The Paper Chase Continues

It would have been really nice to think that after chasing paper all over North America for my FM2 for almost three months that I would be done and could just settle in to a "work/get paid/work/get paid" routine. But oh no, of course not, life in Mexico can't be THAT easy. To work in Mexico you need paper on top of paper and copies of the copies.

When I got my first job here years ago I had to register with "Hacienda", basically the Canada Revenue Agency (IRS for you Americans) and with IMSS (social security). That makes sense, you work, you pay taxes, easy. There are some not so easy parts attached to this though. You have to bring piles of ID but as a foreigner we have different ID that can be confusing for some poor office drone who is accustomed to Mexican after Mexican just coming in with their IFE card (national identification, like a voter card). The biggest confusion is the "apellido materno". In Mexico, everyone has two last names, the father's name first followed by the mother's maiden name. All ID has both names on it, every form you'll fill out anywhere has the line for it. As a Canadian without a "apellido materno", this has caused several problems over the years. I have learned not to fill in that particular line of the forms as inevitably the entire form will have to be done again as my mother's maiden name is not on my identification. Registering with Hacienda was a few months of battling nitpicky paperhounds and with IMSS it was just a mess. (It doesn't help that my name is easy to spell incorrectly even for fellow Canucks). Between the misspellings and the non-existent mother's maiden name, what should be a simple procedure just turns into a giant headache.

So, I've been registered for years, have my CURP and my RFC and my IMSS, the full abcedario of numbers. The problem I am currently having is that no one can seem to find my IMSS number. I went to IMSS yesterday to get this straightened out. I put on my best Mexicana face and patiently endured more than three hours of waiting in line. When they finally called my number (408), I got to the window and they said "no tenemos sistema, regresas maƱana". Basically, the system was down......and has been down for weeks! So why on earth do they allow thousands of people to wait hours in line only to tell them one at a time that the system is down? How about some bristol board and a magic marker for a sign that says "Hoy No" (not today). I truly thought my head would explode. So the battle continues.

The other lovely piece of paper that I need to work is called the "antecedente no penales", a document I had to get from the police swearing that I don't have a criminal record. Last week I spent three hours of my life with that tramite (application), submitting digital fingerprints to AFIS, photos, more copies of my ID floating in the files of the government, I'm surprised they didn't ask for DNA. Luckily I picked up the completed and stamped document yesterday and all was well, apparently I am not an international jewel thief on the run. Aside from the time I spent in lines and the endless copies, this was just about the easiest paper I have ever "tramited" (I'm making up words now).

So, you wanna move to Mexico, are your papers in order? Here are the things I have learned to always carry with me:

1. Passport and two copies of the picture page
2. FM2 and two copies of the picture page, the address page and the latest "proroga"
3. Comprobante domicilio, original and two copies. The comprobante domicilio is a water, electric or phone bill, you must carry one that is recent and it must have your address on it. Some places don't accept phone bills, so it's best to carry water and electric. Funny how this document is requested EVERYWHERE, but it doesn't even have to have your own name on it. Go figure.
4. CURP/RFC numbers
5. Valium and a flask

I am a grumpy girl these days, hours of my life spent waiting in line and chasing paper. I figure once this is all done, it will be time to renew my FM2 again, so I might as well just get used to it. My kingdom for a doppelganger, a clone who is specially created just for lining up for tramites! I'd give an arm and a leg for that, well, at least a piece of my DNA. Clone would smile pleasantly after hours in line, be able to sweet talk the tired clerks or tell them off in flawless street Spanish when the tired clerks become tired jerks. Oh clone, how I would love thee! Alas, clone is just a dream, I must continue the paper chase today and try again with IMSS. Send me any extra patience you've got please!


Comments

jennifer rose said…
The ordeal of paperwork and waiting will begin to diminish the longer you're here. Whether it's like childbirth becoming easier with your 5th or 6th child, I don't know. But i do know that a good book and an iPod make the time pass more pleasantly and quicker. There seems to be an inverse relationship between how good the book is and the length of the wait.

You're on the right track with the paperwork, but I'd stress the need to have a comprabante de domicilio that's not more than 60 days old.
Kelly said…
Phew! It's amazing that anyone ever gets to work in Mexico! Good luck with everything, hope your back is feeling better too.

