Grappling with The Bureaucracy

May 11, 2010 at 7:08 am 4 comments

There’s a lot of crap you have to deal with when moving countries. Top of the list has to be getting a driver’s licence and air-freighting some of your stuff as “unaccompanied luggage” so you actually have some fresh clothes to wear whilst you wait for the shipping container, which is chock full of your entire household of STUFF, to sail leisurely across the ocean. So a few handy hints for the unwary. I’ll call them Golden Rules.

Golden Rule #1how to deal with the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) of NSW Australia and the NZ Transport Agency. First take a valium or stiff drink. If you have an Australian driver’s license, you can convert to an NZ one after coughing up your entire life story – well, Australian passport along with proof of your NZ address. You don’t have to be subjected to a scary driving or knowledge test.

I have an NZ passport woot! easier….but …my surname is causing a hissy fit. My full surname is dos Santos Martins; but my New South Wales (NSW) driver’s license just says Martins. I don’t remember how this happened but I prefer to be called Kim Martins because the whole dos Santos thing is too much of a mouthful, exotic sounding though it may be. The RTA had no problems with plain old Martins. (Sbarcea is my former name and I use it for professional reasons only).

But NZ doesn’t like it. Nope. Despite my NSW driver’s license having a photo of my cheery face and despite that same face appearing on my NZ passport (with the longer surname), the NZ Transport Agency does not believe I am one and the same person.

So many phone calls later back to Sydney and the RTA, I’m kinda stuck. The RTA are sending over a Certificate of Particulars, the fancy name for something that will prove I’ve been driving for more than 2 years in NSW. But it will say Martins. To change this name to dos Santos Martins, I was told to hotfoot it back to Sydney and go through the whole change of name business. What the?

So a call to the NZ Transport Agency indicates they will probably have problems believing that Kim Martins is Kim dos Santos Martins, despite the two photos being of the same person.  So I’m desperately trying to find my old NZ passport that said Kim dos Santos Martins aka Kim Martins. Golden Rule #1 is therefore: make sure the surname on all your originating country documents matches that of your passport. Pretty simple I know but if you have an unusual surname like I do, you could run into The Bureaucracy. And The Bureaucracy is rigid.

Golden Rule #2 when shipping stuff by air freight make sure you understand the charges you will get lumped with at the other end. We used an air freight company in Sydney that fast-tracked some of our clothes and computers to Christchurch via some cargo plane and using DHL. 2 days it took and (we thought) we paid all costs before we left Oz. They said yep, you’ve paid airport to airport, so just go along and pick up your stuff.

Simple right? ah nope. What they didn’t mention was we’d be hit with (fairly high) costs at the airport in Christchurch for collecting the airfreight, paying the airline charges blah blah. So we merrily go along to pick up our stuff, praising the Airline Gods that my laptop did not go missing in action somewhere and found surprise…it’s your lucky day, cough up NZ$87.00 to get your stuff.

Oh and Golden Rule #3, try to avoid using DHL. There seems to be DHL Express, DHL Global and other DHLs. The DHL website is pretty crappy and it was an intelligence test trying to find the right DHL place to go to in Christchurch to pick up our airfreight. In all honesty, I can’t say they were all that helpful over the phone or in person.

I suspect I will soon have a post on how to deal with MAF (NZ Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry). They have already flagged that they want to rummage through 9 boxes in our container as “boxes of interest”. Gulp. I think box #182 is the one full of dead squirrels – only joking MAF 🙂

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Entry filed under: New Zealand. Tags: , .

I’ve arrived! A rose may not be a rose

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Irene  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I see you bought a very very sexy pair of ugg boots before you left Oz. Don’t tell me you’ve bought a pair of possum trimmed Kiwi copies?

    I have a friend in Sydney who has had problems with variations to his chinese name on his Australian passport. It was a very long story. I am not sure how he resolved it. It too was a real saga.

    My husband has always been quite meticulous to make sure his extra name that is not on his birth certificate gets put onto everything possible.

    His saga when he moved countries was that immigration into Australia didn’t stamp his passport to indicate he arrived. We had not realised that he had no stamp. Two years later when he went to claim citizenship there was no record of his entry. They made him wait another 1 or 2 years before he could get his citizenship. It was quite shocking.

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

    I can’t lay claim to those black fur trimmed Ugh boots Irene but am currently searching for some warm possum socks that seem to be popular here.

    It’s really quite silly. There are two photos of me, they can see I am one and the same person but NZ says they must sight the Oz evidence and Oz says they don’t understand the NZ issue.

    I can at least admit that the NZ people are being less bureaucratic than Oz and are trying to help.

  • 3. Baoman  |  May 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I am very careful to NEVER allow anyone to create official documents with ‘Bill’ on them. In American EVERYONE knows Bill = William but explaining this in Hong Kong, Japan or Switzerland leads to some very big problems. My tip on driver’s licenses: it is very important to have one from a right-hand drive country (UK, Australia, NZ, Japan, HK…) and another from a left-hand (USA, most of EU) country. Otherwise, it is likely you may need to re-test. I still have bad memories of a 90 minute road test in French a few years back….

  • 4. thinkingshift  |  May 14, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Hey Bill!! I managed to get the NZ driver’s license with no fuss after all. I went to a different agency and they had no problems with the surname business. Oz sent the Certificate of Particulars after a fairly irate tirade from me over the phone.
    Fortunately, no knowledge test is required of Australians if you have a current driving license and have been driving over 2 years.
    And the NZ license is for 10 years – which I must say I find a bit odd. No testing of driving knowledge or eye sight for 10 years??


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