Friday, March 10, 2017

Road to Greek Residency: Next stop – Olympia, WA

The last couple of weeks our travels on the U.S. stretch of the Road Trip to Greek Residency have felt a bit like we were contestants on some reality television show. We’ve raced to gather documents and then raced to destinations to have them reviewed. We’ve questioned ourselves – and our sanity – at each milepost along the way.

On the flip side, we’ve learned much. We’ll be armed with cocktail party conversation trivia for years to come. For example, we can now tell you about the 1961 Hague Convention. ‘The what?’ you are probably asking yourselves.

Well, let me tell you. . .

I was eight and The Scout 12, when the convention took place. We’d heard of it during our ensuing 60 years,but had no reason to care about what took place there. That is until this ‘road to residency’ brought us up close and personal with it.

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Roadway in the Greek Peloponnese
It was the outcome of that convention that dictated our next stop on our somewhat twisting, turning ‘road to residency’ in Greece.

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The Stone House on the Hill - The Mani, Greece


Recap for those just tuning in: We’ve decided that with two years of full-time home ownership and part-time occupancy in the Greek Peloponnese under our belts, we’re ready to apply for residency permits. The permits, similar to the U.S. ‘green cards’ grant residency and eliminates the inflexible 90-day in and 90-day out rule that applies to tourists.

Obtaining the residency permit requires several steps involving strict vetting of documents and interviews both in the United States and again after arriving in Greece. The documents presented must be current, i.e. the most recent bank account statements and such. So that means getting them issued as close to your departure to Greece as possible, while giving yourself time to pass all the required mileposts on the U.S. segment of the road trip.

While I sorted documents, The Scout organized the travel.

P1030083With the issuance of an ‘entry visa’ by the Greek Consulate in San Francisco last week, the real time clock started ticking. We’ve got a year in which we can apply for and hopefully be granted residency permit in Greece.

Before setting out for Greece, we had one more required trip in the United States. 

And that brings us back to The Hague Convention. . .

That convention: resulted in the creation of apostilles – not to be mistaken for apostles!



What? Never heard of them? As I said, we hadn’t either. . .

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Preparing our packets for vetting - our life spread out before us in other words

‘Apostille is the documentary device by which a government department authenticates a document as genuine, thereby legalizing it for use in another member country under the terms laid out in 1961. Once a document has been ‘Apostilled’, thereby providing official government authentication of the signatures and stamps appearing on it, it is automatically deemed legalized for use in another member country.’
-- Greek Consulate web site

Some 82 countries – from Albania to Zambia -- participated in that Convention in 1961, which was called "Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents" and later known as the "Hague Apostille Convention".

Next stop:  Olympia, Washington

Before immigration officials in Greece will review those same documents we presented in San Francisco we needed to get them apostilled. Each document must carry our government’s seal of approval before they will be considered legal documents in that country.

The Secretary of State issues apostilles – and only on documents that first have been notarized. Next stop on the road trip, our state capital, in search of the apostilles.

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Interstate 5 - between Seattle and Tacoma - Washington State
This segment of the road trip was undertaken yesterday -  one of the wettest, nastiest days in recorded history in the Pacific Northwest. It was a bleak 120+-mile day trip to our state capital, Olympia, Washington and back.

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Olympia, Washington

Map pictureIn fairness though, on a sunny day Olympia is a beautiful city. From it you can see our state’s stunning Olympic Mountain Range. It was that mountain range on the region known as Olympic Peninsula for which the city was named. 

That mountain range got its name back in 1788 when a British mariner is said to have been so struck by them that he claimed they would be a perfect dwelling place for Greek gods. (Guess there is a tie-in to Greece after all.)

Subsequently, the state capital was named for them.

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Original Washington State capitol building built 1892
Olympia, a city of 40,000+, swells when our Legislature is in session. However the bad weather kept traffic to a minimum and we were able to get documents notarized and apostilled in a few hours time.

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An Apostille is required for documents in the immigration process

As we handed our stack of notarized documents to the staff member at the Secretary of State’s office, explaining they were for a Greek residency permit, she flipped through them and said, “Boy, they want to know everything don’t they?”

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Ready for the next segment in Greece
‘Yes, they do!,”  we replied, feeling a bit better at the thought someone else had noticed the quantity of information we’d gathered.

