Cutting through Portuguese bureaucracy

Cutting through Portuguese bureaucracy

This article is sponsored by Global International Relocation.

One of the biggest difficulties for expats coming to live in Portugal is dealing with the bureaucratic processes when it comes to requesting documents. Global International’s Tiago Bicudo explains.

Portugal is famous not only for beaches, weather, and gastronomy, but also for bureaucracy. Our country attracts people from all corners of the globe, and expats can find it strange the amount of time and processes they have to go through before coming to Portugal, and then in their daily lives once they’re here. Here, it is not uncommon to be asked for many documents, and to schedule countless appointments for one specific issue, which requires calls and paper printouts.

The procedures and laws for obtaining or exchanging some Portuguese documents have evolved over time and the advent of technology has sometimes generated confusion as it can be difficult to find the information needed on the official websites.

We know that for the mobility agents and FIDI members some basic documents are necessary, even before the booking. As we have more than 14 years of experience, we can confirm that the basic documents required before a move to Portugal are:

  • Packing list
  • Passport
  • Baggage certificate
  • Residence certificate (also called Atestado da Junta de Freguesia)
  • Portuguese fiscal number (also called NIF)
  • Visa permit/work permit for non-Portuguese and non-EU citizens, or European Register Certificate for non-Portuguese EU citizens
  • Declarations

It is important to emphasise that the above are basic documents necessary for almost all removals. However, further documentation may be needed depending on the type of cargo being transported, such as vehicles, pets, inheritances, guns, alcoholic beverages, and so on.

In many – usually private – cases that involve the mobility of people, proof of subsistence and health insurance accepted in the Schengen area, are also required.

One important point to check is the type of client visa that is needed; not all are accepted. Today, Portugal offers around 10 visas for foreigners. This is why it is necessary to be guided by a company with experience – it avoids creating any problems that may delay a client’s move.

For a successful international move, the agent must advise the customer to have all their documents to hand and then advise them on the next steps, as Portuguese bureaucracy does not end with the arrival of the goods and people. In some cases, once in the country, the expat must attend an official agency with their documents. To avoid delays they must have the apostilled/legalised documentation ready. Our experienced relocation and immigration team can help to avoid headaches for all concerned.

Throughout our history, we have faced all kinds of bureaucracy and changes in the law, both for international and domestic moves. We are experts in the complete move – from goods to people and pets – and, year after year, we have witnessed Portuguese processes evolve, so it has become increasingly easier to move here.

With us, you will find all the information to make the process less time consuming, and, depending on the case, free of taxes and duties. After all, international mobility is a service from people to people.

Find out more about Global International Relocation.


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