Today I had yet another Kafkaesque experience.
Ever since coming to live and work in the Czech Republic, I have been driving my car here on the basis of holding a valid UK Driving Licence. I had been told previously that, if I was here for longer than six months, I should really exchange it for a Czech Driving Licence. I have had the completed form & new photograph to do so for some time, but have never got around to doing anything further about it. After all, my UK Driving Licence declares that I live at The Rectory in my former group of parishes in North Oxfordshire, which is the address the Czech Foreign Police firmly believe to be my permanent address because they insist that every foreigner living here, must have a permanent address outside of the Czech Republic. So, for better or worse, that was the one both Sybille and I put down when we registered with them in 2009.
However, whilst my UK Driving Licence is valid until 25th February 2022, the day before my seventieth birthday, the photocard part needs to be renewed every ten years, to include a more up-to-date photograph. My current photocard is due to expire in early March 2013, which has therefore prompted me to act and seek to exchange it for a Czech Driving Licence.
So this morning, I went to the Magistrát hl.m. Praha / the HQ of Prague City Council, together with a fluent Czech-speaking member of the St. Clement’s congregation, to apply for the exchange of my UK Driving Licence for a Czech one. Along with my completed form & photo, & both the photocard and counterpart of my current UK licence, I took my passport. This contains my Povolení k prechodnému pobytu v CR, my certificate of temporary residence in the Czech Republic which is neomezený / unlimited. And I took my Potvrzení o prechodném pobytu na území / Proof of temporary residence, which confirms that my address is Pat’anka 2614/11A, Praha 6-Dejvice
The lady who we saw, kindly informed me that the law changed in March 2012. Despite my passport with my Povolení k prechodnému pobytu v CR, valid ‘neomezený‘, in it, and my Potvrzení o prechodném pobytu na území, being perfectly acceptable documents to enable me to register my car and for Bishop Dušan to get me recorded by the Ministry of Culture as the person who can sign on behalf of Farní obec Starokatolické církve pro verící anglického jazyka v Praze, the legal entity of the Prague Anglican congregation, they are not now sufficient to prove that the Chaplaincy Flat at Pat’anka 2614/11A, is my ‘family home’.
To prove that the Chaplaincy Flat at Pat’anka 2614/11A is my ‘family home’ where I live, I must also produce Sybille’s passport with her Povolení k prechodnému pobytu v CR, valid ‘neomezený‘, in it, and her Potvrzení o prechodném pobytu na území. That is not a problem as I can easily do that. But I also have to produce a document in Czech, by the owners of the flat, that declares Sybille & I live in the flat and have the permission of the owners to do so.
The flat is being purchased in the name of Farní obec Starokatolické církve pro verící anglického jazyka v Praze and the Church are just over seven years through paying off a twenty year mortgage. I am the person who can sign on behalf of Farní obec Starokatolické církve pro verící anglického jazyka v Praze and I have a notarised copy of our registration with the Ministry of Culture which says that I am.
Therefore it appears that if I produce a statement in Czech, on a letterhead with our correct Czech congregational name and registered number and registered address, saying that Sybille and I have permission to live in the flat, and sign the statement myself – and most importantly stamp it – that will be sufficient proof. In other words, beyond the necessity of getting a statement written in grammatically and legally acceptable Czech, I will be writing and signing a statement which gives myself permission to live in the flat that my wife and I have lived in for nearly four and a half years. I wonder if Franz Kafka is listening or reading this?????
The other problem the lady raised was the question of having ‘Rev’ or ‘Rev’d’ as the title in front of my name. This despite my UK Driving Licence declaring me to be ‘Rev Warwick John Yates’, (‘Ricky’ comes from the diminutive of ‘Warwick’ for those who don’t know), and my UK passport stating on the page reserved for official observations, that ‘The holder is the Reverend Warwick John Yates’. She claimed that the only way my title could be included on a Czech Driving Licence is if I had a document, translated into Czech, explaining that the title had been awarded to me!
As I’m sure most of my blog readers are aware, ‘Reverend’, usually abbreviated to ‘Rev’ or ‘Rev’d', is the normal title given to an ordained priest/minister throughout the English-speaking world. I do have two documents, both signed and sealed by the Rt. Rev’d John Taylor, Bishop of St. Albans, one confirming my admission and ordination to the Holy Order of Deacons on 2nd July 1989, and a second, confirming my admission and ordination to the Holy Order of of Priests on 1st July 1990. What I do like about both of these documents is that they say about me ‘of whom sufficient learning and godly conversation We were assured’ But neither document states that my title now is ‘Reverend’.
I do find it ironic that here in the Czech Republic, where titles are deemed to be so important, a topic that I shall be referring to very shortly in a planned future blog post, Czech bureaucracy is doing its utmost to deprive me of mine. However, rest assured that I will somehow find my way through this latest example of Kafkaesque Czech bureaucracy. But there just might be a few strangled Czech bureaucrats en-route