Changing addresses - Finanças
We've moved. YOU know that ... (93)
It’s one thing to move to a new place. It’s quite another to let people know you’ve done so.
Besides family and friends, we had to figure who needed our new address. We made a list:
Utility companies (water, power, tv/phone/internet)
Insurance - health and home
Ordering and delivery companies (Amazon and the like)
Rideshare companies (we use primarily Bolt and, occasionally, Uber)
A few of these were simple. Changing addresses with Amazon, Bolt, Uber and others meant merely updating apps and websites. We’re still bumping into a few of those as we use them. No big deal.
Changing addresses with the utility companies meant changing contracts. Not as easily done, but relatively simple (except for tv/phone/internet). Letting the bank and health insurance company know involved a few emails but nothing complicated.
Which leaves us with those government agencies. There are four we can think of that have our address:
Finanças - known as AT, the tax and customs authority
IMT - the Portuguese DMV got our address when we exchanged our driver licenses. We’re still waiting for our permanent licenses to be sent to us so making sure they have our correct mailing address was a top concern.
SNS - the public health system. While they have our address, it doesn’t seem a high priority as they are unlikely to mail anything to us. They also can and have communicated with us by email and/or text.
SEF - the Portuguese immigration service. This one is tricky. We have our permanent temporary residence cards (as opposed to the pieces of paper we were issued at our appointments last fall), which are valid until October 2024. SEF is unlikely to send us anything else by mail, they have other ways to reach out to us should they need to (phone, email), and the entire agency is in the process of being dramatically restructured. Still, the law says we are to notify them of any address changes.
Since Amy was buried neck deep in furniture layout, Scott got left with this hot potato. He’ll take it from here.
I try to keep an eye on the Americans and FriendsPT Facebook group in general and it is a helpful resource in times like this. Searching the group for terms like “address change” yields plenty of information, some of which is old, some of which conflicts. Sorting through it, some themes begin to emerge. The most important theme for me was that there is definitely a way to change your address with Finanças online.
Since most places seem to accept official confirmation from Finanças as a valid proof of address (IMT asked for this confirmation from us), I strongly recommend starting here when changing your address.
The process for changing addresses with Finanças is relatively straightforward. The biggest obstacle is navigating their website, which is a sprawling, labyrinthine affair that seemingly changes its shape frequently and whimsically, rendering useless the links from any of the many “how to” articles/posts/publications you can find online (including quite possibly this one). It’s also, naturally, entirely in Portuguese.
Since we already had Finanças accounts, which we used last year when we removed our fiscal representative and took control of our own NIFs, it was a matter of logging back into those and finding the right place on the website.
Since the site is in Portuguese, the best way I’ve found to manage is by using Google translate frequently. I installed it as a Chrome extension and I toggle the page back and forth between English and Portuguese to help me zero in on my target. In this case, I was looking for A Minha Área (My area), which is where any information they have about me can be accessed and, hopefully, changed. It’s always available in the top right corner, where the blue arrow is. After that, click Dados Pessoais (Personal data), next to the yellow arrow.
Then click Dados de Contacto (Contact details).
Followed by Morada (Address) and Entregar Pedido de Alteração (Submit change request).
The following page explains the two part process that happens next:
First (Etapa 1 - step 1), you will enter your new mailing address. The AT will send a letter to that address. The letter contains a code. When you receive the letter, you will need to log back into the website and complete Etapa 2 (Step 2), by navigating to the Confirmar Morada (Confirm address) page in the left navigation bar (blue arrow above) and entering the code. For now, though, click the Seguinte (following) button in the lower right to get started.
You’ll see a page with the address currently registered to your NIF and a box for you to enter your new zip code. From there, it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Others who have completed the process say the letter arrives anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks after they enter their new address on the website. Great, I thought. And back on April 3 when we were working on transferring utilities, I figured I may as well get a head start on Finanças too. Even though we weren’t technically buying the apartment until April 5, there’s no reason why a letter couldn’t be placed in the mailbox earlier than that if needed, right? I followed the steps twice, once logged in under my NIF and once under Amy’s. All seemed to work smoothly - now we just needed the letters.
For whatever reason, our letters never arrived.Logging back into the website wasn’t helpful as the only thing I could do was enter the code I didn’t have. At some point, though, the initial change request expired and when I checked in again on May 10, I was able to repeat the above steps and enter a new request. While this has a “definition of insanity” feel to it, we were actually getting mail by that point so I felt more confident the letters would make their way to us.
Sure enough, on May 17, Amy’s letter arrived.I entered her code into the Finanças website and the address change went into effect immediately! I was able to download a form called a certidão domicilio fiscal (tax domicile certificate), which is an official-looking letter (signature and everything). It was, apparently, instantly auto-generated.
My letter and code arrived two days later and I downloaded the same form for myself.
In parallel to this, I was
in a death match working with IMT, which eventually resulted in a glorious victory after which I bellowed a primal scream out our window for all of Lisbon to hear proved interesting. Enough so that it will necessitate its own post as this one is already long enough.
That’s all for now.
Love from Lisbon,
Scott (and Amy who trembles in awe as Scott bends the phone and internet to his will)
There are actual Finanças offices scattered around Lisbon, as well.
My calculus is as follows: if I go in person, I might be able get any questions I have answered. Provided I end up with someone who is patient enough to work with me through the language barrier. And I may have to wait a while to get to that person. And I may not have the correct paperwork with me if I get that point, so I’d need to come back. If all goes, well, though, I can knock out the entire process in one visit.
If I try doing it myself online, I could go days or even weeks without any feedback and the entire thing could just grind to a halt without my even knowing why.
But I can always go in person if I’m stuck after trying it online. I’m a big
fan of hiding behind a computer screen whenever possible chicken. So online it was.
The very first step required on the visa process is to obtain a NIF. While easily done, it requires a resident of Portugal to be listed as a fiscal representative. Since we were in St. Louis at the time, we worked with AlgarveKnowHow to get our NIFs, using them as our fiscal representative. Once we had proof of our address in Lisbon, we were able to use our accounts at finanças to remove this representation.
It took a while for us to get any mail here at all. We knew Amy’s aunt had sent us something and we were waiting for the letters from finanças so we had reason to expect mail but none came. It wasn’t just us, either. The others in this building were also waiting for mail, including their letters from finanças. Things changed after Amy ran into our postal carrier on another block. She had a good conversation with him - he knew our building and the day after he got Amy’s name, the letter from her aunt arrived.
Hers was the more important of the two since I was at that point locked in a struggle with IMT (which I will detail in a separate post) to get her address changed there.
To find this form, I plugged its name into the search bar on the finanças site and clicked around a while.