First few days: the lunatics take over the asylum and Danish red tape

Computer says naaaah

So, we arrived safely on Tuesday afternoon. After we unpack a few things, find some food, and put the kids to bed, I try hard not to think too much about the US Presidential election.

After a bad night of Anna playing musical beds, Steve wakes me Wednesday morning with the bad news. Oh America, what did you do? Like zombies, we stumble about in the unfamiliar apartment, making coffee, trying hard to shake the feeling that we landed in some weird alternate universe when our plane landed yesterday.

At 9am our removals truck turns up and we frenziedly empty all our stuff out and up two flights of stairs, filling what was up to that point a nice, white, clean and tidy (so tidy!) apartment with all our many boxes of crap. Why did we bring So Much Stuff? More importantly, where will we put all of it?

No time to unpack though, or to mourn the Age of Trump. Today we have important plans: the getting of CPR numbers, without which it is nigh on impossible to do anything useful like, get a bank account, or enrol Nathan for school.

So like the naive newbies we are, we rocked up on a Wednesday morning to International House with all our paperwork, ready to claim our precious CPR numbers.

Hahaha. Idiots. Spotting four computerised login screens (with handy English instructions) we gaily attempt to check in. The prompts from the computer inform us that we need to first fill in the forms to our left for EU citizen registration (x4), CPR (x1) and tax (x2). Which we do. Then we try again. Computer Says No. As in, no you can’t get your CPR number until you have your EU registration. We find a (very) helpful lady who informs us that all today’s slots to get the EU registration paperwork done had long gone. We could, she said, trek to another part of town and submit our applications there, if we got there by 2pm, but then we’d have to wait a week (or two) for the registration documents to come back (and no hope of a CPR number of course in the meantime). Or, we could come back tomorrow and try for one of the few available appointments. They open at 11am, but, she suggests, get here at least an hour before, ready to queue, for when the slots were released.

She kindly checks our paperwork over. “Oh no,” she says: “the employment contract is older than a month, they won’t accept that.” “Errr, WTF?” Sensing our defeat, she is kind enough to make copies of all our other papers (passport, marriage certificate, and birth certificates for the kids) and makes sure we have everything we need for tomorrow.

So, off home we go to lick our wounds, and to call Steve’s employer to ask them to rustle up a ‘new’ signed contract within the hour, plus the essential ‘Arbejdsgivererklaering’ (declaration by the employer).

Thursday morning dawns: I leave Steve and the kids at the apartment at 9.30am and cycle off with a flask of tea (thinking I’d be queueing out in the cold). Luckily the waiting room is open, and warm, but filled with other hopefuls: we eye one another up. With no obvious system in place for any of us to queue, at a little after 10am, a few people start nudging towards the screens, so (being British and therefore expert at queuing) I quickly hop in front of the nearest one. Four lines form briskly, and chatting with the three guys behind me, I learn that two of them have been there since 9am (which means, being British, I am therefore duty bound to let them in front of me…). Grrr.

Steve and the kids turn up just before 11 am. The tension in the room rises, as the lines grow longer, and people realise that if they are not near the front of the queues, they are unlikely to get a much coveted slot. As I reach the front of the queue, I try to book the next appointment – 1.20 pm – which then gets booked by someone else, quick…just manage to nab the 1.50 appointment. Aaaah, relief!

We kill some time in the centre of the city, and come back in time for our 1.50 slot (thinking if this is anything like the UK there’s no way they will be on time). Wrong. Bang on 1.50 we get called in: looking good, CPR here we come! Not so fast Batman… Sorry, says the clerk, it’s one appointment per person – there are four of you so you should have booked four slots… Steve and I look at one another dumbfounded. “But…but, no-one told us that,” I whimper. I mutter something to Steve about coming back on my own next week with the kids and how awful it’ll be doing all the queueing and stressing again but with those two in tow. The clerk can clearly sense that I am not in a good place, and says she shouldn’t really but will process all four of us since we have all the right paperwork. I want to give her a massive hug but think better of it. I have missed out one appendix to the forms, but she lets us off and gets a spare copy (can’t imagine the DWP are this helpful back home. I’ve not yet seen ‘I Daniel Blake’ but Steve has. How on earth do people cope with this kind of thing on a regular basis?).

Half an hour later we have our EU registration certificates, but must now go back into the waiting area and find a new time slot to see someone else for the CPR numbers. I’m pathetically grateful by this point that we brought the tablet to keep the kids entertained (and bought emergency Danish pastries for additional bribery). A short while later, I am ushered in to see another clerk, who processes our CPR numbers and unexpectedly also allocates us a GP. Bonus.

Back to the waiting room one last time, before the ‘tax lady’ processes us. By the time we are done, it is almost 3pm. But that’s it, we have the holy grail CPRs and can relax for today (by which obviously I mean go back to the apartment and have a celebratory beer for making it through the Sea of Forms).

(NB: since we moved, the application system has now gone online, but you can still wait quite some time to be allocated a time to actually go and pick up your CPR in person)



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