I have lived in a few countries and gone through a couple of different immigration procedures.  When it comes to Norway I know that some people find the immigration process very frustrating, but believe you me, it is actually a breeze.  I have found that Norway makes things easier and simpler than other countries and even when you leave the process is hunky-dory.

However, I have never had more bureaucratic nonsense than from my home country, Australia.  Since leaving Australia I have faced mind-blowing idiocies at least once every year.  The Australian Government is the worst government I’ve had to deal with, and all I did was leave.  So why can’t Australia leave me alone?

A case study: Electoral Madness

When leaving Australia the first thing I did was register with the Australian Consulate in Denmark (there is no Australian Consulate in Norway only an ‘honorary’ one that has absolutely no authority whatsoever).  I gave my details in case of emergencies and also filled out a form to say that I was living overseas indefinitely to take my name of the electoral rolls:

Overseas Notification Form

Going overseas permanently or indefinitely

If you are going overseas permanently or indefinitely you must complete and submit an Overseas Notification Form requesting to be removed from the roll. You will not be able to vote while overseas and you will need to re-enrol after you live back in Australia for one month. The removal process requires the AEC to issue formal written advice to an elector.

http://www.aec.gov.au/Enrolling_to_vote/overseas/index.htm

My electoral freedom was ensured – or so I thought.  (In Australia everyone has the right to vote… but no one has the right NOT to vote!  In fact, i you don’t vote you are fined.)

After a year in Norway we lived a year in London and that’s when bad things started.  There was no problems with immigrating and migrating to and from Norway and London.  However, the Victoria State Electoral Commission in Australia tracked me down when in London and said I owed them money because I didn’t vote and if I didn’t pay up my case will go to court to claim their $25.  After long discussions at 2am at night I managed to sort everything out.  In Australia it is important to get reference numbers of conversations with government agencies as well as documenting the information and conclusion – so you won’t get bitten in the butt later on.  My notes all got filed away for safe keeping as you can never trust Australian government agencies and we immigrated back to Norway without any problems.

Nearly one later year nasty letters were being sent to my old residency in Australia from the State Electoral Commission.  They had now upped the fine to $50 and had a warrant out for my arrest for not voting and then not paying the fine for not voting.  Again I had discussions at 2am in the morning but this time made faxes of the last conversations, references, conclusions, and even another ‘Overseas Notification Form’ to sort everything out.  It’s funny, by this time I had already spent over $50 in phone calls to Australia.  I certainly made sure to keep all my notes safely.

A year later there was a Federal election in Australia and guess what…  The Federal Electoral Commission tracked me down saying I owed them $75, that there was a warrant out for my arrest and if I returned to Australia I would be detained. Argh!  More conversations in the wee hours on the night.  They blamed the State Electoral Commission for not passing on the information and the State Electoral Commission said that they don’t communicate or give details to the Federal Electoral Commission.  I finally sorted things out with more faxes, more phone calls and more money.  Argh.  Six months later I called up to see if my name was still on the Federal and State Electoral rolls – so far they had been removed but I guess we’ll see in another couple of years.  I’m certainly going to keep all my references and notes for the next time.

This is not the only Government Agency that has used taxpayers money to track me down a couple of times wrongly accusing me of wrong doings and dishing out a fine threatening me that if I don’t pay up I will be arrested as soon as I enter Australia.  When I left Australia everything was sorted, closed and brought to an end – it’s what you do when you leave a country.  However, Australia just won’t let me go.

Advice
When leaving your home country to live somewhere else in the world make sure you get ‘closure’ notices from every organisation – government, community or private – that you have had dealings with.  This is not being pessimistic – this is just ‘preparing for the worst but hoping for the best’.  If you have tied up all your loose ends and have the evidence to prove it, it will give you peace of mind but more importantly, ammo if any Home organisation tries to make your life a misery. 

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