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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Certificates from Ministry of legal affairs

I recently had to go to the Ministry of legal affairs (MLA). This is my personal account along with another person who went to the Port of Spain (POS) and San Fernando offices. These experiences should not be taken as typical and I am not responsible for your experience or issues encountered.

I tried calling the POS office but their PBX system is out of order and no operator answers. I called San Fernando and got no answer there either. Someone answered at Arima and I was able to get an extension for a department in the POS office. When I called that extension I was fortunate enough to get a very helpful guy who checked my case and said I could come in and advised that I go in early to get a number and that the cashier closes at 3.00pm.

I parked in the parkade (Edward Street) at around 6.40am. Then I walked to the Port of Spain MLA office and got there around 6.55am. At the main door I had to pass through security. There were 2 steps to climb to get into the entrance. I did not see a wheelchair ramp. Security was pleasant and gave directions to go to the waiting room at the back. They gave me a number chit and after I asked and did some calculations I was about number 60. You did not need a number if you applied online for a birth certificate.

There were a couple benches along the way to the waiting room. The room itself is approximately 15 feet by 30 feet. It is carpeted and has about 50 black padded chairs. Most of the chairs were fabric and some were a leather material. All of them were stained. The front of the room had a table and chairs with forms for different requests. Each form was a different shape and size. No pens were provided. There were two AC units that were coated in black dust. When people walked in and out I could smell the dust being kicked up. The man next to me said he lined up on the pavement outside at 5.15am and he was the fourth person. At around 6.30am he asked the guard what time the doors open and was told 7.00am. He then decided to go across the road to get something to eat. One minute after he left, the doors opened and he lost his spot and got the number thirty chit.

Around 8.00am an official came and asked a batch of numbers to line up in the order of the chits received. She then checked that the correct forms were filled out and that people had all the necessary documents (like authorization letters, affidavits, ID cards, receipt booking numbers etc) for their particular request. That batch was taken out of the room. Anyone who applied for a birth certificate online was also called up.

A little after 9.00am my batch of about 20 people were then taken to another area with less than 20 chairs. This area was right next to a male and female washroom. The washrooms were in decent condition. There was a screen here showing the numbers that were being announced. On the wall was a poster saying that service dogs were allowed in the building. I overheard people that got numbers over 200 for the day being told to come back after 2.00pm.

Around 10.00am a batch of about 15 were taken to another seating area with less than 15 chairs. Here we saw numbered counters and people queued up to some of them. A few minutes later my number was called. At the counter I presented my forms. The lady reviewed them and gave me a slip as well as told me the amount to pay at the cashier counter. You can get multiple copies of any of these certificates. There is a total limit of five documents(certificates) per person. I know one person who was conducting business for her whole family and was lucky enough to talk their way past this limit.

At the cashier counter were signs saying 'no cards' and 'cash only'. After the cashier finished his chat with his coworker I paid and got a receipt. My total was $50 but I gave him $110 and got $60 change since he did not have any $10 bills. A birth paper or a marriage or death certificate is $25ttd each. I thought that there should be a price list posted online as well as a notice outside the front door saying cash only so people will know how much cash to walk with.

I then presented my receipt to the collections counter. After a few clicks my certificates were printed out and handed to me and I left the building. 

The experience was very similar at San Fernando except that the numbering system was only applied to some people and some were called in without numbers. This was total chaos as you can imagine that some people were extremely upset that people arriving after them were called in before. Parking for the San Fernando office is along the side streets so be considerate not to block driveways and obey no parking signs.

- Numbers are provided in the morning because the offices can only handle so many people per day. If you go early in the morning and collect a number you can leave and come back later but there is no guarantee you will be allowed back in because they may be very crowded that day. Only numbers given out in the morning are valid for a given day, so if you go back another day you will need a new number.
- Carry authorization letters from anybody (spouse, parent, child, sibling etc.) you are conducting business on behalf of other wise you will not be allowed to.
- Explain your request to the guards who are able to give some guidance but ask as many questions to any officers you see. Do not be shy because you may not have the right forms or be in the right line and can end up wasting your time. All the officials dealt with were courteous and helpful.
- You do not need to carry the original birth certificate in order to get the polymer one. The info will be the same as on your previous certificate, unless you are making a change. The 'blue' birth paper will continue to be valid.
- Hindu and Muslim marriage certificates will not show any info for the bride's address and occupation. It currently takes about 3 months after your request is submitted to be able to get the marriage certificate.
- Carry an envelope to keep your certificates in because one will not be provided.
- Carry a pen to complete your forms.
- You are allowed to leave and re-enter the buildings as much as you like but you should pay attention to the batches of numbers being called forward.

