‘If you don’t want to travel to Lisbon, sit tight and wait for a better option’
A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Lisbon has put the current SEF appointments shambles into perspective, saying residents given ‘no options’ in the Algarve to complete the process required under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement should just sit tight and wait for things to change.
“The ability of UK nationals in Portugal to be able to evidence their residence status under the Withdrawal Agreement remains a priority for the UK government. We therefore welcome the recent announcement from SEF that appointment centres have now been opened across the country, and that UK nationals have the option to travel, if they wish, to any centre that has appointment availability in order to complete the process as soon as possible.
“We continue to urge the Portuguese government to offer sufficient appointment availability, particularly in the Algarve, to ensure residents are not expected to undertake long journeys to obtain their cards”, said the spokesperson.
Unofficially, the embassy acknowledges that SEF’s site is not giving Algarve residents a lot of choice right now. Its understanding is that those unwilling or unable to travel to venues given (at the moment, the central Lisbon SEF office) “will receive another email inviting them to book an appointment at a later date, when there may be appointment availability at a centre close to them”.
The bottom line is that Brits whose residency papers have expired (or who have never had a residency document) should very possibly make the journey to whichever SEF centre is being suggested online.
Those whose papers are still technically valid, can afford to wait if they so wish.
SEF’s Brexit site says that lines remain open Monday to Friday on 217 115 045. Equally the agency can be emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is not however a simple matter to get through to SEF via telephone, as one patient reader has recently reported.