This is the sad story of how my cousin, my wife and I tried, and failed, to change the ownership of a used car. As with all good stories, it started with the best of intentions.
My wife Elena and I intend to make aliyah from Ottawa to Modi’in in a few months. We’ve got the apartment, the fridge, stove, washing machine and the pots, pans and cutlery. We’re in Modi’in for a couple of months on a pre-Aliyah trip.
We found out that our cousin in Holon was trading in her three-year-old, low mileage, car for a new one. Great, we’ll buy the car so that when we arrive we’ll have a car ready and waiting for us. That’s when the trouble started. We don’t have enough money with us so we’ll have to get it from Ottawa. We arranged for the money transfer through a transfer services agency and then spoke to our bank in Ottawa.
“Please,” we said, “we’d like some of our money to pay for what will be our car.”
“No way,” said our Ottawa bank adviser (whose job description says he is there to help us). “You have to be here in person to make a money transfer.”
“But you know us,” we said.
“That is of no importance,” said the banker, “you must be here in person.”
There was no way out of that roadblock.
“Bye-bye, car,” we said to our cousin.
Then our eldest son, who lives in Israel, stepped forward.
“I have the money, I’ll loan it to you,” he said.
“Hello again, car,” we said to our cousin.
The money was duly transferred in a most efficient manner.
Off now to the Modi’in post office to make arrangements for the ownership transfer. There we found out that the car ownership transfer could not be done for us at the post office because we were still considered tourists. They told us only the Transportation Ministry could arrange the transfer.
Our cousin suggested the Transportation Ministry head office in Holon would be the best place to do the transfer. So early one Sunday morning we drove to head office, got our number, met our cousin and waited for a good two-and-a-half hours. We saw the whole gamut of Holon society walk past us as we were sitting waiting.
All of a sudden our number was up (in a manner of speaking) and the three of us went to see the clerk behind the glass barrier.
“We’re here from Ottawa, Canada. We’ve bought my cousin’s car and would like to change the ownership,” we said, full of enthusiasm.
“I need to see a 12-digit number on the visa stamp in your passport before I can do the transfer,” the clerk said.
“We don’t get stamps on our passports anymore. That little slip of paper with a nine-digit number is our entry visa,” we replied.
“Sorry,” said the clerk. “I need to have a 12-digit number on the visa stamp in your passport.”
We asked to see a supervisor. The supervisor came, looked at the three of us very seriously, looked at out passports, our visa slips of paper, and our cousin’s Teudat Zeut (Israeli ID).
“I need to have a 12-digit number on the visa stamp in your passport before I can do the transfer,” the supervisor said.
We’d heard that line somewhere before. Realizing we were not getting anywhere we left the office.
OK, so now we have to get an old fashioned physical visa stamp in the innovation nation. Where to go? Our youngest son said the Ramle office of the Population and Immigration Ministry was the place to go.
On the Tuesday morning we went to Ramle. We waited patiently in line, talked with the information desk and were told that the visa section was only open early in the morning. We were too late for that day. We were told to come back early on Thursday morning as the office is not open on Wednesdays.
On Wednesday we tried the Transportation Ministry office in Ramle to see if the ownership transfer could be done there. No luck. Holon is the only place where this can be done. We went back to Holon to for the suggested second opinion, waited the regulation two-and-a-half hours, and got our second opinion. The second opinion was the same as first opinion. At least the Transportation Ministry is consistent.
When we asked for a written explanation of what was required, the clerk said “I am not going to tell the Visa Department how to do their job.”
Thursday morning we were back in Ramle bright and early, second in line. We talked with the visa clerk who was very helpful but very confused.
“Why would anybody need a physical visa stamp?” she asked.
We didn’t know. She didn’t know. Bottom line: there is no visa stamp. The entry slip is our visa. No car ownership change.
At this point we admitted defeat. The bureaucracy had won despite our best efforts. In the end our youngest son took ownership of the car. We’ll get the ownership back after we’ve made aliyah, got our Teudat Zeut and visited our friendly Modi’in post office.
Memo to Transportation Ministry: Please update your car ownership transfer procedures for tourists like us. Todah rabah.