Our cruising days are done. We are no longer sweating the Pacific. We live in Norway now, but we are still happily retired. And DHH has gone back to his roots!
In the process of moving from Switzerland to Norway ES has had to pull up some of hers, however. We are now residents of Trondheim, where DHH grew up way back in the 1960ties and thereabouts.
It was not so easy actually. A Norwegian moving to Switzerland to be with his spouse has a lot less hassle with red tape than a Swiss moving to Norway for the same reason. DHH moved to Switzerland in 2012. What he needed was a passport, a marriage licence and five minutes at the local community office. For ES to move to Norway in 2017 also took a passport and a marriage licence, but in addition it took five weeks of endless emails and phone calls. It also took papers from the Swiss pension system, several papers from the Swiss tax-authorities and a paper from a Swiss health insurance company, as well as five different appointments with three different Norwegian public services. It took phone calls to the Norwegian NAV (a public health care authority) who sent us to Helse Norge (another public health care authority) who sent us back to the first one again.
We are back in Trondheim, in the very building where DHH grew up with his parents in the 1960ties.
The first task was to find out where to start. It would be either the Police, who is assigned with the task of establishing the identity of some of the foreigners who apply for permission to stay in Norway, or the UDI (The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration) who is assigned with the task of establishing the identity of all the other foreigners who apply for permission to stay in Norway.
This particular problem we tried to solve while we were still on the Costa Luminosa. The first thing we did was read websites that gave us no explanations. The second thing we did was to send emails to officials who did not respond. The third thing we did was to call telephone contacts numbers where nobody answered. Something that makes you exceptionally joyful is to sit with your mobile phone in a cafe in Sri Lanka or in India or in Dubai or in Oman, (we did it all) paying for every note and syllable coming from the tone deaf lady singing in the never ending muzak-loop of the answering machine of the office that never answers.
To make a very long story short, it took us three weeks. We solved it by making an online appointment with the Police, who finally reacted by telling us that her case belonged with the UDI. We then got an appointment with the Trondheim UDI-office in a lot less than the three months waiting time that the Police (on one of the their web pages that actually did work) told us was their standard. A few weeks after Sri Lanka and India and Dubai and Oman we got an email with a date. «Come on the Tuesday morning at 11.00. Bring your passport and your marriage license plus this first paper, that second paper and this third paper», we were told.
On the Tuesday morning, weeks later, we did. The lady behind the desk looked at us, at the documents, and back at us.
– Why are you here, she asked. – As a retired person who is seeking family reunion and not work, you should have had an appointment with the Police, we were told.
– We started becoming a bit confused. We were with her because the Police had told us to go there. They actually cancelled an appointment we had already made with them, we explained.
– Too bad, she answered. Our process is more complicated. And as to confirmed just that, she looked thru the documents we had brought. The passport, the marriage license, and the first and the second and the third paper.
– And where is the copy of the forth paper? she asked.
– We were never told to bring it, we answered.
– It is not so important what you were told, she answered. «What is important is that you bring it».
– We cannot get hold of it today…?
– Then you get hold of it some other day. Let me know when we can give you another appointment. Have a nice morning.
We did not have a nice morning. We were fuming. We had blood pressure thru the roof. We wanted to hit her over the head with her own desk. It had taken us over a month to find out what office to go to, and in that time nobody had been able to tell us what documents to bring.
When the «other day» came and we were allowed back, we had the forth document with us. A very helpful Swiss community office had had a pdf made for us on short notice, and we brought a printout. We watched her in silence as she filled out forms, copied our documents and stacked them in heaps. Some were originals we got back, some were copies that she would keep. We still hade one more office to visit, the Trondheim Tax Authority.
– They do not need this one she said, holding up the paper from the Swiss pension office. – They will ask for the first document and the second document and the forth document. Those you keep and give them. I will keep your copies of this third document.
In Norway, the Tax doubles as the National Population Register. This is where they keep a file on where people actually do live. Useful, no doubt, when the idea is to make sure they all pay tax. It was a walk across town, but we did it with a light heart. We were almost done, and Trondheim is not a very big town.
The fellow at the desk looked at us with the same distant and motionless eyes as the lady at the UDI-office. He looked at us, at the documents, and back at us.
– And where the copy of the third paper? he asked.
– We left it at UDI, we were told we did not need to bring it here, we answered.
– It is not so important what you were told, he answered. – What is important is that you do bring it.
This time however, we were not in the mood to take much more nonsense. We gave it another try.
– We left the only copy we had at the UDI because they told us you did not need it. Is it a big problem for you if you do not get it?
– No, it is not, he answered without as much as the ghost of a smile. – But it is a problem for you.
It took us one more day, one more telephone to Switzerland and one more helpful Swiss official to send us one more email with one more pdf, and after one more encounter with the guy at the tax office we finally got our mission accomplished. As for DHH, he has always claimed that after seeing half the world it is silly to brand the Norwegian public bureaucracy neither incompetent nor corrupt. There are so many places that are so much worse. That is probably also true, but there sure also are places that are so much better!
And as for ES, she is now a resident of Norway. However, she has moved to Norway for the first and only time of her life. She will never ever make herself do it again!