Current FAQ's: How to change your address, medical care options, obtain a Portuguese driver's license, renew residency permit.
(I am not a lawyer and all the information below is based on my personal experience and understanding; and may not be correct in all cases. Laws and procedures in Portugal are notoriously unclear and can change without notice).
How can I change my address? You have to go to the local city administration office (loja do cidadão) with your new lease and change it there. The post office will not do it for you.
What are my medical care options in Portugal? If you are a resident, you can register with your local public health clinic (centro de saúde) and are given a number. This will allow you to have access for the VERY reasonable public health system (an American friend had a complete cancer operation with care both before and after, including all specialists for less than 100 Euros in the public hospital system). However, there are reasons why a robust private health system exists like the CUF network of hospitals. This is more expensive but still VERY reasonable compared to insured costs in the US (god help you if you are not insured in the US). But to lower this cost, there are a number of private medical insurance options. I chose one from the Auto Club of Portugal (ACP) which for a total of about 100 Euros a year gets me a card which cuts in half the cost of private medical care, covers the cost of hospitalization, and for another 15 Euros or so, eliminates the 2000 Euro deductible for hospitalization. Did I mention it costs only about 100 Euros? I saved that on my first of many visits to the CUF doctor for an injury.
If you are applying for residency, either visa or permit, they will ask you to show proof of medical insurance that will cover you in Portugal. There are many options on-line. I chose the World Nomad worldwide coverage for about 1000 Euros a year. Both the Consulate in the US and SEF (immigration office) in Portugal will ask for proof. Better have it.
So, why does a private health system exist? It can take a few months to have something NON-urgent taken care of compared to a few weeks in the private health system. You may have to wait a few hours in the public system to see a doctor compared to 5 to 20 minutes to see one in the private system. The same doctors work in both the private and public systems. So, the care is the same.
How to obtain a Portuguese driver’s license? YOU MUST DO THIS WITHIN 3 MONTHS OF RECEIVING YOUR RESIDENCY CARD. IF NOT, YOU WILL NEED TO TAKE A DRIVING TEST AND RENT A “SPECIALLY REGISTERED” CAR FROM A DRIVING SCHOOL LIKE THE AUTO CLUB OF PORTUGAL (59 EUROS)!!!
The first step is to get a letter of medical fitness from a local hospital. Make sure the doctor does it on-line with the Portuguese DMV (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT); WWW.IMT-IP.PT) and gives you a letter of medical approval. All I did was answer a few questions and read letters off an eye chart at CUF. You will also need a signed letter of your driving record from your US state’s DMV. Most states will allow you to apply for it on-line, but they will only mail it to a US address. The ones which you can download and print are not acceptable by the Portuguese authorities. Take both of these letters and your residency card with your US driver’s license to the local Portuguese IMT office. You will need to surrender your US driver’s license.
For those living in the Lisboa area, including Cascais, the IMT office is at Avenida Elias Garcia 101-103 (close to the Gulbenkian Museum).
What are the requirements to renew my residency?
RENEWING A RESIDENCE PERMIT (GENERAL REGIME)
Article 78, paragraph 2, of the REPSAE, in conjunction with article 63,
paragraph 1 of the RD 84/2007 as amended)
- Application delivered personally, (on a standard form) signed by the applicant (where the applicant is either a minor or legally disabled person the form shall be signed by his / her legal representative)
- Two recent, identical photographs, in colour with blank background, and easily identifiable, except in SIGAP Service Bureaus
- Residence Title valid, or expired in the previous 6 months
- Passport or any other valid travel document
- Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence, as per the provisions of Order number 1563/2007, of 11/12
- Evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation
- Permission for checking criminal records (see standard form) - except for under 16 years old
- Document proving the regularized applicant’s tax situation
- Document proving the regularized applicant’s Social Security situation
- Residence Permit may be refused on grounds of public policy or national security reasons.
- A residence Permit shall be renovated only if its bearer has not been the object of custodial sentence (s) that individually or jointly exceed one year of imprisonment, even if, in case of sentencing for felonious crime set out in this legal framework, for crime of terrorism, for highly violent or highly organized crime, the enforcement of the sentence has been suspended.
- Residence Permit shall not be renovated if the holder has been judged by default, unless he / she is able to present evidence that he / she is no longer deemed as having been judged by default
- The residence permit held by a foreign citizen convicted to a custodial sentence shall only be renewed if that same citizen has not been subject to a decree of expulsion
- The renewal of a Temporary Residence Permit shall be applied for by the respective beneficiary up to 30 days before the expiry date
- Residents shall communicate to SEF any changes in their marital status, or in their home address, within 60 days from the date those alterations occur
- A receipt attesting submission of an application for renewal of a residence permit, replaces the Residence Permit, in all its effects, for a period of 60 days, renewable
Renewing Your Portuguese Residence Permit By Susan Stults Korthase
Scheduling Your Appointment
You should make your appointment for 30-35 days prior to the expiration of your current Titulo. As a renewal, your appointment can be made online. However, the online system is incurring a high rate of error and sometimes excludes key renewal sites, such as Lisboa, Porto and Cascais, for reasons that elude all reasonable minds. Additionally, due to the high volume of Residence Permit applications, the SEF offices are currently (since mid-2015) asking that you book your initial appointment by calling their main customer service number. Call center hours are Monday-Friday from 09:00 a.m. to 05:30 p.m. The numbers are 808 202 653 (fixed network) or 808 962 690 (mobile network).
