You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Back in August last year, I posted about the paperwork and bureaucracy nightmare we were facing with the arrival of Pea.  It seemed overwhelming all of the paperwork we needed to fill out, we had choices to make about citizenship and we wanted to be sure we did not miss out on any benefits we were eligible for but did not know too much about all the rules and how to apply.

So now it's five months later and how are we doing?

  • German birth certificate - the hospital took care of sending in the appropriate information to the correct office in Munich.  However, they would only issue it with Pea having my last name as the Saffa and I were not married.  It would have been ok if the Saffa had his birth certificate, however, he needed to request a copy from South Africa and this did not arrive until we already had a birth certificate for Pea with my last name.  
  • Once the Saffa's birth certificate arrived we applied for the German acknowledgement of paternity (Vaterschaftsanerkennung) and had the birth certificate re-issued with Pea's last name changed to the same as the Saffa's.
  • We then had a separate appointment to file a German Statement Regarding Custody (Sorgerechterklärung) and for this one we were required to bring an interpreter as neither of us are fluent in German and they want no misunderstandings in this area.  We made the acquaintance of a very nice lady who helped us with the interpretation for a reasonable rate and if anyone in the Munich area needs her contact info, please feel free to drop me an email.  
  • After all this (plus being a new mom) we were down to about three weeks before our planned trip to the US and needed to get Pea his passport.  We decided to go with the American passport first and spent the morning at the Munich consulate.  In the end they cared nothing about most of the documents we were told to bring and didn't even look at them.  They were most interested in whether or not I was really an American.  I brought my graduate school transcripts to prove I had been in the US for several consecutive years and also my first passport, which was only issued in 2003, meaning I should have spent my first 30 years in the US.
  • In less than two weeks, we had Pea's report of birth abroad and certification of citizenship through 'documentation' and his US Passport.  His social security number arrived last week.
  • We clarified that he is not eligible for German citizenship as I have not had a permanent residency for the required 8 year minimum and German citizenship is not conferred through location of birth.
  • The Saffa is just starting the process to apply for Pea's British citizenship but the Brits seem downright disorganized about this compared to the process we went through with the US, so we'll see how long this takes.  The Saffa is still deciding about South African citizenship. 
Regarding Kindergeld and Elterngeld, I also used the interpreter's help for the applications.  The Kindergeld application I could have done on my own, this was relatively easy.  We also received the feedback after a couple of weeks that we were approved and the back payments were already made and now we should receive the monthly payment going forward.

The Elterngeld was considerably more complicated to fill out.  I sent it in at the same time as the Kindergeld but received a response that we did not submit one document. Unfortunately, I am nearly certain I put it in the application and it is no longer in the house that we can find.  It is a document that cannot be re-issed in copy to us but must be directly requested now by the agency responsible for Elterngeld.  Hopefully we are not at an impasse as this is this more significant money we are entitled to that is meant to recoup some of my wages that I do not receive while on maternity leave. 

So all said and done, we are slowly making our way through the process and learning bit by bit.  My advice to any expecting parents is to first make sure you have all your own documents in order (birth certificates, divorce papers if applicable, proof of citizenship if you are going for American citizenship for your child and so on).  If you are bored on maternity leave, I would also recommend to fill out as much as possible before the baby comes.  Afterwards it gets a little busy!

Posted from Munich


Anonymous said...

Did I miss the post explaining what Kindergeld and Elterngeld are? I actually laughed out loud when I read the US was more organized than the UK for passports. For that to be true, I daren't imagine how horrifically run the UK offices must be.

ann said...

The proof of presence in the States is significantly less rigorous for an unmarried citizen (and no test at all for two married citizens).

An idea and I am not an expert -
If the Saffa isn't able to get British citizenship for the pea and is willing to give up SA citizenship, he could eventually become a German citizen with the Pea (I think you UK/BRD double citizenship is permitted and the US doesn't recognize citizenship renunciation for minors. I don't know if naturalization in Germany is permitted for minors without a parent also going through naturalisation.)

ann said...

You can ignore all that. It would work, but you are better off this way.
I have a friend who is a UK citizen by decent and she had described the situation with her child as similar to the "optionsmodell" in Germany. On further reading, it isn't.

ann said...

*descent (sorry)

Expat Traveler said...

We too have had our bumps in the road as it's so complicated always remembering who to notify when you change your address. I hate moving! And yes getting ready before is best, just like I'm sure it's easy to do all this before going back to work! Ugh, that's next for us!

Jul said...

Congratulations to you for being so on top of it all! Even without a baby to take care of, I can get totally overwhelmed by bureaucracy and paperwork.