Thursday, February 06, 2014

Residency in Uruguay: Adding our Birth Certificates to the Civil Registry

As we've been working to obtain residency in Uruguay it has been a little bit of a process to figure out what we need and where.  There is information online for expats who want residency in Uruguay, but most of it is outdated, so I thought I would post a more recent explanation of what we've been doing, and what they have expected from us.  That way if anybody else is looking for information there is something a little more recent.

Registro Civil, at calle Uruguay 933!
One of the requirements for residency is that we need to be add our birth certificates and marriage certificate to the Uruguay civil registry (Registro Civil).  This is one of the parts that takes the longest, so it is good to do as early as possible.

First of all, you need copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificate (if you're married) and/or divorce decree (if you're divorced).  I can only speak about the process from the United States, since that is where we are from, so it may be different for people from other countries.  Although we did not originally plan to become residents of Uruguay, I had photocopies of our birth certificates and a real copy of our marriage certificate with us just in case we ever needed them.  These copies were useless.  Uruguay has joined the Hague Convention, so in order for documents to be accepted, they need Apostille.  So, we ordered new documents, and apostilles from the United States.  If you know that you're moving to Uruguay, it would be much, much easier to obtain birth certificates and apostilles before you leave the United States! 

After we had our documents and apostilles, I took them to the Ministry of External Relations to be legalized and they just kind of smiled and me and politely assured me that I didn't need anything from them, I just needed to deposit them at the Civil Registry.

I knew they would need to be translated, though.  So, we did that.

Then, we used the translated birth certificates to get our cedulas (identity cards).

Today I took all of our birth certificates to the civil registry.  They told me they will be ready in a month.

So, for those who are looking for more specific details, here is what we did:

1. Obtain documents from the United States.
- We ordered all of our documents online, using VitalChek.   In order for the orders to be processed, each state requires something different for identification: Arizona wanted a copy of Jeff's driver's license and his signature.  At the time that I placed my order, Utah asked me a few questions to verify my identity (the questions were like when you order a credit report).  California was the worst--they required a notarized statement from me saying that I was authorized to request it.  In Montevideo the only place that I know of that offers a United States Notary Public is the US Embassy.  The US Embassy offers notary services only on Tuesday afternoons, only with an appointment, and it costs $50 per document.  They are able to do an ink stamp along with the seal so that it shows up for the scan.  At first this seemed like a huge rip-off, because I am used to getting things notarized for free at my credit union in Utah, but when I compared the cost of using an escribana and apostille from here, it was going to take a couple weeks and cost a few hundred dollars, so then the US Embassy sounded like a bargain.  When you order copies of your certificates, be sure to state that it is for "Apostille" because it needs to be the long form of the certificate, not a short version.  Some states only want to send copies TO the person on the certificate, but that was okay for us because we were using Jeff's parents' address anyway.
- After my in-laws received our certificates, they put them in the mail to send them with Apostille Request forms for each state.  Each state does their own apostilles.  If I remember right, Arizona's cost $3 per apostille, Utah was $15 per apostille, and California was $20 per apostille.  You have to send the original birth certificates with the form and payment to the Secretary of State for the state where the document is from.  Then we had all of the documents with apostilles sent back to my in-laws and they put them in a UPS mailer and sent them to us.

2. Documents DO NOT need to go the the Uruguayan Consulate in the United States.  They used to need to be "legalized" in the US at the Uruguayan Consulate, but now that Uruguay accepts apostilles, documents DO NOT need to be legalized in the United States, and they DO NOT need to be legalized in Uruguay at the ministry of exterior relations (MREE).

