Every country in the world requires people to deal with a whole load of paperwork but in Portugal the mountains of papers and layers bureaucracy mean that when you are living in Portugal you will need to stock up on your stores of patience!
I remember once watching a video on YouTube about a woman going into an official office in Spain where she was met by a surly looking, uninterested gentleman. When he asked for a price of paperwork she proudly thrust each one in his direction and at the end when she had managed to produce all 2o or so pieces of paper she left triumphant.
This video did the rounds quite a lot in Portugal at the time too, mainly because it rang so true with many people who are living in Portugal and have had to deal with the often nightmarish experience of any form of bureaucracy.
You will often find that you have to queue for around an hour to speak to the person you have been told to speak to only to be told that you have come to the wrong desk and you need to queue all over again around the corner. If you do manage to get the right desk with the right member of staff then you will often find that you don´t have the right piece of paper with you and will therefore have to return the following day to queue up all over again.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule but in general the confusing process in most Câmara offices, the social security offices, finanças,the water board and other official entities means that you need to cross off an entire day to dedicate to dealing with the dreaded paperwork.
After years of buzzing back and forth between offices and trying to complete paperwork I have now come up with my own fail safe way to combat any delays.
Firstly I always take a book with me to keep me occupied during the inevitable long wait, I also pack a bottle of water and a snack – it really can take that long!
Secondly I take basically every piece of paperwork that I have ever had relating to that service plus all of my personal documents. So for example, if I am wanting to deal with an issue at the water board office I take with me the previous six months worth of bills, all letters that they have sent me, bank statements to prove transactions and then i also take my ID and fiscal number as well as a proof of address. this way there is nothing more they could possibly ask for!
If you are dealing with paperwork in Portugal then it is a good idea to get advice from others who have gone through the same things as you before you go. This way you will know more or less who you need to speak to about an issue, where the offices are that you need to visit and more or less what paperwork you will need to take with you.
Head down to your local coffee shop to ask about and you are bound to pick up some great hints and tips.
Not every experience with paperwork is a bad one and I have even had some exceptionally helpful people help me out in the past but if you are prepared for the worst then you can never be disappointed when it comes to dealing with paperwork in Portugal!