New documentation for Brits in Portugal

in News · 14-12-2020 14:44:00 · 21 Comments

SEF and the British Embassy launch joint new Brexit initiative for British nationals resident in Portugal

The Border and Immigration Service (SEF) and the British Embassy in Lisbon has launched the second phase of a joint campaign to inform UK nationals living in Portugal about the procedure to exchange their current residence document for a new permit that confirms their status as residents under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The exchange of the current document (either an EU Registration Certificate issued by the Town Hall, or an EU Permanent Residence Certificate issued by SEF) can be done on the new Brexit Portal (, which allows UK nationals to start the process online. The new card will be issued from 1 January 2021, when UK nationals will no longer fall under EU requirements. The new card will prove that they are covered by the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK, and that their rights are protected after the end of the transition period.

After registering online on the new Portal, UK nationals will be able to download a digital certificate with a QR code that can be used when travelling as proof of residence in Portugal. Please be aware that if you are creating a new account that your password needs to include upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

From 1 January 2021 onwards, SEF will contact UK nationals registered on the Portal, to schedule an appointment at one of the 38 selected town halls in Portugal, where they can provide their biometric data to be included in the new card.

UK nationals can also use the dedicated telephone and e-mail address, to send enquiries connected with the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, including the process of exchanging documents.

UK nationals can find further information on the Brexit portal.

How the process works

Current EU residence documents will continue to be accepted in Portugal and at the external border after 31 December 2020 and until the new card is issued.

British Ambassador, Chris Sainty, welcomed this development: “We are very grateful to the Portuguese authorities who have worked so hard to get this Portal ready before the end of the transition period. I have no doubt this will be welcomed by the British community in Portugal.

“It is an important step that will reassure British residents of their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. I am also very pleased that the British Embassy and SEF have been able to work so well together. This collaboration is really helping to ensure that UK nationals in Portugal have the information they need as the transition period comes to an end.”

The interim National Director of SEF, José Barão, highlighted the excellent collaboration between the institutions in delivering an outstanding public service: “SEF’s work in this Brexit Portal is part of our services’ digital transformation strategy. We were among the first European Union countries to make available a portal that allows the exchange of residence permits under the Withdrawal Agreement. The fulfilment of the Portuguese State’s commitments is fundamental to SEF, as well as the tranquillity of the British community and their families, who live in national territory. We thank the permanent availability and intense collaboration from the British Embassy in this joint endeavour.”

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By commentgqxzq325 from Algarve on 26-06-2021 03:26

Hello. And Bye.

By fishmajqi197 from Lisbon on 20-05-2021 05:02

Hello. And Bye.

By fishjrcti350 from Madeira on 06-05-2021 06:26

No point slagging off the Portugese for what must be your own faults.
I hate computers but found it incredibly easy.Done in 5 minutes

By stewart bain from UK on 27-12-2020 02:45

All sorted now after days of frustration trying to do second application for my wife I received a reply email from the SEF explaining in detail how to complete the form, exactly as I had been doing so I rang the number on the email and a very polite Portuguese Man answered and he then stayed on the phone while I completed the form and this time it worked perfectly, so if anyone has problems I would recommend send a polite email asking for assistance and phone them if need be I cannot stress how helpful this guy was and how grateful I am for his assistance and patience , just hope I manage to get the appointment and that goes as well , we wait and see , and thanks to the readers here who contacted me with advice good luck to you all

By Gerard from Other on 19-12-2020 10:47

tried this worked fine for me until I tried doing it for my wife's application then all went to crap tried over a period of days using three different devises using vpn not using vpn deleting cookies using many different password combinations it just will not work a second time tried emailing SEF not expecting much in return from them like most people on here I am not despite the suggestion of one comment I am not directing any anger at SEF and the Portuguese Government I am simply trying to conform to the requirement's and if anyone has any useful help please feel free to email me direct at I would be very grateful and yes Paul I do direct my anger at the British Government and did so in the loudest way by moving to Portugal to remain an EU citizen

By Gerard from Other on 18-12-2020 04:07

Is it possible for a UK national who is only moving to Portugal this week, to obtain the Certificado De Residencia Permanente? or is it too late?
Any help on this welcome.Thanks

By John Mathew from UK on 17-12-2020 03:33

I had a bit of trouble with Registering on - so I phoned and they took me through it. It seems their website is configured to accept passwords in this format (for example) Johnsmith-1964 . Upper case first letter of your name, then a hyphen then year of birth. Good luck

By Martin Pearse from UK on 16-12-2020 06:37

A couple of clicks, about a minute of my time and I had my QR code. Worked perfectly.

