Together with sleepless nights and sour milk on your shirts, having a newborn also comes with a lot of bureaucracy. As German parents living in Switzerland, it means that we have to apply for a German passport so that we are allowed to travel with the baby. As you can guess, you need a lot of documents for this whole procedure.
Apart from various certificates (birth certificate, marriage certificate, confirmation of not living in Germany anymore, confirmation of living in Switzerland, passports, filled in applications, your shoe size and a five-year plan…all both as original and as copy…), you also need a Swiss residence permit for the baby. As a foreign citizen, you have to get a residence permit if you are living in Switzerland for more than three months – luckily, as a baby you automatically get the type your parents have, so the hobbit is allowed to stay in the country for another three years, I think. We received his permit last week and it always makes me smile, because as “date of entry” they will just write down the birth date which always sounds a bit amusing to me (we think they should add “via water way” as it was a water birth).
The biggest challenge when applying for both residence permit and passport is the picture. See, you do need a biometric picture for your passport, even if you are only two weeks old. Have you ever tried to take a picture of a newborn baby, looking head-on into the camera with eyes wide open and mouth shut, with a blank background and no disturbing shadows on the picture? After more than a week of trying, we finally got one shot that qualified for it…(yes, we could have gone to a photographer but I am pretty sure that it would have been even more effort because sure enough the baby will be either sleeping or be hungry when arriving at the studio!). When trying to check with the embassy whether the picture qualifies for the passport, they will assure you that there is always a photo booth at the office where we can try it again.
The next challenge is to actually go to the embassy and order the passport. When the little one was born, we had to go all the way to Bern as Karsten and I needed a change of name as well. It is necessary for both parents and the baby to attend this appointment, so Karsten had to take a day off from work, we went to Bern (at least two hours one way by public transport), spent more than two hours in a crowded embassy and went back during the brightest rush-hour. With all the needed certificates, the fees for the application and the train tickets it also costed us more than 700 Franks…). This time it was easier as we only had to go to the consulate in Zurich. 40 Minutes by public transport and a little over 100 Franks. Since you don’t get an appointment beforehand but you have to take a number, we left early in the morning with the little one on the buggy board and the hobbit in the pram. First irritated rolling of my eyes when the guy standing in the spot for prams wouldn’t move an inch when we entered the train. Second rolling of my eyes at the train station in Zurich when six people occupied the elevator although the escalator is only ten meter further. My eye-rolling was quite obvious this time as one of the women decided to get off again so that I could enter with the pram and the little one (after two years using public transport with a kid I am a master of the evil eye!). Arrival at the consulate: 8:45am. Opening time of the consulate: 9:00am. Number of people already waiting INSIDE when we as first people in line entered at 8:58am: three. Never underestimate Germans and their punctuality….
The procedure went smooth and we will now receive the hobbit’s international biometric passport within the next twelve weeks. It’ll include a picture of him being two weeks old and it’ll say that he is 51 cm tall. It’ll be valid for the next six years. Bureaucracy – don’t you love it?
Two hours later we were on our way home again. Including my third irritated rolling of my eyes in the train when someone decided to sit down on the one and only seat next to the pram area although all the other seats were still available. Followed by my fourth rolling of my eyes when he wouldn’t even get up for a highly pregnant woman with a pram. Unfortunately, my evil eye didn’t work this time.
For your sanity, I will spare you details of the rest of the day. Let’s just say that the little one was in an incredibly bad mood and didn’t manage ten minutes without crying. The hobbit was so excited by the trip that he didn’t properly sleep until 9pm. It was raining. And we were probably only saved because our friend and neighbour saw us (or rather my grim expression) on the way back home and decided that she’ll invite the little one over in the afternoon so that I could do the shopping with one child less. No need to say that during these 1,5 hours at our friend’s place the little one was one lovely cute button – right until we left again. The evening only turned into something good again after baking cereal bars (and after ignoring Karsten’s answer when I asked him how they taste…which was a long and thoughtful pause and a carefully expressed “gooood??”. Never expect a diplomatic answer when it comes to food…).