SEF VISIT TO OBTAIN OUR WA BIOMETRIC CARDS – OUR EXPERIENCE
The long awaited WA Biometric SEF appointments are presently being issued in many areas. I was shocked to receive my email invite back in October 2022, to make my SEF appointment as I had no clue that Coimbra was next in line! I thought it would be a good idea to share my personal experience with you all. Originally we had our appointment booked for October 2022 but we had to change it because our car broke down the day before our appointment and needed a brand new expensive clutch. We re-scheduled for December 17th 2022.
List of documents I took with me
5 Year Residence document (The one with the yellow stars on it often called CRUE)
QR Code Document
SNS Health registration document showing Utente Number
NISS Certificate or official letter bearing it
Proof of Address
Re: Proof of address: It is not totally clear what evidence is sufficient but personally I don’t have many original recently dated documents with my name on them as Portugal love to put household bills in one person’s name only, usually the man of the house! I know how sexist, little do they know that I wear the pants in our house, usually granny pants (ha ha). I tried to get the water and electricity put in joint names back in 2020 but the companies wouldn’t allow this, you may have more luck. The only document I have confirming my address is the deeds to our house (in joint names), our joint tax return and a letter/bill from Coimbra Hospital. Hubby has household bills for his evidence. I know some folk are not being asked to confirm their address at their appointment but I am over zealous in everything I do and didn’t want to be turned away due to not being able to prove my address so I visited our local Junta de Freguesia to obtain an Atestado de Residência which is basically an official proof of address document. We obtained one of these for each of us back in January 2020 as proof of address for our CRUE 5 Year temporary residence document but the Atestado expired after 2 years. To obtain the Atestado we just had to show our passports and deeds for house then give our NIF numbers. I also had the expired Atestado certificate.
I emailed our Junta in advance to check opening times as many of these offices have weird timings. Ours is only open 20:00-22:00 Wednesdays and 10:00-12:00 Saturdays! We decided to both obtain the Atestado as it is free and a useful document to have. I have heard stories that some Junta de Freguesia request 2 people to act as witnesses to confirm that you live at your address. They must be citizens of Portugal and registered to vote in your Parish. I have also read that there are other ways you can obtain documents to proove your address by logging onto the Finance Portal and printing off a document but I always have a nightmare with the online portals and some offices don’t accept computer printed documents they only accept originals and we didn’t have time to request a document and wait for it to be posted to us. As I always say it really does depend on the member of staff and the office you visit. Everyone has different experiences and although these official offices should all be reading from the same hymn book so to speak, it varies hugely across Portugal.
Re: NISS (Número de Identificação da Segurança). This is the equivalent to your National Insurance number in the UK and is connected to you paying your social security contributions here in Portugal and state benefits. Not everyone will have a Social Security number and it is not compulsory for residents to have one. There is a lot of conflicting information re: NISS. Some folk have a NISS number even though they have never worked in Portugal and are under the state pension age. It really does depend on where you live as to whether you were issued one. Do not confuse this with paying taxes in Portugal, You must complete an annual tax return and declare all your worldly income. Re: Tax – My advice would be to find a good Accountant who understands the double taxation rules and NHR. Ours is worth their weight in gold. Many folk get confused and assume everyone has to have a NISS Number. It is highly likely you will only have one of these if you work in Portugal for a Portuguese Company, are self-employed/freelancer or retired and receiving a pension here. Although my hubby pays SS in Portugal via his employment (direct deduction from salary) we could not find any proof or documentation of his SS Number (not even on his wage slip) so he didn’t have it written on the back of his Biometric Card. We tried to email his employer but they didn’t get back to us in time. Re: Parents names – They will ask for your parents full names but don’t require evidence.
All Documents must be ORIGINAL and not photocopies! I am unsure if they will accept certified copies. Your passport must be in date and NOT expired. There was a man with an expired passport trying to argue with a member of staff when we visited for our appointment. He was sent away with his tail between his legs as although an expired passport is valid proof of ID in the UK, it is not sufficient for this process in Portugal. If you want your NIF, Utente/SNS and NISS numbers printed on the back of your card then you must produce the original documents with these numbers on, you can’t just write them down or say them. This makes sense as the SEF do not want to miss print the wrong numbers on your card to then have to re-issue another card with the actual correct numbers on.
