the reports highlight the fact that there are British people who are unable to
get jobs, to register for health care, or to change their address. There are
even people who have been deported when they visit another EU country.
the case of Nicola Franks, who told
UK nationals, she has a document with a QR code issued by SEF (Portuguese
Immigration and Border service) that can be used whenever she travels, as proof
of residence in Portugal, also guaranteeing access to public health services
and social benefits.
the problem comes when some authorities do not recognise this paper as proof of
residence. The border agent “looked at these papers that he had never seen before
and decided that they were not legitimate papers that they were in fact only
applications for residency and turned me back to Portugal”, Nicola said.
because "a QR code was given stating that everyone was legally resident in
Portugal, but it was not the biometric card required for every UK nationals
coming under the withdrawal agreement" said Tig James, Co-President of
British in Portugal.
“Without a biometric card you can’t register for health care if you move address. The tax office refuses to change addresses without a biometric card so even if a UK national gets a driving licence it gets sent to the wrong address if people have moved”, Tig James told The Portugal News.
In addition, “banks refuse to change addresses
without the tax office say so, so credit/debit cards are sent to the wrong
address, vehicles are unable to be matriculated so costing UK nationals
thousands in importation fees for vehicles that should be free to import,
garages refusing to repair vehicles, the QR code not being accepted at many EU
borders with the holders of such code often being threatened with refusal of
entry into the country, detained or deported”, she lamented.
Despite these unfortunate stories, Michael Reeve,
CEO of afpop (Association for Foreign Residents and Visitors to Portugal), said
he has not heard any reports of members experiencing such a negative situation
- on the contrary.
In fact, "we have reports from
our Members that they have had their documents accepted as promised by the
government," he stressed.
“They have documentation which is
accepted by the Portuguese authorities and the government has extended the
validity of the documents”, he said
second and final phase of the process for UK nationals to obtain their final
documents began in Madeira and the Azores in February.
“We know that members on the
island of Madeira completed the process and advised us that it was a very quick
and easy thing for them to do”, Michael Reeve said.
while afpop members are happy with the process on Madeira, British in Portugal
say there’s still a lot of work to do, even on the islands.
those regions many are still waiting to be seen and get their biometric cards.
The pilot project had a number of difficulties that still exist," Tig
forward: Loulé and Cascais next
Apart from the islands, SEF told The Portugal News that they are working
with the town halls of Cascais and Loulé - municipalities with the highest number
of British residents - in order to start issuing biometric cards.
"The municipalities will
provide the necessary facilities and human resources to run the service and
collect the biometric data. This will start in Cascais at the end of this
month," they said, adding that SEF will notify approximately 2,500 UK
nationals in chronological order.
Meanwhile, SEF guarantees that the
QR Code document remains an official residence document in Portugal and is
valid until the new card is issued, as well as the current European Union
residence documents are also still accepted for travel purposes, as long as
they are not expired, until the new residence card is issued.
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252