Adventures in Bureaucracy

There is a whole new layer of fun that comes with moving to a new province which can be like moving to a new country. Since this is my 4th major move, I thought I would share my perspectives on navigating a new province’s bureaucratic system.

Today I got my new driver’s license, which was a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t because Quebec has a new form of driver’s license photography that makes my picture look less like a mug shot. The surprise was that it took less than a week to get my plastic license. This was even over the Easter long weekend! This coming from an office who asks you to make an appointment, sends you across town, but you still have to stand in line, take a number and wait your turn. Fortunately for me I had been told, by a friend, that my driver’s licenses has to be in my maiden name so I came with the appropriate documentation that the SAAQ didn’t specifically tell me to bring. Am I the only one who finds in mildly amusing that the abbreviation for the department of motor vehicles (SAAQ) is one letter off than that of the liquor store (SAQ)? Importing a car into Quebec, even from within Canada, requires a mechanical inspection from a specific inspection shop. I got to see new areas of the city with this adventure, including the antiques district where the inspection shop is.

I applied for my health card at the end of February. Still waiting for that card, though going through the application process was a very pleasant experience. Because I was forewarned about the maiden name thing, I had all the appropriate papers and was in and out of the RAMQ office in 30 minutes. Considering if I want to see a doctor I have to go to a private clinic, I’m wondering what is the point of having a Quebec health card. I’ve decided to postpone any adventures with the health care system, beyond getting the card.

Banking and property laws in Quebec are completely different. Montreal is on RBC’s eastern banking system, so now I’ve lived in all three of RBC’s banking districts, causing no end of confusion. Notaries have a lot more power than anywhere else I have lived. Everything connected to purchasing my condo had to go through the notary, including signing the mortgage, which I did at the bank in BC. Beneficiary designation on existing investments is nullified. Only a Will, recommended to be written by a notary, can designate beneficiaries. Family laws are also different. I guess I will be navigating that later this year.

Provincial income taxes are definitely higher than anywhere else I have lived. One other recent BC transplant at work is setting up a support group for all of us who have recently moved to Quebec and have to file our first tax return here. Apparently, how that’s done is different, too.

I have done a few moves that were within the same province or city. By comparison, they are much easier since you only have to pack, move, unpack and do a change of address on everything.

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