Change of Address

by Steven van Groningen on 4 November, 2010

Just a normal day in an EU country….

Just a normal day at the population register in an EU country which we will call “A”

Public Servant : “Good morning, how may I help you ?”

Citizen : “I recently moved and I would like to change my address in your administration.”

Public Servant : “Very well, do you have an identification document on you ?”

Citizen: ” Uhm… no, I was in the neighborhood and I thought I would see if I could change my address, but didn’t take an ID with me.”

Public Servant : “Mmm, what is your name ? Date of birth ? Where do you live now? Where were you born? What are the names of your parents?”

The citizen answered all the questions correctly.

Public servant : “Thank you, I believe you are who you claim to be. Now about your new address, do you have a copy of the lease agreement ?”

Citizen : “No, I don’t have this with me.”

Public Servant : “OK, so what is the new address ? What is the name of the owner of the building. Who else is living at the same address ?”

The citizen answered the questions correctly.

Public Servant : “Thank you, your address has now been changed. Thank you for coming by and updating your address. Have a nice day.”

In this country, there are no addresses on ID cards.

Just a normal day in another EU country….

Just a normal day at the population register in another EU country which we will call “B”

Citizen : “Good morning, I would like to renew my ID card. I brought my old ID card, the original of my birth certificate and copy of my birth certificate. I also filled in the required form and signed it. I bought tax stamps for  X CCY* and went to the Savings Bank where I paid Y CCY and have the receipt with me.

Civil Servant: “We also need proof of your residence, where you are living now?”

Citizen: “I am still living with my parents at the same address as before, the one that is on my current ID card.”

Public Servant: “The owner of the place you are living needs to come with you and declare that you are staying with him and sign in the register. The owner also has to bring the original ownership papers of the house and a copy.”

*) CCY is short for currency, if I had written RON you would have known right away it was about Romania, now you have to guess.

This also happened to my family, all Romanian citizens, a few years ago. The only problem was that the (Romanian) owner was living abroad and didn’t feel like coming over to Romania to sign the register and to declare that the people that were renting his place – with rental agreement and all – were indeed living there in order for them to get new ID cards.

What options do you have?

A) move to another house,

B) live with expired ID cards or

C) register at another address with a friendly owner ?

When in Rome..

What a choice ! When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Sometimes when I have to give a presentation to a larger group of people I cannot resist to ask the audience to raise their hand when they are living at another address than the one on their ID card. The proportion of people that raises their hand should worry the authorities.

Situations are of course not identical, issuing an ID card is not the same as changing an address, but the part where you make proof of your residence is comparable. Anyway, it is not intended as a scientific study. Just sharing of personal experience.

Take the test


– In which country are more people actually living at the address they are registered at?

– In which country is the productivity higher?

– In which country does the civil servant get a higher salary?

If on any of the questions above you answered B, you might want to consult your……..

Crisis is an opportunity

Isn’t the financial crisis an excellent opportunity to try to improve the efficiency of the public sector, so that we can do “more with less”? Citizens would be wasting less time with formalities, more people would be living at the addresses that they are registered at and civil servants would be so much more productive, that it would be easier to pay them better salaries. It wouldn’t even cost a lot of money so we can’t blame the IMF for not doing it either.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

zalex November 4, 2010 at 15:26

assuming you were talking about romania as B country in the story ;) i can tell you that bureaucracy is not our invention but we made a masterpiece out of it!


SvG November 8, 2010 at 02:23

Indeed bureaucracy was not invented in Romania, maybe we should also import some of the antidote


Stefan November 8, 2010 at 14:52

Efficiency is definately needed in the public sector, but is goes (as everyone knows) step by step (babysteps to be more exact).

I do notice that some local public government agencies/departments are starting to be more efficient, quicker and even showing a smile on their face when you talk to them, but this does not happen everywhere of course it also depends on how you approach “another person” and how you get them to do what you want them to do (without having to pay a bribe)

As an EU foreigner in Romania there seems to be hardly any inefficiency when it comes to applying for a Romanian residence certificate to get a proper “domicile” in Romania which bears your local address and states your Romanian CNP number.

