And Still More Red Tape Blues

By alison - October 18, 2005 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

It seems just based on odds alone I could leave the town commune at least once without feeling like I’ve been beaten. The odds were still against me today. While what I feel like is downing a bottle of red, gorging on chocolate and hiding under my desk, I have maturely decided to vent my frustration in my blog.

I thought I was almost there… just one simple police visit away from red tape freedom. I was so wrong.

It’s been a month now since my last visit and I was worried that I had missed the police check-up while we were in Helsinki. I was concerned that without my Identity Card I would have trouble getting back into Belgium. We’re planning a trip home soon to visit friends and family and celebrate Christmas and I didn’t want any hassle coming back to Belgium. So we went to the commune to see if this was going to be a problem.

Andrew did a valiant job getting his point across in Dutch. But we were lost at the response… we only knew that it was negative. Another woman was called into the conversation. They deliberated back and forth and then told us that the Identity Card would do no good either way. The first woman said that I can’t travel on an Identity Card. The second said I could use my passport but they couldn’t guarantee that I would be allowed back in… Then the first added that she would try to speed up my police visit. Well that’s helpful…

I’m sure these women are very good at dealing with local issues and I doubt there are many non-EU nationals residing in our commune. Regardless, I wanted to knock their heads together and scream, “Why do you have to make this so bloody difficult.”

We thought Andrew was safe. He had his Identity Card and they had told him that it would replace his visa, which is now expired. That now seems to be not the case… or maybe it is the case. We can’t get a straight answer.

Do we or do we not have a residency permit? Do we or do we not both need visas? Am I or am I not covered by Andrew’s documentation? Shouldn’t these be simple straight forward yes/no type answers? They should be… but no one gives us the same answer twice.

Once again I question our sanity at not forcing the company to pay for someone to help us with this. It would have more than paid for itself by now, in avoiding all of the time waited and anger and frustration.

I feel like our hands are tied and our fates our utterly at the whim and fancy of whatever government official we happen to be talking to at any given time.

Again I am left thinking of immigrants coming here from ‘non-western’ countries and I can’t even begin to imagine what they have to go through if it is this difficult for us. At least Andrew has a job and a work permit… How would we manage with nothing; coming from a country that isn’t wanted in the EU.

Will this saga ever end?

Read more from


Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
I loved my time in Riga, Latvia a few years ago and Adi's post takes me right back. It's a European travel... - 2 hours ago
Go top