Friday, January 16, 2009

Fun with immigration

If you are a permanent resident here in Costa Rica, you have to renew your cedula, or i.d., every couple of years or so. Mine expired way back in December of 2005, but then fell under two amnesties, so I had a while until I had to officially renew it. I am at the point now where I have to officially renew it.

I asked Amy, who's been through this before, how to go about the whole thing. She gave me the phone number to call at immigration in order to make an appointment to get the thing renewed. That number, for your future reference, is 900-12345678. Couldn't be easier to remember! So I called first thing this morning, as I'm planning to hang out with Chris in Miami for a few days in March when she heads up there. I got the message "Su servicio ha temporalmente sido suspendido. Llame al 193." That means, "Your service has been suspended. Call 193." If you forget to pay your phone bill, you'll be familiar with this message. However, I was sure I paid my cell phone this month, so that couldn't be right. A couple of test calls (one to my mom, who never answers her phone anyway) showed that I was right. There was nothing wrong with my service. So we call 193, and find out that the phone has to be authorized to call 900 numbers.

Detour: This really made esposo mad, because he feels that you should not have to pay for government services, and in fact on the immigration website, they state that they do not charge for their services. I would say that paying 175 colones per minute to make an appointment is charging for services, though, and esposo swore he would file a complaint and take it all the way to Sala IV. I can't get that worked up about a few hundred colones myself.

Now, why does the message not say, "Your phone is unable to dial 900 numbers. Call 193." instead of "Your service has been suspended." It's the phone company, for the love of spaghetti! They haven't yet figured out how to make two different messages for different purposes? Así es, indeed. All right, so now esposo (because my phone is in his name) has to write a letter, sign it, send a copy of his i.d. card, and fax the whole thing to the ICE in order to unblock the 900# calling on my phone. No way this was getting done on a Friday morning, so dear Amy offered to call and make the appointment for me from her house.

Want to take a guess as to when my appointment might be? December 4, 2009! Yes, dear readers, that's almost 11 months from now. I can't honestly believe that they have a backload of 11 months worth of people renewing their cedulas, but whatever. I asked Amy if she knew of a way to get it done any faster, say, for example, if one wants to go shopping with her friend in Miami in March, and she said that you can get it renewed but it has to be an emergency. That is, if I go down there with plane ticket in hand, they would probably do it sooner, but you can't just go say, "I have an emergency and I need it sooner." Ok, now technically you may be thinking to yourself, shopping in Miami isn't exactly an emergency situation. What can I say. When a girl needs to shop, she needs to shop. And she needs her residency i.d. renewed as well.


  1. It is an emergency. I don't want any hassles at the border with some illegal gringa. I got mine done a week before my flight last July by claiming that I was flying out that same afternoon. It took an hour. No ticket, just a panicky American yapping about missing her plane. They'll do anything to get rid of you. Confucius say: If you can't be prepared, be obnoxious. ;-)

  2. I agree! This is one of those situations where the Costa Rican passive-aggressive trait can work to your advantage. As long as a guard doesn't come and haul you out of immigration, that is. Well I figure I have to have the ticket in my hand before I know for sure that I'm even going, and by that time I'll just head down to immigration with esposo and son, and ask son to be as obnoxious as possible (sort of like the time we took the kids to the fabric store). That should get me out of there pretty quickly!