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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jumping Through Hoops

Well, to finish the story of the problematic driver's license renewal- I finally have it in hand. However, it was not without a lot of work and I didn't get a 10 year- just the 3 year. Here is why......

I didn't realize that my license had a restriction. I don't wear glasses and that is the only restriction I am familiar with from the U.S. However, Uruguay also has medical restrictions, among them high blood pressure. So if you, like me, have hypertension, and it is reported when you apply for the license, you will have a number "2" restriction. The complete rules and regulations are laid out here.

Not knowing this, however, I went to a clinica for the medical test, that I was expecting. After the doctor filled out all the paperwork and I paid ($560 pesos), he slid another form across the desk and let me know that as soon as my doctor filled that out, we could proceed. Since my Medico Uruguaya membership doesn't start until next month, I was stuck. I went to several hospitals, 3-4 clinics and walked around all morning, trying to get a general examination and medical diagnosis for hypertension. Finally, completely defeated, I returned to the clinica and told them I would just have to get my money back and try another day. The assistant said that the doctor could take me on as a "patient" and sign the paperwork. Obviously this was not something that was done regularly.

After some discussion, and a brief examination (and a $300 peso fee), the doctor filled out the paperwork and I was able to show up 20 minutes before my appointment at the Intendencia (city hall). You can make an appointment online, here, or go the the Intendencia in person, as I had. I went into the room about 10 minutes before my appointment, and was curtly told to wait outside until my appointment, at which time I could come in and wait for my name to be called. When my name was finally called, I showed them the paperwork and the lady told me to go upstairs and pay first. She said most people forget, anyway. That was when I found out I could not get the 10 year license. With medical restrictions, you are limited to a 3-5 year license (so they can check your progress, no doubt). So I paid the $371 pesos and after that, I returned, handed over my paperwork, was electronically fingerprinted, photographed and within 10 minutes, walked with a brand new license, good for another 3 years. Coincidentally, it will expire right after the new cedula expires, so that will be a convenient reminder.

So, another hoop jumped through. Uruguay is the land of hoops, so you better get used to it. Now, the next hoop is getting a matricula (auto registration card) in my name and new plates. I can hardly wait.


Aurora said...

Oh yes Denise, sometimes Uruguay is full of bureaucratic paperwork and some of them doesn´t have any sense.
One thing: why don´t you get your license in Canelones instead of Montevideo?
I´m just curious...

Wally said...

When I got my first license, it was impossible to trade my US license for a UY license in Canelones. But in Montevideo it was very easy. So, instead of trying to fight Canelones, I thought it would be easier to renew in MVD.

Anonymous said...

Hi ! I just found this blog and I'm
Really curious about how u ended up retiring in Uruguay?
I have a friend from the States and her mom wants to retire here too! So she could use some advices!
This blog is awesome! Thanks for sharing with us!

Aurora said...

Right, I don´t know how renewal works if you already have a US license, but usually it´s easier anywhere less Montevideo.
Maybe once you have your UY license, renewal becomes easier.
Good luck for the next time!

Seamus said...

Muy estimado senor Wally,

I tend to look at dealing with the government a bit differently. Perhaps I can help you feel better if only by comparison.

I was a tractor trailer operator for many years and I have kept my commercial license. Probably for reasons of nostalgia as I doubt I will ever drive a semi again. I'm licensed to drive almost anything that can travel on the road.

I got my first commercial license in the early 70's by standing outside the Secy of State's office flagging down trucks with $50 in my hand. I wasn't bribing the examiner, just trying to get a truck to use for the road test. The fee was probably about $10 and it all took about 1.5 hours.

This last recent time I got my license renewed, if I remember correctly, the whole process cost about $285 and it took well over a month. It also involved a separate trip for finger printing and, because I'm licensed to transport hazardous materials, a federal Homeland Security background check. When I moved to Minnesota recently, it took over a month just to change from my Illinois license to the Minnesota license. I had to order a birth certificate from Illinois and I finally had to 'threaten' the lady at the drivers license facility. I was getting foodstamps at that time and I need the drivers license to prove identity to get the food stamps. I told the lady that, as my Illinois foodstamp allotment was running out, if they didn't send my license immediately, because I couldn't buy food, I'd find out where she lived and come over to her house to mooch dinner. (Minnesota is run by that Fiscally Responsible political party. Because they felt they were short money, even though you pay for your own license, they were saving money by just taking a month to process licenses. And there was an error with my license. And as it didn't get sent out in that month, they wanted me to wait till the NEXT month....for something I'd paid $285 for.) By the way, the birth certificate was because, even though a driver's license in Illinois was accepted like a passport for ID, in Minnesota they will not accept a driver's license from another state as an ID.

Anyway, so first, I'm always very polite and friendly to the clerks at government offices. If they like you, if they feel you respect them, they can be very helpful and save you a LOT of time. I've had clerks who, because I was polite to them, help me prepare a motion to put before a judge. Second, I look upon this kind of stuff as a learning experience for the NEXT time. Next time I always know what calls to make in preparation, where to go, who to pay and how much the entire thing will set me back. As usual, there's a verse for this: Proverbs 3,11-12 My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

One more thing: We all know what it is that talks and what it is that walks. Did you notice how, as soon as you told the doctor that you would have to come back later and asked for your money back that things began moving again? Money doesn't just screams!!!

Wally said...

Seamus- you are soooooo right! And compared to your experience- Uruguay is very easy. It really didn't bother me, after all- I came out with a good story and that is the most important thing....