What I did on my holiday vacation

29 Dec

If you’ve read the info about our wedding plans, you know that getting our paperwork in order to reside in Spain will not be an easy task.

I spent two days in LA after Christmas since I was already in Southern California to visit Rob in SLO and spend Christmas with him and his mom in San Diego.  I was born & raised in LA and lived there again from 2003-2008.  I had hoped to visit a bunch of old friends and haunts.  Instead, I spent most of my time navigating bureaucracy to get a new copy of my birth certificate and then get it apostilled (made an official document in the EU).  In my research on the process to get our marriage validated in Germany so that Spain will then accept it and grant me residency as the spouse of an EU citizen, it seems that they will require a copy of my birth certificate that is no older than 6 months.  We are still researching the paperwork requirements for marriage in Italy, so it’s possible that I will need it for the Italian government as well.  So my vacation went something like this:

  1. Get a copy of my birth certificate.  The Department of Public Health popped up in a Google search so I headed downtown to their office building.  Fill out a form, pay $21 and wait for about 15 minutes.  Relatively painless.  However the handout they gave me about the process of getting the document apostilled indicated there were two more steps.  I had to get the birth certificate validated as authentic by the Los Angeles County Recorder in Norwalk, then go back downtown to the regional office of the Secretary of State to get it apostilled.
  2. Drive down to Norwalk, CA and pay another $22 to get the birth certificate validated as authentic.  I saw long lines as I approached the building and there were people in the parking lot approaching me asking if I am registering a business today; apparently they make a living by assisting people with the registration process, which is also done in this building.  Thankfully, the office that does the validation I needed only had a short line.  The signage was a bit confusing but there were plenty of staff (and security guards) around to help me find my way.
  3. By this time it was about 4pm and with the traffic to get back downtown, I decided to save the last step for the next day.  So I drove back to the Valley in traffic and spent the evening with friends.
  4. Head back downtown to the building that held the offices of the State of California.  I had to go through security when I walked in; the building was huge but once I figured out which of the 4 elevators I needed to take, it wasn’t so bad. The Secretary of State office is just a teensy corner of the building.  After a short wait, I presented my documents.  It was then that I was informed that: (a) I could have skipped the step of getting my birth certificate validated if I had just gone to Norwalk and obtained my birth certificate from the County Recorder in the first place, thus saving myself $22; (b) each apostille is country-specific.  They did the apostille for Germany but said if I want an apostilled birth certificate for Italy or Spain, that I would need to obtain a separate copy of my birth certificate and get each one apostilled for a different country.  While I was not eager to do this again for two more certificates, I decided it’s better to have paperwork we may not need in Europe than to discover once we’re there that we need these items. While they could be obtained by mail, I only have 90 days to complete all the steps to get my residency in Spain, so we need to be prepared with any documents they might ask us for at each step of the process.
  5. Drive back to Norwalk and discover that the long line I had spied on my first visit was the line to get a copy of my birth certificate.  So I stood in line for about 45 minutes and paid another $42 to get two more copies of my birth certificate.  By then, it was approaching 3pm and I wanted to get to SLO by dinnertime.  So I opted to skip the apostille step for my newest certificates, under the assumption that I can get it done by mail while I’m still in the US.  Let’s hope that the process isn’t too convoluted.

So I’m now in possession of four copies of my birth certificate, but didn’t get much time to visit friends and old haunts in LA.  I guess I’ll just have to go back before I leave the country.

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