The other day my employer informed me that I had to be "accounted for" so that I would continue to receive my salary starting January 1. (The Armenian verb is հաշվառել or "hashvarel.") Apparently a new law was passed stipulating that citizens and residents of Armenia be accounted for by the Armenian police. Some citizens even have to acquire "ID cards" to supplement their passports.
The entire process was quite surprisingly relatively painless. Since I live in the Kentron district I had to go to the "Identification Services" bureau located just beside the entrance to the police station, which is located in a courtyard at the beginning of Prosyan Street (technically Israyelian Street) close by St. Sarkis Church near the gorge (the same station I visited when my car stereo was stolen
seven years ago). There was the usual setup--an office or two with people doing who knows what and a counter with a seemingly random line of people waiting to speak to one of the four representatives. The place looked like it hadn't been remodeled since it opened, probably 40 years ago. I stood confused for a few minutes in one of the makeshift lines before I approached another woman who was sitting apart from the others and wasn't waiting on anyone to find out what I should do to be taken into account as someone who is not a citizen but has a Residence Card. She took it from me, asked me where I live and whether I rent, and requested a payment of 1100 dram ($2.70 at the current exchange rate).
Now here's where the expected inconvenience factor comes in. Just across from her a woman was standing next to an automated payment machine with a touchscreen. She entered my name and pushed the necessary buttons to process the payment. When I gave her a 5000 note she turned me down, as she only accepted exact change. So I had to go to a supermarket across the street and break the bill there. Purchasing a bottle of water solved the problem, then I went back and naturally had to wait five minutes in line before I could pay. She gave me the receipt, I handed it to the woman who was helping me, and that was it. The entire process took about twenty minutes.
What's next is a visit by the police to our apartment to conduct some kind of interview with me. Then I will be required to return to the bureau and pick up my residence card. To be quite honest, I really don't understand why I have to go through with all this since I am officially registered with OVIR (Office of Visa and Registration) at my current address. But I've learned after my last experience with ZAGS
when I was applying for the birth certificate of my son that I have to go with the flow and not resist such bureaucratic burdens to keep from going insane.
So basically this is a heads-up to any non-citizens out there who are or might be working in Armenia--you may be required to go through this process. When you walk into the bureau, go to the far right and speak with the polite, soft-spoken woman wearing glasses there (actually everyone was very cordial). A friend of mine employed at AUA and others I've heard about who are working here on short-stay visas haven't been required to do the same, so if you're among them, consider yourself lucky.
Labels: Bureaucracy and red tape in Armenia, Personal Experiences