I received the invitation to collect my new Belgian identity card, and made my way back to the commune. I was definitely feeling more upbeat than last time. With the knowledge that my visa had already been approved, there was no longer any reason to feel worried. I could just focus on the excitement of finally receiving my residence card, which would also serve as my official ID in Belgium.
Although I didn’t have an appointment this time, I had luckily been summoned to the liasion office again, rather that the central commune, so I didn’t have to wait long at all before my number was flashing on the small panel above the door, signalling my turn. I handed over my convocation letter and the provided pin codes, and even had my fingerprints scanned – yikes.
Then I received my residence card. Finally. I had waited a long time for this moment. And it was a beautiful thing (I had made sure I looked my best when I had my picture taken at one of many photo booths scattered around the city centre. I had submitted this during my last visit so that it could be printed on the card). I was now officially resident in Belgium. I could start making plans for a life with Bec in Brussels. I could start thinking about applying for work, and doing some more travel throughout Europe, and beyond – hooray! (And it was just in time since we had already booked a trip back home to Australia for the holidays – if my card hadn’t come through in time I may not have been let back in to the country!)
As I walked out of the liaison office, thinking I’d now seen the last of this place, I looked more closely at the card and realised that it had been issued in Dutch, rather than French. All of my previous documents had been submitted and issued in French, plus Bec’s ID card was in French, so I wasn’t sure what had happened there. But I wasn’t going to let that minor detail ruin this moment for me. Until I realised that the expiry date was in just five months’ time, much sooner than the 12 months left of Bec’s residency. What was going on??
I made a U-turn back to the commune and wasn’t able to get any answers – apparently the validity date is decided by another department! Instead I was given a piece of paper with a telephone number scribbled on it. I knew my basic French would not be up to facing this challenge, this would have to be one for Bec. But we could deal with that later. For now I was just going to enjoy being a Belgian resident, at last.