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Portuguese Bureaucracy: What to expect!

How to change your address at tax office and bank, and put water and electricity bills in your name:

1. Go to tax office (Finance): Take number ticket, queue for ages (play games on your phone because despite knowing it was going to be a day of queuing, you forgot to bring a book). When it’s your turn tell the lady on the main desk what you want to do. Get sent to another desk. Give the lady the deeds to house, your fiscal number and your passport, along with your new address. Get told you can’t use the address that you have been using for post, it has to match the location name that’s on the deeds. Have a mild panic because the post office only just started (fairly) reliably delivering mail. Nice lady fills in forms on computer (with 6th new address you’ve had in as many months whilst you decide that it would be better to stick with this one address for everything, start making a mental list of what you need to change / who you need to tell). Forms are printed out for you to sign. Go to a different desk because you also need to apply for the exemption from rates(IMI). Get more forms filled in, printed and signed. Turns out the man on this desk’s grandmother used to live opposite your new house so get told how much he used to love going there, get congratulated on buying your farm, and asked if you’re going to start cultivating the land. Tell him you’ve already got a small garden, chickens and pigs.

2nd Go to bank: Queue. Give them the paper from the finances with new address on. Sign a form. Bank has to phone the branch in the town where you used to live and where your account was opened (because they advised you it’s too much hassle to change the account to your new local branch, best to just change your address) so that they can send papers for you to sign for which you’ll need to come back later. Adults and children from a local day centre come intothe bank and sing songs for Kings Day – watch, smile, clap, give money. Get direct debit form that you need for paying water bill (half the process of putting the water in your name you already did on another day, which involved seeing people at 3 different places at the council offices and by the time you’d done that the bank was closed so you couldn’t get the direct debit form).

3. Go to council:No queue! Give them the receipt from last time that shows you’ve already paid the fee to change the name on the water bill, and the direct debit form from the bank – pointing out (as the man in the bank has told you) that it’s not the branch number they’re used to so make sure they input the correct one for your bank and branch the local one. Give them the paper from the finances with the new address to make sure it’s correct on their records. Receive 2 copies of direct debit form, one to keep and one to give to bank.

4. Go to bank: There’s a HUGE queue, decides to come back later.

5. Go to post office: Queue. Post letters, ask if they’ve got the automatic motorway toll payment (Via Verde) devices that they told you should have arrived by the end of the week – they don’t.

8th Go to bank: Queue. Give them a copy of the direct debit form. Initial every page (both sides) of the small forest’s-worth of paperwork that is necessary to change the address on the account. Sign final page. Check that if you bring in your details for internet banking they can set it up for you in the bank as it’s impossible online because there are two fields where you need to fill in EITHER of two numbers but both the fields are obligatory – if you fill in both you get an error message because you should only supply one of the numbers, if you fill in only one you get an error message because both fields are obligatory.

9. Drive to larger town to try to find electricity company’s(EDP)shop. Drive around in a loop until you have almost given up finding the shop that the water bill lady told you was in this town. Spot small AGENT EDP sign on what appears to be a newsagents. Find parking space.

10: Go to EDP Agent: Queue. Hand over a letter saying they couldn’t access the house to take a meter reading which is the only thing you have with the electricity account number on it. Say you need to change the name and address on the account. Paper has been folded and one of the numbers is illegible. Nice but looking-forwards-to-going-home lady tries to find the account on the computer. Computer crashes. Queue starts building behind you. Lady gets computer restarted. Fails to find the account. Starts entering an address that is not exactly how it appears on the paper from the Finance, you start to panic again. Point out the small difference and explain that you’ve had enough trouble already getting mail delivered and you don’t want electricity bills to go astray so the bill doesn’t get paid and you get cut off, so please can she enter it exactly as it is on the paper. Fill in and sign paperwork. The changes aren’t made yet because she couldn’t find the account on the computer, but these are the papers to request the change, which she will send off.

11. Decides to go to post office in this town to see if they have the Via Verde devices. Queue. They have them! More paperwork printed, signed, photocopied. Confirm that the device needs to be in the windscreen of the car (get annoyed with yourself for forgetting the Portuguese word for windscreen ( windshield)that you were so proud of remembering last week) because you had one in your last car and thought it would work if you kept it in the glove compartment – it didn’t.

12. Enjoy (make the most of) being in the larger town and do supermarket shopping. Use the cashpointtoset up the automatic payments for the Via Verde device.

13. Drive home, unload shopping, feed and put to bed dogs, cat, chickens and pigs, fetch firewood, light fire, do the washing up you didn’t have time to do this morning as you knew you needed to leave early to deal with bureacracy, make a cuppa, collapse on sofa, eat Christmas Pudding for dinner.

NOTE: It’s a good idea to always have your fiscal number and passport with you (by law you need to carry ID – passport or ID card) because you’ll need them in many situations.

2 thoughts on “Portuguese Bureaucracy: What to expect!

  1. What a day. unfortunately I think that’s how things are the world over. I dread stepping foot in any government office, so I sometimes procrastinate these things. But, it’s better to dive in and get things taken care of like you did. Hopefully you’ll be done with this for a while…

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