More information can be found on the MLA and ttconnect websites -

Apply for birth certificate here -

How to get birth paper certificate
How to get death certificate
How to get marriage certificate
Where to get name changed on birth paper
How much for new polymer birth paper
How long does it take to get marriage certificate

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trini card game - Doh Say Dat

I got a chance to play a local version of Taboo named 'Doh Say Dat'. It was very entertaining and I recommend you get one too. The website says they are out of stock and it also sounds like they will not be making more any time soon. Buy one if you can find it!  

I will never forget one round when the first clue was - "one word" and I guessed "comess" and I got it right! Maybe that is why I like it so much.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Where are wrecked cars taken

You return to the spot you parked your car and it is no longer there. You realize that your car has been wrecked by looking at road signs, tracking it via GPS or a witness tells you.
Here is a list of where vehicles are taken when they are towed:

Western Port of Spain - Invaders Bay (Next to Movie Towne) 1 868 623-7811, 1 868 290-3608.(°39'34.8"N+61°31'42.3"W/)

Eastern Port of Spain - Next to the Market (°38'47.7"N+61°30'13.7"W/)

Chaguanas - Police station next to Chaguanas Borough Corporation (°31'18.8"N+61°25'02.1"W/)

San Fernando - Police Station (Harris Promenade) 1 868 652-2858 (°16'48.1"N+61°27'57.8"W/)

List of all police stations in the country:

Information on the wrecking of cars-

The process to retrieve your vehicle is as follows:
The first thing to do is to ensure you have $500ttd cash because just like any other government office, cash is the only valid form of payment.
If you go to the places listed above after4.30pm-ish and before 8.00am-ish you will probably be told to go somewhere else to pay and come back for your car.
Wherever you have to pay, you will need your driver's permit, the vehicle's insurance and $500ttd, I am not sure if the officers would process you if you do not have your license which can happen if the vehicle is parked is another location from where you have to pay. Next go to where your vehicle is and collect it.

This link may also be helpful

Where are the detention lots when vehicles are wrecked
Where is my towed car parked
What to do when my car get tow

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Vehicle Inspection Stations

I am unable to find a full list of vehicle testing or inspection stations on The Ministry of Works and Transport's website. Here is a list I had to dig for from but with a couple updates. Hopefully this page is easier to find.

The cost is $165ttd at any station and for any car, van or truck. The charge for not having your vehicle inspected is $5000 ttd. The entire process takes about 15 minutes of work.
I strongly recommend calling a station in your area before you go because they frequently do not have stickers or have some other issue.
The stations advise that you keep the inspection form as well as the sticker on your windscreen to present to police etc if you are stopped.
Your vehicle has to be inspected once it turns 5 years from the date of manufacture, not the date of registration in Trinidad and Tobago.
Ensure you carry the original certified copy and insurance for the test or else it will not be done.
To make things go as smoothly as possible you should wash the body of your car as well as the engine and underneath.
Oil leaks or chunks of mud may make the officer question the road worthiness of the vehicle.
If defects are found you will have a few weeks to fix them and return for the examination.

If you find any errors in this post please comment with corrections.

