Watch out, Brexit’s about. It’s had a few drinks, it’s feeling lairy, and it’s ready to fuck your shit up.
As you can probably guess, I’m not exactly Brexit’s core target audience, what with me actually living in Europe, and being a soya milk-drinking, wet lefty lettuce. But now that the reality of life as a non-EU citizen is beginning to sink in, I can say with some authority that Brexit sucks balls. (This isn’t up for debate, by the way. If you’re Team Brexit, good for you, but please don’t bother commenting below to tell me I’m wrong. There are plenty of other people on the internet who’ll argue with you. You’ll get nothing but disinterested silence from me.)
As you might have guessed, we’ve been dealing with some Brexit nonsense lately. In the past month we’ve:
- Had to change our lichna carta residency cards to non-EU cards. It still grants us the same residency rights as before – it just no longer says ‘EU citizen’ in the top corner. Which was surprisingly upsetting, having been a European citizen my whole adult life. Even the card itself is an inferior version of our previous cards, with its cheap thin plastic. It feels more like a library card than official ID! But at least the KAT immigration office was quiet (we did it in August), so small mercies and all that…
- Been summoned to customs in Sofia to collect two parcels that family and friends had sent out for my birthday. I didn’t have to pay any customs duty or anything. The customs officer just asked to look in one of the packages, lifted the box lid a tiny bit and said ‘Okay.’ And then that was it, my packages and I were free to go. It was all very affable and bemusing (as are most of my interactions with Bulgarian bureaucracy). Totally worth the 100-mile round trip. Highly recommended. Two thumbs up.
- Crossed a European border and used our passports for the first time since Brexit. And, let me tell you, British readers, it now takes an age to process a UK passport. What used to be a quick swipe through the system, followed by 20-second wait (at most) before being waved through, is now a 10-minute wait for the system to do … I don’t know, whatever it has to do for non-EU passports. Ten minutes isn’t a long time, in itself. But multiply that by a queue of Brits who’ve just got off a plane and you’re looking at a pretty gnarly Passport Control experience. (Luckily, as we were crossing the land border between Bulgaria and Greece, almost everyone else had EU ID cards, so we were the only idiots holding things up.)
- Had our passports stamped in both Greece and Bulgaria. The Greek stamp I understand, but the Bulgarian stamp? Um, sir, I live here? We had both shown our lichna carta to the border guard, so there was no doubt that we’re Bulgarian residents. I’m still confused about the whole thing, to be honest.
Let me stress that I’m not moaning about Europe/Bulgaria doing this stuff – it’s exactly the same treatment that every other non-EU country or citizen is subject to (and not an evil vendetta against Britain). It’s that drunk, lairy git called Brexit that I’m mad at. Coming up in here and messing with my expat shit. Throwing patio chairs around and making me go to the customs office. Like a knob.
In happier news (well, depending on how you feel about cats), we got a new kitten! She’s cute as a button and doesn’t take any beef from the other cats (who are absolutely disgusted at her arrival). Everyone, meet Mim.