SEF clarifies that the provisional document issued when citizens register on the Brexit Portal, a proof in digital format with a QR code, serves as an official residence document.
Around 35,000 British citizens living in Portugal still do not have their new post-‘Brexit’ residence cards, according to the immigration and borders service (SEF) which ensures that the application certificate serves as an official document.
Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, British citizens who were already living in Portugal when the transition period ended at the end of 2020 were able to request the issuance of the new residence permit.
According to SEF, about 36,000 Britons have already done so on the Brexit Portal, but so far only about 1,000 have the new document, under the Exit Agreement, a situation with negative impacts on people’s lives, according to a representative of the British community in Portugal.
In a testimony sent to Lusa news agency, Tig James reports cases of people who were denied access to the National Health Service, detained at airports or borders for not being recognised as having an official residence permit, or who were unable to renew their driving licences.
“The situation has gone from bad to worse to horrendous,” writes Tig James, explaining that she too has faced constraints because her previous residence papers have expired and she has yet to receive a new permit.
In response to Lusa, SEF clarifies that the provisional document issued when citizens register on the Brexit Portal, a proof in digital format with a QR code, serves as an official residence document.
“It can be used whenever its bearers travel, as proof of their residence in Portugal and also guaranteeing access to public health services and social benefits,” the security service writes.
SEF adds that the document “was disclosed in time with the European counterpart authorities, so that all the rights inherent to the beneficiaries of the Agreement were ensured”.
The process of issuing the new residence permit has been delayed due to the closure of services during the Covid 19 pandemic and in June last year the SEF told Lusa that the second phase, which involves collection of biometric data, was scheduled to begin the following month.
More than a year later, only a thousand Britons already have the new document, citizens registered in the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira, where this second phase began on February 15 with the scheduling of the collection of biometric data.
Meanwhile, in July, SEF signed a protocol with the municipal councils of Cascais and Loulé, where there is a higher incidence of resident British citizens, to speed up the process.
The municipalities became responsible for providing the facilities and human resources necessary for the service, while SEF ensures the training of employees of the local councils and the support and computer structures necessary.
“This project will start in Cascais later this month (August), with SEF notifying, in chronological order, around 2,500 British citizens and their families residing there, to come to the Citizen’s Bureau to collect biometric data and renew documentation,” SEF also said.
Britons with previous European Union residence documents can continue to use them while they are still valid or exchange them for a provisional certificate on the dedicated portal (brexit.sef.pt) until the new biometric residence cards are issued.