With our upcoming move back to Europe, we have been trying to get SB a passport from Home Country. While there is no doubt that she is a citizen, actually getting the document is proving more tricky than anticipated (although in fairness, I do tend to underestimate these things).
We each kept our last names when we got married, which isn’t that uncommon. Suppose we are Conceptionally Challenged and Slow Swimmer. One of us could have been named Challenged-Swimmer, but not both, neither our children. We also knew that we’d have to settle on one last name for our kids with the birth of the first (to add a bit more salt to the wound, A&C don’t count here as they were never issued birth certificates in either country). On her birth certificate and passport from this side of the Atlantic, SB’s name is Strawberry Swimmer. When we visited the consulate to apply for her (second) passport, we were told that we’d need to formally declare our family name to be Swimmer (which would take months as it’d go through the authorities in Home Country’s capital), but that they could issue her a passport with a special sticker stating that her name was not formally set yet. However, we didn’t actually do the name declaration right there and then. In part because it required my own birth certificate, which I didn’t carry with me, in part because nobody explained the urgency. Well, two weeks later they called to explain that the special sticker was only an option if we had already sent the name declaration. And that it was now too late to get everything done before we’d leave the country.
The city hall in H’s hometown, where were formally registered, is happy to issue a passport but doesn’t feel responsible for the name declaration. That should be Wedding City’s responsibility (which I guess kind of makes sense as in the traditional setting, the family name is determined at the wedding). Wedding City first declined due to a miscommunication. A bit more prodding revealed that any city hall can process the name declaration, however Wedding City needs to confirm it.
What bugs me is that none of this would have happened if SB had been born in Home Country. (I assume naming her there automatically triggers the family name process, confirmed by Wedding City if applicable). And that nobody told us about it. My brother and his girlfriend had no formal issues naming their daughter despite not being married and thus clearly having different last names. The issue wasn’t mentioned on the consulate’s (otherwise very detailed) website either. Is it so rare to live abroad and have different last names?
The theoretical concern appears to be that we could apply for a passport for Strawberry Swimmer now, and for Strawberry Challenged later, and nobody could stop us. The fact that she has a passport from another country with one of those names is irrelevant. (We have a friend who’s child has the Challenged-Swimmer type of last name, and they’re essentially having the same problem with Home Country’s authorities. Plus, they’re not married, which apparently also is a problem, even though it isn’t for kids born in the country – they’re a bit backwards but not that much.)
What probably should bug me is that this all could have been sorted out in time had we only applied for the passport back in January. But, between finding a nanny, going back to work, finding out we’d need new jobs, applying and actually finding something I think I had a rather packed few months. In January we didn’t even know we’d be moving, let alone where.
I do hope this doesn’t seriously delay SB’s registration in New Country, which is necessary for daycare and, more importantly, healthcare. We’ll be in Home Country for a few days before going to New City, hoping to be able to sort this out (and still spend some time with family). Until then, many boxes to pack.