Sunday, December 7, 2008

Notary Public in China

Last week I got to experience the fun of going to a Notary Public here in China to get some documents notarized. Something that in the States would be relatively simple to get done always takes on an extra bit of complication over here, or at least it seems that way to me.

Actually, for me this process was fairly painless - I found out where I needed to go and printed out the address and then only had to show it two two taxi drivers before I found one that knew where I was trying to go. Once inside it was slightly confusing, but no more so then going to get your license renewed at the DMV. I walked past all the people sitting at counters that had nobody at the other side and up to what I presumed was the main window. At said main window nobody spoke any English and they just smiled and I showed them paperwork and mimed signing and them stamping. They called for someone to come up, first by yelling and then by phone, and finally a man behind the two girls at the counter walk out and said "Let me see what you have. Ah okay, I will help you come with me." He walked me over to the seats at the long counter and told me to sit and wait.

About five minutes later he came back and looked at the paperwork and took everything along with my passport to go and make copies. This should be simple then, he speaks enough English and I'm not really looking for anything too complicated.

The guy sitting next to me had waited for a while and now there was a girl sitting across from him and gave him some paperwork to fill out. He had four or five ID cards in front of him and was listing them all on the sheet, when he finally completed it he handed it to the girl, she look at the top line and pointed out a mistake. He took a new form and filled it out again and handed it to her. This time she made it down to the third section and pointed out a mistake and he started over on a new paper. Third times a charm right? Not in China, she then informed him that he had been incorrectly filling in the information from the ID cards and he started again. All of this information had been incorrect the first time he filled the form out, had she simply looked at the whole thing first he wouldn't be filling out his fourth form.

That kind of service always amazes me and it is pretty standard over here, but the old man didn't complain he just took another form and filled it out. Somewhere in there I probably would have snapped - actually I would have when she pointed out the error on the second sheet, but what happened next shocked me. He handed in his fourth attempt and she told him that the pen he used was incorrect and that he had to use the pen that was attached to the counter.

I had leaned that earlier when the guy helping me came back to have me sign everything, but he stopped me from using my pen before I had actually filled anything in. She finally accepted the paperwork the old man was filling out on his fifth attempt.

Meanwhile I had signed everything that I needed and after about 20 minutes of the guy I was working with helping another group of people he came back and said "Ok, we should have everything ready next week. You can come back then." "What? I just need a stamp saying you've witnessed me signing. I'd like to have this today, I need to fax this back to the states soon."

Apparently they need to do a bunch of translations for their paperwork, but after first stating "Today? No, can't be done." and then saying something to the girl working next to me they both laughed a bit and he said "Wait, let me see what I can do. Maybe not today but we will work quick."

Twenty minutes later he calls me up to the window and hands me a completed packet and the bill. Much better then a one week wait, and compared to what I saw with the man next to me I was lucky to have been able to get someone who spoke English who could help to get me out of there so easily...

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