A couple of years back I was informed that as a resident I had to have a Portuguese driving licence. As my wife and I were due an annual flu jab I waited until we saw our doctor in the Autumn, had the jab and I asked her for the necessary health certificate I needed to get a driving licence. She scribbled something in Portuguese on a bit of paper and handed it to me.
A few days later I went to the licensing centre in Faro only to discover that hundreds of expats needed a licence and you had to take a ticket to be seen. My ticket number never came up because the office shut before that and the following day the tickets started at 0 again.
So I jumped on Google and discovered that the next nearest licensing centre was at Braga so the following day I drove two and a half hours to Braga and was seen within ¾ of an hour and my English driving licence was confiscated. I received a Portuguese licence shortly after by post. Later that year I became 70 yrs old and got a letter from Braga that because of my age I needed a new license and must produce a health certificate from my doctor so I went to see my doctor. At the Centro de Saude I was told that I didn’t have a doctor, but my wife did. I asked if I could register with her and was told that she was full up with clients as was every other doctor, but they’d put me on the waiting list. Could I see another doctor? Yes if I had something medically wrong with me otherwise I would have to wait a month or two to get the medical certificate.
I need a residencia to get the driving licence and with Brexit looming I checked it out and found that it had expired. After asking around I was told I could renew it on line through the immigration authorities called SEF. I found their website and yes, you can renew it on line, provided it hasn’t run out. In that case you need to go and see SEF. The next day I went to the SEF office in Portimao and was told I needed an appointment. They gave me a phone number that I rang everyday for a fortnight. Nobody ever answered. Back on the website I discovered 2 contact numbers so I rang the first one and received an automated electronic reply saying that the office had been closed for 3 months and I needed to phone the second number, which I did. That phone number no longer exists.
After enquiring around I discovered another SEF website where you can fill in a form and register for the new electronic residency card, which I did. Shortly after SEF sent me an email saying they would notify me when I could go to see them and get the new card. That was two months ago.
So now I’m marooned in Portugal and I have way overstayed my 3 months welcome. I could be arrested as an illegal immigrant, fined and deported, I don’t have a driving licence, I don’t have a doctor, without the doctor I probably cannot have the covid vaccine, my medical card is no longer legal and God knows what else I no longer have.
What a bureaucratic mess and it’s not only me. To post a parcel to the UK you now need a number from the customs and you must open an account on line to do this. Every time I try it tells me that my password is incorrect and I haven’t even got an account with them. To post parcels from the UK to here they all get Impounded by the customs and they won’t notify you for 2 weeks. Because the goods have come from outside the EU you have to pay 40% VAT on top of what you paid in England. You must have receipts for everything included in the parcel so they can charge the VAT accordingly. Without those you’re goods will be sent back to where they came from. Apart from the VAT you will be charged storage and delivery charges.
There are ex pats shivering and shaking all over Portugal because their prescriptions are locked in the customs shed along with bank cards and other essential documents. Lately, I’ve been buying food from supermarkets that has gone off because its been stuck in customs sheds. It’s about time the people in parliaments got a grip and stopped behaving like children in the schoolyard.
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