Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Residency

The big day finally arrived yesterday. We now have residency in Honduras! A little less than 2 years has passed since we first met with our attorney, Cristiana Carbajol, to begin the process. She gave us a list of documents that we needed to get which would be attached to the application. We went back to the States  to begin gathering these items. We needed 1. a copy of our birth certificates, 2. a copy of our marriage certificate, 3. a police report showing a clean record, 4. a letter from our bank, and 5. proof that Don's pension was adequate. This quickly got a bit interesting. First, we couldn't find my birth certificate and concluded that the passport office must have kept it, so I had to apply for another. Second, we couldn't find our marriage certificate. Then we wondered if we had ever received a copy after it was recorded. No matter, we had to apply for a certified copy, once we remembered in which county we had originally applied for the license.  Then Don had to take all the notarized documents in to the Secretary of State's office to get the apostile (official certification). We eventually got all the documents together and mailed them to Cristiana in Roatan in late fall 2009, and she quickly filed them. Of course, there was a hitch. The proof of pension wasn't satisfactory. The government wanted an official letter, etc. etc. Don finally produced something acceptable and then we settled down to wait. Cristiana thought it would come through before we left the island last year, but it didn't, not until the fall. Did we need to make a special trip down to finish up? No, we could wait until January and just pay a fine (they love fines here), so that's what we did.
We were planning to go last week, but the official we needed to see was out of the office.  Just as well. A 3 day north'er blew in late last week with high winds and lots of rain. The ferry often doesn't run in that type of weather.
So, yesterday was the day. We had to be at the ferry by 6:30 a.m. We met up with Cristiana, her husband and baby, and another couple getting their residency. The ferry ride to La Ceiba takes about 1-1/2 hours. We were at the immigration office before 9 a.m. and were surprised to find about 10 people ahead of us. Processing each person took about 15 minutes, so we waited a long time for our turn.
Unfortunately, Don and I had not eaten breakfast and neither had Cristiana. She called our van driver (whom she had hired for the day and who was driving Cristiana's hubby and baby around to do errands) and asked him to pick up some baleadas and water and he did!

This is Bill and Susie at the counter with Cristiana on the right.
We soon found out why it took so long.
Cristiana passed our documents, approval, passports and photos to the agent who began filling out more papers by hand, filling out other forms on the computer, gluing our little photos to other papers. He took another photo of us with a webcam, then we all had to be fingerprinted. He sprinkled Ajax cleanser in our palm and sent us to the bathroom to wash up.
It was now noon, but we weren't finished yet.
Next, we had to taken one of the new forms, go to the bank and pay the fee and fine, about $360. US for both of us and get a receipt. We also had to stop at a copy center and make copies of our passport pages. These all had to be returned to the agent, but Cristiana gave them to our (trusted) driver to take to the agent after he first dropped us off at the mall to have lunch and shop. She sent the driver through the Wendy's drive-thru with instructions to get lunch for himself and take some to the agent.

Hondurans are pretty thrilled with their nice malls and food courts, more than we were. There were lots of food choices in the food court from traditional Honduran food to Burger King, Popeye's, and Wendy's. My meal was cooked to order Honduran. Don had Wendy's. After lunch, we had a couple of hours to shop before heading back to catch the last ferry.
Here's our group, waiting outside the mall for our driver.  Our driver got about $40. US for his day's work (very good wages here), plus tips.
We were back home about 12 hours after leaving.  A long, but productive day.


  1. sounds like a good day! Thank goodness Cristiana went with you. Did you buy anything at the mall?

  2. Rachel,
    Yes, they had a farmacia so I got some generic Protonix pretty cheap and one Dramamine tablet for the ferry ride home. I love that you can buy one tablet! and only 3 lempiras!

  3. How have you guys had an attorney with my name for 2 yrs and I didn't know? It was odd to read your story with my name sprinkled throughout. LOL

    Congrats on your accomplishments! So now you can come and go as you please and stay as long as you want?

  4. Christiana - yes we have! That's funny. I hadn't even thought about that until I began writing. You always wanted to be an attorney in paradise, right?
    We can come and go as we like, but we are required to live here just over 6 months of the year. I know. I know. A real hardship.

  5. Whew! What a process! Glad you got it all taken care of; one less headache to deal with!