Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

I have more marriage certificates than Hugh Heffner

By  Mark Thomas Mar 05, 2017

The Amazon rain forest is breathing a huge sigh of relief. Centuries old trees are now at peace, their branches waving in celebration. The English have a saying “credit where credit is due.” And, even though I never thought I would see the day, credit is due to the Croatian governmental system. The mountain of paperwork that has been slowly strangling the country and bringing it to its knees seems to be dying. Yes, believe it or not, Croatian bureaucracy is getting easier.

This statement isn’t based on any new European Union research or even propaganda from the government, no this is based on a much less complicated form of research, my own experiences. The labyrinth that I have got used to navigating, desperately searching for clues, for a signpost to find the end is now less complicated.

“Yes, but you need one more piece of paper,” will haunt me to my grave.

And always when you were close to the last piece of paper you'd hear, “yes, but you need one more piece of paper not older than six months.” I am having heart palpitations just thinking about the trek around offices in search of the golden egg, the final solution, the end of the rainbow. I have more copies of my birth certificate and my marriage certificate than I can ever use, if I could glue them all together I’d have War and Peace – the Croatian version. I have more marriage certificates than Hugh Heffner!

Why is it that a birth certificate in Croatia has a shorter expiry date than fruit yoghurt? Stupid question really. Think how much of our hard earned cash the government has sucked out of our pockets over the years, “you need another stamp, tax stamps, or anything we can think of to get a few more Kunas out of you.”

Where did all that paper end up, did those trees lose their lives in vain?

However there seems to be good news for the trees and bad news for the bureaucrats. I have actively avoided having any involvement in any business that requires paperwork from government authorities; I just can’t take the pressure anymore. But sometimes the path reaches a crossroads and you have no option but to cross your fingers and hope for the best, the path led me back to the city’s countless offices last month. And when it rains it pours! I didn’t have only one mission to complete, I had two.

I wasn’t looking forward to this. It was with a great deal of trepidation that I set out on the never-ending circle to collect the required paperwork. It started easier than I had expected, “blimey they have finally realized that computers are the future,” I whispered under my voice. Compared to ten years ago this was plain sailing, or was I dreaming. “You have all the papers you need, the certificate will be ready in around ten days and you can pick it up from the county offices,” said the jolly faced lady in front of me.

“You have all the papers you need,” did she really just say that!! I almost fell off my chair. Had I been transformed into a foreign county? My life was now complete “I had all the papers I needed!” Life is sweet. And she was right, around ten days later I picked up the certificate from the county office; this was too good to be true.

So now the second, more complicated mission, I nicknamed Mission Impossible 2. This process a few years back would have probably taken 3 months and half of the nerves in body to complete. Not to mention I would have had to sell a kidney to pay for it. But wait, were my eyes deceiving me, was this a new dawn or a false dawn, “your papers will be ready by the end of the week.” I felt like jumping over the table, grabbing the lady and planting a kiss on her cheek. Like I said, credit where credit is due.

When it was black, it was as black as a winter’s night. But now the dawn is coming. The nightmare is over, well maybe not yet but the green shots of hope are here. I have managed to get two missions completed without having to give my newly acquired birth certificate, blood group or dental impression. This was improvement, real improvement, a step in the right direction. The battle may have been won but the war isn’t over. There are many trees that still need saving from the swing of the Croatian bureaucrats axe.

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