Monday, December 07, 2009

Kizua Mwangola: Part 5: Diaspora HOWTO

Right, y'all know I'm a nerd, and part of the nerd lifestyle is writing HOWTOs. For all the non-nerds out there, the reason why we tend to do this is because we love efficiency: there is nothing worse than having more than one person wasting time figuring something out. So, in this spirit, for all the Angolan diasporans out there that are planning to come back home, here are some tips on how to get your documents back.

NOTE: The below assumes only the legally available means (e.g. it's gasosa-free).
NOTE: The standard disclaimer applies: this HOWTO is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

Without further ado, here's the returning to Angola HOWTO for diasporians.

1. _BEFORE_ you travel to Angola, make sure to:
  • Speak to all elements of your family that know anything at all about your past in Angola. You want to make sure you know exactly WHERE you were baptised and registered (exact addresses of church and conservatoria) and WHEN (year and month ideally). Old addresses are useful (even with the old street and town names, don't worry about that). Also, you need to find out where you live in the register of the conservatoria (e.g. Registo, Folhas, Livro).
  • Collect every single old _Angolan_ document you can lay your hands on (e.g. documents issued by the Portuguese-Angolan government before the independence or the Angolan government after independence; documents issued by the Portuguese government after independence are of no use, even if they state Angolan details).
  • If married a non-Angolan outside of Angola and you wish to issue your Angolan documents as married, ensure you bring a translated copy of: a) the foreigner's birth certificate and the foreigners criminal record; b) the marriage certificate. These copies MUST be stamped by the Angolan consulate at the country in which the foreigner was born and the wedding took place (if you're talking about Portugal or Brazil, the translation is not required of course). DO NOT leave the country(ies) until you have these documents, or nothing will be done.
NOTE: if you do NOT know your conservatoria, you will not be able to obtain an Angolan citizenship, I don't think.

2. When you get to Angola:

If you need to update your marriage status, you must do it before anything else. You will need to go to the registros centrais in Luanda next to Hotel Mundial, not far from Mutamba (I don't think this can be done in the provinces, but I'm probably wrong). The process of bringing your document into existence in Angolan law is called a "transcricao". You will need a lot of stuff for this:
  • The translated and stamped versions of the birth certificate, marriage certificate and criminal record, as explained above.
  • Doctor's certificate (Atestado medico), indicating everyone is alive and healthy.
  • Residence certificate (Atestado de residencia, this is normally proving the address of the Angolan member of the couple and issued by the Bairro's Comissao de Moradores).
  • Basic Curriculum Vitae
One very useful thing about going through this process is your wife will then have a much easier time getting a residence card. I'll cover that on a later update to this HOWTO. After you have transcribed your marriage properly (if required), you can start the climb of the documentation ladder proper.

NOTE: the below assumes you know the conservatoria, registo, folhas and livro.

  • Go to the church you were baptised and request a Certidao Narrativa. You may not need this, but I would get it if I were you (see my previous episode). Churches have a "notario" on the back. I don't think opening times are standard, but it may be between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM. Queueing is normally not too bad (e.g. one or two people in the queue). You can collect the certidao narrativa while sorting out the certidao de nascimento (but do it BEFORE going for the ID card).
  • Next, go to THE conservatoria where you were originally registered at any time during its working hours, and look for a paper with an account number and prices (ideally you want to do this on a Friday or Thursday). DO NOT rely on information from other conservatorias. The paper should contain a standard price and an express price for the certidao (2700'ish and 4900'ish kwanzas respectively; get the EXACT values). It should also contain a cost for the cedula (210'ish kwanzas). IN THEORY you don't need to pay for both the certidao and the cedula as the cedula is included; in practice I'd pay for both since the cedula is so cheap. Ensure you find out WHICH BANK the account belongs to. It should be BPC, but just in case check. I strongly suggest you go for the EXPRESS option (5 working days).
  • Go very early to the bank and make the payments (I suggest 05:00 AM start but you may be lucky). Ensure you make SEPARATE payments for each document, with the EXACT amounts as displayed in the price sheet. Of course, ENSURE the account number is correct.
  • Ensure you receive a receipt from the bank for each transaction, STAMPED as deposited.
NOTE: There is no point in going to the conservatoria without the receipts.