Sookhai’s Diesel Service Limited
IDC Industrial Estate Biljah RoadChaguanas
Motor Max Auto and Diesel Garage
33 Mausica Rd.
Bobby’s Auto Enterprises Limited
17 ½ Erin Road
Santa Flora
Sudama Ramlogan
59 Fairfield Road,
Craignish VillagePrinces Town
J’s Auto Masters
Chootoo Road
El Socorro South
San Juan
Spark Motor Supplies
161 Coffee Street
San Fernando
46C Hubert Rance Street
San Fernando
652-8643 / 681-9993
Valley Auto Centre
LP 108 Morne Coco Road
Petit Valley
632- 7571 759-7965/ 351-6905
Ramps Limited
86 Green StreetTunapuna
Southern Instruments Co. Ltd.
2 Leotaud Street
San Fernando
J.C.S. Car Craft
49A Grants RoadRousillac Village
Kamus Mufflers works Limited
19-21 First AvenueBarataria
671-7308/7315; 680-0029
South’s Auto Services Station Co. Ltd.
127 Siparia-Erin Road
Alternative Gases td.
153-154 Eastern Main Road RoadFreeport
Vulcan Mufflers
O’Meara Industrial Estate
O’Meara RoadArima
Hilltop Motor Supplies
31/2 San Francique Road Timital JunctionPenal
Chow’s Service Bay
Eastern Main Road
Sangre Grande
Pegasus Automotive Enterprises
122 Eccles VillageWilliamsville
David’s Auto Repairs
LP 6 Ramai Trace Debe
Auto-Trac Supplies & Service
LP 172 Siparia Old road
Avocat VillageFyzabad
Kaljam Ali
113 Munroe Road Cunupia
Mulchan and Kalli Sawh T/A Central Auto /Review
Bonne Aventure Road Cunupia
671-2827, 655-0287
Eastern Auto Garage Ltd.
Eastern Main Road
Sangre Grande
D and S Auto Care Services Ltd.
1-3 Naparima-Mayaro Road
Mon Repos
San Fernando
R and R Engineering Associates Ltd.
LP 235 Iere village Princes Town
659-3205; 655-9671
BF Mufflers
37 km Naparima-Mayaro Road
Rio Claro
C.O’s Garage
Cipero Road
Borde Narve Village
San Fernando
Ramjohn and Lilly Mohammed
T/A Mohammed Auto Supply
26 Grell StreetSiparia
Stephen Wellington
T/A Baseline Services Co. Ltd.
Corner Eastern Main Road and Reserve RoadValencia
Automotive Components Limited
Lot 10-11 O’Meara Industrial Estate
O’ Meara Road
642-3484, 756-3028
Motor Care and Maintenance (MCM) Ltd
115 Eighth Street
R and R Engineering Associates Ltd
6 Ramsaroop Road, Union Village
Claxton Bay
Worrel Regis and Co. Ltd.
LP 376 Southern Main Road
Road Transport Engineering
53 Main Road
Pt. Fortin
Frank’s Tyre and Body Shop
316 E.M.R.
El Dorado Tunapuna
Roberts Auto Service and Tyre Shop
G.N.G. Enterprises Ltd.
1135 Abdool Village Penal
Amar Distributors
3 Long Circular Road
St. James
Frank Jeeta’s
57A Eastern Main Road
Bacchus Taxi and Car Rentals Ltd.
37 Tragarete Road
Port of Spain
Auto Works Ltd
Wrightson RoadPort of Spain
Professional Garages Ltd.
Pashley StreetLaventille
Nanhoo service Station
T/A La Carib Service Station
19 Carib StreetSan Fernando
B and L Automobile Services Ltd.
78 Battoo Avenue
3 Corinth Junction Cocoyea VillageSan Fernando
Bamboo Grove Auto Collision Service
Bamboo Settlement #3Curepe
Sylvester Auto World
Sherwood Park
K. Deen’s Auto Services Ltd.
58 Union RoadMarabella
S.S. Auto Supplies and Services
L.P. 1478 Dow Village
South Oropouche
B.J. Service Garage
P.O. Box 640 St. Croix Road
Princes Town via Barrackpore
Mamoud Mohammed
50 km Eastern Main RoadSangre Grande
Active General Traders Ltd.
23 Spring Gardens, Balmain
VMCOTT – Vehicle Management Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago
22 Beetham Gardens
Beetham HighwayLaventille
Vulcan Muffler Services
22 Eastern Main Road
Wayne and Cindy Services
587 Penal Rock Road
Wheeler Tyre Sales and Services
126 Cipero Road
Golconda VillageSan Fernando

Where to get windscreen stickers Trinidad and Tobago
How much to inspect test a car pickup truck suv
Where to go for car testing station facility
Closest vehicle emission testing inspection centre center garage office 
What is the cost to do check to get a windshield sticker for my vehicle

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tips for travelling abroad

Here are a few tips that typically make a trip to a foreign country easier. This is not legal advice. Use common sense, do your research and follow all laws and requirements of countries you visit.

