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The time I was almost declared dead in Germany

By Monday, September 16, 2013 ,

Once I finally got officially hired for the job I'd been doing for the past year and a half (without health insurance, I might add, which I thought was illegal in Germany), I had to do some German Bureaucracy Muck Wading to get the paperwork sorted. During this process I found my tax ID number was somehow deactivated, so I got a little note saying I might be dead. It even has a an official stamp on it, so it must be true.


The note says something like "ID number is not on file because dead or not registered", although I'm not completely sure what the last few letters of the last word are. I have the sinking feeling she was suggesting I had stolen the tax ID number of someone who had passed away.

I ended up having to go back to the place that had sent me to the Finanzamt just a few minutes earlier, and got a bigger note with two stamps that says I've been registered since last year, and the ID number was correct. Which, now that I think about it, means that since the problem wasn't with the registration, the only other possibility is that I'm dead.

Update: this was only the beginning of my paperwork problems, as the same woman decided my husband who was with me didn't really live in Germany and so we couldn't file our taxes jointly. I wrote about the further hoops we jumped through in An Adventure in German Bureaucracy.

Have some good expat stories of your own? Link up at Life with a Double Buggy

Expat Life with a Double Buggy

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11 comments

  1. Sounds eventful! Must have been strange to think that you were officially declared dead. I see you've been to Bruges - I just spent a few days there. Lovely place. Glad to have found your blog on #ExpatLifeLinky

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    1. Bruges is so beautiful! I was just looking through the photos I took there, and none of them really do it justice. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Well, if you haven't been mistakenly declared dead then I guess you haven't lived...... I'm not sure any country's bureaucracy isn't a minefield! Thanks for linking up #ExpatLifeLinky

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    1. I think "if you haven't been mistakenly declared dead, you haven't lived" would make an excellent bumper sticker. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Funny haha... Looks like bureaucracy in Germany must be a pain ;) #ExpatLifeLinky

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  4. The positive side of nightmarish bureaucracy is that it gives all us bloggers so much material to work with! I haven't come across a country yet that doesn't have hellish admin especially for foreigners but I have yet to meet a living dead! Congratulations on surviving that one. #expatlifelinky

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    1. Right, I kept telling myself it would make a good story - and the paper makes a good souvenir!

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  5. This made me laugh out loud! Thanks for sharing! #expatlifelinky

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  6. Ouch. Hope you got it sorted - did you check your pulse! I had adventures getting a tax number in the UK - a two hour interview with the benefits agency where I had to show employment contracts. After 120 minutes of me promising I wanted a number to pay tax not claim benefits they finally granted the number then asked me what benefits I wanted. I felt like screaming.

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    1. I've heard it can be really difficult to get settled in the UK, lots of circular logic, like you can't rent a flat without a bank account but you can't open a bank account without an address. How frustrating!

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  7. That's so funny! Well, not for you I suppose, but it's mad how sometimes you end up in the strangest of situations when you have to deal with bureaucracy in a different country... #expatlifelinky

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