Planning a wedding is stressful, exhausting and annoying. It eats up too much of
our my precious free time, and I have to think of too many things at once. Many wedding checklists online make all the work a little easier for me, but still, it still somewhat annoys me that I have to do all the planning although I did not want to have a wedding party in the first place. Mr. Panda and I talked a lot about it these days, and finally, after hours of arguing, we reached an almost fair compromise. We will have a medium sized 50 to 60 people wedding party, but I can decide on the theme. So wedding planning finally got serious!
We already decided on a date and made an appointment for our civil marriage online last week. At first, everything went smoothly. We picked a date, and reserved a ceremony for our my D-Day at our favored civil registry office here in Vienna online. And after the weekend, we got an E-Mail with a confirmation of your reservation. Furthermore it included a highlighted message that we both would have to come to the office together and that we should bring the following documents: birth certificate and proof of citizenship. As we have no children and both of us live in Austria, no more documents are required. With all my Austrian documents I never had any problems at all as well as Mr. Panda with his Hong Kong and Austrian ones, but it looks like some random bureaucracy reforms recently put a spoke in our wheel.
Both of us thought that no bigger obstacles would block our path down to ‘Happily Ever After’, as Mr. Panda already gained Austrian citizenship a few years ago. Still there was one little information at the civil registry office’s website which gave me a headache. According to their provided information, every foreign document now needs at least one certificate of authentication. He already got granted Austrian citizenship without any sort of verification, so why should there any problems with his Hong Kong birth certificate now?
Just in case, I decided to give our officer in charge a call, to make sure if we suddenly needed one of these authentications or not. Unfortunately worst came to worst: I was told that Mr. Panda’s birth certificate now needs an apostil to be recognized as a valid document in Austria. A recent bureaucracy reform makes it now necessary to get a verification for all his personal Hong Kong documents. I faked concern and as if I knew what she was talking about, because, I have to confess, both of us had absolutely no idea what an apostil was or why they were needed for documents.
A private lesson from Wikipedia and a short investigation on the civil registry office’s website later, we knew what to do. A birth certificate from the People’s Republic of China requires a diplomatic or consular legalization, while one from Hong Kong or Macau requires an apostil, which is (as far as I understood) a consular document which certifies the authenticity of a document – and this is what we now have to get somehow!
While our officer kindly extended our deadline until we have to bring in our documents to the end of March, I had to start to check, how Mr. Panda could get such an apostil. According to further research, we will have to visit Hong Kong’s court facility which offers a special apostil service, when we will be in Hong Kong in February. There is still much bureaucratic work ahead of us (Austria is infamous for its bureaucratic jungle), but at least Mr. Panda is now one step closer to be allowed to marry me. Case (almost) closed!
Did you also got caught in a bureaucratic jungle before?
Further Notes: Before our officer confirmed that Mr. Panda’s birth certificate needed an apostil, my mom and I joked about why he suddenly needed one, but his application and granting of Austrian citizenship years ago did not require anything more than his original birth certificate with a German translation. Is Austrian citizenship less worth than marriage? Is it OK to become Austrian, but now that he wants to marry a clever Austrian mountain girl is beyond a joke? Is this were the fun stops? At least we could solve the mystery, when the officer told me about the reform.
I told the story to a handful of my friends. The probably funniest reply came from one of my friends from my hometown. He joked that Mr. Panda probably needs a handwritten special permit from the Freedom Party in Carinthia which one would probably be granted after a small voluntary donation to the party, and only then he would be allowed to marry me. I laughed so hard I cried, but one who does not know about the history of Southern Austrian federal politics might not see the fun of his allusion.