Getting organised back here in Blighty has been hampered by the wholly admirable tendency of authorities to doubt my claims to be me. They have had plenty of practice dealing with incomers of all shades and I applaud their even-handedness. Of course it would have been easier if I had kept a record of all my British identifiers – like my NHS number and the first name of my doctor almost 20 years ago – but I didn’t.
Back in the land of the Vikings, the bureaucratic logic is easier to follow. Every resident is given a ‘health card’ displaying a number. (No difference there then, unless the GB resident doesn’t register with a doctor.) This number is then used for all official registrations and services: tax, utilities, banks, insurance, local gubmint. There are supporting security systems too to avoid identity theft.
I never felt my official ID threatened my independence or limited my freedom as a citizen but it avoided the circuitous routes one has to follow here to be recognised. Generally speaking it’s in my own interest to sign up for things without complications.
But the two societies are different! Over there it is uncommon to see a post box without the occupant’s name. How very un-British that is!
11 thoughts on “Proving who you are”
Very interesting J. Being a naturally suspicious person I would be less charitable in my assessment of the limp wristed pinko government. I don’t think they actually want ‘white tottering geriatrics’ coming home, after all with the taxes you have paid in the past and the reduced pension they pay to expats they are probably in profit on your account. How could you have the temerity to come home and putatively use up all that lovely profit?
They have probably already spent it on keeping 17 bloody illegal ragheads, none left for you mate!
One of the things that would make me very very scared of returning to the UK is the state of the NHS. One hears such ghastly stories of understaffing and people expiring in ambulances etc etc, it rather puts one off. I’d find a private doctor PDQ and be prepared to pay were I in your shoes. Unfortunately they don’t exist in most locations in the UK outside the large cities.
You have my deepest sympathy, Janus. It took me over three months to sort out basic details such as a national insurance number, an NHS number and a bank account. All were tied to the same reason: the UK’s extremely convoluted system of verifying identification. Even though I had more than enough reasonable proof that I was who I said I was, there was little I could do until the correct boxes were ticked. There is precious little I miss about Germany. One of the few things was that sorting out domicile is very straightforward. In most cases, it takes no more than 5-10 minutes. Still, on balance Britain is worth the extra effort.
All were tied to the same reason: the UK’s extremely convoluted system of verifying identification. Even though I had more than enough reasonable proof that I was who I said I was, there was little I could do until the correct boxes were ticked.
What do they actually want? What documents etc. Would be interested to know.
CO: Getting a national insurance number wasn’t too difficult. I had to bring my passports and my rental contract. However, I could not register for an NHS number with my rental contract because it was a private contract. It would have to be a contract with a council or a leasing agency. They did, however, accept my national insurance letter as proof of address. The bank would not accept either. They would accept my passport and national ID card, but they wanted either a bank statement, a rental contract from a leasing agency or council, a letter from a benefits agency confirming that I was collecting benefit (I’m not, so obviously I never had one) a UK driving licence, a television licence fee letter, a letter from HMRC, a landline telephone bill, a council tax bill or a utilities bill. As my rental contract is all-inclusive, all utilities, television, internet, etc. are in the landlady’s name. This left me with a catch-22 list. To get the documents I needed to open a bank account, I needed to have a bank account to obtain. Finally, I had to pay my GP £20 to sign a letter from the surgery that stated that they knew who I was and that I had verified that I live where I say I live. I found it depressing that it would have been easier for me to collect benefit than to work an honest day’s job.
To get the documents I needed to open a bank account, I needed to have a bank account to obtain.
God almighty, did it disappear up its own ‘fundament’?
No, no, don’t answer that!
CO, I have akshully received my full state pension in DK as part of the EU.
CT has suffered worse than normal. I could tell the doctor’s team my last UK address and recover my NHS no. Opening other contracts meant showing proof of a new utility deal and private pension arrangements. In DK the ‘proof’ has to be wheeled out only once. Thereafter the shiny new ID does the trick.
Probably the easiest thing would be to commit a crime, such as post something mildly non PC on Twitter. The Persons of Indeterminate Gender in Blue would soon be on your case and your identity would be verified for all the world to know.
Janus: You had documentation in the UK, it was just older and needed some updating. Those who have a visa have the documentation they need. I did not qualify for a visa as I settled in the United Kingdom under the provision of the Treaty of Lisbon. As a result, I had to do the entire process while in the country.
You do have a very black and white picture of the NHS, Christina. Where we live we have a choice of NHS treatment in the big local hospital in one direction or in a smaller private hospital in the other direction. In the latter the waiting lists are shorter, the parking is easier and the grounds resemble Jamus’s new surroundings. The same doctors work in both and apart from the parking charge at the bigger hospital, I don’t pay for either. I am aware that this is not always the case in the UK, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
Try Wales, 40 minutes plus to the nearest general Hospital in Carmarthen, which generally has a four hour plus wait for A&E. They closed all the cottage hospitals. Private hospital would be Cardiff. That’s two and a half hours away. Well dead by then!!!
When we still had the flat in Brum I always used the private facilities there. I don’t think you have any idea how bad the NHS is in rural provincial Britain.
Plus none of the ambulances in Wales carry a full pharmaceutical manifest. Would you believe they do not carry epipens?
45 mins and you are well dead of anaphylactic shock if you have a serious allergy.
Sorry, think I was being rather polite! In Wales just die quietly and quickly.
Fear of having to go to A&E in Brighton did what no amount of nagging by doctors for years has ever managed to get me to do – I finally gave up smoking last July.
I went to that particular A&E on many occasions with my mother… it is not something I would like to experience for myself. On one occasion it took the paramedics over half an hour just to check her in. Brighton is hardly a rural area – I’m with you Christina on that one.