FRO – Part 1: You Shall Not Pass

All foreigners who come here on an employment or business visa need to register at the Foreign Registration Office. This should be done within 14 days of arrival, so it was time for me to do so as well. Sajjads visit to the bank, however, gave me a gut feeling that this wasn’t going to be too simple.

The FRO is physically in the local police station. The tiny gate in the high wall had a surprisingly strict “Foreigners only”-sign above it. The courtyard inside had a desk, and behind it a guard who didn’t seem too happy about his work. He expressed, in no unclear terms, that my backpack was not going inside. I told him it’s full of documents that I’m going to need to present to the FRO. His response was that only the necessary documentation is allowed inside.

Now, I admit I can sometimes sound like a smartass, but this time I wasn’t even trying, when I asked: do you have a list of the necessary documentation? I was genuinely interested, because I didn’t know what I need to present inside. I even had a copy of our rental contract with me if they needed to know I was actually living somewhere.

The guard wasn’t too happy about my query, told me angrily to take whatever documentation I had in the file – and to watch my language. The backpack I gave to Sajjad, who was waiting by the gate.

The bustle inside was pretty much as chaotic as you would expect a local government office to be, packed with foreigners trying to get their papers done so they can get the hell out, and clerks not too interested in much at all.

My visit, however, was a very short one. Apparently I have not kept myself sufficiently informed, since the procedure I have yet to follow is the following:

  • fill out the online form (but you have to find it first)
  • take a new set of passport photos (these won’t do since the background is not light)
  • scan all the necessary documents to PDF (you need to figure out what the necessary documents are first)
  • complete the form, along with uploading the PDF:s and a scan of the photo
  • arrange a meeting with the FRO
  • get a verification certification from the Police Station (I have no idea what this is or which forms I need to fill out to get it from wherever, whenever)
  • go to the FRO at the agreed time, along with the printed out application form, passport photos, verification certification and any other documentation you see might be relevant to whatever you’re trying to do

So I walked out, and as I was exiting the gate, I gave the guard a slight smile.

Now I have some serious paperwork to do.