Residency Myth Buster

Windmill for sale Portugal

Try living in a windmill!

“You must get a NISS number,” said the teacher, standing in the sunlight and showing me a piece of paper with a list scribbled on it. “We need a NISS, and a vaccination certificate for your son. Also a health card.” All that? Where do we start? Well for a start you can’t get a NISS number without residency, which of course I found out the hard way.  So we set out to get our residency certificates.

School days - just need a NISS

School days – just need a NISS

Thus began our journey to get a NISS number (Portuguese National Insurance Number) to send our child to school. We’re in the EU and so as an official told us, the schools can’t technically turn our child away. Still, we wanted to do things correctly so we went off to the local town hall to apply for Portuguese residency first, armed with passports, utility bills, blue sky and sunshine.

Heading out under blue skies and sunshine

Heading out under blue skies and sunshine

The town hall is a vast, airy building, large floor to ceiling window at one end with a tree planted in front of the window – on the inside. Quite pleasant to hang around in, unlike the tatty social security office where you get your NISS, or the Finance Office where you get your Fiscal Number. We took a ticket for ‘Tesouria’ and sat down at one of the light wood chairs until our number came up on the screen.

Paula who served us spoke English which was a relief. She’s getting to know us quite well and is always called upon when we turn up at the Town Hall to explain stuff such as we haven’t got the right piece of paper for my child to have school dinners or that we are in the wrong office to pay our IMI (council tax). This time she explained patiently what we would need to get our Residency Certificate. I asked for non habitual residency. Actually I insisted upon it. It would keep our tax rate down. Paula shook her head. “Nao.”

This was a starting point for confusion. All Paula knew was that non habitual residency wasn’t something she dealt with and after some enquiries discovered that this was purely tax related and that it was something we had to apply for at the finance office after we had got the initial residency. So doing things in the right order, the first thing we needed to get for our residency certicate was a criminal records check.

Need a criminal records check.  Pic credit here.

Need a criminal records check.  Pic credit here.

We were sent to the Justice Department up the road to get the criminal records check, another smart, beige stone building. This cost 10 euros and took about ten days. During this time we were off to England so it was some time later when we actually collected it and some time later still when we returned with it to the Town Hall. As we waited we noticed an expiry date at the bottom of the document in tiny writing. Which was the end of that week. Well, that should present no problem.

Ferry, Brittany ferries

Off on holiday to England

Our lady at the Town Hall smiled at us and explained we had to get proof of where we resided at the Junta de Freguesia in the village. To get over our disappointment of not getting immediate residency we went to the cafe and had some local Montejunto cakes, a crispy filo pastry filled with a Bakewell tart like treacly mixture. Heaven. We were over our disappointment therefore fairly quickly and headed to the village Junta de Freguesia. We met the white-haired mayor who was very friendly and handed us some old brochures about the area to browse through while we waited. Should we have bought him a bottle of wine, I wondered, or was that just in France?

Delicious Montejunto cakes

Delicious Montejunto cakes

Armed with the correct paperwork for my husband and I, and pleased as punch at feeling initiated into the village, we went back to the Town Hall. Handed the new bits of paperwork over. Went back again to the Junta de Freguesia as we hadn’t asked for any documents for the children, thinking it included everyone at the address. Another hour or so, then another day, went by.

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Another day went by.

 

Back to the Town Hall. Oh, we hadn’t bought bank statements. The lady apologised at having to take bank statements but it was necessary. Being a citizen of the EU, I wondered why. Ho hum. It was close to lunch time and we had the school run to do. Aware that our criminal records check was shortly due to expire we nipped back for lunch and returned straight after school drop off with the bank statements.

Paula took our documents and we waited. I sat and examined the polished marble floor and flicked through a brochure showing photos of local festivals we hadn’t been to and events we hadn’t known about. Twenty minutes later she returned and handed us our residency certificates. We handed over 10.50 euros per certificate. Then wahey! We were residents.

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Local festivals around Montejunto

Local festivals around Montejunto

Oh, but wait. I had always been confused about the length of time a residency certificate was valid for. We now found out that it is until your passport expires. So while my children and I are done for around the next five years, my husband whose passport expires next year, will have to go through the whole process again in a few months time.

Now for the NISS number. Back to the cafe first though for some more Montejunto cakes.

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Summing up, you will need for each person:

Criminal records check + 10 euros

Bank statements

Passports

Utility bills

Certificate from the Junta de Freguesia

10.50 euros per certificate

N.B. Residency will only last until the passport expires.

The above apparently varies from town to town and is a rough guide based only on our own experience. I take no responsibility for any mess, legal or otherwise, you find yourselves in based on this information.

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Beware! Wild Animals at Obidos Chocolate Festival

 

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A Chocolate Festival!  What a brilliant idea!  All my Christmases have come at once.  Off we hopped to the Obidos Chocolate Festival on the Silver Coast last week.  Just after Christmas we had visited the Vila Natal and attempted to see the fabulous light display, so we had an idea of what to expect – plenty of entertainment and attractions for all age groups.  Plus there was always the chance they’d replaced the skating rink that was there at Christmas with a big, chocolate filled swimming pool.

Part of the exhibition at the Escola de Hotelaria

Part of the exhibition at the Escola de Hotelaria

The theme this year is wild animals.  Amazing chocolate sculptures of gorillas, giraffes, snakes and other exotic creatures.  Fantastic cake displays. Once you’ve wandered up the main cobbled street, lined with artisan shops, museums, cafes and restaurants and of course stalls selling chocolate themed items, you turn left at the top of the hill where you can pay to enter the main event.  This is choc full (sorry irresistible pun) of displays and events including chocolate workshops and tastings.

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However we found enough to keep us occupied for an hour or two strolling up the main street.  We meandered along drinking ginja liqueur in a chocolate cup while the children ate strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue bought from a shop selling artisan food, organic vegetables and second hand books.  What more could a girl want?  (Okay, you can probably think of something).

chocolate fondue

Along that line, my son asked if he could go back and get ‘the reindeer lollypop’.  Now I’m not sure what he thought it was but it wasn’t a reindeer lollipop.  I headed over to where he was pointing which I thought was some sort of round edged sword. I had seen these round edged swords on quite a few stalls. Must be something to do with the Knights Templar and castle maybe.  As I stood pointing and discussing whether to spend the 2.50 euros on the lollipop my husband dragged me away saying it wasn’t appropriate for my son to have that because anyone could see it was actually a chocolate lollipop in the shape of male private parts.  Upon further scrutiny (of the lollipop) I realised he was right.  Oops.  I couldn’t see any hen parties or indeed anyone enjoying one in the spring sunshine so I’m not sure they did a roaring trade in those.  Indeed they may have sold more chocolate reindeer.  Well, they would have sold at least one.

Yep.  Its a cake!

The chocolate festival runs this year from 14th March to 6th April, so just one weekend left.  Let’s hope for more spring sunshine.  For further insight into the chocolate festival visit ‘Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal’ who did a brilliant round up of last year’s festival.

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The cake decorating exhibition was amazing!