o The automated message is in Portuguese. If that's an issue, wait until the end of the message, when an English-speaking person will come on the line, or hand your phone to a Portuguese friend to navigate the menu for you.
o Your appointment date might exceed the viability of your current Permit; when this happens, the SEF sends you an email confirming your appointment. You are expected to print out that email and carry it with you as it officially extends the duration of your current Permit until that appointment.
o When you go to SEF for your appointment, you will get a number and wait....while the appointment itself takes less than an hour you might spend the entire day waiting as many SEF offices give you an appointed time to get an appointment, not to meet with the official.
What to Bring With You
This is the list of documents required by the SEF with an explanatory "Note" added where clarification helps. Blue, underlined terms are hypertext links that take you to more information at the SEF portal.
RENEWING A RESIDENCE PERMIT (GENERAL REGIME, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES OF APPLICANTS: RETIRED / WITH OWN FINANCIAL INCOME /RELIGIOUS) (ARTICLE 78, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE REPSAE (LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON THE ENTRY, PERMANENCE, EXIT AND REMOVAL OF FOREIGNERS FROM NATIONAL TERRITORY), IN CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLE 63, PARAGRAPH 1 OF THE REGULATORY DECREE NUMBER 2/2013)
1. Application delivered personally (on a standard form) signed by the applicant (where the applicant is either a minor or legally disabled person the form shall be signed by his/her legal representative)
2. Two recent, identical photographs, in color with blank background and easily identifiable, except in SIGAP Service Bureaus [Note: These centers take your photo onsite]
3. Residence Title valid, or expired in the previous 6 months
4. Passport or any other valid travel document
5. Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence, as per the provisions of Order number 1563/2007, of 11/12 [Note: This is the same evidence you provided for your Visa. Account statements should be no more than 3 months old]
6. Evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation [Note: Provide your rental contract, hotel booking or home purchase contract. The address on the document you provide will be the address used on your Permit. If/when you move, you'll need to update your address at your local Junta da Freguisia for a fee, taking their validation letter within 30 days to your SEF and paying a fee for new cards. If you fail to update your address within 60 days of a change you will be charged a late fee].
7. Permission for checking criminal records (see standard form)- (except people under 16 years old) [Note: Your signature on the "Standard Application form" is permission for checking with the Portuguese Police to ensure your criminal record is clean since arriving in Portugal. There is no separate form for this]
8. Document proving the applicant's tax situation, where applicable [Note: This has nothing to do with the US IRS…it's your NIF number. SEF enters this into their system at your appointment to detect unpaid fines or fees]
9. Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security [Note: This refers to the national health plan for citizens of the EU. As a non-EU citizen, you will provide your proof of health insurance and receipt of health insurance payment. Proof of insurance is a one page document with your name, dates effective and policy coverage levels]
Be prepared for someone to ask you for more documentation than is officially required. Respectfully providing what you can, respectfully declining what isn't necessary--so therefore you don't have it--are appropriate responses. I recommend taking with you a print-out of the Documentation Required by SEF to indicate that you've come prepared according to their specific requirements.
o Some applicants have been told by other applicants or even by their SEF official that a new FBI report is required. That isn't correct. Perhaps the applicants misunderstand what is asked for in point 7, above. At this stage, the FBI report has done what it needed to do, which is get you your Schengen Visa. You can bring a copy of that original FBI report with you as a pre-emptive measure but don't let that derail your appointment.
o Some applicants have been asked for Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and/or IRS reports. You can have your birth and marriage certificates with you, and in fact I've always recommended that applicants bring a copy of all of their original Visa application documents with them. However, "IRS" doesn't mean the United States 1040 filing. This is never necessary with the SEF. "IRS" means the Portuguese IRS; they want to include your NIF number on your Permit card.
You should be able to complete the process and be told you are approved at this appointment. If you fail to bring any required documentation, you will have to make another appointment and return. This rarely happens, usually to people who aren't clear, firm and convinced of what they are doing or who don't follow instructions. You can pay your fees in cash or with a Portuguese bank card (Multibanco) but not with a credit card.
The Titulo Card is sent to your address, or your post office might send you a notice to come pick it up. It usually arrives within a couple of weeks.
You will renew your Titulo de Residencia 30 days prior to each expiration. It expires after the first year and is renewed for successive periods of two years. At the 5 year renewal, you may apply for a ‘permanent' Titulo that is renewed every 5 years. EU countries must recognize long-term resident status after five years of continuous legal residence. Absences from the EU country for periods of less than six consecutive months (and not exceeding ten months in total within the five-year period) or for specific reasons provided for by national law (e.g. military service, secondment for work purposes, serious illness, maternity, research or studies) will be regarded as not interrupting the period of residence.