A4 Sheet with the following information typed in CAPITAL LETTERS
PLACE OF BIRTH:
Our Experience at Coimbra Office
We arrived 1 hour early because the early bird always catches the worm (ha ha). My appointment was 10:30 and hubby’s was 10:50 but we checked the night before our appointment as some folk have had their appointment time changed and even the date! We didn’t want any last minute nasty surprises. It was a good job we did check as now both our appointment times were scheduled for 10:30am. Although there is a fee paying car park right next to the SEF office, we decided to park for free at Parque Verde next to Coimbra SUP and take a leisurely stroll across the pretty Pedro & Inês bridge because we had time to kill.
We arrived at the SEF office at 10:00am (1/2 hr early) and I was expecting there to be a security guard outside checking appointments but there wasn’t. The office was very busy with a lot of people queuing at different desks. We asked a security guard where we needed to go and they directed us upstairs and to the right. You do NOT need to take a ticket from the machine as you have an appointment. You also do not need to give your name to anyone or inform them of your arrival, just sit and wait for your name to be called out. There was about a dozen people in the waiting area and the lady sat next to us informed me that they were running about 1/2 hour behind schedule which was fine. There are toilets which are immaculate and clean if you have a weak menopausal bladder like me (ha ha). There were 4 stations but only 2 open on Saturday when we visited. We sat down and waited patiently like a true Brit (ha ha). My name was called out at 10:45am and we both approached the desk and were seen together (one after the other). The lady was polite, friendly and spoke great English. Although we took an A4 sheet of paper with the above listed information typed on it, the lady still made us complete a handwritten form. I think they should hand this out for us to complete whilst we are waiting in line, makes sense to me but then again this is Portugal (ha ha).
The staff member only checked and photocopied the following documents from my list above: Passport, Residency CRUE Cert, QR document, NIF and Utente. My photo was taken, Index finger prints and finally my digital signature (all done on machine at the desk). I already know my photo is going to be bad and my hair resembles Worzel Gummidge because it was a tad windy out, I will look like this on my card for the next 5 years (ha ha). I read that you should not wear white as it may mess with the background colour so I wore pink to make the boys wink (ha ha). We were both really happy with the procedure and timeframe. Coimbra is only a 1 hour drive from our home. Some people I know live in Viseu and were offered appointments in Porto so I am super pleased that we got our appointments in Coimbra. I also know of others who have moved address since they applied for thier QR code and have been offered appointments near their old address so have had to travel a few hours! Apparently there is no way to change the location which is frustrating. It was a straight forward, easy process. Hubby was seen straight after me and we were both finished in 15 mins. Appointments 10.30, seen at 10:45am and out by 11am, how fabulous!
As I mentioned, there is a car park right next to the SEF office: Estacionamento Rua dos Oleiros, 3000-302 Coimbra (Rua dos Oleiros Car Park) but we parked for free at Parque Verde because I am frugal and hate paying for parking, we also had time to spare as arrived early.
€15 5 Year
€18 10 Year
You do not pay anything at the actual appointment. After your appointment you will need to log back on to the SEF website (the same way as you did when booking your appointment). Then instead of clicking the calendar icon which looks like a calculator you need to click on the Euro symbol. Then click on your name and then on the date. A blank payment document will appear. Click on the yellow icon next to the words “Payment Document DUC”. Confirm the details are correct. Click the Save icon (Computer disc) and then the payment document will appear on the screen. There is a yellow button with a printer on which you click to print off the payment document so you have the reference number to hand. You can generate your payment document immediately after your appointment but for some reason you cannot pay until 48 hours later! We were confused about this as I thought you had to wait 48 hours before you can produce the payment document so that is what I did, I waited 2 working days after our appointment date. I was wrong, it’s 48 hours from the time you produce the payment document and you must pay by the deadline specified. Options for payment are online banking or Multibanco (at a cashpoint). You will need your reference number handy when you pay. Some folk have had screen errors appear when trying to generate their payment document.
We had no difficulty in generating ours but when I checked the information my place of birth was written as BRISTON instead of BRISTOL. WTF! As this is printed on the card I want it correct. I have generated my payment document which I now think I should not have done as there is a mistake. I now have until the 28/12/2022 to pay. I am a little pissed off to be honest. You had one job to do lady. N and L are not even positioned next to each other on the keyboard! Why me? Also it’s not like she read my dodgy handwriting, she copied the place of birth directly from my passport and I also had printed off an A4 sheet in capital letters with BRISTOL typed in large font on it. I emailed SEF and haven’t received a reply. I managed to get through to the Helpline but the bloke said I need to physically visit SEF in person. He said I could either go to get the information amended or just pay for the card, receive it then re-visit with the card with the error on it to get a new one re-issued. I was going to visit in person until I read that the SEF Biometric Card Enquiry desk at Coimbra is manned by the same SEF staff who deal with the biometric appointments and the staff have to dash between both stations and only see people in-between appointments. One lady said there were 5 people in front of her and she waited 2 hours. They close at 4pm on the day I will be in Coimbra, I have a hospital appointment so thought I could kill 2 birds with 1 stone but they will close before I will be seen. I have decided to just pay and receive the card then I think I have 20 days to rectify mistakes and at least I will have a card until the correct one arrives. Also, she may have made other mistakes like my Utente number and NIF so it’s best to wait and check the card for any other fuck up’s. It’s not the end of the world because apparently Briston is actually a place in Norfolk. The problem is I have mastered my Bristolian farmer accent and I’m not sure I can perfect a Norfolk accent (ha ha). It could be worse, initially they had me as Male instead of Female which the lady changed. It’s a good job I shaved my beard and moustache (ha ha). We both managed to pay for our cards using online banking on 23/12/2022, now the anxious wait starts here.
