“It’s as if the human face of Swedish bureaucracy was somehow able to shine through and solve my problem,” UK-native Marcus Bush told The Local on Tuesday.
A few weeks ago, Bush had mailed his valid British passport and Swedish identity card to the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) as part of his application for Swedish citizenship.
But when the agency sent back his British passport via registered mail, Bush was shocked to learn he couldn’t use his UK driver’s licence to verify his identity when he picked up the envelope.
As of April 15th, Swedish postal operator Posten no longer considers foreign driver’s licences as a valid form of ID to pick up a package, even if the licence was issued by another EU member state.
The situation became all the more urgent as Bush is scheduled to travel to Prague next week and he was uncertain he’d be allowed to board the plane without his passport.
“I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” he said.
In a last ditch attempt to solve the matter, Bush walked across town to a post office actually managed by Posten, rather than the local, independently-managed outlet to which he had been directed to pick up the envelope containing his passport.
“I figured, what do I have to lose? Maybe an actual Posten employee had more discretion than an agent who risks losing his contract if he doesn’t do everything by the book,” said Bush.
To help his case, Bush took with him an expired passport, a recent utility bill, as well as proof of homeowners insurance and “basically anything I could find” that could help prove he was indeed the person to whom the envelope was addressed.
Much to his surprise, the ploy worked.
“The woman at Posten quickly realized my predicament and even offered to run back to my neighbourhood postal agent to pick up the envelope and bring it back to her office,” Bush explained.
“She told me that if I came back in an hour, I’d be able to pick up my package.”
And sure enough, when Bush strode into the post office on Tuesday, the Posten employee with whom he had spoken duly presented him with the envelope containing his passport.
“But now you have to open it before I let you leave,” she said as The Local looked on.
Bush ripped into the envelope to find his UK passport, prompting a wide grin.
“It feels like Christmas,” he said with delight.
The Posten employee, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that cases like Bush’s occur “all the time”.
“The difference is that since I work for Posten, I have the authority to make a decision about someone’s identity,” she explained as she promptly borrowed Bush’s passport to verify once and for all that he was who he claimed to be and update records to show he had in fact received the envelope.
In an effort to show his appreciation for the woman’s efforts, Bush handed over a bouquet of flowers to the startled Posten employee, who blushed as she accepted them.
“Oh no, you shouldn’t have,” she said.
“It’s the least I could do,” Bush replied.
Passport in hand, Bush can now travel to Prague worry-free.
“I’m thrilled that this all got sorted out. But I think the Migration Board should think about how the deal with situations like this so that others like me don’t end up with the same problem,” he said.