Well, it’s official. I am a licensed driver in two countries. How many people can say that? :)
To get that license was quite an adventure and I thought I would share that adventure with all my blog members…if anyone still takes the time to read it.
The first thing we had to do was go to one office to see if my international license was enough. The woman at that office didn’t know the answer so we had to go to a different place in the same strip mall. The guy there said that I could get a license if I wanted to, but the international license was good enough. We decided since we had driven 2 hours and rented a guesthouse for 2 nights just so I could get my license, that we would go ahead and get it. So we went back to the first office to get me a TIN (Tanzanian Identification Number) which identifies me, but could also mean they would require I pay taxes which would be a very big pain. Well, the woman in this office once again sent us back to the TRA (Tanzanian Revenue Authority) that was the building she had sent us to the first time so I could fill out a required form. The TRA is the Tanzanian equivalent to the BMV (as far as I could tell). We turned this form in to one of the guys working in the office. He told us he would waive the need for a TIN so we didn’t have to go back to the lady we started with. This was a good thing because now I don’t need to worry about paying taxes years from now when I’m not even in Tanzania. Then I gave my fingerprints (to make sure I’m not a wanted criminal) and they took my picture and put my information in the computer. For those of us familiar with the licensing process in the US, you would think the process would be finishing up, but we’re not even close. At this point I have to go to the traffic police so they can sign a form saying I am capable of driving. We needed to get the signatures of 2 different men. By the time we got there, they were both gone for the day so we would have to return the next day. We were told they would get in around 9am the next day.
The next day, we got there just a little before 9 and were waiting around for a little bit. When they didn’t show up by 9:30, we asked one of the guys in the office what time we should expect them and we were told 10 this time. So we went and ran other errands. By the time we got back, the men had gone for their tea break. So we waited some more. Finally, both men were in their office. We had to wait some more for the people who were there before us to meet with him. He easily signed my form and was incredibly nice and helpful. He enjoyed trying out his English speaking abilities with me and showed us where we needed to go after talking to the second traffic police guy. The second guy put my information in a big book and then sent us back to the first building we had been in the day before. So we returned there but this time went up to the very top floor to an air-conditioned office where the guy working there added the traffic police approval into the computer under my file that had been started the previous day. Then we went back to the TRA where I stood in a line and told them I had finished with the police. They gave me a note to take to the bank to give them my money for the license. I took it to the bank next door because I read on the form that it was one of the approved banks. This ended up shaving several hours off my adventure because there was no wait at this bank whereas the bank the missionaries were used to using with licensing had a queue that was about 30 people long and across town. Then I went back to the TRA, we showed them all my paperwork and expected them to tell us to come back tomorrow to get my finished license. Instead they said… “One week”
That’s right. I spent all that time and didn’t even walk away from our 2-day adventure with the actual license. Thankfully, Mavuto had to return to Mtwara for other reasons, so he picked it up while he was there. So now, I have two forms of identification that are driver’s licenses.
Now that you’ve read through the entire description of the process, I come to the point of telling you all about it. The next time you visit a US BMV and start complaining about the wait or the hoops you have to jump through, just think of how much more difficult it could be. :)