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It was Benjamin Franklin who said that

… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes

My current problem is with the latter of these. Because my publisher is based in the USA, I need to register with the US Inland Revenue Service. This isn’t a complicated process, but I’ve hit a snag. They need certain documents with my form applying for a tax reference number. Documents I don’t have. I can provide the proof of nationality (my birth certificate). It’s the proof of identity that’s causing a problem. In the UK we don’t have a national ID card, so the identity document has to be either a passport or a driving licence, both of which have your photograph on.

And there’s my problem. I never learnt to drive, so no driving licence. I don’t ever go anywhere much at all, and never abroad. So no passport either. Getting a passport’s really hard. In fact, I think it would be easier if I were an immigrant. You have to get the application signed by someone within a limited range of “respectable” backgrounds, who can confirm they have known you for a certain amount of time. As a virtual recluse, I don’t know many people at all, never mind people from the fancy backgrounds our government considers reputable. According to the guidance.

Countersignatories must work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession or be ‘a person of good standing in their community’

Why a journalist or a banker (two of the professions listed) should be considered more trustworthy than the chaps who come to take away the rubbish each week I’m unsure. But there you are.

So I thought I’d look into how you get a provisional driving licence, in the hope it wouldn’t be as difficult to get hold of. This is the one you have to have when learning to drive. Nope. The countersignatory requirements are pretty much the same. So I’ll try for the passport, it lasts longer.

I’ll let you know in my next post how I get on. I’ll get there, I’m sure. Just when is the question.