Once upon a time, most people lived and died within miles of where they were born. Fortunately, in the modern world, its easier than ever to ‘up sticks and purchase property in a different country. Buying property in Portugal is no different. However, while its easier than ever, theres still plenty that needs doing before you hit the road.
First things first, study your bank and card statements to determine what bills youll need to continue and what payments you can say ‘Tchau (goodbye) to forever.
If youre moving permanently and disposing of your UK property then youll undoubtedly have to cancel:
Keeping your property and renting it out? Assuming youre working with a professional letting agent, ask their advice about the council tax and utilities. I guarantee they will have dealt with this situation a thousand times before. In addition to cancelling any bills youll no longer need, youll need to let HMRC know youre leaving and moving to Portugal. Fortunately, you may only need to complete one form (the P85), submitted online or via the post.
If youre retired or are close to retiring, youll also need to contact the International Pension Centre and post the relevant form to them. Sadly there isnt yet an online option for this particular part of the process.
If you, or anyone whos leaving permanently with you, receive state benefits then youll also need to get in touch with the DWP so they can make changes to those benefits.
Planning to take your pets with you? Fortunately moving to Portugal from the UK with your pet is a relatively painless experience if you get the preparation right. First off, youll need to ensure that every one of your furry children has a pet passport. Your local vet should be able to assist and advise you best on how to make sure theyre ready for the journey ahead. Note: If you havent already got one of these you need to start the process at least a month before you travel, any later and time constraints could mean you end up not being able to take your pet with you. Youll also need to ensure your pet has a valid microchip implanted. It must get embedded after (or at the same time as) any rabies shots your pets need and it must be an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15 digit chip. Again, your local vet should be fully aware of the requirements and able to ensure everything goes off without a hitch!
If your pet is anything other than a dog, cat, or ferret, then the rules do differ slightly depending on what type of animal it is. You can find further information on more unusual or exotic pets here.
Finally, be sure to set aside time to pack. Youd be amazed how many treat packing as an afterthought and end up rushing through it at the last minute. Take the time to decide what to take, and what to throw out. Transporting your things to Portugal wont be cheap, so why waste money taking unnecessary items? If youre smart about it, you may even be able to make this clean-out to your advantage and raise valuable funds for the move. Places like eBay, Facebook ‘buy and sell groups, Gumtree, and even car boot sales are all ideal for offloading unwanted items.
Thanks to the mantra of ‘Preparation, Preparation, Preparation! you will have arrived in Portugal without issue.
Fortunately with this guide walking you through the process of moving to Portugal, what to do upon arrival will be as issue free as getting there.
They say there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes, and this is as true in Portugal as it is anywhere else.
Getting your tax number (your ‘Número de Identificação Fiscal) should be the first thing you do upon arrival. Some of the things you wont be able to do without one include:
Pretty much all the important stuff isnt getting done without a tax number. Fortunately, its straightforward to get one as a UK citizen. Just pop into the local tax office with your passport, and theyll provide you with one.
Note: If youre opening joint accounts or putting more than one name on the deeds of any property you are buying in Portugal then ALL concerned parties will need a tax number of their own.
Assuming youre moving to Portugal for more than three months, youre going to need a residency permit (‘Autorização de Residência in Portuguese). This permit applies to everyone regardless of their reasons for being in the country.
Luckily, at the moment, its a straightforward process that can be done online or by visiting your local town hall.
Its worth remembering that a residency permits only valid for five years. After that, youll need to apply for permanent residence through the immigration service.
Like all major European countries, theres no shortage of choice when it comes to banking in Portugal. Youre going to find familiar names and unfamiliar local banks alongside side each other.
With English expats so common in Portugal its likely that every bank will have English speaking customer service staff wholl be able to assist you with opening an account.
As always when opening a bank account, therell be forms to be completed and documentation youll need to provide. It varies from bank to bank, but youll need to provide your:
Some banks will also want to see a residency card, but many will allow non-residents to open an account and some even allow the submission of an application from overseas.
One of the first tasks youll have to take care of upon arrival in Portugal is to organise your utilities. Existing without electric, gas and water in the modern world, would be challenging in the extreme.
The quality of the supply will vary by location, but unless youre rural, it shouldnt be too challenging getting the supplies you need.
Like most of Europe Portugal has an open market approach to gas and electric, so youre free to choose the supplier thats best for you. When transferring the gas and electric to your name, youll need to provide meter readings as well your tax number and proof of residency.
Bills are paid via monthly direct debit, or via a paper bill, and based on estimates for 11 months of the year. In month 12 your bill is produced based upon an actual reading and payments adjusted as needed. Some companies will allow you to submit your meter readings for more accurate bills, so if thats important to you, it could be worth shopping around for an energy supplier offering that facility.
Water is where youll notice the main difference when connecting your utilities in Portugal due it being a nationalised industry. As such, youll need to make your application to take over the supply at your municipal council office or directly to the local water board. Water usage is metered, and most people just set up a monthly debit and pay in full.
They used to say that ‘home is where the heart is. Now, its more like ‘home is where the wi-fi connects.
Whether or not you agree with that entirely, theres no denying that getting access to broadband, telephone and TV (especially broadband) will be high on your to-do list after moving to Portugal. Like the UK, numerous companies offer packages that bundle the services together, and its merely a case of shopping around to see whats the best available deal at that time. The network itself is maintained independently of these companies – in this case by Portugal Telecom (PT) – and its them youll need to contact in the event of needing a new line installed. Like the other utilities, payments are via direct debit or a paper bill.
To get access to the universal health care system in Portugal, youll first need to have your residency permit.
Once you have your permit, youll need to visit a local social security office and obtain your ‘Número de Identificação de Segurança Socia (its like your National Insurance number). From there, its a simple case of popping along to your local GP where theyll issue you with your medical card that grants access to the system.
Like most developed nations you also have the option to purchase health insurance if you wish, and policies range from several hundred to a few thousand Euros per year.
One last thing, if youve already retired or are planning to retire to Portugal, youll need to get in touch with the Overseas Healthcare Team and let them know youre leaving the country. Theyll arrange for the transfer of any eligible DWP benefits relating to your healthcare.
One thing you probably wont miss after moving to Portugal is council tax. Unfortunately, Portugal has its equivalent to council tax (called the ‘Imposto de Municipal sobre Imoveis’, or IMI) to support the services provided by your local authority. The property owner pays IMI, so unless youve already bought or are planning on buying property in Portugal, its not a tax youll need to concern yourself over. When paying your IMI, it differs from most other bills youll pay in that you cant spread the cost by direct debit, though you can pay through internet banking. Alternatively, you can pay in person at your local tax office. The payment schedule is pre-determined and the penalties for missing payments are quite severe.
When you pay is determined by the amount of the bill:
If you fail to pay, or miss payments, youll be charged interest, and in some instances, local authorities have the power to seize your home. Best pop those dates in the calendar straight away to avoid any mishaps.
Moving house can be a stressful process, add to that the element of the unknown that comes with moving overseas and it could seem overwhelming. Use this checklist to plan ahead, tie up your loose ends at home before you leave and hit the ground running once you’re there. Start as you mean to go on and have a great time while you’re moving to Portugal!
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