Here’s our experiences regarding SEF and our residency appointments for Portugal in 2021. Many families are scheduled at different locations at the same time and same day OR scheduled on different dates and possibly different locations. Also, you can be asked for different information depending on which office you go to and which person processes your residency permit so we thought we’d share our story with you.


We are a family of three – 2 adults (husband and wife) and 1 child (age 12). Each of us came into Portugal on a D7 visa.

Our initial SEF appointments were scheduled for April 1st (the adults) and for April 19th (the child) all at the same SEF office near our apartment.

Our April 1st appointments were cancelled on March 30th (the same day we arrived in the country). Those appointments were rescheduled for late June at a SEF office at the other end of the city.

Lucky for us, April 19th was the day SEF reopened and our son was able to have his appointment.


At our son’s appointment, they asked for:

-his NIF

-his passport

And that’s it….our attorney was surprised because usually he’s asked for the child’s birth certificate as well.


Due to a personal situation that would require flying back to the US after our visas expired but before our June SEF appointments, our attorney requested two emergency SEF appointments and we got moved up to appointments on May 18th and May 19th in Setubal.

At my appointment, they asked for:

-my NIF

-my passport

-our lease agreement (which they scrutinized. We don’t know what they were looking for specifically in the agreement but the SEF representative read through the entire thing.)

The next day, at the very same office but with a different SEF representative, they asked my husband for:

– his NIF

– his passport

– our lease agreement

– his health insurance policy

– proof of entry into Portugal

Since we didn’t fly directly into Portugal, our passport wasn’t stamped which is why they asked for proof of entry. Kind of crazy that they didn’t ask my son and I for the same thing but they didn’t (even though none of us have a stamp in our passports for Portugal). We had learned through a helpful post in Americans & FriendsPT though to keep our boarding passes and a copy of our hotel receipt for our arrival date in case we needed to prove when we entered Portugal luckily we knew to keep that info.


All in all, the process was painless. I was SOOO glad to have our attorney with us at our appointment as the person next to me at SEF was struggling a bit due to the language barrier between him and the SEF representative. He did muddle through it with a good result but it was a much more relaxing experience for me as I just sat there while my attorney handled the entire thing.

Even though so much of the process from the Visa application to the SEF appointment can be done DIY, I am so glad we hired an attorney. For our family, time is really important to us and our attorney has saved us so much time and many bureaucratic headaches by making calls on our behalf and supporting us through the process with so many things from the visa, to getting us emergency SEF appointments, to issues with our bank in PT, to a red-tape nightmare with shipping/customs, to negotiating our lease and writing the contract to protect us from many things I see others struggling with, to about a zillion other things. So, if you value your time and don’t mind making a financial investment to have a trusted resource and support, I highly recommend hiring an attorney to save you from wasting time and energy on unforeseen hassles. Portugal is too magical to waste time in the weeds on bureaucratic things if you don’t have to! If you want a trusted and already vetted attorney and firm, you can get our attorney’s information through the Members’ Resource Library.


Here’s the list of things our attorney asked us to email/provide him over the past few months. He brought everything we sent to him organized in a binder so we wouldn’t have to print anything out or worry about it. He said you don’t technically need all of this but in his experience, it’s better to have more documentation than you less because in the past, he’s been asked for each of these documents at one time or another.

He did also mention that if you don’t have a document they request that you’re able to submit it after the appointment so not to worry.

He wanted to be over-prepared and we like to be over-prepared so that was no problem for us. This was part of an email we received from our attorney as to what to provide him with:

  • Passports;
  • NIF documentation
  • Proof of Health Insurance
  • Lease Contract;
  • Proof of your most recent monthly rental payment for your lease (your landlord can provide you with an invoice to show payment)
  • Proof of income

–Usually they only ask for the Portuguese bank account with the minimum balance – Keeping in mind that you are 3 people, the minimum amount you should have in the Portuguese Bank account is around € 15.000,00.

–Since your income is based in different sources in US, I would also recommend having: The most recent bank statements (3-months worth) from your personal, investment and business bank accounts

  • Proof of entry – boarding passes into Portugal (keep these no matter what!!)
  • Given that you each have a D7 Visa, I don´t think they will request a marriage certificate, but you can bring just in case. But for your son’s appointment, you may need his birth certificate.

We did bring apostilled marriage and birth certificates just in case since we had them anyway…also because my last name is different from my son’s. This way they could see we were a family if there were any questions.

Don’t forget to bring cash, credit or a multibanco card for payment. I can’t remember how much our son’s permit costed (it was much less) but ours were a little over 156 euros/person.