Slow down dude…

That’s what I am telling myself here in Russia. Nothing is getting done quickly. Staggering inefficiency in every government office I’ve visited so far.
Today, twenty days after I came to Russia, I finally managed to formally submit all the paperwork for my new passport. A replacement of my old USSR citizen passport, which though technically still valid, is not accepted as proof of citizenship anymore. In fact, it cannot be used for any other purposes either. The required items were:
– 4 current pictures, passport size
– Birth certificate (original only)
– Application on a special form
– Bank receipt for the 200 rubles fee (about seven bucks)

I had all that 18 days ago, but nobody in SIX (6) different government offices wanted them. After waiting in long lines and talking to several officials, I was directed by the highest authority of this office to another office. After four visits to the last office, each time escalating my ‘case’ a step higher, I was directed to the top commander of the unit, who resolved everything in 2 minutes. Now, I have to wait two (2) more months because I don’t have any ‘local registration’, and technically I am homeless.

Note: calling any of these government offices is useless. No one answers the phone, or the listed number doesn’t exist, OR it is a fax number, not a voice number. Online contact forms, or email addresses are not provided. THE ONLY WAY of achieving anything is PHYSICALLY announcing yourself at all those places, and TALKING to somebody IN PERSON. Only then things start moving and getting done. Slowly.

Note #2: The most useful and instrumental person in my case was a heavy smoking middle-age civilian woman, who worked in the “right” office. In my several trips to that office I saw her smoking near the entrance of the building EVERY time I went there. She simply locks her office every hour, despite the note on the door, saying “15-minutes Technical Break Every Two Hours” and goes outside past dozens of eager customers waiting in line for hours.

P.S. When I relocated to Florida, I had to obtain my new ‘passport’ there too. It’s called Driver’s License. I found the necessary information in 5 seconds:
It cost me $48.00 and two trips to the nearest DMV office totalling one hour.
I wasn’t ready the first time, because they asked me for a proof of my residence. Had to go home and print my condo lease agreement, which showed my address.


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