Yeay, my husband has finally managed to get his EU permanent residence in Portugal. This was a process that did not tickle my fancy and I hope that in 10 years time when he has to renew it, bureaucracy will have been simplified.
It is beyond my understanding why an EU citizen has to have a permanent residence in another EU country. Granted that Portugal wants to know who lives within its territory and whether he is a citizen of good standing, but, I would have thought that the registration at the Cascais town council would have been enough.
Anyway, we knew that after 5 years of residing in Portugal, hubby would have to apply for this permanent residence. Some research on the SEF site (http://www.sef.pt/portal/v10/PT/aspx/page.aspx#0) was done. The site is available in English and is very well set out but unfortunately their online booking for an appointment was just about impossible to access! So I dutifully started phoning SEF (Services for foreigners and borders) to try and request a day and hour to apply for residence. No, you cannot just pitch at their offices in Cascais, you have to make an appointment! OK, so after 3 weeks of continually dialling this particular number (808 202 653 (rede fixa) ou 808 962 690 (rede móvel) I finally managed to talk to a lady who, besides giving me a list of required documents, also gave me a date 4 months hence.
I duly collected all the documents, took hubby to a professional photographer, (after all, it would be unbecoming to apply for a residence looking like a bandit) and when the day came, we arrived at the SEF offices in Cascais a good half hour before the due hour. Surprise!!!! The appointment hour seemed to be totally useless because a number ticket was issued by order of arrival. That means that if we had arrived earlier, we would have been seen earlier no matter the set up hour. The waiting room was hot with all windows closed and a throng of people of all nationalities, shapes and colour waited submissively and patiently inside. Two dour women sat at a desk confirming that the required documents were at hand and if satisfied, another ticket was issued. Past the first hurdle, we sat and felt that we were in a cattle pen. Eventually hubby’s number was called and we managed to hand in his documentation to another sullen civil servant. Oh and guess what, of all the documentation that we were supposed to hand in, only a fraction was kept by SEF to process our request. Not a very good impression of how state departments work in this country.
After a month we received a postcard asking us to make another appointment, this time to collect the desired residence. Not again I thought, another three weeks glued to the phone just to get a day to fetch the document! Alas it only took one week for the phone to be answered and another week until the new date and hour of collection.
The timing process was again labouriously long but eventually his number was called. After much searching, this most precious document finally surfaced from an untidy pile and the clerk handed it to hubby.
Hopefully we will only have to see the insides of the SEF offices in Cascais again in 10 years time.