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Saturday, February 16, 2019

How former councillor became a Portuguese citizen

* Stuart Davies skippering his boat off Gibraltar.
* His Portuguese paperwork all in order.

Former Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies untangles a piece of the Brexit maze as he tells how he became a temporary Portuguese citizen ...

My Beneteau 381 boat is based in Albufeira Marina in Portugal and there is a good cohort of live-aboards based there as well.

Beer o'clock conversation has started to turn to what happens to us after Brexit.

Will we be treated the same as non-Europeans etc who are not in the Schengen Area? Will we have to abide by the rule that says we will not be able to stay longer than three months cumulative in any six-month period or will special dispensations be put in place as part of any deal?

Similarly, what will happen to our boats?
In Portugal it is quite straightforward, there is a rule whereby their presence is ok as long as they leave the country every six months in a fiscal year, otherwise a circulation tax is due.
As we long-term berthers understand it, as long as the boat leaves the country in June for a couple of days then all is well, the clock is reset and the circulation tax is not due.
So a quick trip to Ayamonte on the Spanish border about 40 miles away at least once a year solves that issue.

The Schengen Rule thing is a bit different. Basically all EU countries except us and Norway belong to a group which allows free movement across the EU.
We have a dispensation, that’s why there isn't much difference when we visit other EU countries. As it stands after March 29 it looks as if we will have to comply with the rules and will have to have a visa if we stay for more than three months cumulative within a six-month period.
However, a solution has come forward.

Portugal likes us, don't forget. We are both the oldest allies of each other and they value our tourism custom.
We have found out that it is quite easy to get temporary residence for five years and if you want to you can actually apply for Portuguese citizenship afterwards.

All the rules can be found here
So basically myself and my wife took ourselves off to the Camara in Albufeira which is the local council offices. We took with us, passports, driving licences and, most important, the invoice for our mooring in Albufeira Marina.
First stop was the finance office where half an hour, including the ticketed wait, got us a fiscal number, this is something that is unique to Europe where they carry identity cards. The best way I suppose to look at it is that it is similar to our NI number (something that is asked for when ever you do a marina contract in Portugal).

Next stop was across the road in the main council offices where you take another ticket number. We sat down and waited. The numbers are called out quite quickly and soon we were sitting in front of a very helpful Portuguese council officer who knew exactly what to do when we asked for a temporary residence certificate. They are good for five years and cost 15 euros
We presented passports, driving licences, the new fiscal number document and the marina invoice as proof of our residence. The Marina had put on the document our berth number as well so we had an official address in the Marina.

Fifteen minutes and 15 euros later we were proud owners of temporary residence documents which basically allow us to stay in Portugal after Brexit for as long as we like up to five years.

Reading the notes in the link it is interesting that we can now import a car without paying big import taxes and access the health service as well!
As a side note, I learned to speak Portuguese when I worked in Angola. I enjoy speaking it and it certainly helps by showing willing when doing things like this. The two officers spoke some English but they appreciated me being able to speak to them in their language which I am sure smoothed the path.

Bureaucracy used to be very big in Portugal, it is still there but not as much as when I used to crew change through Lisbon back in the 80s. Portugal is a vibrant country and modernizing fast. I said this to the officer and he said he still thought it was bureaucratic but as I said, trying to do what we did in three hours would have taken weeks back here in the UK!
I told this story to some of our friends and they went and did the same, what was also interesting was that in the waiting area there were four British Camper Van applicants, they were doing the same thing but they were being allowed to use their campsite address as the permanent address.

So, combined with the T2L document to show our EU VAT status for the boat, it looks as if we are in as good a position as we can be for March 29. And my advice to anyone going to Portugal for more than three months cumulative in a six-month period is to do what we have done.

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