Migración: wait in line to get a number to wait your turn

The frustrations of the residency process in Uruguay
Please arrive 3 hours early to get in line to get a number to wait your turn to find out that “just one more thing” is needed for you residence application.

It seems that everywhere you go in Uruguay, you take a number. And wait: the bank. The hardware store. The vegetable stand in the féria (street market). Welcome to Uruguay: please take a number. Though it takes some getting used to, in general the system works well.

When we started our residency process, there was a number dispenser on the wall of the residence section. When you went in, you took a number.

One day it was empty, and you had to wait in line at the reception desk, to be given a number based on which of the two number dispensers you would have previously used (the office has a residence section and a gratuitous-paperwork section). Often as not, you could explain by simply pointing to the appropriate empty number dispenser.

Then one day they only gave out numbers at 12:45 for the residence section that opened at 1:00. With no room for a line (the reception desk meanwhile giving out numbers for the gratuitous-paperwork section), a crowd gathered, more or less keeping track of who was before whom before piling into the reception desk line at 12:45 .

Now they give out only 100 numbers a day, starting at 9:00, and open the residence section at 11:00. Why not give out numbers at 10:45 for a section that opens at 11:00? Well, because the inevitable long line for residence-section numbers blocks the main entrance, hence access to the gratuitous-paperwork section, which opens earlier than the residence section.

And to think: I never saw a line at the (now empty) number dispenser on the wall of the residence section. I have pointed out before that many things seem to be improving here (and will post one again tomorrow). Unfortunately, the bureaucracy at Migración is not one of them.

9 comments

  1. David Hammond says:

    I really like your blog and many of you posts, but this one leaves me a little chilled. Bureaucracy is a fact of life with most any government agency anywhere in the world (maybe except for Switzerland). Residency requirements and the bureaucracy that goes with it is relative. Compared to what? I do not see a useful insight or information?

    I am grateful that Uruguay has accepted me as a resident. It's their country. They are the host and I am the guest. They have allowed me to come inside and be a part of their society.

    To me, its like being invited to Smith's house for dinner, and then afterwards, going out and publicizing that the Smith's plates don't match, the main course was 15 minutes behind the starter, the coffee was weak, and their six year old made a fuss at the table. One can say, “I am just being honest”, but in a way its a violation of trust extended by the host who let your into their home. (They weren't trying to drug you and steal an organ – they were just being a family.)

    Families have multiple imperfections. Government agencies have multiple inefficiencies.

    One of the posts that really stuck out in my mind was the one about the Uruguayan worker who improvised the handle for his sheet rock knife. It revealed a lot about the culture that is truly different from other places – providing an interesting insight.

    Look forward to future posts.

  2. ddubosque says:

    No, not 100 applying, but the complete process takes multiple visits in every case I've heard of. For example, this is the seventh time in the past year I've gone on behalf of my son (whose Spanish is not very good). after after his application was already over two years in the works.

  3. ddubosque says:

    The “inside scoop” at DNM last year was that they had discovered (many) residency applications from dozens of different people supposedly living in the same small apartment (many people use facilitators, who in these cases would have provided those addresses for people not actually here), and so were backlogged trying to clear them out of the system. Before the introduction of this current dysfunctional number stuff, I met an American who had his provisional cédula within four hours of getting off the plane! So there might be some hope….

  4. Rodolfo says:

    There is a TV Show here in Uruguay called Santo y Seña in Channel 4. They showed a number dispenser in Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo (Montevideo City Hall), that was supervised by and employee. His only job was to take a number from the dispenser and give it to you.

  5. mydayinuy says:

    Fabulous! I don't watch TV. Perhaps humor and satire are the best tools to reintroduce the concept of sanity?

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