The all Important Date
Our 5 Year WA Biometric Card will have the date of our appointment not the date of our initial CRUE so we will debate the situation in a couple of years time to see if we wish to apply for the 10 year permanent residency as this gives one more rights. I’m not going to get too stressed about this error for now as it is happening to most people. It appears most folk are being issued their cards with the start date being their appointment date so I am not alone with this struggle. The main thing is to make sure you receive back your CRUE – Residency document (The document with the yellow stars on it). Some people have received it back with a cancelled stamp on it but it is still proof of your initial date of applying for residency so don’t let this document out of your sight. I do feel for people who have an expired 5 year card and are expecting a 10 year one as most people are being wrongly issued with a 5 year card. We are lucky as we are only 3 years in to our residency status.
CRUE obtained on: 13/01/2020
QR Code obtained on: 10/12/2020
SEF Appointment email received on: 15/10/2022
SEF Appointment on: 21/10/2022 had to change it to 17/12/2022 as our car broke down and without vehicle!
Payment Invoice: Hubby produced our payment invoices on 21/12/2022 (You need to wait 48 hours before making the payment). I also emailed SEF and spoke to a staff member at the SEF Helpline regarding the error on my card.
Paid: Online payment successful on 23/12/2022.
Received WA Biometric Card in the post at home address on: 04/01/2023.
One huge thing to bear in mind is that after your appointment has been scheduled, do not accidentally cancel your appointment by clicking the close button (X). It doesn’t close the window but cancels your appointment and this is very easy to do. My hubby is an IT expert and he nearly did this himself when we logged back into the system to check our appointment date and time, he nearly gave me a heart attack! (ha ha). You have been warned. Please remember that in Portugal processes can differ widely depending on which office and location you visit. My experience may not be your experience. I am just sharing mine to help others in case they are clueless in this long awaited procedure. Good luck!
Update – Yippee! Our Cards Arrived
We both received our cards on 04/01/2023 by CTT. Hubby signed for both of ours and the postman never asked for any ID. Unfortunately my card does have my home town miss-spelt as Briston instead of Bristol. I was secretly hoping it would say Bristol as I emailed Coimbra SEF and although they didn’t reply or acknowledge my email the information on the SEF website suddenly changed to the correct spelling but it looks like my card was issued before the change on their system was made. I now have the difficult decision of debating if I want to return to Coimbra SEF within 20 days to rectify the small mistake. I was planning to do this but I have recently read that the desk now has a sign that says they won’t see anyone without an appointment. Others have confirmed that the security guard is not even letting people inside the building without proof of an appointment.
I don’t want to waste petrol money driving an hour each way in the next 20 days as we have no plans to leave our home. Also another friend said that when she took her card back for spelling mistakes, they physically take your card off you. This worries me as I plan to return to the UK in June or July for my daughters graduation from Uni and if for some random reason they take my card and don’t send me the new amended one in the next 5-6 months they it’s highly likely I will be detained at the airport when trying to get back in to Portugal as my QR code and old residency document was cancelled when my WA Biometric card was issued. I really don’t think I will have any issues at the airport with a one letter spelling error. If the airport staff get shitty, I can show them a screen shot from SEF with my correct details. I also have my email as proof of notifying them so at this moment in time I don’t think I will bother with the hassle of travelling to Coimbra but I have 20 days to change my mind and I’m very indecisive so it could go either way (ha ha).
Final funny – Most folk have complained that their photo makes them look like a criminal worthy of the UK Crimewatch TV show or a munchkin as their heads are somewhat squashed down in size. I don’t love my photo but I don’t hate it either. It’s certainly not as bad as my driving license or passport photo. I am sneakily semi-smiling unlike hubby who looks a rather sad fella (ha ha).