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A Word of Advice for Expats

By - January 13, 2006 (Updated: November 30, 2014)


So, after six months of waiting, I think I have finally had my police visit.

I say ‘I think I had’ it, because I didn’t actually answer the door.

After a bad night, with little sleep, I was still in bed at 9:30 when the bell rang. Andrew, who had just gotten up, went to the door.

I was quite sure it was the police, although how I knew this after six months of racing to the door only to find my landlady, I’m not sure.

The police asked for me and Andrew told them I was in bed.

I was expecting to have to throw on a robe and stumble to the door with bed-head and morning breath, extract my passport and convince them that I really was who I said I was.

They pointed to my name on the doorbell and mailbox. That was good enough for them. They went off on their merry way.

While I am glad to have this part of the process finally over, I have to say that it would have been nice to know that’s all it took… especially when I was panicking about them visiting while I was in Helsinki and Canada (which is exactly what happened).

I think this little tidbit of info should be plastered on all of the commune walls – ‘Expats – Please insure that you have your name written on your doorbell and postbox, Thank You, the Belgians.’

Frankly, this would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.

So to all you expats waiting in limbo for your police check … Please insure that you have your name written on your doorbell and postbox, Thank You, CheeseWeb.

Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian travel writer, author, and photographer. She is the founder of, a website dedicated to slow and sustainable travel, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and cultural awareness through travel. She and her husband, Andrew, are the founders of RockFort Media, committed to helping entrepreneurs tell their stories online. Alison has visited over 45 countries and, after living in Belgium for 11 years, now lives full-time in a Bigfoot motorhome named Yeti with Andrew and their well-travelled cat.
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