’s being processed, it can take up to six months to get one, but you can see the stamp in my passport showing I have residency.

They wanted me to pay an extra R$15 because I did not have the card with me and because there is some ‘additional charge’ to process a visa for a non-Brazilian. When I argued that none of this information about extra charges is listed on their website – where all the fees are listed – they just said that not everything is on the website. When I remonstrated further that it was not acceptable to just create random fees the official said he won’t argue about it and walked off, waving his arms in the air.

The problem is, they don’t take cash. I had to go and find a branch of Santander to pay the money into their bank account, then return to the Consultate again.

I got back, waited to be seen, then I found that I had printed 2 copies of my India invitation later, rather than one from London and one from India… suddenly the entire morning was a complete waste of time because I misprinted one single sheet of paper. I had all the documents on a USB stick, but when I found a web cafe and took a look at the documents, I had in fact copied that same letter twice instead of the London one. Big mistake.

Where do you think I will be on Monday morning?
Chaos inside Indian High Commission in London