R is for Residency

“If you want to go somewhere, it is best to find someone who has already been there” Robert Kiyosaki

Well this could be an interesting post – and something that we have found many blogs out here just don’t cover! We are so grateful for Ben and Louise from the ‘Moving to Portugal’ blog – not only because their book covered their trials and tribulations of ‘Gaining Residency’ in Portugal – but also because they were brave enough to say ‘we want to do this properly’ and live legally in the country we now call home.

We can highly recommend their book:

Moving to Portugal book

But we also wanted to tell our story too – partly because we realised that we actually had quite a painless – and easy – experience gaining the illustrious ‘Residência’ papers (sorry Ben and Lou!) so we thought it would be worthwhile outlining the steps we took and what we had to do. But please bear in mind – this is just our experience – we are covered by Lagoa Câmara Municipal – and they seemed to have things organised and were very efficient – we obviously cannot tell you what another Câmara might be like!

We’ll also share another post with you soon about the reasons for why we wanted to do things properly – and some of the responses from others that we have since encountered – but for now – here’s the ‘nuts and bolts’ on how we did it! 

Oh – and we can recommend having lots of coffees and pastries to help you through!

coffee and cake

The first thing we did was lots of research online – to be honest, looking back on it, I wish I hadn’t bothered! Every site I read told me something different – even the Consulate site in Lisbon was confusing! Each site listed a different set of forms and identification which was required – and after a morning of ‘research’ I gave up and thought we’d just ‘go for it’ and work it out as we went along!

Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia

That’s what it’s actually called – we just knew it was called ‘getting Residency’ – and that the gist of it was that if we were to be staying in Portugal for more than 183 days in a year then we needed it (please tell me if you can find out exactly what and where the law is on all of this – it’s mighty confusing!!)

We also knew that it would last for five years – and was renewable – or that after five years you could opt for ‘Permanent Residency’. Oh – and that it used to be a nice glossy card to carry around – and that now it’s a piece of paper!

Camara Lagoa

Câmara Municipal

We basically just walked in and asked them! We were sent into an open plan office and they all pointed to the young girl in the corner who spoke English (!) and she sat us down and handed us a piece of paper which explained what paperwork she needed – and we were off on the paper trail that was to begin our ‘Portuguese Paperwork Folder’ – or ‘The File’ as it was affectionately known!

So here’s what we needed:

  • Photocopy of Passport (we showed our originals too)
  • Photocopy of Fiscal number (we showed our original cards too)
  • Atestado de Residência (see below!)
  • Documentation to prove income

Proof of Income is basically to show that you can afford to live here – I think you are supposed to show that you have at least the minimum wage coming in – but as that is only about 450 Euros a month for the Portuguese – that’s not much to prove. Bank statements, pension, investment interest, whatever you have that proves your income should suffice.

Atestado de Residência

Now here’s where the fun begins! The young girl was very helpful – you need to go to your local Junta de Freguesia – or Parish Council office – and they will fill out a form for you – then you bring that back here to the Câmara with your other photocopies and paperwork…. and fill in another form!!

Actually the Junta were very helpful too – and spoke a little English (phew!). The Atestado is basically (another!) form that you get filled in and stamped by them which proves your ‘residency’ i.e. where you live.

So here’s what we needed for that:

  • Photocopy of Passport (we showed our originals too)
  • Photocopy of Fiscal number (we showed our original cards too)
  • House deeds – we own our house, so it was basically the paperwork we have that proves we are registered at the Câmara as the owners – we only had a photocopy and that was fine. If you are renting, then you would show your rental agreement.
  • We decided to have an Atestado form each – although she offered to add me onto Dave’s as ‘his wife’ – but we opted to do one each to be on the safe side!

We got all our papers together, went back to the Junta with our Atestado forms filled in (well half-filled in – we got a bit stuck so they helped us fill it out whilst we were there…!) – we paid our fee – it’s now 5.10 Euros each – that was on the Wednesday afternoon – and she said ‘come back on Monday morning – your forms will be ready for you’

So we did – and they were!

At this point, I have to say we were a little nervous – we had read Ben and Lou’s book and they just seemed to have a nightmare getting all of these forms – and we seemed to be sailing through .. we kept waiting for the problems to start … but they never did!

