Jacqui is legal! Residence permit approved!
My residence permit was approved, and I am now legally allowed to stay and work in Estonia for the next two years! (Note that I have been here legally to date, due the 90-day visa-free period allowed to Aussies, but that would have expired in November.)
At first, I didn’t realise my permit had been approved. This is because I got an email from the Police and Border Guard on October 17th saying I had a ‘document’ to collect.
This is something that has puzzled me since I arrived – everything is a document. Your bank contracts, your lease agreement, your employment contract, your passport and any other forms of identification. Back home, communications like this are usually quite specific – they will tell you which specific document you need to collect. If you need to submit documentation as part of an application, or present it at an appointment, they will ask for the documentation required (i.e. ‘Do you have your ID?’).
Here, everything is referred to as a document. It took me weeks before I realised that when someone (the bank, the post office, my employer, the doctor) asked me, ‘Do you have your document?’, they wanted to see my passport.
And this has caused problems, as discussed in my post on my journey to set up a bank account, as my passport isn’t something I generally carry around with me.
It wasn’t until a week later that it clicked – my ‘document’ was my ID card/residence permit! (The ID card = the residence permit, when you have a temporary residence permit.)
I originally hadn’t put two and two together – my application was on September 11th, and I was told the process would take two months, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that it had been processed quickly. Next stop – free public transport! (Tallinn residents get free public transport.)
The best part is that the residence permit/ID card is the size of a credit card, so would fit comfortably in my wallet – I wouldn’t get caught without a ‘document’ again!
Drew arrived today after a journey of approximately 47 hours (12 hours longer than expected due to someone falling asleep at the gate…), and we did the very romantic welcome activity of going to the Police and Border Guard office to pick up my ‘document’.
We arrived, got a ticket and our number was called up within a minute of us sitting down to wait (another pleasant surprise, when compared to the 90 minutes I spent there for my application appointment).
I presented my passport as an ID, signed some forms, and was handed two envelopes – one that contained my ID card (yay!) and one that contained two PINs and another code. I’m not sure what I’m meant to use them for, but I’m sure they’ll come up at some point.
So, all in all, it was a very smooth process. I only have two observations.
Observation 1: Where’s my pretty box?
When I published the post about applying for my residence permit, I included a photo of a lovely box that contained an ID card and a smart card reader (apparently this is what people get when they apply for an e-residency). I
got an envelope – like what you’d get from the bank when you get a new debit card. Obviously not a big deal, but it’s a little bit of a let down that someone who has physically relocated to a country gets a less-special welcome than someone who registers online for virtual citizenship. :p
Observation 2: Did I really need to go to the office for this?
Why did this need to happen in person? When I got my visas for the UK and for France in the past, I submitted the required documentation (by post for the UK, at the consulate in Sydney for France) and then my passport was mailed back to me with a visa added. Given that the Police and Border Guard had all of my details, couldn’t they have just mailed me this card?
One of the things I’m realising about Estonia is that while it’s supposedly the most digital country in the world, everything I’ve had to organise, I’ve had to do in person. I’ve been told that stops once you have your ID card, so let’s wait and see.