3.  Have the documents translated into Spanish by an official public translator.  It has to be an official translator because they need to be able to stamp it with their special stamp.  I had a lot of trouble knowing how to find a public translator.  I have since heard that it is possible to get a list of public translators at the national identity office, but I don't know whether that is true or not.  I eventually found Nelida Kreer who is a public translator that lives in the Pocitos area.  She even has a website, which is kind of unusual for business people here.  I was very, very happy with her.  After I e-mailed her about translation, she replied quickly, and she was able to have my translations done within 24 hours after she received them.  She prefers to work from originals, but since I don't live near Pocitos, she was willing to work off of scans.  After I met with her to pick them up, I could understand why originals would be much better for her--the translations are VERY detailed, including descriptions of borders and colors of seals, impressions that are not visible on scans, etc.  She charged us $695 (in pesos, which is about $35 USD per document) for the translations, plus $120 pesos each for the official stamp (the official sticker is about $6 USD).  When I came to pick them up, I had to bring the originals, and we went through and she read and explained the whole thing to me.  It was important for them to be totally accurate, since you can have problems if something is translated incorrectly.  Her English was very good, which I guess you would expect from an official translator, but it made me feel very comfortable talking with her about it all.  I had my daughter with me for the whole thing--which ended up being kind of a lengthy meeting, since she had to make a few minor corrections since she had been working with scans and I didn't know to tell her about some things that mattered--and anyway, she was awesome about letting Paisley wander around and check stuff out, and play with marbles, etc.  She also showed me at the end, she just wanted me to know that she was giving me a good price, so she showed me the "official" price list was from 2012, and she was giving a lower price even though they were kind of long translations, etc.  Anyway, I believe her, and once I saw what I huge job it was, I feel like she more than earned what we paid.  I highly recommend her, and we will definitely have her do any other official translations that we need in the future.  She is fantastic. 

Copies nearby!  I paid 40 pesos ($2 USD), 3 big sets and a pen.
4. Make complete photocopies of each document.  So, we had the apostille on top, the certificate next, and a few pages of translation beneath.  All of it gets photocopied, double-sided, and stapled together.  I didn't know to do this ahead of time so I spent a little while searching around the Civil Registry for a place that did photocopies.  I found one.  It is just down the street a block from the Civil Registry, at Uruguay 891.

5. Take your whole packet to the Civil Registry, at calle Uruguay 933 in Montevideo.  They are open from 10:15 am to 3:30 pm, BUT the last time to take a number is 3:00 pm, and it really takes a bit longer than that anyway, so it is probably best to try to arrive by 2:45 pm at the latest.  No appointment necessary.  We arrived at about 3:00 pm but without photocopies, and when we came back with copies several minutes later a guard was standing in front and told me they close at 3:00 pm, and he wasn't going to let me back in.  I told him I thought they closed at 3:30, and he said no, 3:00 pm, and when he saw me standing there unsure what to do next he told me okay, I could go back in, but to hurry up.  I was grateful to him for that, because it saved us a drive back to Montevideo!

The desk for adding foreign certificates to the civil registry.
When you arrive at the Civil Registry, it is kind of hard to know where you're supposed to go.  Walk past the cash registers in front, walk past the staircases on your right side, all the way to the back of the building, where you can turn to the right.  If you turn to the right you will see a long desk, with a bunch of books and maybe film, and then to the right of that there is the desk where foreigners can add their certificates to the registry.  There is a thing for you to take a number on the right wall.  Take a number.

To the right are the numbers to take for a turn.
After they call your number, you hand them your stack of documents, and they will look them over to make sure you have official translations, and to make sure you have a set of photocopies.  Then they will give you a cover sheet (no photocopy of that necessary!) and tell you how to fill it out.  You put your name, local address, cedula number, and phone number at the top.  My phone had died and we recently changed numbers so I left the phone number blank, and she didn't like that, she wanted a phone number ("but, what if we need to reach you to ask you about something during processing???"), but I showed her that my phone was dead and volunteered my e-mail address, and she said to go ahead and put that.  I had just picked up our cedulas so I was able to put cedulas for me and Jeff, but Paisley doesn't have a cedula yet so I left hers blank there, and that didn't bother them. 

This is the cover page you fill out.
On the bottom of the form you write your first name, last name, the country the person was born in, and the date of the birth, and then you sign the form at the bottom.  I did the forms for all three of us, and Jeff didn't come.  I had called ahead to make sure they would be fine with him not coming, and they said that was okay.

