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A run-in with the Polizei

My passport expired last month. Ever the optimist, I assumed that getting a new one would be a relatively painless process. I went on to the German Irish Embassy website, filled in their little online form, and waited for the documents to appear in my letter box. A week later, I was still waiting. Now I know that the Irish are not exactly known for their efficiency – my good self excluded – but this was definitely taking the Pinkel.

I called up, explained that I’d filled in the form a week before and asked how long it normally took to get the documents.

Siobhán-Schwanhild: It shouldn’t take any longer than three days.

Me: Huh. Can you send them again, please?

The next morning they were in my letter box. They must have hired a German in the meantime.

I had a quick look through the plethora of forms and eventually located the actual form I would need to fill in. Page 1 – fine, page 2 – fine, page 3 – not applicable as I am no spring chicken any more (much as I pretend otherwise), page 4 – crap.

Everyone loves forms, right?
Everyone loves forms, right?

In order to apply for an Irish passport, you have to have your application witnessed by one of the following people:

  • Police officer
  • Member of clergy
  • Medical doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Bank manager/assistant bank manager
  • Elected public representative
  • Notary public/commissioner for oaths
  • Peace commissioner
  • School principal/vice principal
  • Accountant
  • Butcher*
  • Baker*
  • Candle-stick maker*

You have to sign the form in front of this witness, they have to complete a section of it, including a work landline number, then sign and stamp two of the four photos you need to submit – once they’re satisfied that the photos are actually of you, of course. I toyed with the idea of popping over the road, putting on my holy face and asking a priest to do it – maybe I could even fashion a halo out of some toilet rolls and a light bulb – but it felt a bit cheeky after my leavingthecatholicchurchtoavoidpayingstupidtaxes fiasco, so I put that thought out of my head. A-men.

Nice church I'm not paying for
Nice church I’m not paying for

I scanned the list again to see if game designers, artists, writers, starving teachers and bunker association founders had appeared, but alas, they hadn’t. I then racked my brains trying to think of any lawyers, doctors, accountants or bankers I knew. I realised that, at least when it came to the passport application process, I had sadly been mixing in the wrong circles for the past year.

Luckily, there’s a police station across the road from where I work, so armed with all of my documents, photos and ID, I trotted over there. A jolly-looking policeman sat behind a glass screen so I started explaining (in German) what I needed and waving documents around. I obviously didn’t explain very well as he decided he had to come out of his glass box and into the waiting room to fully investigate what it was I was after.

Me: I need ein/einen/eine/einem signature. (Wave, wave) This is my passport, um, I don’t know the word for application – probably should have looked that up. You look at photos. (Wave, wave) You look at me. Is photo me? You are happy? Then you signature. (Wave, wave) 

PC Pharamond Plod: NEIN. 

Me: Bitte?

PC Pharamond Plod: NEIN. The German police do not sign documents.

Me: But, but… look! Photo is me – no problem!

PC Pharamond Plod: NEIN. 

Me: Sigh.

I trudged out, defeated. Then, as I passed the Deutsche Bank on my way to the train station, I had another idea. An ex-student of mine works there – as a bank manager.

When I got home, I sent her an email explaining what I needed. Two days later, she replied to say, “NEIN, German bank managers do not do this”. Double sigh. Eventually, I managed to charm force one of the accountants at the school (who I’d never even met before) into signing it. It had only taken around three weeks longer than expected.

Herr Accountant: You are aware that your passport is very out of date.

Me: Triple sigh.

I marched over to the Irish Embassy, handed everything in, and paid my €85.

Me: You are aware that the German police will not sign documents. Why are they on the form if they are not an option?

Siobhán-Schwanhild: That’s funny. A lot of people have their applications signed by a police officer. 

Me: Beyond sighing.

By the time I reconcile myself with the fact that maybe German police just do not like the look of me, the passport should have arrived.

*Not actually included on the list. Had you fooled though, didn’t I?

You can find ALL the information you need on applying for an Irish passport in Germany here.

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