Posted in Portuguese

Textos

A couple of text corrections on the same subject – first written before my visit to the solicitors office on Friday…

O Advogado

Em 2019, fiz um pedido de adquirir cidadania portuguesa em conjunção com a minha cidadania britânica, por causa do brexit e das minhas circunstâncias pessoais. Felizmente, ambos os países permitem dupla cidadania (ao contrário da Espanha). O processo foi indeferido em 2020 e caiu no esquecimento durante as primeiras fases da pandemia, mas estou a candidatar-me mais uma vez à cidadania portuguesa.
Hoje, tenho uma reunião marcada com um advogado português que vai certificar o meu formulário e depois os documentos todos irão no correio para Lisboa!

And then after…

A Advogada

Enganei-me ontem. Escrevi um texto intitulado “o advogado” mas acabei por descobrir que era uma advogada. OK, eu sei, não era erro nenhum porque sem saber o género da pessoa, usamos o masculino por padrão, mas sinto-me obrigado a corrigir a palavra!
Fui para lá de bicicleta, e quando cheguei fui informado de que o elevador estava avariado então tive de subir as escadas para o quarto andar.
Na sala de espera, havia um cão branco de pêlo longo que me permitiu afagá-lo enquanto a advogada assinava e certificava o documento. Depois, o documento, junto com as cópias dos certificados e tal, foi num envelope para o correio e já estáa a caminho para Lisboa.

Posted in English

Dual Citizenship

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.

A beautiful samoyed in the waiting room of the Portuguese solicitor in London
Company in the waiting room

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.

Posted in English

Portugalist

Portugalist is a sort of lifestyle and travel site with an informal, magazine vibe aimed at english-speaking visitors and residents in Portugal. I’ve tended not to pay much attention to it since I don’t travel much and don’t live there. I’ve just spent some time poking around though, and I must say, there’s some good stuff on there. Their bread-and-butter content is practical and seems very up-to-the-minute: how to get a covid vaccine, navigate finances and bureaucracy and so on. For those of us exiled beyond the sea and just wanting to learn the language, they have a modest-sized language section which doesn’t have much direct learning material but acts as a directory out to other sites and channels where you can find the right course.

Here are a few things I liked, in case you’re not already familiar with it

Posted in Portuguese

Gooble Gobble

Está muito frio aqui em Aylesbury, e sinto o tempo ainda mais porque ontem estive no Porto. Fui para pedir a cidadania portuguesa. Como alguns de vocês já sabem, a nossa família é anglo-portuguesa (ou seja luso-britânica). Não votámos para aquela tolice do Brexit mas quer queiramos quer não, parece cada vez mais inevitável que vai acontecer portanto todos nós ingleses casados com estrangeiros temos de pensar no futuro. Ninguém sabe precisamente o que vai acontecer, nem sequer a Primeira Ministra.

Eu e a minha mulher decidimos que o melhor plano de acção era obter dupla cidadania para todos nós. Portanto, ela está a pedir atribuição de “settled status” (estatuto de residente permanente) e eu e a nossa filha vamos tornarmo-nos portugueses. Depois, venha o que vier, ficaremos juntos e se Deus e o partido conservador quiserem, teremos mais opções do que teriam tido senão.

Pôr o processo em andamento foi um desafio. Foi muito acidentado, e encontrei alguns funcionários pouco simpáticos mas afinal, o Porto é uma cidade lindíssima, e adorei o meu pesadelo burocrático no paraíso. Acabei por ficar lá mais um dia. Um homem muito prestativo ajudou-me. Ainda não marquei golo, mas a bola passou por cima do guarda-redes e está quase através da linha do golo*

Tenho sentimentos mistos sobre isto da dupla cidadania. Não é algo que consideraria antes do Brexit, mas sinto-me confortável com a decisão, apesar disso. É a terra da minha esposa. Falo a língua (mais ou menos). Gosto da música, a comida, adoro a literatura. Claro não sou literalmente português, mas espero que cada dia que passe, merecerei a honra de dizer “eu sou português”

*There y’go, a futebol analogy – I’m half way there already!

