So the die is cast and I have made my second dual citizenship application. I wrote a summary of the first one, but a couple of things are different this time, so I’m going to document those changes here in case it helps anyone in the same position.
When I originally applied, I was missing one document: a criminal records check from the FBI, so I sent that and it didn’t arrive (gah!) I should have followed up at the time but it sort of got lost among the general apathetic weirdness of lockdown life and eventually the time ran out and they rejected the whole thing. As a result, I had to go back to square one.
Well, not quite square one in fact, because they confirmed for me that they had the original documents in archive so I could just send updates for *both* CRB checks, not just the American one, and refer to the original case ID for the passport, wedding certificate and all the rest. But I would need to submit a new form and start a new process and of course the real pain was having to pay the €250 fee again, but it’s my own stupid fault.
So I sent off my request to the FBI and ACRO, got them back, sent them out to the same translator I used last time, got the translations back, and in the meantime started scratching my head trying to figure out how I was going to get my signature witnessed and the fee paid, given that I am based in the UK. Last time I applied I went to Porto in person and rocked up at the SEF office to submit my application in person but travel is a bit more awkward these days and it seemed better to donut by post if possible.
Paying the fee
When I originally applied you needed cash (obviously not safe to send in the mail!) a Vale Postal, which you can only get in Portugal or a banker’s cheque from a bank with branches in Portugal. Tricky. I did a fair bit of detective work and contacted a few Portuguese banks with branches in London, to see if I could set up a current account there as a prospective future citizen without an ID card. The only one I had any luck with was the Caixa Geral de Depósitos, who confirmed they could provide an account, but it can’t be done online so they offered me an appointment to set up an account, but the day before I was due to meet them I found a better way and so I called them to cancel. I might set one up eventually anyway, but in the age of omicron it seemed daft to go and have a face-to-face meeting with someone if I didn’t need to.
So what’s this better way? Well, you can now do credit card payments. Yeessss!!! It’s not incredibly obvious but if you go through the website you can find your way there. I can’t give you a direct link because it varies slightly depending on your situation but start on this page. Click on the case that best fits your situation. Scroll down to where it says “modalidade de pagar”. Under the first section, “Por Cartão de Crédito ou Cartão de Débito”, click the link to Plataforma de pagamentos. You should now find it’s showing the right fee, and you can fill in the rest. When you’ve paid, they’ll email you a copy of the right modelo (form) with the payment details printed at the top instead of the normal payment section, so print it out and use it in place of the standard form. And that’s it! A hundred times easier than last time!
Getting the Signature Witnessed
It’s possible to do this at the consulate apparently but the Portuguese consulate in London has a dreadful reputation and I’ve been there a couple of times so I can see why. Anyway, it’s an option and probably cheaper if you can do it. I gave up pretty early on when it asked for an ID card number. Maybe I could have got my wife to do it and accompany me on the visit but wild horses couldn’t drag her to the consulate so it didn’t seem worth the effort. There’s a firm of Portuguese solicitors in London called Castelo who are able to properly notorise official documents but it’ll cost you a little north of a hundred and seventy quid including VAT. They have three branches but I went to the one in Victoria. It’s a really nice place, very welcoming, and there is a heckin’ beautiful floofy white dog (a Samoyed?) who is there every day and who keeps you company in the waiting room and lets you stroke his (her?) fur. In my opinion, that was worth the price of the fee all on its own. I believe the solicitors are all Portuguese. The one I spoke to just sounded British to me, so that I wondered if it was maybe a Portuguese firm with staff from both countries but when I made the mistake of asking if she spoke Portuguese she switched languages right away and said she was Portuguese and I felt a bit silly for having asked.
One potential snag was that she mentioned I might need an “apostille” from the foreign office to accompany the form because it was being sent from outside the country. I wasn’t keen to delay the application because the CRB checks have a limited shelf life, and couldn’t see any mention of such a thing in the instructions so I decided to just cross my fingers and hope it only applies to certain types of applications. If I find out later that I need one, I’ll update this page.
I put all the signed forms and other papers and translations together with a printed email of the conversation I’d had up to now about the end of the previous application, including the reference number, and took them to the post office to send by recorded delivery so I’d know it hadn’t got lost. The chap behind the counter helpfully pointed out that I’d spelled Lisbon with an A and I said oh well, never mind, it’ll probably get there.