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Old 11.03.2009, 14:14
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Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy


Stupid ing Swiss Bureaucracy. It really boils my p!ss.

I'm getting married in June to a Swiss girl. Yippee! polluting the Swiss Genepool, integrating into society etc.

So we're looking at the documents I need to register at the Standesamt- passport, birth certificate, certificate of non-impediment etc.

Now I don't have a problem with the documents they require, except that they don't accept the original birth certificate, it has to be a certified copy (or translation; mines in Enlgish and I think this is fine) that is less than 6 months old. WTF? Why is this important? It's not as if the details of my birthday, or the names of my parents at the time of birth back in 1974 are ever going to change! It's doubly annoying as I got an official copy of my birth certificate about 9 months ago to supplement my hand written original. Yet even this isn't new enough and I'll have to shell out for another. Utterly non-sensical and has put me in a bad mood for the day.

Rant over, glad I got this off my chest.
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Old 11.03.2009, 14:31
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

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Stupid ing Swiss Bureaucracy. It really boils my p!ss.

I'm getting married in June to a Swiss girl. Yippee! polluting the Swiss Genepool, integrating into society etc.

So we're looking at the documents I need to register at the Standesamt- passport, birth certificate, certificate of non-impediment etc.

Now I don't have a problem with the documents they require, except that they don't accept the original birth certificate, it has to be a certified copy (or translation; mines in Enlgish and I think this is fine) that is less than 6 months old. WTF? Why is this important? It's not as if the details of my birthday, or the names of my parents at the time of birth back in 1974 are ever going to change! It's doubly annoying as I got an official copy of my birth certificate about 9 months ago to supplement my hand written original. Yet even this isn't new enough and I'll have to shell out for another. Utterly non-sensical and has put me in a bad mood for the day.

Rant over, glad I got this off my chest.
White, your post bought a smile to my lips! Prior to my marriage to my Dutch husband many moons ago, his birth certificate had to be translated but, not surprisingly, nobody in the official translator's office understood Dutch! So, the document was translated by a Dutch-speaking Brit who worked at the UN - totally unofficial, but nontheless acceptable!
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Old 11.03.2009, 14:41
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

IMHO I do not agree that the bureaucracy in Switzerland is greater than anywhere else in Europe or in the world.

However with the marriage it is a bit different story . The original and yet up to date birth certificate plus other required documents are only part of the frustration one has to go thru... you will feel enormous pressure when you will be requested to pay for the proceedings CHF1000!
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Old 11.03.2009, 14:46
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

DO NOT under any circumstances give them an original copy of any certificate, even to copy or look at. Only ever give them copies. The lady I spoke to at the British embassy said they've had no end of trouble with certificates being taken 'for copying' and never given back, except on payment of a fee of a Fr. 80 or above.
At the Zivilstandesamt in Bern, we had certificates stolen in this way and we were lied to on several occasions about supposed treaties between the UK and Switzerland over documents. When I went back and queried it, they then tried to say it was a treaty between the EU and Switzerland and I found out the woman was lying again.
I was distinctly not impressed.
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Old 11.03.2009, 14:48
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

Pointless rant - sorry. Take German or French documents to the UK and see what would happen. I have a UK passport application on my desk collecting dust because I can't be ar$$ed to get all the documents together - can't think how I could blame some bureaucrat for my laziness however....
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Old 11.03.2009, 14:50
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

The only reason they need the original documents is to verify their credibility, but as soon as you have submitted them, the officials will make the copies and give them back to you!
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Old 11.03.2009, 14:53
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

I remember all this, didn't seem too much of a pain to get a new certificate though.

Visiting a couple of notaries getting 'proof' of single status was much worse.
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Old 11.03.2009, 15:01
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

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I remember all this, didn't seem too much of a pain to get a new certificate though.

Visiting a couple of notaries getting 'proof' of single status was much worse.
Did this too without too much pain - I just ordered a copy online from http://www.bmd-certificates.co.uk/ar...rtificate.html

Then went to the Embassy in Bern for the single status document.

Very simple, but I can under the OP view of why the copy - I too have the original - I asked my mother of a copy, she sent the original thinking that was better, so had to order another copy anyway . The copy was just a photocopy of a photocopy of the original, but with a county council date stamp...

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Old 11.03.2009, 15:26
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

You need the "under 6 month old" stamped, verified and officially translated copy in EU countries too, that is not a Swiss invention!!! Lots of countries have a mound of layers of bureacracy to get through for important legal proceedures like birth, death and marriage. And when you've got to the bottom layer... your first certs are out of date again...
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Old 11.03.2009, 15:39
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy starts for me at the point where my "common sense" stops to understand why the rules are set up in a certain way.

So yes, it is difficult to understand why it is so important that the certificate is not older than six months. However, that is surely a "lighter case".

My wife is from China. They have a lot of people there (many with very similar names) and no central register, so no office can give you a document that states that you are not married. They simply do not know as you could have married in another province or even city. So what did my wife had to do? We had to travel back to China, so she could "declare" in front of an official that she is not married. We paid to get this as an official document. Back in Europe I had to get it officially translated (it had one single sentence "... declares she is not married" - cost me 120 CHF to translate alone). Then the city hall in Germany accepted it under one condition: She had to declare once again there that she has not married before?! When I asked the guy why we had to go to China to do the very same thing, he pointed at a big folder and said: You know, we get the rules for every country specifically. We know that there is no corresponding document in China and you will need to declare it there. But there have been cases where people faked those statements, so this is what I have to ask from you - please do it again here." Now that is bureaucracy... could it be that some people faked it to save the flight ticket???
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Old 11.03.2009, 16:18
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

Nice to read all the replies, has cheered me up a bit- and Treverus- that sounds awful, what a nightmare

My rant was not about the number of documents required to make things official (it's the same all over the world, I agree! And I had the misfortune of living in France for a year, which puts bureaucracy matters into perspective..) but more the pointlessness of needing a new copy of a historical document where the information isn't going to change! The UK birth certificate itself says "A certificate is not evidence of identity" and on the day I was born my name was the same as it is now. And if I had changed my name in the meantime, the birth certificate would not have changed, I would simply have to find another official document...

