Saturday, February 28, 2009

door number 2 -- or the curtain?

Not being deterred by my misadventure on Monday, I sallied forth on Friday morning to do battle at the Mexican consulate in Portland.

One thing I learned in the military is that planning any maneuver without good intelligence will always lead to disaster. That was my problem on Monday. I thought I was going to encounter the same cheery dental office that served as the consulate in the 1960s. I did not expect the Mexican equivalent of a DMV office gone wild.

And then
Paty came to the rescue in my comments section. She obtained her FM3 in Portland, and encountered what could be called -- difficulties. She pointed out that I had almost found the correct room on my own.

Her intelligence briefing told me: "If you want to try it again, the correct office is located off the second waiting room. As you enter the front door turn right into the second waiting room, then right again into the opening of a hallway running east/west. The first door on the hallway is the correct office. If the door is closed, just knock and enter."

With that type of detail, I headed north with confidence that I would at least start the process, and find out if there was anything else that I needed to get my FM3.

Everything was exactly as Paty told me. The two rooms. The hallway. The office. And there behind the desk was one of the most pleasant people I have ever met.

She looked at my application. She accepted my passport copies and photographs. She assured me that my retirement orders from federal service would suffice even though only one payment had been deposited.

But I needed three more documents. First, I had forgotten to sign my passport, so my copies were inadequate. That I could easily fix.

Second, I needed to get my retirement orders notarized and then get an apostille from the Secretary of State's office. The notary, of course, merely notarizes that the copy I am providing is a copy of the original in my possession. But that was easy, and the apostille was only $10. (One question I did not ask is if I am required to hand over the notarized original, what will I use when I get to Manzanillo? I may need to get another notarized-apostilled copy.)

Third, I needed a notarized letter from the Oregon State Police that I do not have a criminal history. I stopped by the office today to be fingerprinted and to pay $58 for a letter that I am supposed to receive within a week.

I hope it shows up before then because I have an appointment to get my FM3 at 1:30 next Friday in Portland.

Jennifer Rose has been urging me to get my FM3 in Portland because it has one of the simplest procedures. Based on my experience today, she is absolutely correct.

I did not need a Monty Hall on Friday. I simply chose door 1 -- and I am about to be a winner.


Babs said...

YEAH........see "fear of the unknown" is always worse then the actual thing, well almost always.

The form that you don't have a criminal record is a new one for me to hear about.....not required in Houston.

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- I have seen the criminal history requirement mentioned several places. But it appears to be one of those documents required some places, but not others. (Perhaps fleeing financiers are a big issue in Mexico.)

The apostille for my retirement orders was the big surprise. It made no sense to me. But there I go again.

Calypso said...

Jeeez -I think I am waaaay more of a libertarian than you amigo - getting finger printed and having to pay 58 bucks for a police report would really fry my bacon. Not to mention that whole apostille nonsense is REALLY aggravating - must be the lawyer in you that tolerates such nonsense.

We have not had to get anything from police, certainly no finger printing and nothing apostillized - and I am still complaining - I guess they can force us all to jump through those hoops because many of us think it is easy.

But then I hate the entire notion of borders - so there you go ;-)

Congrats on the 'success'.

Anonymous said...

In 2005 I was told by an officious and not very personable clerk that I needed a "good health" letter from an M.D. and a letter from the police that I was not a criminal. Passport and a statement of my pension monthly earnings. And 247.00 dollars for the FM3 itself. I'd say be thankful you are dealing with the Portland Consulate. I know the requirements vary, but what is the actual fee for the FM3 in Portland? Frank in Detroit

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- I have had my fingerprints taken so many times that it is like getting a haircut. But my libertarian side bridles every time it happens. (The fact that my DNA is in a federal library somewhere is not very comforting, either.) But it is what it is. And you are probably correct. After working for banks, insurance companies, the federal government, and law firms, most of this "seals and stamps" business is just another day at the office. Hybridizing that attitude with my libertarian hopes may be just the way to make it through the Mexican maze.

Frank -- The Portland consulate charges $134 for a single person FM3. We will see on Friday if I have what it takes to get that little booklet.

glorv1 said...

I'm glad you are getting it all together now and it won't be long before the time is here and you still have your sanity and no ulcers. If it were me I would be totally out of it and by the time I got to where I was going I'd be laying on a beach screaming my head off and someone would say, "send that lady back to Estados Unidos, porque esta loca."
Have a great weekend Steve.

Anonymous said...

I think only lawers have to get the police report


Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Hehe. Muy posible.

Gloria -- I have actually been having a good deal of fun. The more contention, the happier I am. Of course, Monday would argue against that proposition.

jennifer rose said...

The certificate of moral solvency is not required for FM-3 applicants in-country. At least not since around 1997. And before then, the health certificate was also required.

Steve, if you'd kept your mouth shut about the retirement and just produced your bank statements, you could've saved yourself some hassle.

Larry Lambert, Mazatlan said...

Steve - The extra paperwork and expense you encountered, and others have mentioned, is pretty typical for getting the FM3 up north. Some consulates even require special HIV testing with results no more than five days old.

The extra stuff is why some of us suggested not messing with it until you get down here. Because down here none of the extra stuff is usually asked for.

But, sounds like you got lucky and are well on your way. You'll find checking in upon arrival and renewals are much easier.

Be sure to give us a holler on your way through Mazatlan and we'll treat you and your brother to a cold Pacifico under a palapa on the beach. If you don't have time for the beach, I know a great cantina just off of Route 15 that has some of the best ceviche in town. Ceviche de cameron, of course. This is, afterall, the shrimp capital of the Pacific.


Carl Wilson said...

Perhaps we could have lunch next Friday before your appointment?

Steve Cotton said...

Carl -- I will email you. I think I have an appointment in Salem that would preclude "before." Maybe "after."

Steve Cotton said...

Jennifer -- I actually followed your advice and kept my mouth shut. But the young woman who assisted me was both extremely pretty and extremely sharp. She immediately noticed that my income stream was from a current employer (my bank statements very helpfully list the source of all electronic transactions) and not from a retirement account. She was doing her job -- and did it very well. But she devised a solution. And I am almost there. The apostille was not the hassle. The good citizenship letter was a bit more time-consuming. But I could do both here in my little capital city.

Larry -- When I have the FM3 in hand, I will be glad that I went through the steps. Anything that makes the border crossing easier for the dog will be worth inconveniences to me. I will keep you posted as our progress south begins.

ken kushnir said...

Steve, we cross the border several times a year in Nogales. In 15 years, I have been asked for paperwork for the dogs,.......UNO!
You will learn that things are very casual down here. I get hassled a lot more coming in to the US. They hassle me for having more than one days dog food supply and pork products , the pork I can understand but dog food?
I will love to read your blog, 6 months and then 12 months after your entry!
Hopefully you will enjoy the slooow pace. Saludos!

Steve Cotton said...

Ken -- I have been rehearsing. I took this past week off from work and got almost nothing accomplished that I had originally planned to do. The slow pace I have down pat.

Alan said...

Steve, you should at least let your readers that the earth you grew up on was groaning and travailing with the thought that you would be leaving the state of your birth. An earthquake in Powers? Never, unless the unthinkable leaving of a hometown boy should happen!

Steve Cotton said...

Al -- I heard that! Little Powers make the news again, and this time no high school girls showering with the football team were involved. Or perhaps Romans 8:22?