As soon as your are thinking about travelling:

1. Check your passport to see if it is valid and for how much longer it would be valid. Many countries do not let you enter if there is less than 6 months remaining on the validity of your passport.

2. Check if a visa is required to visit the country you would like to visit. If you already have a visa, check that it is valid for a sufficient amount of time for you to return from your trip. Also check for travel advisories for the country. There may be workers protesting, a natural disaster or even worse going on so beware of what is going on to keep yourself safe.

3. Check the condition of your luggage/suitcase. Bags and suitcases are flung around harshly while being loaded and unloaded. If you any signs of weakness which cannot be mended then get another suitcase. If the suitcase opens while being handled you have a good chance of losing your belongings since the workers may not have time to repack and transport it. Also attach a bright ribbon or sticker so you can identify it.

4. Consider how much foreign cash you plan to spend and how you can acquire it. Some foreign currency is very hard to get from banks and your may have to make several trips to get the amount of cash you want. You can avoid this issue by using your credit card or traveller's cheques during the trip.

5. If you will be using your T and T phone on your trip, double check with your provider if roaming is enabled. If you are staying more than a couple days and you will using your phone for calls then you should probably purchase a new SIM in the country you visit because it will probably work out cheaper that way instead of paying roaming rates. You can also use messenger apps like WhatsApp to make calls and send messages for free if you can connect to WiFi for free. Also check if your phone is capable of the type of network and frequencies used in the other country.

While travelling:

6. If you or someone you are travelling with gets motion sickness then take some medicine to treat it. It is cheap and would make the trip much more pleasant.

7. Write down the name, address and phone number of the person or place you are going to visit on a small piece of paper and keep it in your wallet. This will allow easy reference to the information when answering questions in immigration and be a life saver if you get lost on your visit.

8. Use your phone to take pictures of your luggage so you can identify it later on or can show it to the help desk if it gets lost.

9. Travelling is stressful for everyone. Expect long lines, cramped seats, loud people, and unplanned delays. You should know what keeps you calm so carry it along with you if possible. Pack some snack bars, a book, music, neck pillow, phone charger etc in carry-on luggage to try to have some comfort if things do not go as planned.

10. Pack an overnight kit with at least toiletries and underwear in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost or delayed. Do this especially for two conditions-
   i. If you are going to a place where you will be on your own and it will be challenging to get supplies very easily. If you are meeting friends or family at your destination they will know where you can get things easily or would have spare to give you, otherwise you may have to look around or perhaps you arrive at a late hour when things are closed.
   ii. If you have a connecting flight you may have a long wait inside the airport between connections or your luggage may be lost or delayed. You may be lucky to get to your hotel when you arrive but you would wish you had a change of underwear and a toothbrush.

11. Ask all the questions you think you need to. If you do not understand a form or signs then ask someone for help. Many people around you are in the same situation and are generally friendly and willing to help.

Passing through immigration:

12. Follow all the instructions you receive while in baggage or immigration. This could make you uncomfortable but it is in your own interest.

How to feel comfortable while travelling
Tips to make going abroad easier
10 things to make a long trip less stressful

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kia Sorento power window not working

I had a problem with the power window switch on a Kia Sorento. This solution may work for any other car as well. Many problems can cause the symptom described below.

The window would work if I controlled it from the driver door but not from the button on the passenger door. The issue in my case was that the contacts for the switch were dirty and worked properly after being cleaned. The same problem may happen if a switch gets wet for any reason. After the car was retinted I had to open the switches to let them dry out because the cleaning liquid used to remove the old tint dripped into the switches.

The method to access the switch is similar for most cars. The piece of trim that the switch sits in can be popped out usually. Other pieces of trim may have to be taken out first like I had to do.

The switch assembly comes out of the trim. The driver switches are all on one assembly. A small flat head was used to pry the switch assembly off the trim. The switch has notches on all sides to keep it in place.

The switch is basically 3 layers. The screwdriver was used to carefully separate them. The top layer is a cover which is what you press and pull to control the window. The middle layer is mostly electronics. There are tiny parts involved so you should work on a large flat surface where any parts that fall can be found easily.

