Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The passport adventure...

As I was reading Vicky's post about how hard it was to get a proper passport picture of her 3-weeks old daughter, it reminded me of our own adventure with Ciaran's passport 6 years ago. Taking the picture was the easy part, obtaining the actual passport was a bit harder.

First of all, I learned that countries have different rules when it comes to citizenship. My kids are automatically entitled to the French citizenship by me. They are also entitled to the Mauritian one by their dad, but we never applied for a passport over there because let's face it, unless they live in Mauritius at some stage, it's not really useful. On top of that, I learned that because they are born outside the country, they can have a Mauritian passport but their own children won't be entitled to Mauritian citizenship (unless they are born in Mauritius or their mother is a Mauritian born there). Crazy isn't it?

So what about Ireland? Well, back in 2005, Irish people voted to change the rules regarding citizenship. Before, every child born in Ireland was entitled to Irish citizenship, but the law changed that. Being foreign nationals, we had to prove that we had lived in Ireland for 3 out of the 4 years previous to the birth of our child so he could claim Irish citizenship. 

In our case, that wasn't a problem because we had been in Ireland for 6 years before I gave birth. Knowing the slowness of the French bureaucracy, and because we had a trip to France planned only 4 weeks after the birth, we decided to get an Irish passport first. We also made the application for the French one, knowing that it would probably not be ready on time.

We went to the Garda station to fill out the application form. As foreign nationals parents, we had to get an extra form filled out. The first part was a declaration signed by both of us, stating that we were residents in the country and the other part had to be completed by a "person of law". We had a choice of who we could ask to sign that form, but the important thing was that he or she had to know us personally. Basically, it had to be someone the State could trust. It included a priest, a teacher, a solicitor, a commissioner for oaths or a peace commissioner. 

I thought that part was a bit strange but, well, I don't make the law and we had to have that form filled out to get the passport. In my stupid mind, I thought the Garda would sign it for us. But when we showed it to the guy at the counter, he said he wasn't qualified to do it. The problem was we needed that passport quickly, so we didn't really have the time to chase a priest or a solicitor. 

"Not a problem!" said the Garda at the station. "I know someone". *Of course you do*

"I'll tell you where to go. Take left as you exit the station and go all the way down the street. Then turn left. Walk straight for  about 50 mtrs and on your left, you'll see a paint shop."

Then he stopped talking.

"OK... The paint shop, and then what?"
"Well, just get in there, the owner is also a peace commissioner, he'll sign the form for you"

We made our way to the paint shop and met the owner, a very nice and helpful man. He signed the form straight away.

"You're supposed to know us personally, what if someone enquires about this?"
"Oh, I'll just tell him that you come here and buy paint regularly!"

This is Ireland at its best, and I just love it.