Okay this post is meant to be informative but it’s also kind of funny and exhausting all at the same time. It’s about obtaining a TRN (tax registration number) in Jamaica, which is something you will need if you ever intend to do business here, buy a property here, or even ship things here. Anyone can apply, even if you’re not doing any of these things, although I’m not sure why you’d want one if not for those reasons.
I suspect that being a Canadian applying for a TRN is different than being Jamaican and applying for one. Why do I suspect this? Because while I was applying I was sitting at a desk next to a Jamaican applying for the same thing and they told her she needed to go up the street and get her own photocopies of her identification….right after they just did my photocopies for me. I felt guilty.
Anyway, to apply for a TRN all you need to do is find the tax office in the town of your choice, walk in and apply. It is free to obtain and you don’t need an appointment. You take a number, sit and wait for your number to be called. I was blown away that they have a “take a number” system in the tax office because they sure don’t have it anywhere else!
My number was called within fifteen minutes and I informed them that I was there to apply for my TRN. The lady only asked for my passport even though I had many pieces of ID with me….just in case. She immediately photocopied my passport and I filled out the two-page form with her assistance. Even though you can download the form online and fill it out yourself I advise you to let them help you because they’re going to ask for additional information anyways. After I fully completed mine they still changed some things on the form for me.
Now pay attention to this part: They ask for your current name AND your name at birth. My birth surname is different from my current surname simply because my mother and father divorced and my mom changed my name back to hers. This seemed to be a big deal because I had no paperwork regarding the name change. They actually weren’t even going to process my application even though I was sitting right in front of her with SIX pieces of Canadian ID, four of which were government issued. I had my passport, drivers license, social insurance card, gov’t health card plus my credit card and ATM card. But somehow they wanted a document directly related to the name change. So this is the moral to this whole story – if your birth certificate name is different than your current name, HAVE DOCUMENTATION!
I looked at the lady and said, “There is NO way on earth I can get that document. I’m 44 years old and my name was changed when I was an infant!” I also advised her that there’s no way on earth I could have even gotten all my government issued ID in Canada if my name change wasn’t legal. I’ve been going through 43 years of life as a Keller, yet she seemed perplexed as to how this was going to happen.
The girl handed my case off to a supervisor and proceeded to call two more numbers while I still sat there. So there I was, sitting beside two other Jamaicans at the same desk while she helped them both simultaneously. This was hilarious to me. Three people at the same government desk applying for three different things and she was handling them all lol.
After about twenty minutes passed she left the desk, came back and VOILA….I had a Jamaican government document with my official tax registration number on it.
I’ve heard from others going through this process that they are supposed to issue a TRN ID card so I asked the lady about it. She told me they aren’t issuing cards currently and this document with my number on it would suffice for anything I need to do, such as register my business. Good enough for me.
There you have it! The firsts step in obtaining a Jamaican identity.