Fresh appeals for Britons to register in Portugal amid Brexit uncertainty

By Brendan de Beer, in News · 13-03-2019 15:47:00 · 0 Comments
Fresh appeals for Britons to register in Portugal amid Brexit uncertainty

British Ambassador Chris Sainty has this week launched a renewed appeal for British living in Portugal to register with local authorities to avoid potential heartache in the future.

In an interview this week with The Portugal News before addressing several hundred members of the British community in Lagos and São Brás de Alportel, Ambassador Sainty explained that a “large part of my job as Ambassador has revolved around our departure from the EU and the impact of Brexit here in Portugal.”

He said one of his main aims is to ensure the British and Portuguese governments manage the risks around Brexit as best as possible and that after the UK leaves, “and however we leave, we continue to enjoy very strong and fruitful relations between the two countries in the future.”

But he admitted that currently, it has become impossible to foresee the future.

“There is a lot of political uncertainty. It is not my job to predict what will happen between now and 29 March”, but called on people to be prepared for all scenarios.

The best-case scenario for Britons resident in Portugal, is that the UK leaves with a deal, “which would mean their rights would be protected here in Portugal”, whereas a no-deal Brexit poses several concerns and raises a series of alarms.

“The good news in Portugal is that the government here has for long said, provided rights of Portuguese nationals living in the UK are protected, and they will be, UK nationals in Portugal will enjoy reciprocal protection”, explained the Ambassador.

He continued to say that the Portuguese government has also committed to protecting Britons in Portugal, even in the event of a no-deal scenario, but as long as they are legally resident in Portugal before 29 March.

Mr Sainty added he also received this undertaking from two state secretaries at a recent meeting in Lisbon with members of the British community.

“British here in Portugal are fortunate in that the government here is committed to protecting their rights”, questioned over whether Britons could count themselves even more privileged than those residing in the remaining 26 member states, he repeated: “Brits here are fortunate. All member states are making provisions, but I think the situation here in Portugal is particularly good in that respect.”

The Ambassador stressed that the single most important piece of advice to Britons in Portugal is that they are properly registered before the UK leaves.

“Not only is it a legal requirement, but the best way to protect their rights”, he argued.

Figures from the SEF immigration office show several thousand British nationals have registered in the recent months, said Mr Sainty, though cautioned that the Embassy is aware that there are thousands more who live in Portugal, but without the required legal documentation.

But reports of lengthy queues outside SEF immigration offices and IMT vehicle and licence registration offices have become increasingly common in recent weeks.

“We are aware of frustrations of people trying to sort out paperwork. A team from the Embassy this week met with IMT officials in Lisbon.

“It seems that these organisations are struggling, not only due to Brexit, but also due to under-resourcing. But SEF and IMT problems can be eased by travelling a bit further to centres which are not as busy”, reasoned the Ambassador.

As for any additional doubts residents might have, Chris Sainty encourages British nationals to obtain advice from the Living in Portugal guide found on the web page or from the Brits in Portugal Facebook page, where regular updates and important information is posted.


Be the first to comment on this article
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.