While many things in Mexico continue to baffle me, I think I have signing up for stuff totally figured out.
My neighbor on 64A asked me if I wanted to come along while they signed up for health insurance at IMSS pronounced eems. Actually, they asked me to come along in case some Spanish was needed. These are really special friends, they watch Mr Dog for us, and we have an understanding about my translating abilities. For example, for legal things they use an actual certified translator.
Back to the IMSS, in spite of incorrect directions our cabbie found the building. It’s the IMSS building on Calle 42, just tell the cab driver “La IMSS de la 42”. If you drive take Circuitos Colonias south and make a right on C 42.
We got there at a little before their 8am opening time. It’s a huge building easily taking up a whole block or more. We just kept asking for the place where you enroll and eventually found it. We knew it was the right place because there was a long line already. The office hours are 8:00 until 14:00, we got in line at 7:55am. I commented that the operation reminded of the Department of Motor Vehicles in California. Just like the DMV, you first get vetted at a reception desk. There were actually two clerks manning the desk and the line flowed forward quickly. We received number 351 and were told to use window 7.
The waiting room was huge, there were 2 large screens displaying the numbers and the appropriate window. It looked like the tote board in a casino. In between numbers there were some public service announcements which we ignored. Everything looked new, the chairs were clean and padded not the hard bus station seats we were expecting.
Since this is Mexico, the number system made no sense what so ever to us. The first number that flashed on the board was in the 200s and the second was in the 1300s ! We settled down to a nice chat while waiting for our number. I think we may have had to wait less than 15 minutes until we were called to window #7. I didn’t count all the windows but I expect that there were at least 15.
I told the clerk that los señores had come to enroll. She smiled and handed us a half sheet of paper with the fee schedule* and the list of required documentation, of which we had one item, a comprobante. Anyone who has ever applied for anything in Mexico knows that they need a comprobante, a utility bill, in order to prove residence and nothing else will do. Except for the agency that handles driver’s licensing no one cares whose name the bill is in, just that you have one.
My friends looked at the list, and I smiled, feeling wise in the ways of Mexico, quietly saying “Don’t worry, I am sure that is the list for Mexicans since there is no way you can have the 1st two items unless you are a citizen.” I handed over the folder my friends had carefully prepared. FM3s for both of them, 2 copies of all the pages, passports, 2 copies of all the pages, electric bill and it’s copies, plus 6 infantile size colour photographs of each of them. Passport size photos won’t do, they need to be infantile size which is the next size smaller.
My friend said a very wise thing, she said “the most important part is to wait and keep smiling no matter what”. Which is what we did.
Apparently that strategy worked. The clerk handed back all the papers and gave us several forms to fill out in triplicate. Forms are never photocopied here, they are filled out, if you need three copies you fill out and sign three copies. She directed us to return when the forms were filled.
We filled out the forms which were fairly simple. The clerk was helping someone else, but as soon as she was free she took the forms. Then she made a request that we couldn’t fulfill. She asked for their birth certificates. I explained that they didn’t have any but they did have their passports which verified their birth dates. The lovely lady excused herself and consulted with another clerk. She came back with a smile of relief, she directed us to the 2nd clerk who would fill out a form for my friends. Guess what they wanted! The names of my friends’ parents including mother’s maiden name. She gave them each a blank half sheet of paper on which to write the information which she then entered into her computer.
If this all sounds tedious, it’s because you don’t live here, this was a remarkably easy process with a minimal amount of paperwork.
The missing birth certificate taken care of, we returned to window #7, she gave us a couple of forms and a payment slip. The new instructions were to go to HSBC and pay the fees, make 2 copies of everything front and back and return to turn in all the paperwork,(including that which she had already reviewed and given back) plus four infantile size photos. My friends asked if they needed to return that day, the answer was no, but the fees needed to be paid that day. We decided that things had been so easy and going so well, that we should return that day.
Mission accomplished, we returned, handed over everything and they got some forms in return. The only thing left for them to do is go to the clinic the first week of August so that a file can be started for them.
We were amazed, it took less than four hours including travel time. We had drinks with lunch to celebrate.
*I don’t remember what the fee is for someone under sixty but sixty plus something like $3010.00 mxp per person per year or maybe a little more. I didn’t do the paying part nor do I have the information sheet.