Papers, please!

I always planned to get my UK driving license. Not because we wanted, or expected, to own a car – but to be able to hire one and reach places transit doesn’t.

On our previous visits to the UK we’ve driven the length and width of the island, but for practice we sorta planned on taking a few car trips in the first year. While we were both permitted to drive on our Seattle licenses. Like nearly everything else, COVID threw a spanner in those works.

So as it turns out, things are starting to re-open in the UK and we’re just past the first anniversary of our arrival and not permitted to drive on our US licenses. So it’s time to take the tests and get licensed.

The initial application for a provisional license was easy – I hand them some basic information, paid the application fee, and at the end was informed that I needed to submit additional information and that “something would arrive by post.”

Said something arrived late last week – a form to sign, and instructions to send them a suitably sized photograph of me and the original – no copies accepted – of either my US Passport or UK Biometric Residence Permit. They’d send it back 2nd class post. Eventually.

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) – like any self-respecting government bureaucracy – scoffs at the idea of service level agreements, even during normal times.

And these times are not what you’d call normal.

Without both of those documents I can’t exit and re-enter the UK. So I spent a few minutes figuring out which one was easier to replace if needed (conclusion: they’re pretty equally a pain in the arse) and this afternoon posted my completed form and BRP to Swansea, special next day delivery, with an included special delivery return envelope.

And now, I wait.

And hope the universe doesn’t choose to answer the rhetorical question: “what would be so important that I’d risk traveling back to the US in the next couple months?”

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