A small victory over Czech bureaucracy

New Czech Driving Licence

With my new Czech Driving Licence outside the HQ of Prague City Council © Ricky Yates

Further to my earlier post, and the update in a later post marking the fourth birthday of my blog, today I became the proud owner of a Czech Driving Licence. I now have a driving licence, valid for the next five years, which inevitably also includes a far from flattering photograph of me 🙁

Compared to my two previous visits to Magistrát hl.m. Praha / the HQ of Prague City Council, today’s visit went remarkably quickly and smoothly. Following my second visit on Monday 4th February 2013, when I successfully proved that the Chaplaincy Flat where I live, is my family home, I was given a little slip of paper telling me to return today, with my passport and residency permit, to surrender both parts of my UK Driving Licence and collect my shiny new replacement Czech Driving Licence.

On both my previous visits, I was accompanied by Lisette, an American member of the St. Clement’s congregation, who read Slavic languages at university in the USA, and speaks fluent Czech. But because of health issues, she has since had to return to the US. However, as a result of my earlier posts here, about all that is involved in successfully registering a right-hand drive car in the Czech Republic, I have recently been contacted by a Czech-British couple, Vlad & Jan, who kindly offered to provide language help in future, should I need it, as a ‘thank you’ for meeting with them and giving them the low-down on how to register their British right-hand drive car here.

Unfortunately Vlad had to pay a brief visit back to the UK this week, making himself unavailable. So he organised for his good friend Pavel to substitute for him and, together with Jan, they were both waiting for me when I arrived at Magistrát hl.m. Praha / the HQ of Prague City Council at 3.00 pm this afternoon.

The whole place works on a numbered ticket system. On my two previous visits, Lisette and I had been required to wait for about twenty minutes before our number came up. Today, no sooner had Pavel worked out which button to press to produce our ticket, the ticket number immediately came up, summoning us to cubicle 56. I produced both parts of my UK Driving Licence and my ID, and then my new Czech Driving Licence was shown to me. A quick visit to the cash desk to pay the fee of CZK 50 (about £1.70), produced a receipt. With that, the Czech Driving Licence was mine.

As I have previously explained, the Czech authorities would not allow ‘Rev’ or ‘Rev’d’ as my title as they officially do not recognise religious or hereditary titles. So my new Czech Driving Licence has also made me a layman. But just to make my point, I today deliberately wore my clerical shirt and collar. Therefore here I am, outside Magistrát hl.m. Praha / the HQ of Prague City Council, with my new Czech Driving Licence, having successfully obtained a small victory over Czech bureaucracy, but at the expense of my title 🙁


13 comments to A small victory over Czech bureaucracy

  • Well done Ricky.
    Any success against mindless bureaucracy anywhere should be applauded!

  • Congratulations, Ricky. That’s worth raising a glass to. 🙂 Let’s hope your next encounter with Czech bureaucracy is less protracted.

    • Ricky

      Thank you Perpetua – I raised several glasses yesterday evening 😀 This was hopefully, my last encounter with Czech bureaucracy for the time being. But then, I may have problems finding new blog material if I don’t have a few more 🙂

  • Bill

    You made me smile, a) Czechs love their titles, as you wrote
    b) You miss your own title ´Rev´ on you driving license enough to write about it in your two different articles

    I believe you are Czech more than you think! :-))

    • Ricky

      Hi again Bill – I’m glad I made you smile! And I’ll happily accept your little dig at me at my expense 🙂

      However, there are two points at issue here, both of which I’ve referred to in my recent posts.

      The first is that, as I was purely exchanging my British Driving Licence for a Czech Driving Licence, I had assumed the Czech authorities would want the exact same details on my Czech application form, as is on the British Driving Licence I have now surrendered. If I’d left ‘Rev’ off, I was sure that some Czech bureaucrat would point out that the two documents didn’t agree with each other.

      The second issue is one I’ve referred to many times on this blog. It is that the Czech Republic has taken full advantage of all the benefits of being a member of the European Union, but is very bad at fulfilling the responsibilities that are a consequence of that membership. If two official documents of one member state of the EU declare me to be ‘Rev’, (as on my UK Driving Licence), or ‘the Reverend’, (as on the official observations page of my UK passport), I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect another EU member state to accept & acknowledge this. My point is, the reverse would not happen to Czech citizens in the UK.

      • Bill

        Ricky, I am sure, that Czech republic is very bad at fulfilling the responsibilities that are a consequence of EU membership in many cases, but not this time. Its pretty clear no European regulation is about titles on driving licences. I believe this thing is solved in national level. Czech bureaucratic system has its own history, specialities, rules and ways; same thing we could say about every system. You can´t expect ´reciprocity´. What would happen to Czech citizens in the UK is irrelevant.

        • Ricky

          Bill – As I’ve already said elsewhere, I’m not going to continue making a fuss about this. I’ve had my say but accepted that it is battle not worth fighting further. However, whilst I’m sure you are right about there being no EU regulation on this matter, I still don’t think it is unreasonable to expect reciprocity.

  • It’s such a pity that things like that can’t work well because of the bureaucracy. It is characteristic for Eastern Europe, I experience the same every single day at the university or in the office. (I live in Hungary.) The post-communist infrastructural system of the governments needs to be renewed…

    • Ricky

      Hi Bonooobong – Apparently it isn’t just the communists that are responsible for this absurd bureaucracy. Apparently, it goes back far further to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, both here in the Czech Republic & in Hungary.

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  • Pavel

    Foreigner and priest – you are suspect for every honest bureaucrat in the Czech Republic. Congratulations !!!