Back to the Câmara

We were on a roll – so we went straight from the Junta over to the Câmara – clutching our folder full of forms and photocopies as required. We sat down, filled in the forms and signed them – and then the young girl said ‘now you pay me!’ so we duly got our money out – it’s now 15 Euros each ..

Financas Lagoa

‘Oh no’ she said, ‘you don’t pay me here – you have to go out of the Câmara building, walk round the corner to the Finanças office – and pay them. They will give you a form (another one!!) to say that you have paid me – and then we can complete your paperwork’

‘Only in Portugal’ we thought!! So off we went round the corner, and the woman at the counter was waiting for us, printing off – yes you’ve guessed it – more forms!! We paid, got our payment forms stamped – and back we went to our nice lady at the Câmara.

Then came the shock – ‘I have all I need, you can come back tomorrow morning and collect your Residência certificates, the ‘mayor’ will sign them this evening’

what??? tomorrow morning – are you sure??! that’s incredible – we were expecting to wait ages – we didn’t have the heart to tell Ben and Lou that one!!

So we went back the next morning – and there they were – sat on the desk waiting for us – or shiny new Residência certificates, all signed and ready! Well actually not very shiny really – just on normal A4 paper.


It was a very nice feeling picking them up and going off for a coffee to celebrate … although I have to confess I nearly spilt the coffee all over the folder with our new certificates in – I can’t even imagine what the Câmara would have said if we had gone back half an hour later and said ‘ you know those nice new certificates you gave us – can we have another set please?!’

So there you have it – how we did it! Of course, that’s just the beginning of it all – gaining Residency triggers a whole new list of things we had to do! But that’s for another post another day!

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19 Responses to R is for Residency

  1. Very useful post!

    I’m glad the process was straightforward for you. Everything went fairly smoothly for me, too, although I had help from my employers when I first arrived in Coimbra. They took me to the relevant sections of the Loja da Cidadão in Coimbra and helped me fill in the forms.

    When I moved into Mike’s house, I had to go to the local Junta da Freguesia to get the Atestado de Residência and within a week, the mayor had signed the forms and I had a new residency certificate.

  2. Gallivanta says:

    Wow, if every country were that easy, how nice it would be.

    • Admin says:

      I think we might just have been lucky!!

      • tobyo says:

        I think you might have been lucky too 🙂 I have read stories of moving to Spain, which is where hubby and I want to retire, where it wasn’t quite as easy. My plan is to have done so much research as to make the move and ensuing document gathering/filing as painless as possible. Still, I know things could go amiss. I am not deterred! Great and informative post for those considering moving to Portugal!

  3. Liked that! As simple as your experience was – here in Sri Lanka it’s even easier for people over 55 – once you’ve set up your bank accounts and have proof you’ve paid your $15,000 bond, all you do is go to the Visa office, fill in the forms (basically the same questions, plus proof of medical insurance), pay your money at the money counter over in the opposite corner of the visa office, wait a bit, and voila, your number is called and you walk up to the counter to collect your passport with your shiny new visa stamped and notated inside! Only downside is a need to renew every two years, but that’s a formality, once you’ve chatted up the local chief of police and received your Police Report (saying you’ve got a clean record!).

  4. restlessjo says:

    So are you about due to renew them again? Just another form or two!

  5. Tracey Hand says:

    What’s weird is that, when we did ours, they didn’t even ask for an Atestado or proof of income!
    The only extra thing we needed was for the boys’ certificates, we needed translations (unofficial was fine – she said google translated would be fine alongside originals English ones) of their birth certificates (to prove they were ours! – as if we’d claim them otherwise lol)
    So our entire process was actually done in about 45 minutes (including an office change for payment)
    How it changes so much between Camras is very odd indeed!

  6. Sami Veloso says:

    It seems like an easy process! I wish visas were that easy in Australia! They literally have hundreds of visas for different purposes and all quite expensive too.

  7. Pingback: R is for Residency – Algarve Blog | My A to Z Blogging Challenge

  8. tchistorygal says:

    That sounds easy! Paperwork in our county is not usually so easy! 🙂

    • Admin says:

      well it was definitely easier than some other stories we have heard! thanks for visiting the blog and commenting – much appreciated

  9. Pingback: 10 Year Permanent Residency | Algarve Blog

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