How to replace a lost drivers license when you are not registered?
For the first time in 5 years of living without registration, ‘the system’ now really has me checkmate; I cannot replace my lost drivers license. After losing my handbag and wallet, I managed to renew my bank cards and credit cards. I know the complicated detour to renew my ID, but there seems to be no way I can get a replacement for my drivers license. I prepared my visit to the City Hall well. Armed with the book I wrote about being kicked out of the Netherlands for traveling too much, a declaration from the government about the situation, proof of ownership of two apartments in Amsterdam, my passport and a copy of the drivers license I lost, I knew it would take a lot of talking and a healthy dose of perseverance, but I trusted to eventually walk out of there with a new drivers license. NOT. Even for reporting the license missing you need to be registered as a resident in The Netherlands. To get a replacement, you need to be registered AND prove that you have been living here for at least 185 days. I found out that the same rule applies to getting a drivers license replaced anywhere in Europe.
“The computer says no”
So what if you are not registered anywhere and don’t spend longer than 4 months per year in one place? “No solution” admit the three people I involved at the City Hall of Amsterdam. They even called RDW, who are in control of cars and drivers licenses in Holland; no solution but to be registered. Can I try a ‘briefadres’? I ask the city hall people. “No; it used to be really easy to get such administrative address, but right now we do a lot of research before awarding one, to see if people really spend 185 days in The Netherlands…” Even my last resort – registering in one of my own apartments – won’t work: you will only get a drivers license after 185 days of (proven) being in The Netherlands. And what about getting a new drivers license by doing the driving exam all over again, whether it is in The Netherlands or another country? Guess what: you have to be registered to take a driving test… After ticking off and invalidating all these options, I desperately ask the lady behind the City Hall counter (who now knows everything about me): “what would you do in my place?” She looks at me and after a short hesitation she answers: “I would NEVER live like you…”
So what am I to do? Living without a drivers license is not really an option. I can show a digital copy of the lost one, to prove that I am allowed to drive, but I risk a fine if they check me. Plus in case of an accident I will probably not be insured. Without a drivers license I also cannot rent cars when I am traveling, limiting my movements significantly. I post my dilemma on Facebook and ask my followers for help. What should I do? Hundreds of people react to and share my post. Most tips, however, do involve registration in The Netherlands, and having to spend at least 185 days in the country. No option for me. I am not going to adapt my lifestyle for a government paper! And even if I would do that, I would only get my drivers license after 6 months! And I would be back in ‘the system’ where I don’t fit…. There is only on option that might work. On the RDW website there is a page for ‘Dutchies living outside of Europe‘. It says you can request a new drivers license via their website, BUT you need a mailing address in The Netherlands, so they can mail you a special form to attach your photo to. My first impression is that you only need to provide an address outside the EU; so far no proof of address is needed. I request the form and wait…
And then something extraordinary happens: I get a call from Burgerzaken (a government agency). Via social media they heard about my situation (“and some of us are following your newsletter”) and offered to help. “Your situation is quite unique, but because it is so well documented, we are willing to make an exception.” They allow me to apply via the procedure for ‘homeless people’, for which you normally have to live in The Netherlands. “But you are in Amsterdam right now, so in your case we’ll consider that applicable”. I have to go to the police to report my drivers license stolen. And then back to the city hall where I was refused help earlier this week. “We will call the city hall to advise them you will be visiting and to make sure they help you”. Woohoo! 🎉 At the city hall I find out that, hilariously, the ‘homeless form’ starts by asking for my name and ‘home address’… 🙂 Anyway, I fill in all details and send in the form.
Unfortunately, within a few days I receive a letter from RDW, requesting more information. They want proof that I spend 185 days in The Netherlands. They need proof of registration, want to know about my private life, family, social life, medical doctor, dentist, sport, hobbies, insurance, home, income… There is no end to the list of questions, of which I know by experience that each answer will, in my case, cause more and more questions. It was very nice of the City of Amsterdam to offer me the ‘homeless procedure’, but this is not going to work. Then, what IS?!?
The only option seems to complete the request via the RDW website for ‘Dutchies living outside of Europe‘. I provide my fathers address in Miami and explain that I spend a lot of time there to take care of him. I also request to cancel the previous ‘homeless procedure’, explain that the City offered to help, but that this procedure for people outside of the EU best reflects my situation. I am as specific as possible, without providing too much information. Let’s see if this works. When I come back from a trip (no driving!) after a week, I am surprised to see a letter of RDW waiting for me. Will it be a request for more info? A denial of my request? Or?or? Could it really be? I feel a small plastic card in the envelope…. I can hardly believe it: would it be this easy? And YESSS!!! My new drivers license, valid for 10 years is in the envelope!!!!For two months I was made to believe I was going to have to live without it, forever. I am beyond happy that this problem has been solved! New challenges will present themselves and new solutions will be found. I promise.