By David Soames from Beiras on 16-12-2020 02:07

Why are you all complaining about SEF and the Portuguese government. Is it them that kicked you out of the EU? No it was your own government, who have lied ther way through brexit , stop complaining get in with it and direct your anger back to the UK government.

By Paul Docherty from Algarve on 16-12-2020 11:39

This actually worked for me pretty much as expected, with one exception. As mentioned earlier manually type the URL address in your browser rather than clicking through the link in the story. Then use a password with a mix of lowercase, uppercase, numerical and special characters of at least 8 characters in length.

Now the important point to be aware of is that it won’t work properly for multiple applications (even if using different email addresses ) from the same device. It seems to leave a cookie on your device that always takes you back to your first application - I got round this by simply using a different device to do my wife’s application - but I guess you could try and delete the cookies too if you don’t have another device.

By Russell Brodie from Alentejo on 16-12-2020 09:07

Have finally managed to get all of our family documents printed with the QR code. No thanks to SEF.
They don't even reply to emails. Just perseverance and going back to see if the website is working.
Big problem encountered.
As I understand, the exchange of Residency Permit, is to demonstrate that although British, we are not resident in the UK, but resident in a European country. Therefore, the new Residency Permit should demonstrate our current valid British passport number. If it is to accompany our passports as proof of residency, it has to match, right?
Well SEF are not asking for our passport numbers and since the issue of my Permanent Residency Permit, I have renewed my British passport. My children twice as it is every 5 years.
Now the QR code documents are all wrong.
Not one of the documents matches our passport numbers.
Again, written to reply.
This whole process has not been thought through.
So warning. Please check that your current valid passport number matches that on the QR codes issued by SEF.

By Susan from Lisbon on 15-12-2020 10:34

At last I have created an account on the SEF portal.
Still used the same password as I have been using previously and this time it worked so something has been fixed ????

By Peter shepherd from Lisbon on 15-12-2020 02:30

Utter nonsense. Website does nothing. Typical Portuguese bureaucracy that simply isn't up to the task

By Marjory from Alentejo on 15-12-2020 12:40

The website didn't work for me either!

By Angela Roberts from Other on 15-12-2020 10:59

Whilst the website is not the most intuitive, I have managed to successfully register and download the digital certificate with a QR code. A couple of pointers that may help:
i) password: the website gives no info as to min or max character length or the use of capitals or special characters etc. My password contained upper and lowercase, numbers and a special character (an exclamation mark). This was accepted, so suggest you try different combinations if you have an issue with the password.
ii) When you receive the email requesting you to confirm your registration, clicking on the link appears to take you to the brexit sef page but does not actually do anything. You need to copy the link and paste it directly in your browser. This should then work and allow you to complete the process.

By Jo from Algarve on 15-12-2020 10:31

The Portuguese can come up with their own world-beating systems.....

By Annie from Algarve on 15-12-2020 10:05

Having lived in many countries around the world (including some 2nd/3rd world ones), I would consider the non-working of government systems quite normal. Just be patient, keep some proof that you tried and wait for a solution to come. If this is such a massive problem for anybody then maybe Portugal isn't really for you. When it comes to systems I would recommend Dubai.

By John Dough from Lisbon on 15-12-2020 10:05

I am an expat who has lived here over five years and thought I had sorted out my residency but am now confused. I have a Certificado De Residencia Permanente in the form of a card that was issued by SEF in January of this year and says it is valid until 2030. Now reading this news story I am wondering if there is now going to be yet another card that I need to apply for? I was told by SEF that I was now covered to stay here but the report above says that "The new card will be issued from 1 January 2021, when UK nationals will no longer fall under EU requirements. " This suggests that the card I have needs to be replaced.

By Steve Andrews from Other on 15-12-2020 09:58

It's an absolute shambles. SEF haven't a clue and if you are a family with multiple Residency Permits to exchange, their computer system doesn't recognise it and allocates every one the same file reference instead of an individual reference.

When I rang to check and eventually got through, I was told to write an email as many people were having the same problem and that they had too many calls to answer. The problem is being delt with by their technical department.

So please be careful if you are doing multiple renewals.

By Susan from Lisbon on 14-12-2020 10:29

Had a phone call from the SEF on Friday informing me that my appointment for the 7th January had been cancelled and that I should go on the website and start the process all again.
Guess what,the website does not work.
Put in name,email address,date of birth,9 digit number on residency card.all good so far but then it all goes Belly up when you create a password.
The website does not work and never has.
If anyone manages to get anywhere feel free to email me at
because I've had enough of this rubbish.
Emailed SEF and got the standard reply and the number they give you nobody answers.
Emailed British Embassy,waiting for a reply.
Emailed the President of the Republic and waiting for a reply.

By Peter shepherd from Lisbon on 14-12-2020 06:22
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