Saturday, March 07, 2009

Passports, Etc.

Having two kids is four times the work. I have been quite busy the past two weeks. I am preparing for a trip to Dubai toward the end of the month, and I really don't have the open-ended time available in the evening to work--- at least no time I can depend on.

This week we took care of all the paperwork for US passports for the kids. Here is the deal: it is much easier to obtain Norwegian passports. However, for tax purposes I need social security numbers for the kids to claim them as dependents. The only way to obtain these numbers while abroad is to use a passport as an ID. The only way to obtain a passport while abroad is to appear in person before an officer of a consulate-- usually at the embassy-- and the only embassy is in Oslo. This means we would all normally need to travel to the capital to appear in person so our signatures could be accepted. But this week, there was a consular visit to the international school here in Stavanger. This would save us the huge inconvenience of an Oslo trip. To apply for a passport, we needed the births to be registered by the US--- Norwegian birth certificates could not be directly used. We also needed passport photos.

The afternoon before the consular visit, we headed downtown to a photography store for the kids photos. It is quite a challenge getting the eyes open/mouth shut pose for a month old infant, but we managed. We met another American family going through the same thing-- updating the passports for their teen kids. We walked out of the store about $100 lighter. Getting social security numbers is expensive business.

The next morning we showed up at the international school a little before 9 am when they were scheduled to open the visits with the consular officer. The atrium as crowded. We were there none too early. Julian somehow managed to wait the two and a half hours without too much trouble, although undoubtedly he was bored out of his mind. Of course, a few hours in nothing compared to an Oslo trip-- and we would still need to queue up at the embassy as well. Now we just need to pay hundreds of dollars in fees--- in cash--- in US currency, and we will be all set.

I really hate US tax law-- that subjects ALL citizens to income tax-- regardless where you live in the world. Imagine if state income tax did the same thing.

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