A short while later 18 documents had been apostilled at a cost of $15 per document, plus $50 for in-person service. Notarizing those documents had cost $125.

Our application packets are now official and ready to be presented to Greek authorities. We have the required entry visa pasted in our passports. If this were a reality show, we’d have made it past the first two rounds and are ready to enter the finalist challenge in Greece this spring.

While we are off doing that, you might want to keep Olympia in mind as a summer travel destination.

There are guided tours of the Capital Campus, and other guided tours of the town and campus offered by Oly WAlks; there's the Olympic Flight Museum, the State Capital Museum and the Hands-on Children's Museum. And a stop at their Farmer’s Market is a must!


Thanks much for being with us – you continue to be a great cheer and rally squad. Your words of encouragement have given us confidence. And the welcome messages from our Greek friends have made the effort even more worthwhile.  As always we appreciate the time you spend with us. 

We all need a break from this road trip so next week I'll give you a laugh or two as I tel
l you about these two city slickers and their DIY projects in Greece. Hope you’ll be back with us!
Wishes for safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking up this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

33 comments:

  1. I have heard about apostilles and the Hague Convention! I got married in a foreign country and needed a birth certificate with an apostille in order to proceed. My dad (in Puerto Rico) got a new certificate and when to the Department of State to get the apostille. Once, we got our marriage certificate, we had to get an apostille to make it valid in the United States. We needed certified translations (to English) too. #TPThursday

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  2. Oh Ruth how fun to hear someone knows what they are! My circle of friends in the Northwest stare as blankly at me, as I once did when I heard the word. We will be getting the documents translated in Greece. . .and I hadn't thought about them being certified translations. Thanks for commenting!!

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  3. Getting the apostille is a long and drawn out process. My daughter needed an apostille for her student exchange in Argentina. It involved expensive translations and a trip to the embassy for a five minute interview but in the end, she got the documents. I am glad you got through your ordeal. Good luck to you and The Scout in the residency process.

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    1. It is nice to read comments from friend's like you Rhonda who've experienced the 'apostille process'. And thanks for you good wishes. Will let you know if all this work was worth it!

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  4. Congratulations! You both deserve a prize!

    Here in Israel I once needed to get certified and notarized authenticated translations of several of my "public documents" and also get the apostille at our Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. This was decades ago but I still remember the long red ribbons and red stickers affixed to the papers. It made them look very official.

    Yalla, good luck in your next big step!

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    1. Thanks much for the good wishes Dina. I was expecting a lot fancier document and in fact was disappointed when the Secretary of State's signature was a preprinted part of the document here. I guess it did have a gold seal, so I shouldn't complain. :-)

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  5. Looks like the ducks are lining up nicely. That shot of the road to Olympia looks like what we like to tell people is a typical day in the Northwest! Thanks for linking in this week at #wkendtravelinspiration!

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    1. They are Jim and we are ready to tackle the next few miles! Glad you recognized the 'normal' look of the Pacific Northwest. So many times when they televise sporting events here they luck out and hit the sunny days and spotlight the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, etc. and I keep saying, "if they only knew. . .". Thanks for the visit! #wkendtravelinspiration

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  6. Everything is falling nicely into place, Jackie. Your road to Greek residency via Olympia Washington's beautiful landscape proved to be a positive experience! Thanks for taking us along and looking forward to the next stop!

    xx
    Poppy

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    1. Next stop is Greece, Poppy! And you can imagine, we can hardly wait ~ Hugs to you, Jackie

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  7. Love following your adventures on the road to residency! We had to get an Apostille for a real estate transaction--required us to go to a county office and then the State of NY.

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    1. It is an interesting process and if you've needed it, you know about it and otherwise you've likely been like us and never heard of it! Thanks for sharing your experience Irene.

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  8. I too love following your road to residency adventures. I hope things continue to go smoothly. It's certainly not a simple process! I am one of those who has never heard of apostilles. I've not needed to get one yet.

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    1. Sounds like from some of the comments that the apostille comes in varying shapes and sizes. I am amazed that we'd never heard of them until we needed one. Thanks for being along on this journey Donna - it is one where it is nice to have friends along side us!

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  9. Your journey through the red tape and paperwork is intriguing, Jackie. You should definitely write a book about it all once you complete the process.

