You could tell a country by its authorities...
Few days ago I had to pick up my newly printed ID from the local PD in Sofia. In Bulgaria, the personal documents are issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and in addition, if a driver has no pending / unpaid fines, one could re-issue her driving license there as well. For most of the population, this process has to happen every ten years as that's the standard period of validity.
What was my (expected and unpleasant) surprise to see that nothing has changed for those 10 years since I was there in 2010...
This should be the info sign telling you where to stand in a queue:
"Receiving ready-to-use documents and returning old passports"
Stylish and elegant, isn't it?
As you could guess from the photo above, there are two queues. This one is only to pick up your new documents. And logically, there is a second queue for applying for new or renewing them once they expire.
Why am I showing you all this? I know this article won't make any difference but still, I want to share my feelings and frustration. That same day I had to take my new ID, I ordered a renewal back in the beginning of February shortly before the Covid quarantine was declared. However, I had to apply for renewed passport and driving license as they expire very soon too.
So... as the two queues seemed the same length when I got there, I decided to play "safe" and I put myself at the end of the receiving queue just if it takes hours and the working hours are over, I at least manage to have a valid ID.
Contrary to other public and governmental facilities, here at the police there is no queue-ticket machine. Instead, a policeman in uniform is face-controlling the situation. The machine would be more efficient and it doesn't need a monthly salary too. But I guess that maybe answers my question... Also, if you have to go to the WC or buy something to drink... guess what, you have to queue again!
This is what the situation looked after some time:
I had to wait about an hour to get inside and I asked the policeman is it possible to also apply for my passport and driving license renewal as well, without waiting on the second queue. He went somewhere for few seconds to ask then returned with a sound "NO".
Let me just add a quick note, that this is the biggest PD in Sofia and it is in charge for the documents of about 600,000 people, or maybe more.
Inside, there were 4 counters of which 2 were open. The interior feels like 70-ies or 80-ies. -ish... No photos allowed. No disinfectants and masks were optional.
So after waiting on for another hour, I successfully applied for renewed passport and driving license. You cannot imaging the relief I felt at that moment. Unfortunately, I will have to go back there again in a month to pick them up once ready!
For the sake of objectivity, I have to name few positive things:
Ten years ago, it took me 4 hours to apply and 1 hour to later pick my documents. So it feels like the process has been accelerated. I have a doubt here, as due to the pandemic situation the government extended the validity of the personal documents with 6 months but that doesn't work everywhere, to be honest.
I was able to pay the fees with a credit card
The photographer in charge for the doc photos there was really professional with a very positive attitude and that was probably the only bright moment throughout this whole experience.
I leave the conclusions to you...
Copyright: Damian Hadjiyvanov, Light Captured
Check out my photo site: https://hadjiyvanov.com/
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Thank you for all the support!
Have a great photo! :P