Getting a Resident ID in Leuven

This is sort of a guide to getting a resident’s ID here in Leuven, if any of you fine readers should ever feel like applying for school here or doing an exchange program. To travel around the Schengen States, you will need this ID; just having the student visa is not enough (good for Luxembourg and The Netherlands, though). I went into this not knowing what to expect. I thought one or two visits to the Foreigner’s Office would lead to an ID card. Ehhhhh. Wrong. So, here’s the process, so you don’t go into this blindly, like I did.

Report to the foreigner’s office as soon as possible after you arrive, preferably have a place of abode available already. Grab a ticket (ticket for foreigners), which is currently on the right hand side of the flat screen TV (not sure if that will change later on). Your number corresponds to the screen showing which number is being called upon on the right hand side of the room. Take a seat for this should take a couple of hours, depending on the number of people ahead of you and the counters that are actually open (usually 2 out of the 4). Bring something to read or play or something! A definite must. It took me about 3 hours of waiting time. I was actually the last person. In this visit, they basically set up a file for you in a pink folder! Bring them your housing contract and also your passport, of course, and they will give you a yellow form, in return, of which you must complete prior to your next visit to the Foreigner’s Office. When will that be? After the police visit your place of abode, or you get summoned to the police station.

After the police’s visit, you await a yellow invitation card. This card allows you to not have to wait three hours because it tells you exactly when you can go (specific time people! If you can’t make it, you have to call them and reschedule)! Yay! Once you get the invite, head back to the Foreigner’s Office and go straight to desk three or four. Show them your yellow card and voila, you should be done in ten minutes or less. Give them your completed yellow form, a proof of registration at KU Leuven (should have gotten it when you registered for classes), and two (or three, forget) passport sized photos. Then they will tell you that you will receive another invitation in ten days (or a little bit longer) when you can come back to the Foreigner’s Office and apply for a electronic residence card.

Wait ten days (or a little bit longer), and you get a letter telling you what to bring (two passport photos, passport, and 12.50 Euro) and when counter six (express counter!) is open. Go at the best available time for you, but I suggest early in the morning, so you do not have to wait an hour because trust me, there will be other people there either picking up their IDs already or applying for their IDs. The letter says you do not need a number, but they’ve changed the system, and you actually do. So! Grab a number from the person at desk 1 or 2. Do NOT mess with or touch their stuff. They get touchy about it and lecture you loud enough for the rest of the hall to hear (no, not me. Someone else.). Wait your turn. When it is your turn, give them the required items. Watch them do their thing. Then, they will tell you to wait 3 weeks when you will get another invite back to the Foreigner’s Office to pick up your ID card. Take your leave and wonder,

WHY? WHY DOES IT TAKE SO FREAKING LONG AND REQUIRE SO MANY TRIPS TO THE FREAKING CITY HALL TO GET AN ID?!

And that is my experience thus far. Now I must wait for the last invitation, and I will complete this long and arduous procedure and entry (hopefully!).

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