Posted in English

Applying for Dual Portuguese Citizenship

Updated 12/3/19 in light of what I learned in Porto

15/01/2022 – there is a sequel to this post that is worth reading since it has some important updates about payment methods.


Well, it looks like some people voted for a national act of self-harm and those of us whose families straddle more than one country need to think about planning for the future. In our case, we’re doing that by applying for dual citizenship (me, daughter, both currently british) and leave to remain (Mrs L, Portuguese) to ensure we’re all in the same boat and can act together in future if some future government decides to make life properly difficult for EU citizens or punish them financially or it becomes difficult to live and work in the countries we used to be able to move around in freely, all thanks to the actions of a bunch of divs who didn’t do the homework before getting into the voting booth.

I thought I’d write down the steps here in case it’s helpful. I’m going to focus on UK citizens living in the UK. If you’re an expat, you’re pretty well covered by other sites like this and of course if you’re Portuguese in the UK there’s a lot of info here.

The obvious point first of all is that it’s almost certainly going to be easier while we’re still in the EU than it would be after we leave and britain is towed across the ocean to be moored off Mar-a-Lago or whatever these idiots have in store for us. In other words, if you’re reading this, you’d better get your skates on.

Basic Approaches

Have a think about how you are going to submit your applications because that will determine some of the later choices you make. Options are:

  1. Go to the consulate in London. If at all possible, avoid this option.
  2. By mail. This is obviously a bit slower and you’ll have to figure out the logistics of how to get your documents validated unless you are mad enough to post the originals, which I don’t recommend, but if you can suss that out, this might be the least hassle option.
  3. Visit Portugal itself. Obviously this is the most fun option because you’ll be in Portugal, and the offices shut 3 hours before the bookshops and about 7 hours before the restaurants so you’ll have plenty of time to unwind.
    Several towns have offices where you can register. I think the smaller the town, the less time it takes because Lisbon and Porto are already swamped with Brazilians, Venezuelans and Brits. Presumably Faro has a massive backlog of “expats” too. Book a few days away. Maybe one for any preliminaries (say, get a NIF, meet with a Translator if you have any documents being translated) and leave two days for the process itself in case you have any problems with that and need to follow up.

Length of marriage

You need to have been married for 3 years to use the marriage route so if you’re not already hitched, tough (but there are other routes you can use – see below). If you got married in the UK, make sure the marriage is registered at the Portuguese consulate too. You will probably have done this if your other half updated their citizen card with a new surname. It’s slow and awful because it involves the consulate. They require all the same documents as described in this blog post, plus you’ll have to use their bloody awful online appointment booking, both turn up in person, and deal with various indignities.

Payment

The cost for an adult is €250. When you go to download the forms (“modelos”), there’s a big warning up front. Translation:

IMPORTANT WARNING

Applications that are not accompanied by the required payment will be rejected outright with all the documents. If payment is made by cheque, it must be a certified cheque or bank cheque issued in Euros from a company with representation in Portugal to the order of “IRN, IP” [this just means the Institute itself] issued on portuguese banks.

This seems a bit repetitive but basically, get thee to a bank that has branches in Portugal (Santander for example), open a bank account if you haven’t already got one, and ask for a banker’s cheque/banker’s draft.

There are two other alternatives. One is to get a “Vale Postal” (postal order) which you can buy at a post office (CTT) in Portugal. Again, make sure it’s made out to IRN, IP and has the correct address. The Vale Postal route is relatively straightforward if you have all the bits you need – the details of the payee (on the form itself) and the recipient, but on the downside, you have to do it in Portugal 3 working days before you submit to give it time to reach them. This is because a Vale Postal doesn’t work in quite the same way as a UK postal order. They mail the slip to the recipient and you need to note the reference number (and keep the receipt) as proof, and then wait for the order to show up at their office.

