Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting a Social Insurance Card when you're not a citizen

Today, I received my social insurance card. I can’t believe how fast and easy of a process it was, particularly considering the fact that I’m not a citizen of this country.

Though this was my second attempt at locating the right office, the whole process lasted minutes, and now I am the proud bearer of a Republic of Armenia Social insurance Card.

The first time, I found the address on the Ministry of Health and Social Services website, but I found the physical building (more like a room actually) by asking at least 3 people on the street. It turns out it was through a residential building complex, all the way to the back, walk between a very narrow (and I mean VERY narrow) gap between two buildings, turn right and go into the building marked “School of Medical Sciences” or “Institute of Medicine” or something to that effect (that is to say, it was a school and not what one would consider to be a ministerial department, say, go to door number 3 (literally marked as such), walk into a tiny room with 3 women and have them begin laughing.

The reason? Me, wearing a red helmet and walking in with a bike (not to mention the bright blue pannier I was sporting that day).

Apparently they’d come across all sorts of “oddities” (my word, not theirs), but someone coming into their office with a bike was a first... and apparently, reason for laughter. Well I’m glad I made their day, but turns out I had to go to a different office to actually get the card. Funny, it didn’t say that on the website...

So that was yesterday. And today, I went to the real office (much easier to find, it turns out!), walked in, showed them both my Canadian passport and Armenian special residency visa (which looks like a passport), was asked if I had a Social Insurance card (said yes, but then they said no, not in Canada — they don’t care about that —, but here in Armenia with my Canadian passport and I said no), was given back my Canadian passport and had the “SocApp” card as it’s called processed within mere minutes.

They needed no other information from me (an address? a phone number?), and they didn’t tell me to come back in 4-6 weeks (processing time, I would assume). They printed the card on the spot (no photo needed), cut it, laminated it, then handed it over to me, at which point I said “fsio? verch?” meaning “that’s it? I’m done?” The woman helping me didn’t even bat an eye. I left before they could change their mind :)

I have to say this is one of my best experiences I’ve had in my life dealing with official government offices. Amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment