This could be an endless list and may even require a new blog category! :)
Today I went to get my drivers' license. Anywhere in the world, the DoT/DMV/Licensing Dept or whatever it's called is usually an exercise in futility, but here it's a special version of Hell. If you buy a car from someone down here, you have to have insurance to transfer the title into your name. You have to have your license in order before you can get insurance and in the case of a new car being imported, you have to have your customs information all up to date first. That's four steps, requiring a 30 minute line each. If you're importing a car, set aside a whole day or just pony up the $150 and have someone do it for you. It seems everytime I have to do something to do with licensing, I have to sit down and think of all the possible things that could go wrong and make sure I have everything in place to try and get all the running around done at once.
Both my Vespa and my Jeep insurance expires in December. The licensing expires in December. The inspection is due in December. On top of all that, it's December... year end dues and Christmas and everything else all happening in the same month sucks donkey balls.
Since I don't use the Jeep as much in lieu of the Vespa, I thought I would park the Jeep for three months and renew the insurance, license and inspection then. Sounds like a pretty straight-forward thing to do, right? Wrong. Because I imported my Jeep in December 2004, after Hurricane Ivan, my license will forever expire in December. If I let it sit for three months and then go renew it, I'll still pay $180 for the licensing for the year, and the expiry will still be December 2007.
OK, I understand the concept of "back taxes" and that's exactly what this is. You'd think I could pay $180 + $45 and get 15 months licensing which would put me around to March 2008, but no, their computers don't work that way. The crazy thing is that if I sold the Jeep and left the island, and the new owner let it sit in his yard for two years and THEN got it licensed (after getting it inspected) he would have to pay $360 to pay the licensing back to Dec 2006 when it expired, plus $50 for 2 inspection fees, even though he only had one inspection and that was done at the time, in January 2009.
That was what happened with the little Jeep that Seb had custodianship of. A friend of his had left it behind for him to sell back in Nov. 2002. When he tried to re-license it in 2005, he was assessed $520 in "back-license fees" and would have cost more than the damn thing was worth. Had his friend canceled the plates back in November of 2002 when she left, then he would have licensed it "fresh" in 2005. So if I go and stand in line to suspend or cancel my plates, I can wait and then go back again in March or April and re-license my Jeep but I would have to have it inspected again as if it were a new import, pay $50 for new plates and then pay the licensing fee for the year, which would then shift my expiry date three or four months ahead. Absolutely lame.
Since I don't have the kind of money to drop $600 for insurance on the Jeep, $200 on the Vespa, $100 for licensing the Vespa and $160 for the Jeep all at once, I had to decide what to do first. The first thing I had to do was get my drivers license renewed for group 1 (motorcycle) so I could get the discount on my Vespa insurance. The examiner when I took my road test told me that I could surrender my current license and have a new one printed up that had class 1 and class 2 on it. Sweet. One less trip in May when my license expires.
With the new license, I can go to the insurance place and get my Vespa insurance, and then go back to Licensing and get it inspected (make sure all the lights work, etc) and then stand in line to renew my license coupon. All of this is JUST for the Vespa mind you, I'll have to go back and do the same with the Jeep next month when I have the cash.
I went into Vehicle Licensing today around 3:30 hoping for no lines and guessed right. I showed the girl my blue road test form that had the PASS stamped on it, and I even went so far as to tuck $50 into the envelope with it to pay for my license renewal so I wouldn't be caught short (I'm smart like that sometimes). She updated my address and sent me over to the photo booth to have my picture taken and new license printed out. After the picture and signature capture and verifying that my address information was correct, she printed my shiny new Cayman Islands Drivers License with class 1 and class 2 on it. Except that the expiry date said May 2007. I pointed this out to her and she said "Yes that's correct."
I said "No it's not, that's four months from now. I just took my road test last month, it should be 2010."
"No, sir. Your license expires in May 2007 and needs to be renewed then."
"When I took the road test, the Examiner told me that I could surrender this license and renew it at the same time my Class 1 was issued, saving me a trip back here in four months again." I told her.
"I'm sorry, but as you can see, the field for expiry is grayed out, I cannot make that change to the database until today's date is within 30 days of the expiry date. You'll have to come in and renew your license then and both of them will be renewed at that point until May 2010." Was the response I got but did not expect or like.
I said at that point "So you mean to tell me I came in here at the end of November and paid $50 for the road test and $50 for the license, and it expires in six months instead of three years? What kind of bullshit is that?" Sensing my growing frustration she told me that's the way it was and neither of us could change it. I don't particularly care about the $50, it was the principle of it AND I don't want to have to go back to licensing AGAIN and stand in line AGAIN in May to renew it. Bunch of arse.
Tomorrow morning I have to roll into the British Caymanian Insurance with my shiny new Full (as opposed to provisional) license and renew my insurance for the Vespa. The waiting time at their office is such that they've installed magazine and book racks, a coffee machine, a TV and comfy chairs. My usual modus operandi for dealing with Licensing, Immigration or Insurance is to show up BEFORE they open and sit with my back against the door to make sure that I'm the first one in and the first one served. I can't be in two places at once however, so I'm going to get the insurance tomorrow morning and then head out to West Bay to renew the Inspection and License on the Vespa at 830 in the morning and then come home and go back to bed and think if there's anything I can do to make the NEXT trip to licensing for the Jeep any shorter.