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How to make an appointment with SEF in Lisbon

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6/7/2016 16:33 EST

I recently got my visa approval from US to live in Portugal for a year. My next step is to make at appointment with the SEF agency in Lisbon when I arrive to complete the final steps of my visa process. I'm having issues making that appointment online as the drop down menu doesnt give Lisbon as an option. Has anybody exprienced this as well? Can anybody provide some guidance as to how to make a SEF appointment online? or can it only be done over the phone? Also, doesn anybody know how long it may time to get an appointment? Thanks in advance!

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6/7/2016 17:20 EST

First appointment can't be made online; you must call. This is the process:

Scheduling Your Appointment:
Due to the high volume of Residence Permit applications, the SEF offices are currently (since mid-2015) asking that you book your initial appointment by calling their main customer service number. Call center hours are Monday-Friday from 09:00 a.m. to 05:30 p.m. The numbers are 808 202 653 (fixed network) or 808 962 690 (mobile network).
• The automated message is in Portuguese so either wait until the end of the message, when an English-speaking person will come on the line, or hand your phone to a Portuguese friend to navigate the menu for you.
• Your appointment date might exceed the viability of your 120 day Visa; when this happens, the SEF sends you an email confirming the appointment. You are expected to print out that email and carry it with you, as it officially extends the duration of your 120 day Visa until that appointment.
• When you go to SEF for your appointment, you will get a number and wait....while the appointment itself takes less than an hour you might spend the entire day waiting, as many SEF offices give you an appointed time to get an appointment, not to meet with the official.
What to Bring With You
This is the list of documents required by the SEF, with an explanatory “Note” added where clarification helps. Blue, underlined terms take you to more information at the SEF portal.

1. Application delivered personally (on a standard form) signed by the applicant (where the applicant is either a minor or legally disabled person the form shall be signed by his/her legal representative)
2. Two recent, identical photographs, in color with blank background and easily identifiable, except in SIGAP Service Bureaus
3. Passport or any other valid travel document
4. Valid residence visa
5. Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence, as per the provisions of Order number 1563/2007, of 11/12 [Note: This is the same evidence you provided for your Visa. Account statements should be no more than 3 months old]
6. Evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation [Note: Provide your rental contract, hotel booking or home purchase contract. The address on the document you provide will be the address used on your Permit. If/when you move, you’ll need to update your address at your local Junta da Freguisia for a fee, taking their validation letter within 30 days to your SEF and paying a fee for new cards. If you fail to update your address within 60 days of a change you will be charged a late fee].
7. Permission for checking criminal records (see standard form)- (except people under 16 years old) [Note: Your signature on the Application form is permission for checking with the Portuguese Police to ensure your criminal record is clean since arriving in Portugal. There is no separate form for this]
8. A document attesting to the existence of a family relationship, where applicable [Note: applicable when moving to Portugal to reunite with family]
9. Document proving the applicant’s tax situation, where applicable [Note: This has nothing to do with the US IRS…it’s your NIF number if you have already received one]
10. Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security [Note: This refers to the national health plan. You will provide your proof of health insurance and receipt of payment. Proof of insurance is a one page document with your name, dates affective and policy coverage]

Sticky Points
Be prepared for someone to ask you for more documentation than is officially required. Respectfully providing what you can, respectfully declining what isn’t necessary--so therefore you don’t have it--are appropriate responses. I recommend taking a print-out of the SEF Required Documentation with you to indicate that you’ve come prepared according to their specific requirements.
• Some applicants have been told by other applicants or even by their SEF official that a new FBI report is required. That isn’t correct. Perhaps the applicants misunderstand what is asked for in point 7, above. At this stage, the FBI report has done what it needed to do, which is get you your Schengen Visa. You can bring a copy of that original FBI report with you as a pre-emptive measure but don’t let that derail your appointment.
• Some applicants have been asked for Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and/or IRS reports. You can have your birth and marriage certificates with you, and in fact I’ve always recommended that applicants bring a copy of all of their original Visa application documents with them. However, “IRS” doesn’t mean the United States 1040 filing. This is never necessary with the SEF. “IRS” means the Portuguese IRS; at this point, you won’t have filed taxes with the IRS and might not yet have your NIF number. [If you do have your NIF, provide that so it’s included on your Residence Permit card. Note that the SEF can enter your NIF number into their system and determine your status with the Financias office.]
You should be able to complete the process and be told you are approved at this appointment. If you fail to bring any required documentation, you will have to make another appointment and return. This rarely happens, usually to people who aren't clear, firm and convinced of what they are doing or who don't follow instructions. You can pay your fees in cash or with a Portuguese bank card (Multibanco) but not with a credit card.

The Titulo Card is sent to your address, or your post office might send you a notice to come pick it up, and it arrives within a couple of weeks. It has photo, name and address.