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    1. Thanks Doreen for suggesting the book but sadly the way the requirements have come and gone and changes and been added, it would be out of date I suspect before the ink was dry. Thanks for stopping by ~

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  10. Oh yes. The Greeks invented bureaucracy I think. I had to get my Residency Permit, but I'm not American, I'm European (for now!), so the process - although a headache in a different way, wasn't nearly as much of a headache as it seems to have been for you.
    At least you managed to approach it with humour.

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    1. We've learned so far in this process that governments and corporations (insurance, medical providers, financial institutions) all have their bureaucracies - it is done a certain way and no amount of convincing will change that. It does become a problem when the ways of doing things don't fit together - like putting a square peg in a round hole. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Thanks for stopping by -

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  11. I continue to follow your journey and am amazed you have had the stamina to keep up with all the paperwork and bureaucracy. I'm sure most people would give up. As I read your post I was curious how much the documents would cost to get notarized and apostilled. It was bad but not horrific!

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    1. We understand that apostilles are issued for free in Greece so they don't quite understand how much it costs to get them done elsewhere. We figure that with costs like these, the fees we pay for the visa application, permit application, translation of documents, attorney fees and such we will be spending several thousand dollars by the time we are done. It really isn't something to enter into on a whim, that's for sure.

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  12. Continuing to follow your journey as you wind your way through the bureaucrat maze. It's an interesting process and I suspect it's a topic of interest for many boomers looking for an avenue to the expat life, probably more relevant now than in recent history.

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    1. We do chuckle now when we read about those who say they are just going to leave the US and move to another country. . .so you say, huh? It isn't as simple as packing a bag - that's for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Patti.

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  13. Love your photo of the papers spread out across the floor. We went through similar steps to prepare for residency in Ecuador, only to change our minds. That might have had something to do with all our apostilled papers being stolen.

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    1. Okay, you need to write about that. . .I can't imagine having gone through all this and then having those stolen! In fact I told The Scout that if the plane went down I was taking the application packets with me - I could replace anything else, but if I lived through it, I didn't want to do those packets again!

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  14. Love your analogy to contestants on a reality show with the prize, a Greek residency, dangling tantalizingly close now! We first heard of apostilled documents when we were researching how to live longterm in Mexico in 2011 but, strangely, Portugal required no notarized or apostilled documents when we applied for our initial residency visas in 2015. It's interesting to compare the differences in residency requirements between Greece and Portugal. Looks like the Greeks expect a whole helluva lot more stubbornness, creativity and hoop-jumping! 😁

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    1. Amazing! We owned homes in Mexico a couple decades ago and had what they called the FM3 permit which required a trip to the Consulate (thankfully, in Seattle) and a letter from the police chief (thankfully, a friend of ours) assuring we weren't criminals. The differences are amazing! And I can't believe the contrasts between Greece and Portugal. We are actually talking of having a party should we ever make it past 'go'. I remember reading your posts about it and I thought you were going through a lot at the time. The carrot is still dangling in front of us. . .now we are waiting for the attorney to have time to see us, tick-tock, tick-tock!

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  15. I'm so enjoying following you along the arduous and paper-full process. I can't wait to hear about your home improvement projects next week.

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    1. I promise it won't have one photo of paperwork in it!! Thanks for stopping by Sue!

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  16. I just went back and read your previous post Jackie. So glad you made it out of the Consulate in one piece. And now you have gotten your apostilled documents. I have never even heard of them before. I know it can get very crazy with the documents. We have the opposite problems where we need to take documents to the US but no one here will issue them. I will continue to send you positive vibes and know in the end it will be worth it so you won't have to travel back and forth so much.

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    1. Thanks much Mary for the positive vibes. . .we can use them!

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  17. I wish you lots of luck and patience. I've heard the amount of paperwork and requirements in Greece is out of control. I think you'll pull it off though!

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    1. I am already feeling a bit strained on the patience side, so will need those wishes of yours. We'll definitely keep plugging away at it -- and keep you posted as to our progress or lack of it.

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  18. Whew, sounds like a lot of paperwork, but I'm glad it is going relatively smoothly. I really had no idea that's what the Hague Convention was about. Although, now that I've looked it up, it sounds like people in the Hague are very busy issuing all sorts of rules. One of the perks of being expats because of my husband's work is that his company took care of everything for us. (We are still paying a small amount of Malaysian income tax even though it's been nearly 3 years since we left.)

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