If it makes you feel better, the wind chill here in Texas is in the teens today...I don't want to think about what it is in Canada!
paul nj said…
I THINK THE REASON THEY MAKE IT SO HARD IS THAT WHEN MEXICAN PEOPLE GO TO OTHER COUNTRIES THEY GET THE SAME TREATMENT I AM A CONTRACTOR IN US WITH ALMOST 30 MEN AND MAN ALL THE STORIES OF THIS, PROBLEM THAT PROBLEM SOME OF THEM JUST LEAVE BECAUSE IT IS SO DIFFICULT TO GET ANYTHING DONE.WHAT IM TRYING TO SAY IS YOUR NOT ALONE IN ANY COUNTRY THERE IS A MOVIE WITH HARRISON FORD AND RAY LEOTTA WATCH THAT MOVIE IT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOU SITUATION TRUST ME !!BUT GOOD LUCK
KfromMichigan said…
Good Luck .. It will all work out .. Patience .. (sorry I have none to give :)
john said…
I have one of those difficult to spell names: John Wood. If I give it on the phone or verbally without spelling it, they write Jhon Guid or something like it.
Calypso said…
Welcome to my world - When I am late they penalize me - when they are late - it is part of the Mexican experience - oh well.
Tulum Living said…
It is so true that it is just hard every where but here in Mexico it seems to go above and beyond the usual " are you f&*()&_) kidding me?"

Sorry to hear it has been a nightmare baby. Hopefully you will be done with it soon.- at least before you have to renew!
Sue said…
I can relate to the exploding head, although your ordeal is much more involved than mine have been. It's the illogical that really gets to you. Good luck. Sorry I'm out of patience though...you know how it goes... ;-)
Refried Dreamer said…
Ugh. That apellido thing confused me at first too. It sucks. Sometimes, I still just use my married last name and my hubby uses his last name, almost like we're related....and then we make out in line. Love the ohmigod look.

hehe.

question: why is it that yoru birth of certificate etc.... has to have a apostillaje of no more than 6 months? If later, you have to do it all over again? wtf?

I haven't even started on the FM3 battle yet.

Good luck with your paper chase.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays!
Sara said…
Good luck with the red tape. I'm so used to the copies and copies of copies. GAH! Well, suerte chica!
CancunCanuck said…
Jennifer- Yes, after six years here I am ok with the waiting, I just haven't gotten used to the incompetency, the waiting only to find out that what you need at the end of the line isn't there. I always take a book, but find myself chatting with those in line with me instead, trying to have a laugh while staring at institutional walls. :)

Kelly- In the teens? Ouch, sorry to hear that! All I want to DO is get to work, the battle to get there is just longer and harder than with my first job for some reason. Thanks chica!

paulnj- If this were just a battle for foreigners, I could see that, but everything (minus immigration) that I am doing right now has to be done by everyone looking to work. Thus you are correct, I am not alone by a long shot! There's red tape in every country, no matter if you are a citizen or not, it just seems that so many of the systems here are so far behind the times that it makes the red tape double sided and extra sticky. :)

KfromMichigan- Thanks amiga, sorry to hear you're out of patience too, tis the season!

john- Your comment made me laugh, how ever do you get through life with such a tough moniker? ;-)

Calypso- So true, so true. I've been trying to embrace the "ni modo" lately, sometimes it actually even works. :)

Tulum Living- I think part of the problem here is the antiquated technology, it's hard for Mexico to keep up with the population of millions when the computers are run by mice running on treadmills. ;-) Take care girl!

Sue- It sounds like most of the people in my world have lost all patience, haha, must be a moon cycle! Hope your head remains intact today, good luck to you! :)

Refried Dreamer- Aww, making out with your family, you cracked me up! I realize I had to stop asking "why" to so many things here, there is never a reasonable explanation. Usually I get "because it's Mexico", but I think that's a cop out answer. I wish you SO much luck with FM3 stuff, I hope it's easier for you than it has been for me! If you've got a little extra $$, I absolutely recommend finding a lawyer to do it for you and avoid the headaches. Take care and Happy Holidays!

Sara- "GAH" is an excellent choice of words for the mess of paper and red tape. "GACK" and "ARGH" also fit. Hope you have a copy-free day!
westcanguy said…
All this just to work in Mexico?
Have at 'er....

Popular posts from this blog

Mahahual Waterpark "Lost Mayan Kingdom"

You Say Rio, I Say Ria... Road Trip Rio Lagartos, Yucatan

Mexican Caribbean Road Trip - Detour to Tulum, Lo Siento Mucho Calakmul