Renewing Your Portuguese Residence Permit
Summary: Expats in Portugal need to periodically renew their residence permit. Susan Stults Korthase offers up the information you'll need to get it done.
Time to renew your Portuguese Temporary Residence Permit, your Titulo de Residencia? This article outlines the steps, timing and required documentation along with links to the official government sites and forms.
Scheduling Your Appointment
You should make your appointment for 30-35 days prior to the expiration of your current Titulo. As a renewal, your appointment can be made online. However, the online system is incurring a high rate of error and sometimes excludes key renewal sites, such as Lisboa, Porto and Cascais, for reasons that elude all reasonable minds. Additionally, 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. If that's an issue, 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 current Permit; when this happens, the SEF sends you an email confirming your appointment. You are expected to print out that email and carry it with you as it officially extends the duration of your current Permit 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 are hypertext links that take you to more information at the SEF portal.
RENEWING A RESIDENCE PERMIT (GENERAL REGIME, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES OF APPLICANTS: RETIRED / WITH OWN FINANCIAL INCOME /RELIGIOUS) (ARTICLE 78, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE REPSAE (LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON THE ENTRY, PERMANENCE, EXIT AND REMOVAL OF FOREIGNERS FROM NATIONAL TERRITORY), IN CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLE 63, PARAGRAPH 1 OF THE REGULATORY DECREE NUMBER 2/2013)
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 [Note: These centers take your photo onsite]
3. Residence Title valid, or expired in the previous 6 months
4. Passport or any other valid travel document
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 "Standard 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. Document proving the applicant's tax situation, where applicable [Note: This has nothing to do with the US IRS…it's your NIF number. SEF enters this into their system at your appointment to detect unpaid fines or fees]
9. Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security [Note: This refers to the national health plan for citizens of the EU. As a non-EU citizen, you will provide your proof of health insurance and receipt of health insurance payment. Proof of insurance is a one page document with your name, dates effective and policy coverage levels]
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 with you a print-out of the Documentation Required by SEF 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; they want to include your NIF number on your Permit card.
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. It usually arrives within a couple of weeks.
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. At the 5 year renewal, you may apply for a ‘permanent' Titulo that is renewed every 5 years. EU countries must recognize 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.
Susan moved to Portugal in 2010 following a career in international human resources and consulting. As CEO of Communications Matters, Susan has completed many writing, project management and website optimization projects from the sunny home in Cascais that she shares with freelance photographer husband Craig. Her articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, International Living and on several blogs.
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Thank you so much for this no nonsense step by step article. So many expat sites are now so experiential, that you are not sure whether the experience is just the writer's or really important to all. Please keep up this approach.meufado
Hi Susan, great info! With regards to your comment on Permanent residency application - "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 .." does that mean in a five year period, I'm only allowed 2 months away from the country each year. So, if someone were to spend say 8 months in portugal and 4 months summer in the states would that jeopardize the permanent residency application?LongRedFlorence
What Susan failed to do was to make a distinction between requirements for UK vs USA etc UK residents, as members of EU, have less stringent requirements for residency and egulations reflevt this. Thanks, Rachel..GeoffK
An excellent article. One thing I would emphasize is the need to have evidence of your accommodation and it should be relevant to the office your interview is scheduled to take place. I was living in Central Portugal and was given an appointment in Leiria. I attended the interview en route to new lodging in the Algarve. I was refused a Resident Permit because I did not have proof of my Algarve address and was told to make a new appointment in Faro..GeoffK
Please note that my comments relating to appointments and addresses were in connection with the initial application for a Resident Permit, not a renewal.