You will use your Titulo card at a Financias office to apply for an NIF, your financial number / tax identifier or numero de contribuente. This is required to open a bank account, get any credit or grocery store cards and for tax purposes. However, you can get an NIF at your nearest Financias office before you have your Residence Permit, simply using your passport and proof of residence address (i.e., rental contract or house deed). This allows you to open a bank account right away. The Financias officials usually say “no, we can’t do that” but be respectfully persistent because they can!

Further Renewals:
You will renew your Titulo de Residencia 30 days prior to each expiration. It expires after the first year and is renewed for successive periods of two years. and then you may apply for a ‘permanent’ Titulo that is renewed at 10 year mark. EU countries must recognise long-term resident status after five years of continuous legal residence. Absences from the EU country for periods of less than six consecutive months (and not exceeding ten months in total within the five-year period) or for specific reasons provided for by national law (e.g. military service, secondment for work purposes, serious illness, maternity, research or studies) will be regarded as not interrupting the period of residence.

• Residence Permit Documentation in English at SEF Portal:
• Residence Permit Documentation in Portuguese at SEF Portal:
• Scheduling Appointments at SEF:

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6/7/2016 17:36 EST

Thank you so much for such a thural response. This is super helpful!

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6/7/2016 20:53 EST

A giant Thank You for your always, informative and for this one, time consuming answers. We appreciate the time you take to help out.

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6/9/2017 16:37 EST

craigandmicki: You mentioned the following: "Absences from the EU country for periods of less than six consecutive months (and not exceeding ten months in total within the five-year period) or for specific reasons provided for by national law (e.g. military service, secondment for work purposes, serious illness, maternity, research or studies) will be regarded as not interrupting the period of residence." (We are NOT golden visa, we are just applying for the Type 1 Visa Temporary residence permit) We just spoke with a lawyer and were told we only needed to be here 183 days out of the year and there was no such thing as the ten months in the total of 5 year period. I have been hearing contradicting things from different lawyers but cannot find any documentation online to give me a clear answer. Do you mind providing where you got this specific information so I can show it to my lawyer, I see you provided links about the application process but I can't find anything about ten months in the 5 year period?

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6/9/2017 18:17 EST


Amazingly detailed information. Thanks so much. If I my follow-up on a few things:

1. Do any of the document required (e.g. birth certificate) need to be notarized or "stamped"?
2. Is there requirement for a medical exam or doctor's report? If so, when in the process is this required?
3. Is the ‘permanent’ Titulo" you reference the same as a "Residente CE de Longa Duração" which I referenced in another post? Does the five year residency need to be completed entirely in Portugal or can a portion be met in another EU country?

Thanks again.

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6/13/2017 05:21 EST

To BigWorld's additional questions on the RESIDENCE VISA APPLICATION PROCESS: (1) Only your Passport signature page requires notarization (see details at "US Citizens Moving to Portugal" article on the process). (2) There is no longer a firm request for a Doctor's statement of health (which meant, no communicable diseases). Having one for the SEF might be helpful, depends on what your agent decides to request. (3) There are a few variations on the name of a permanent residence permit depending on the source: SEF, Consul, Schengen...why do you ask? (4) As of this writing, after you have your Permanent Residence Permit you can live in any Schengen country for up to 5 years but the first 5 years you must live most of the time in Portugal.

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6/13/2017 05:34 EST

To jm27746's comment that his attorney can't find the info about duration of absence from Portugal during the first 5 years of a Temporary Residence Permit: It bothers me deeply that people pay attorneys who can't find the applicable laws, then ask me to offer free information to those paid attorneys. This data is in the Diario da Republica, in the August 2012 citations of changes to the law, and in several Portuguese publications. I will grumble and moan forever about how little these attorneys know, how much they are paid, how often Americans have hired attorneys who then abscond with the payment and how little they help. So, NO, I will not cite the lei e artigo for your attorney. Taking a firm stand on this going forward.

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6/13/2017 07:01 EST

Craigandmicki, we have not hired an attorney we just had a free consultation for tax purposes and then they just happened to be lawyers and accountants and the question about minimum stay came up. We are trying to do as much as we can without hiring an attorney. I'm very sorry that my question offended you and I understand the frustration of being asked questions that are available online. I will look for the terms again. Again I'm sorry that I offended you. That was not my intention at all. I was simply trying to use this community to gather information and not trust what the attorneys said. I will look through the "Diario da Republica, in the August 2012 citations of changes to the law, and in several Portuguese publications" and try to find it. Thanks :)

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6/13/2017 07:13 EST

Hello. I hope you have a better experience than I did attempting to make a call to SEF for an appointment, just to make a change of address.. I tired online first. Could not be done. Wrote an email to SEF. They said I had to call. Tried many, many times over 1 month period (10 to 15 times). I even went by the local SEF office. No help-had to call. Was on hold for up to 22 minutes without any response. Had a Portuguese friend call. She gave up but told me what numbers I needed to click for the correct area. Finally, after another 16 minute wait magically a real person answered. I was so surprised I momentarily was speechless! )) it was accomplished. By the way, you also get charged for calling the 808 exchange. So, don't give up if you do not get a response and good luck! countga

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