This is where my story gets entertaining. At least I hope so because I would hate if no one got a good laugh out of my massive fuck-up.
I accidentally deported myself.
Now you are probably wondering how I could possibly deport myself since I should probably have figured all that out before moving to Europe. I thought I had a plan, but it turns out I missed a few things.
If you are the child or the grandchild of a person born on the Island of Ireland, then you are automatically an Irish citizen by birth. My mother’s family is from Belfast and my siblings and I are all Irish citizens. So, upon arriving in Europe, I set out to get an Irish passport. The average wait time for an Irish passport is 4-6 weeks if you apply from an Irish embassy within Europe. I had more than enough time to get a passport before my 90 days in Germany ran out.
The only thing that I needed to obtain before I could submit my passport application was a foreign birth certificate. So I submitted an application for the birth certificate and waited for it to arrive. And waited. and waited. What I was unaware of, was that the foreign birth registry process can take up to 6 months! In Canada, I could have waited for up to a year for my birth certificate so I am still glad that I applied from within Europe. However, if I had known, then I would have obtained a German work visa for the interim period.
I did not want to go over my 90 days without a work permit in Germany so I decided to continue travelling to other countries until I obtained an Irish passport. I booked a trip to visit my university roommate in London, where she works as a primary teacher, for a week at the end of October. At this point I had spent about two months total in Germany, but 98 days total in Europe. If you are European and reading this, please try not to judge me too harshly, I knew not what I did. If you are non-European and reading this, learn from my mistake but never take any of my advice because I obviously know nothing.
Upon landing in London, I was told by border control that I would not be able to go back to the Schengen Area on my Canadian passport for 90 days. To which I replied “What the hell is the Schengen Area?” As it turns out, the Schengen Area is not a mystical far off place with fairies and small bears as I was picturing, but the common travel zone between the majority of EU countries that allows for open borders within the area and tighter border control outside of it. You can do your own research on it, I’m still fuzzy on the rest of the details. All I know is that every European country west of Romania, including Germany, is included in the Schengen Area. The only exceptions are the UK and Ireland which have a common travel area between each other, but separate border and visa control from the rest of Europe.
You are probably wondering how I did not know any of this when I moved to Germany. Well, when I googled how long I could stay in Germany without a work visa, it said 90 days and did not mention anything about other countries. Canada is the second largest country in the world. You could drive for days and never see another person in some parts of it. You could literally walk off into the woods and disappear forever because no one would ever find you in the vast forests. Coming from a place where there are no borders on half of the continent did not prepare me for life in Europe. It was a symptom of circumstance and nothing more. Yes, it seems extremely stupid looking back but that is why hindsight is 20/20.
As it turns out, this happens to people all the time! Not just me! I have read dozens and dozens of accounts from people who have found themselves in the same or similar position. This does not make me feel any better, but it is nice to know that I was not alone in my ignorance. The good news is that I could remain in the UK for up to 6 months on my Canadian passport without a UK work visa and that I had health insurance that covered all of Europe. That was the only good news, but it was good news nonetheless.
So… most people would be totally freaking out in this situation… which I was. Yet… all I could think about was that I had forgotten to pack deodorant, only had one week worth of underwear and I should have worn better shoes because my boots were falling apart. Also, of all the countries in the world to deport myself too, I had somehow wound up in the one with the worst exchange rate. So with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my new situation, and mentally calculating my savings, I stumbled out of the airport to go find my friend and hopefully a deep vat of wine.
I had no idea that my naive fuck up would turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.