 The bottom layer has 2 contacts for the main power used to drive the window motor. Over time the contacts become dirty and no longer close.  In this particular switch the 2 thin flaps get pressed down to meet the round pads to close the circuit. Dust and dirt accumulates here as well as the contacts wear away over time.

I used a scrap cloth  and a flat head screwdriver to wipe the contacts clean. The parts were reassembled and the window is once again working properly. There are many other problem that can cause the same issue but this worked for me.

Power window not going down
Cannot control automobile powered window from passenger door
Back seat left right window malfunctioning
Rear front power window switch dirty
How to clean switches on car door
Hyundai, mazda, nissan, toyota, honda, acura, ford power window not working

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to renew drivers permit

When I renewed my Trinidad and Tobago driver's permit the process was very simple:

1. Go to one of the licence offices and fill out the renewal form which is available at the counter.
Main offices:
Caroni - Southern Main Road Frederick Settlement (868) 612-4682 / 665- 5989
San Fernando - Balisier Avenue, Pleasantville (868) 657-7451
Tobago - Milford Road, Shaw Park Scarborough (868) 639-2466

Sub offices: 
Arima - Ministry of Works and Transport Compound O’Meara Road (868) 667-0172
Port of Spain - Wrightson Road (868) 625-1031
Princes Town - LP 235 Iere Village (868) 655-8871
Point Fortin - 62-64 Main Road, Point Fortin (868) 648-2865
St James - Upstairs Post Office, Western Main Road (868) 628- 2004

2. Go to the first counter to submit the form and confirm if you will be renewing for 5 years or 10 years. You surrender your old permit at this point to the clerk so you can take a picture of the back and front for personal records.

3. At a second counter, pay either $500ttd for 5 years or $1000ttd 10 years renewal at the cashier for your light motor vehicle class. Other classes have different prices and may include a medical fee to have your blood pressure and eyes tested. There is no advantage of choosing one or the other except the time span. Walk with cash since many times no other form of payment is possible and there may not be an ATM close by. If I owned a bank I would install one at each license office.

4. Wait to be called to have your picture taken and signature recorded. You will be asked to verify your permit information printed on a slip. Look at the spelling of each word carefully to be sure it is correct.

5. Wait for your new permit. Double check that all the information is correct before leaving.

-  I would avoid the Wrightson Road and San Fernando offices because they are usually very busy. Also call the office before you go to confirm they are operating properly. Click here for phone numbers.
- Go at an off peak time like after 9.00am. There is usually a line first thing in the morning. Also do not go too late because some cashiers close early at noon, 2.00pm, 3.00pm etc.
- You are expected to be properly dressed when going to the office. Decent short pants to your knees and slippers may be allowed but no vests, caps and tank tops, strap tops etc, basically your shoulders should be covered. Avoid excessive makeup.
- Walk with cash because that may be the only accepted method to pay since linx and credit card machines may be out of order and cheques are not accepted and there may not be an ATM close by.
- Call before going to the office to verify they are open and the cashier's closing hours. An office may be closed due to an HSE issue, no water or electricity or workers are sick etc. Eg.
- Also call the office you intend on visiting to ensure the service you are hoping for will be available there and on that day. Eg. vehicle inspections and ownership changes may only be done at San Fernando, Caroni, Tobago. 
- The entire renewal process actually takes 20 minutes assuming there is working equipment and no lines.
- Parking for some offices are non existent so ask your friends about the area if you have never been there before.
- Carry a pen for your own convenience.
- Check out the Ministry of Works and Transport Information booklet which has answers to questions you might have -

Update Jan 13 2017
A new permit design is currently being phased in which will be similar to the current design but also includes a barcode and plastic coating on the back.

Update Feb 13 2017
Caroni Facility is now open

UpdateMarch 9 2017
Some permit numbers were issued multiple times

Update May 11 2017
This is the only mention of driver's permit on the government ttconnect site:

How to renew your Trinidad and Tobago driver's permit
Process to get driving licence
Location of license offices
How long does it take to renew my licence
What is cost of driver's permit in Trinidad and Tobago
Where do I go to renew my driving permit