Brexit update: “No Deal” need not be a big deal for expats living in Portugal

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The Portuguese government has been consistent in its message to British expats living in Portugal, “you are welcome and nothing will change.”  Nevertheless, it is understandable that despite the assurances given by the Portuguese government and the British Ambassador to Portugal, some expats may feel a little unsettled as we approach the March 29 deadline. There are a couple of official websites you can visit that cover the subject of Brexit including the British Embassy in Lisbon and SEF.PT. 

Here are a couple of things you can do right away for your own peace of mind. Begin with confirming that you are registered as a Portuguese resident, get your Portuguese healthcare number and convert your UK driving licence to Portugal.

Portuguese Residency

Pop into your local municipality and tax office in Portugal to confirm that you have been correctly registered as a resident in Portugal. A Portuguese accountant or bookkeeper can do this for you, they will charge you for their time but it will save you the hassle. If you have been living in Portugal for more than five years and have been correctly registered then you can go directly to the Immigration and Border Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras - SEF) to submit your application for permanent residence. If you and your family are already living in Portugal, but have not yet registered as residents, you must register at your local City Council, ask for a registration certificate that is valid for 5 years. If you already hold a registration certificate but have not yet completed the five-year residence period, you can continue to live in Portugal under the same rights and obligations you have always enjoyed. After completing the five-year residence period, you can apply directly to SEF for a permanent residence card.

Healthcare in Portugal

In Portugal healthcare is a right attributed to all residents, the Portuguese healthcare is not exclusive to Portuguese citizens. That means that if you have Portuguese residence then you qualify for state health care in Portugal. So the best is that you pop down to the local health centre (Centro de Saude) in your village and register with the family doctor. The health service will issue you with a “Numero de Utente” which gives you access to the state health system, equivalent to the NHS. The Portuguese are natural carers so you can expect the kindest and warmest health care in the world.

UK Driving License in Portugal

Get down to your district IMT office to have your UK Driving License converted to Portugal, don’t leave it to the March 29 deadline, the process of issuing the new licence can sometimes take a while. If you have been living permanently in Portugal for longer than six months and have not yet converted your UK driving licence you may be subject to a fine from a traffic officer,  get this done as soon as possible. If you are currently resident in Portugal you can exchange your UK driving licence for a Portuguese one now without having to take a driving test. Doing this before 29 March 2019 will ensure that your right to drive in Portugal and throughout the EU is protected, whether or not the UK leaves the EU with a deal, so this is a sensible precaution.

Welcome to a simpler life. We want you to have a hassle-free transition to Portugal so please contact the Portugal Realty team for assistance.

NOTE: This information is provided as a guide only and any official information should be obtained from the Portuguese or UK authorities.

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