You’ll also need a “contribuente” (also known as Número de Identificação Fiscal – Or NIF) if you have one. If you don’t have one, you can pop down to the Serviço de Finanças and get one. It takes 20 minutes and costs €10. And if all else fails, just use your UK Unique Taxpayer Reference instead which seems to work.

The final option, if neither of the above is suitable, is the simplest of all, but you can only do it if you go to the office in person: bring cash.

The Modelos

The main hub for the different “modelos” (forms) is on the site of the Instituto dos Registos e Notariado.

Choose the one that best fits your situation. In my case, they were these:

Templates and forms regarding nationality

Model 1C
For children of a portuguese mother or father born abroad that registers their birth in the portuguese civil register or declares that they want to be portuguese.

Model 3
For a foreigner married for more than 3 years with a portuguese national or who lives in a de facto union for more than 3 years.

You need to print the first two pages double-sided and the third and fourth pages are just guidance. Fill it in in black, in Portuguese (Duh!) and using crosses, not ticks in the boxes. I’m not going to translate the whole thing I’m afraid. You can use GTranslate can’t you? Most of it is pretty straightforward, but there are a few weird ones:

  • Quadro 1, Questão 6 includes “Naturalidade”, “País” and “Nationalidade”, which seem to be asking the same thing, but I chose to interpret them as Place of birth (Scotland, in my case), Country (Stretching a point: the UK), Nationality (British)
  • Quadro 1, Questao 8 asks for countries you have lived in previously. You will need to provide criminal records checks from all these countries, so don’t even mention any you lived in as a child or if you weren’t there long enough to be registered and leave a paper trail.
  • Quadro 2, Questão 3 is a bit enigmatic “Do you have an effective link to the portuguese community”. This is exceptionally sketchily described in the form guidance as it stands and I have heard various theories, “new rules” and suggestions but what it seems to boil down to is this: for expats, resident in Portugal, married for 5+ years, there’s no language requirement if you can show something like a deed to a house, a contract with an employer or some other evidence of being a fully fledged citizen, to show you are integrated into society. If you’re non-resident, about the only proof of integration you can produce is a certificate of proficiency in the language, so effectively for us there is a language requirement. I quite like this: you can demonstrate you are integrated into the language and cultural life of the nation rather than the legal and economic life.
  • Quadro 2, Questão 3 again. A bit further down it asks if you’ve performed functions for the state that were not predominantly technical in character. I had to ask my wife about this one as I couldn’t see what it was driving at. I think we decided it meant performing the offices of an MP, say, or a civil servant. The suite of questions seems to be trying to establish if you have any competing duties that might mean you retain an allegiance to the former state, I guess, hence the questions about being in the armed forces, being a terrorist and so on.
  • Quadro 4 needs to have the answers copied from your other half’s birth certificate, and even then, if it’s anything like my wife’s it’ll still be baffling. I just handed it to her and asked her to do the necessary.
  • Quadro 6 needs to be signed and witnessed by someone. Since I was planning to visit, I left this blank to sign in front of the person I handed it to, but you can also do it in front of a consulate employee or a Portuguese solicitor if you are mailing it in.

Documentation

Some of this isn’t really spelled out because portuguese bureaucracy can be a bit hatstand sometimes, so it’s best to go the extra mile and do more than it requests rather than less