Once you got the receipts, take them to THE conservatoria where you were originally registered to obtain a cedula and a birth certificate:
  • The birth certificate (certidao de nascimento) is also known as Assento de Nascimento (abbreviated to assento).
  • Conservatorias only deal with requests on MONDAYS and TUESDAYS, from 08:00 to 13:00. In practice you need to get there no later than 05:00 AM. I suggest going there on a Monday, in case anything goes wrong (god forbid) or else you'll have to wait for next week.
  • When you get there early in the morning, keep your eyes and ears open. Ask around. Some places have "lists" (a lista). These are informal documents created by customers that list the names of other customers in order of arrival. Make sure you keep your eyes on the list and do not leave the queue/place at any time. There are sometimes competing lists done by different people, so keep a keen eye open. There should, however, be multiple lists kept by _one_ person, one list per _department_; worry if there is only a single list for everything, as there will be trouble later on. You want to be in the Certidao list (NOT on the cedula list as the child registration is sometimes called). If you are on the wrong list and discover this later on YOU WILL have to queue again next time, so make sure you're on the correct list.
  • If your position in the list is greater than 50 don't bother waiting for too long; most conservatorias only accept 50 requests a day, so only the first 50 people get a go. At 51 to 55 you may get lucky, any higher than that and its neigh impossible you will be seen to on the day. At any rate, ask as your conservatoria may be different.
  • At around 08:00 AM the public servants will drop by and collect the lists. They will then read out the list and for every citizen present, give our a "ficha" with a number. This will be the order of processing for the day.
  • When your turn comes, make sure you ask for a Cedula as well as a Certidao/Assento de nascimento. Ensure the receipt states its a request for both documents. Ask for the collection date (the exact day of the week).
  • Guard the receipt they give you with your life. Make at least one photocopy of it. The copy is accepted in place of the original.
  • If you payed for express service, return at any day during the week to collect it. It can be at any of the valid working hours. If you paid for regular service, you can ONLY collect on Thursdays, between 08:00 and 13:00. Do not bother coming on any other day of the week as they will NOT see you.
  • When you receive your documents, its likely the cedula will be produced on the spot. Regardless, SPEND AS LONG AS NECESSARY CHECKING EVERY FIELD OF YOUR CEDULA. DO NOT LEAVE until you're satisfied. Misspellings, even minor ones will lead to trouble later on. Try to get them to fix your cedula there and then.
If at this point you still don't know your registo, folhas and livro you need to do a search on the conservatoria's books. This is EXTREMELY painful. You NEED to at least know the year. You will have to go to the conservatoria and do a "search". This can two or more weeks and the result can be negative (e.g. "you're not registered in 1966", try again).

When you get your certidao narrativa, certidao de nascimento (assento de nascimento) and cedula, find ANY centro de identificacao (I think, will fix it later if this is not the correct name):
  • Ideally go to a province as they are normally not as busy as Luanda. If you must do it in Luanda, I suggest Chicala (Ilha), next to the Portvgalia brewery. This is not quite as mad-busy as other places.
  • They normally are open Monday to Friday at 07:00 and accept requests until 13:30. In practice, its best to arrive very early (05:00 AM).
  • There is only one queue for everything, although some people make different queues for men and women. This is rather pointless as they end-up merging the two queues, using an entirely arbitrary merge algorithm that is likely to piss you off (mine was 3 men, 3 women and it worked very much against me). The queue will result in a "ficha", with your number. Guard the ficha with your life.
  • When they call you, the first counter will be a validation counter. They spot fakes and so on. They should be happy with your supporting documents (e.g. certidao narrativa and cedula).
  • The second counter takes your details and enters them into the computer (dados biograficos).
  • The third counter takes your biometric details (e.g. picture and finger prints).
  • The fourth counter will hand your ID card.
  • If you're at the beginning of the queue, you may get an ID card printed on the day. This could be as late as 13:30 to 15:30. If its not done by then, you need to come back next working day at any time after 07:00.
With the ID card you are now ready to go and get:
  • Numero de contribuinte (tax number): you can't really work without this.
  • Numero de seguranca social (social security number): you can't really work without this.
  • Criminal Record: most employers will ask you for it. Look for a Registo Criminal. The document should cost less than 2000 kwanzas (express) and should be ready within a couple of days.
  • Passport: you won't be able to travel as Angolan without this. Its very useful within SADC as there are lots of special agreements with member countries. Any DEFA would do, the provinces preferably as they are quieter (but slower). Should take around 30 days to issue. To be on the safe side, its best to renew your ordinary visa in the mean time (although this shouldn't really be required after getting an ID card).
Although the process is long, cumbersome and complex, I must say all the people I dealt with were surprisingly professional and managed to get things done in the time slots promised (I'm trying to say this whithout sounding too amazed, but yeh, I was really amazed).

I'll update the HOWTO with more details as I get the remaining documents.



Rui Correia said...

Voce pode ser nerd - foi voce quem o disse - mas fez aqui um optimo trabalho! Esta' de parabens!!

Marco Craveiro said...

Obrigado :-D

Jójó said...

This HOWTO is kindas priceless. You should go around in Angolan blogs and share it, it could be very valuable information for many people. SPAM THIS AWAY! :-D