It seems that not only language and culture differ across the pond but legal matters also!
In the UK, it is standard procedure for certain people and professions to certify and sign documents or copies of passports and/or photos themselves to declare that they are the 'true likeness' of the person in question. It really isn't that big of a deal as long as the person and the document are there in front of them.
Imagine our surprise and frustration to find that it is not so straight forward here in the States. To get Naomi's passport we were able to ask British friends here that we'd known the required amount of time, no worries. But recently we were trying to open an additional savings account in the UK where the list people of who could certify our documents was a lot more restrictive and none of our British friends fitted any of the roles.
We took the list and started at the top ... 'Manager of a regulated financial service' and headed to our local bank here. The bank manager himself was off on paternity leave and wasn't expected back for a couple of weeks but apparently he and a few other members of staff were able to 'notarise' a document (the American equivalent). Without the recognised required forms in the States, they told us no one was authorised or willing to sign for us.
The staff at the bank pointed us to the Court House where we were assured it would be notarised. At the Court House, the sheriff at the door said that it wasn't something anyone there could help us with. But on the plus side we got to go inside a beautiful building we'd never been in since living here!
Looking further down the list we read 'serving police officer' and as we were right opposite the Sheriff's office (and it was another building we'd never been inside!) we took a walk over there. While very helpful and understanding of our situation, the lady we spoke to looked over the paperwork and was too worried she might get something wrong as in her words 'she didn't know what she was looking for' and had 'never seen one of these before', so wasn't prepared to do it for us. I wasn't going to argue with her, after all, she was carrying a gun!
With the nearest 'consulate, embassy or high commission' to us being in Washington, DC, six and a half hours drive away and no British civil servants anywhere near, the list of people who could sign for us was gradually shrinking. Eventually we were able to hunt someone down who was willing to do it for us (someone from our church congregation as it happens). But on a hot humid day, dragging two little ones with us from one place to another ... certainly made for an interesting experience!!
It never ceases to amaze me though, even after three years of living here how little things like this, that we assume will be so straight forward, most definitely are not and can totally surprise us! Just glad that this story had a happy ending for us!