So, once your form is filled out, you go to the cashier to pay.  The cost to be added to the registry is $513 pesos (about $25 USD).  When you pay the cashier she uses the cash register to print onto the apostille page (I think it was that page?), so they know you've paid.   

Then you take the whole stack back to the foreign section.  They accepted it, and asked me to take a seat.  Probably about 10 minutes later, the lady gave me my photocopied sets of documents back, with a little receipt type thing stapled to them.  She said we can come back in a month and they'll be added to the civil registry.

This is what you get in the end.
So, that's where we are at this point, waiting for a month.  After that, we will need to get copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate (Uruguay versions) and take them to immigrations to be added to our file.  Or at least the marriage certificate; that is what they specifically requested, but I have read elsewhere that we needed the birth certificates to be in the registry, and I believe that when we go back to renew our cedulas having our birth certificates in the registry makes it so that we can have cedulas that don't have to be renewed as often (our current cedulas are only good for one year).

An interesting note about birth certificates is that I was kind of confused about one of the stipulations from immigrations, that they wanted a copy of the marriage certificate (the Uruguayan one, after it is in the registry) that was less than 30 days old.  I asked our Spanish teacher about that this morning and she said that here in Uruguay you don't get a permanent birth certificate.  They expire pretty quickly.  So the reason our marriage certificate needs to be less than 30 days old is because they don't want an expired copy.  How about that!


Anonymous said...

Greetings, I am currently going through this process. Last week I went to Immigrations on Missiones St. and turned in a bunch of documents. I then had to go to abitab to get a number to go to another place that is near immigrations. However when i got to the last place they said I was missing my legalized birth certificate. I have my original birth certificate here with me in Montevideo. Do i still need to order a long form birth certificate from the United States? This step is rather confusing to me. Thanks for your time, and thank you for a great guide!

Emily said...

Sorry Anonymous, I just saw your comment! Hopefully by now you already know, but, you probably do need another birth certificate. The thing is, you need to have it apostilled. So, you could submit your one that you have to your state's person who does the apostilles, but that involves sending it internationally, and by the time you've done that it is probably easier just to order a new copy, and then you have a duplicate in case. Then have the apostilled copy shipped to you in UY. Take the apostilled copy to be translated by an official translator, and they will put a stamp on the translation. That translation (attached to the real thing with apostille certificate) is what everyone wants.

If you go for your cedula before you're in the registry, they will make their own copy of your whole packet and sign it as an official copy.

If you translate what you have, without the apostille certificate, that won't be good enough.

"Legalization" is old terminology...before 2012 or 2013? they used to require a copy of the birth certificate that was sent to the UY embassy in the US, and then taken to an office that does legalizations downtown in Montevideo. Now, they don't actually want (or need) a legalized copy, because Uruguay joined the ...Hague? convention? I think it is called...? So now Uruguay accepts apostilles instead. In fact, I tried to take our birth certificates to the office to have them legalized (with the apostilles) and they laughed at me and told me no, they wouldn't do it, and that I didn't need it. And I didn't. Some countries are not part of the apostille thing, so if you were from one of those countries you would still need to have it legalized and do the old process, but since you're from the US it is all about the apostilles now.

Sorry I didn't see your comment sooner! The comments from this blog go to an old e-mail address, so I check regularly, but I missed the notification for your comment.

Good luck! said...

This post is really nice and informative. The explanation given is really comprehensive and informative. I am feeling happy to comment on this post.
Apostille Certificate

jany said...

I am moving to Uruguay this Autumn or Spring 2015. I already have my Birth Certificate(for Apostille)that was issued in June 2015. I was getting ready to send it back to my birth state for Apostille but I read somewhere that the Birth Certificate in Uruguay is only valid for 30 days from when it was issued. It may be a few months before I even get to Uruguay. Does anyone know anything about this. It is all very confusing and I can't seem to get a straight answer from anyone. Thanks Jany

Trisha Gill said...

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