At least I am fortunate in that my local Gemeinde accepts English documents and I don't need translations into german. Anyway, I've ordered another certificate now, from www.officialcertificates.co.uk; I used BMDcertificates last time, it's apparently quicker and 6.50 GBP cheaper through this new place. (let's hope they don't screw up!)

Oh, and I think it costs 280 CHF to marry in this Gemeinde (much more expensive because I'm a foreigner), so at least not as bad as the 1000 CHF elsewhere! THen there's only the increased taxes to worry about...
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Old 11.03.2009, 16:19
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

It's not just Switzerland, really.

My husband and I were married in the Netherlands 14 years ago. He's Dutch, I'm a US citizen. He'd been living in the US for more than 5 years, and had given up his Dutch registration.

For us to be married in the Netherlands, I had to send them a copy of my birth certificate - this is not so hard in the US, you just write to where you were born and they send a copy after money changes hands. Of course I sent them the wrong copy on the first try because they want the version that has your parents' names on it. All of the documents had to be certifed by the department of state of the state in which I lived. It's called an Apostille, and basically it says that the document is an offical document of the government. So we had to to this for my birth certificate twice, of course since I had the wrong one the first time.

The hardest part was that both my husband (then fiancee) and I had to prove that we were not married at the time. Try to do that in the US....it's really impossible. After calling a guy in the Hague 3 or 4 times (and getting up at 4am to do it from the US), we settled on a letter that would have to be notorized and then sent to the department of state in my state for an Apostille stamp. Because my husband wasn't registered in the Netherlands, he had to do one too. Now the US embassy (In the Netherlands at least) will certify this for you for about €100.

So anyway, we had to establish a Fedex account to send the crap (we were in the US), I got to know the department of state in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania quite well, and I made a lot of phone calls to the Netherlands at 4AM.

A few years later, we were in the Netherlands for the holidays, my husbands' passport was about to expire and the Dutch didn't want to renew my husband's passport because they didn't recognize his US Visa (it was an H1B, used to work in the US.). They did after about 3 days of phone calls faxes and foot stomping. So theres a lot of pain-in-the ass bureaucracy where ever you are.

And it's just as bad in the USA.
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Old 11.03.2009, 16:36
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

Renewing a British passport or getting one for a child - now that's bureaucracy
at it's best (and I'm British, for heaven's sake!!)
Referees, payment hassle and so on.

This is very definitely a universal problem, not just a Swiss one.

And don't get me started on voting rights as a British citizen , please.......

Last edited by raincookie; 11.03.2009 at 16:39. Reason: spelling!
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Old 11.03.2009, 17:05
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

to the OP:

wait till you have a kid. you'll have to get a whole new fresh set of docs again, certified, in tripelicate with sugar on top etc.

bill
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Old 11.03.2009, 17:15
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

BTW - you'll notice it's considerably cheaper getting hitched than going in the opposite direction....
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Old 11.03.2009, 17:23
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

Believe me, bureaucracy isn't any more onerous than anywhere else. Try being a foreigner in the US and try to get anything done at immigration which used to be called INS.

Most people in their own country will never bump into the hurdle being a foreigner will so it all seems worse than back home.
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Old 11.03.2009, 17:38
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

I do have some empathy for the OP, However bureaucracy is everywhere. My wife and I are both as English as William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, however as we had been living abroad for some years. You would not believe the rigmarole that we had to go through to get married in England. We were both required to stay at a relatives house, and they had to vouch that we were in residence there for 14 days. On top of all the necessary paperwork, we both had to sit interviews, where we had to prove that we knew each other intimately. We were told, fairly enough I guess, that the process we went through was the same as one, where one party, from abroad, may be suspected of getting married in a marriage of convenience. The bureaucratic procedure was to show that equality was being practised. Unbelievable!!!!!!!!
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Old 11.03.2009, 18:27
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

Sorry, if someone else wrote this, but there is an alternative. Get married in Denmark. No beurocracy... no crap, no translation, no nought. I got married there, a Brit and an Irish lass so to get married in Germany would have meant a whole lot of work on me... so Denmark was suggested. FAB!! All worked out. It is recognised everywhere else, at least Germany...

never a guarantee that the marriage will last, but it's a good start
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Old 11.03.2009, 21:03
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

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l (it's the same all over the world, I agree! And I had the misfortune of living in France for a year, which puts bureaucracy matters into perspective..)
At least you didn't try to get married there, you need even more docs!

Original "original" birth certificates have a tendency to look really fake- has a"declaration of independence" look going for it.

Have you tried shmoozing a little with the official- I did saying "it will cost just soooo much to get everything translated, can't you help out a young couple starting out in love?". It worked!
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Old 11.03.2009, 23:25
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Re: Stupid Swiss Bureaucracy

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Stupid ing Swiss Bureaucracy. It really boils my p!ss.
Excellent start! If you're gonna have rant you need to get off on the right foot.
Nothing worse than reading a so-called rant, only to find the OP is merely slightly irritated. As long as I hear steam coming out of your ears, I'm happy to listen. We've all been there, somewhere, sometime. And if we haven't, we will. Hope it felt good to get it off your chest and thanks for making me smile.
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