You go to the “Autoritatea pt Strain” (APS) at 09:30 in the morning, present a copy of your passport, a EHIC card in copy (or local health insurance for 1 month if you dont have an EHIC card) and a bankstatement from a Romanian bank showing a 200 RON balance and some silly postal-tax stamps and a paper “dosar”. That’s it.

At 16:00 you can pick up your residence certificate having obtained official “domicile” in Romania.

They dont ask you for any proof of employment or income, and most surprisingly: you can declare to have “local domicile” at any address of your liking (even Cotroceni Palace or Snagov Palace), without having to proof any ownership or rental papers let alone any approval from the people living at such an address.

Talking about quick and efficient regarding getting this residence certificate (in order to file taxes easier and to be able to purchase a car or a plot of land on one’s personal name as a EU citizen).

How strange it is to see that for Romanian citizens the regulations are so strict and absurd, as they should and could apply more common sense rules regarding obtaining these type of papers … let’s hope it will change to the better … soon!


Constantin Stan November 8, 2010 at 23:02

I still don’t understand why so many financial, industrial, health-care institutions are requesting process improvement projects, but there is still a complete silence from the public sector. (yes, I’m talking about “B” )


Parmalat June 3, 2012 at 17:19

Private and public sector in Romania deserve each other.

They’re both inefficient, uncompetitive, corrupt and with a big mouth.


clau2002 November 10, 2010 at 19:19

Definitely you haven”t dealt with the Italian bureaucracy.The good old USA bureaucracy is the worst of them all.Anyway,expecting for a public clerk to take your claims at face value without any written document to prove them is just wishful thinking;it doesn”t happen anywhere in the world.In cases like the one described here the solution is to have the landlord of the house send you a signed legal document empowering some relative or a lawyer to represent him and sign for him.Is that simple yet you (so evolved )westerners complain that Romania is so backward an so corrupt.Why you have no problem following the rules in your home country but when you go overseas expect the clerks to bent the local rules for your sake?I am not saying that the bureaucracy in Romania is OK but it is not worst then that of many other” more fancy “countries.It only seems so due to the fact that you are dealing with different rules with which you are not accustomed.


SvG November 10, 2010 at 20:15

Clau2002, I am very accustomed with Romanian bureaucary. I got married in Romania 25 years ago and have worked for more than 10 years in Romania. What I shared was a real life experience in another country (not Italy). I didn’t make this up. It made me realize how far we are away from an efficient setup. l am not complaining, we can accept all this as a fact of ilfe, why bother, just the way things are in Romania, but then we should stop complaining about low salaries in the Public Sector and the fact that a disproportionate amount of the state budget is used for paying salaries. If you have no problem with the state spending your tax money on inefficient process that keep productive citizens from doing their job, that is your good right.
Btw, my point was not to implement the system of country A, but the fact that, if we want higher salaries and better budget spend, we need less bureaucracy


Luminita November 25, 2010 at 20:07

Va rog,dati-mi voie sa ma amuz! Un fel de haz de necaz! Birocratia n-a fost inventata in .ro, insa aici a fost desavarsita tehnica de aplicare! Sanse de reducere? Alta data in alta viata!


Parmalat June 3, 2012 at 16:48

What about this:

Citizen (in a bank): Hello, I want to apply for a personal loan

Bank clerk: Of course, you need to complete these documents and bring these documents and that’s it!

Citizen (same bank, a few days later): Here you go, the documents you requested.

Bank clerk: Wonderful, we’ll call you back in a few days.

Bank clerk (after a few days): We reviewed your application, you need to bring us more documents.

[Citizen takes another day off from work and brings more documents]

Bank clerk (after a few more days): Oh I’m sorry to inform you that your loan application was rejected. The reason: you don’t have a landline phone registered at your address.

Now I’m a firm believer in the power of example, Mr. van Groningen, and I never criticize unless I actually do things better.


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