Blog - Red tape in Rotterdam

Added on Wednesday, 2018-05-23 14:24 CEST in category Netherlands

Registering our daughter at city hall

The amount of paperwork we had to go through after the birth of our daughter had seemingly come to an end as we left Prague and went back home to Rotterdam. All that was left was to register her at city hall in Rotterdam, and whatever else was needed in the Netherlands would be taken care of automatically.

Unfortunately, things weren't as easy as they seemed… We needed to bring our daughter's birth certificate (with apostille), and since it was in Czech, also a translation made by a sworn translator. We had all that, but city hall managed to spot one small technicality: the translation had been made by a sworn translator registered in Czechia, not in the Netherlands. Therefore, although they could recognize the birth certificate as genuine by means of the apostille, they "weren't able" to read it; and although they were able to read the translation, they couldn't recognize it as genuine, since the sworn translator wasn't registered in the Netherlands, and the translation didn't have an apostille also.

Not our daughter?

This meant that, although our daughter was now officially living with us, city hall didn't recognize us as her parents; to them she was just some random baby who happened to live with us…

Time to set things straight! We were given a (seemingly) ample 6 months to resolve the issue, and were given the following two options to present an acceptable birth certificate, neither of which I was very happy with:
  1. Get an apostille on the existing translation. This meant:
    • Having the translation bureau in Prague re-affix the translation to the original birth certificate, because in Czechia apostilles cannot be placed on copies of documents;
    • Driving 3 hours from Prague to the court of Hradec Kralove and back for a stamp, because that's where the translator happened to be registered;
    • Going to the Ministry of Justice to get another stamp;
    • Going to the post office for some postage stamps;
    • Going to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the apostille, to be paid with said postage stamps.
    So yeah, not a great option…
  2. Get a new translation from a sworn translator registered in the Netherlands. I got a few quotes, averaging around € 100 for one page. Also not fantastic.
If we'd do neither, then we'd be given a ~€ 400 fine, and would still have to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, city hall wasn't susceptible to the arguments that 1) it's obvious what the birth certificate says, and that 2) the translation is obviously correct. The birth certificate hardly states anything more than "born here, born then, name of child, name of father, name of mother". But then again, why use your head if you have strict rules you can follow…

Dutchifying the birth certificate (is that even a word?)

Two can play the stubbornness game, so I decided to find a third option :) And I did: I remembered it's possible to have foreign official documents converted to Dutch ones in The Hague, and decided to give that a go :) In the case of our daughter that would mean that besides in Prague we'd be able to request an excerpt of her birth certificate in The Hague as well.

Thank goodness our daughter's birth certificate was accepted there without any problems; they found somewhere online that our translator was indeed a sworn translator, albeit in Czechia, and that was that.

I had high hopes Rotterdam city hall would finally accept at least this Dutch version, and tried to make an appointment. Tried, indeed. It's possible to make an appointment online, but whenever I looked, the site said "no time slots available". Does it ever end?… When I called about this problem, and the upcoming fine, I was told to "just try again and again until a slot opens up". A week or so later I had finally secured an appointment, and sure enough the birth certificate was finally accepted…

After this long and arduous journey, thanks to Rotterdam city hall, we can only now officially call ourselves the proud parents of our baby girl! :)