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Portuguese “red tape” and paperwork is once again the thing consuming our time and energy at the moment.
When we first moved over here several months ago, it was right at the top of our priority list to get all the paperwork in order. I am not sure quite how it moved back down the list, but I think it is something to do with the fact that by the time we had managed to get the pretend fiscal number our bank made up for us changed into a real one (don’t even ask!) and fought for several months to have internet and phone connected (which was so difficult because of the aforementioned moody fiscal number,) we didn’t have the spirit or inclination to do any more at that point.
We found some sand, buried our heads firmly in it, and without mentioning it to each other, both independently agreed not to speak of it again until we got towards a deadline.
Now the time has come to once again start visiting a range of government buildings where people frown and shrug and shake their heads, and ask questions on expat forums where everyone gives a slightly different answer to every question because they have met with slightly different government officials who have dealt with things slightly differently.
Anyone moving to Portugal should not underestimate how time consuming and difficult it can be to plough through the red tape and legalities. We are determined that we want to stay here for good, and, as such, we intend to do everything completely legally. This makes it hard to get advice from other expats as a lot of people you meet haven’t bothered or “got around” to doing it properly, or have been given hugely conflicting advice from the experts.
Add in the complications of the fact that we both have a UK income, and the implications for tax and social security in both countries, you end up with a situation that makes even the most helpful of accountants start doing their own version of the “Portuguese shurug.”
If it weren’t for the fact we are honest people who want to do everything by the book, it would be easy for us to go and bury our heads back in that sand and forget about it for another few months, so we can see why so many of our fellow expats appear to do just that. The other day I ended up with internet browser tabs simultaneously open for the European Union, Portugal’s Financias, HM Revenue and Customs and the UK NHS – that is enough to spoil anyone’s day.
Still, after days of research, we have a clear plan and with the help of kind-hearted accountants and forum members, we are pretty sure we know what things have to be done and in what order. Now we just need to voluntarily have several stressful, crap days in order to do it all. Wish us luck!