  • As I said above, a certificate of proficiency in Portuguese shouldn’t be needed if you have been married 5 or more years but if you are non-resident it’s likely to be your only proof of an effective link to Portuguese community.
  • You need a recent police check certificate in the UK and any other country you have lived in as an adult. The UK police certificate costs, and requires quite a bit of paperwork in its own right.
  • All the other documents it asks for – birth certificates, passports and so on – need to be translated, and officially, not just by you. As it turns out, it wasn’t necessary for my process because the chap said if it was written in English it didn’t need a translation. TBH, I’d suggest you’d better do it anyway since that’s what it says in the instructions and it seems to vary from one person to the next, how rigorously the rules are followed, but it’s up to you. You could save a couple of hundred quid if you skip this step and get away with it, but you might prefer to play it safe. I know of at least one other person who couldn’t get through the process because they didn’t have certified translations of all their papers. They’re also sometimes a bit funny about the certificates being recently issued (especially at the Consulate), so even if you have your original certificate, you should write to your registry office and get a reissued copy too and bring it along. If you’re not sure how to get a new certificate, Google the name of the local authority you were born/married/whatever in and “replacement certificate”.
  • If you do decide to get then translated, it’s quite a complicated process (but don’t worry, with the right help you can get through it)
    • Firstly, the translator can do the translation based on a photocopy, and that’s probably the first place to start since you can do it by email.
    • However, to get it certified, you need to give them either your original documents or a copy that has been authenticated by a solicitor or notary.
    • When they have that, they can attach the translation to the original or verified copy and take them all to a solicitor at their end who can certify the translation as well
  • Now, I didn’t trust the mail with my documents but also feared that if I got them certified in the UK the portuguese authorities might not recognise their authoritah, so what to do? Well, I sent my documents to a couple of translators in Portugal and got the quote I was happiest with (CS Traduções) and sent the documents by email attachment. She then took care of everything basically, and I arranged to pick them up the day before I had planned to submit the application. It was all completely hassle free and she was very patient with all my questions.
  • I already mentioned that if you were married in the UK you need to get your marriage registered in Portugal, so the proof of that is probably enough on its own but I took a translation of my UK marriage cert too, just to be on the safe side.
  • For children, both parents need to sign and both signatures witnessed.
  • For children, birth certificates should be recognised in all EU countries but since the UK might have left before the form gets processed it might be a precaution to get it stamped by the Portuguese consulate in the country of birth. This isn’t written down, just the opinion of one official I spoke to, so take that as you will.
  • As stated above, you’ll need your cheque, Vale Postal receipt, or cash if you’re an adult, but it is free for minors.

The Visit

If you’re visiting the consulate, you’re probably doomed and will have been driven to insanity within a few weeks. I pity you. If you’re visiting Portugal, the addresses of the offices are in the last page of the guidance on the Modelo. Since it says “Balcões da Nacionalidade instalados nas seguintes Conservatórias do Registo Civil” and doesn’t give any addresses for the offices in smaller towns outside Lisbon, I went to the wrong place at first. This seems to be the place in Porto, anyway:

SEF Porto

Av. da França 316, 4050-276 Porto, Portugal
+351 22 207 3810
https://maps.app.goo.gl/fL7zP

It’s a kind of one-stop citizen shop and there are several different services in the same office, so ask at the desk if you can’t find the right option on the machine that dispenses tickets (the tickets are known as “senhas” not “bilhetes”) . Ask for Conservatória and you should end up with a senha with a number that starts with a Q.

Make sure you arrive between 8AM and 8.30AM or you’ve no chance.

Obviously don’t be rude or anything, but do be prepared to be assertive. My wife gave me some samples of indignant customer dialogue to use in case of intransigence but I was quite glad I didn’t need to use them. Apparently the tone to go for is polite but with a menacing air of superiority.

Minha senhora /meu senhor. é preciso ser razoável e justo.
Ora eu já cá estive na sexta e nada foi resolvido ou esclarecido. Isto não pode ser.

Veja lá por favor o que pode fazer porque sinceramente eu estou a ficar desorientado e preciso clarificação

The process can’t even be started without payment. If anything else is missing, you’ll get a case number and can submit the missing docs by post, but the one thing you can’t forget is the money. Owing to the large number of applicants expect to hear back after a year – or 18 months for children. We’ll have left by then but hopefully they won’t have started stoning remainers to death in the public square yet, so we should be OK, I think.

Well, that’s the sum of all my knowledge. I hope it’s some help to someone. Good luck.


I’d like to thank my friends Barbie (who gave me a lot of advice on her own family’s involvement in this process) and Marcos (who by amazing luck happened to be very close by the SEF on Friday and actually came to help out with communication, which was incredibly generous of him)