Tag Archives: passport

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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A Change of Name

I got married way back in 1995, when I was pretty young. I married a Japanese girl and her surname was Kobayashi. I was never comfortable with the idea that a woman has to adopt a man’s name after marriage. It strikes me as a bit odd, like continuing the idea that a father owns his daughter and passes her on to the husband, so the woman has to only ever have the name of her father or her husband.

So we agreed to hyphenate our names – both of us started using Kobayashi-Hillary as our surname and it was all fine. I wrote several books using that name.

But I broke up with my former wife over three years ago and we have since divorced. So I recently took some time to go and get a new passport, reverting back to my former name, just ‘Mark Hillary’.

I’m undecided what I will do about my next book. The Kobayashi-Hillary name is very unusual and having written several books under that name, I might continue to use it as a writing name for some time, but to be honest I am still undecided on that.

For now though, I’m officially just Mark Hillary once again.

Self-portrait sketchbook - Mark Kobayashi-Hillary