This IMPOSSIBLE-to-get documentation is screwing up our visa application!

This post is actually born out of frustration from dealing with the government authorities. I thought I had managed to tame the beasts but alas no.

Having no base

Being a digital nomad is great fun. There's the great sense of freedom and knowing you can go where you're treated best, and see a new culture every few weeks. Heck if you really love the place you can even stay a few months.

In Bali just a couple of month ago…before volcano troubles!

There are some drawbacks however and it can bring real problems if you aren't careful. We had planned for nearly every event we could think of, but some may need to ask themselves the following:

  • Are your travel and health insurance policies valid if you have no address?
  • If your driving licence has an address on it, is it valid if that is no longer your address? (my guess is no)
  • Are you covered by a country's national health insurance if you need to see a doctor?

For instance, in the UK you can only use the National Health Service if you are ordinarily-resident of the UK, so having British nationality is not sufficient in such a situation!

The last point on health insurance coverage was crucial when I sliced my finger open and went to hospital to get stitches.

The new strategy – having a base.

Having travelled for the last year and a half I decided to drop the anchor somewhat and establish a residence. This is due to several factors, with the greatest influence from Brexit. I was even invited to write an article on Nomad Capitalist describing Brexit's impact when the UK Government snuck in new EU immigration laws last year, despite the promise of no change and it not getting picked up by major news outlets.

Opting for Portugal, at first it seems a nice choice. Good weather, affordable day-to-day living, excellent food, decent football icon. What's not to like?


Bureaucracy – The documentation war.

As an EU citizen (for the time being) it was actually fairly straightforward for me to officially register my residence in Portugal. I went to the local town hall, showed my passport and bank statement, paid €15 for a registration certificate and 5 minutes later my registration was done. Easy peasy.

The deity Zeus disguised as a bull in the ancient Greek legend. It is now used as the emblem on European Union residence permits.

With non-EU citizens, I can understand that an EU country wants to carefully control those who do not have an automatic right to live and work within the bloc. However, my cohabiting partner of nearly a decade(non-EU herself) DOES have the right to be treated as an EU citizen, as per the Freedom of Movement Directive.

One thing I cannot get my head around is their insistence on two particular items of documentation. Declaration of single status (despite having a legally-registered partnership in The Netherlands) and a birth certificate. I don't have a problem that they want me to prove my marital status and history, but the issue is they want BOTH to be British sourced because I am identifying myself here as a British Citizen.

A single status affidavit I imagine should be relatively straightforward. Go to a notary in the UK, swear my necessary statements, and get an Apostille from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Or alternatively go to the British Consulate in the host country and make a sworn declaration or affirmation, if it something that they are allowed to do (not all Consulates can do this, the one in Portugal being one). This is a procedure I went through back when I was registering in The Netherlands and I'm pretty familiar with that.

The crux here is that I was not born in the UK, having gained citizenship as a nappy-bearing toddler so am ineligible to register my birth with the UK authorities. The Portuguese authorities will not process my partner's residence application without my UK-sourced birth certificate so we're stuck in limbo! The added irony is that, according to my legal advisor, Portugal does not issue birth certificates to people who naturalise after birth either!

Having made several back-and-forth calls between the immigration authorities and the British Consulate, I've decided to refer the matter to Solvit, the free legal help offered by the European Commission, as it's getting rather ridiculous now.

Who knows how this will go…

About Tim

Tim is an engineer and a nerd who analyses every travel deal, travel hack. He has travelled to around 90 countries and also speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

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  1. Move to the USA. We give all the illegals free healthcare, drivers licenses, free housing, food stamps, etc. Little or no documentation is required.

    • Yes, and these immigrants are way better prepared and educated than the current local hillbillies.

      Because of what immigrants contributed to build in this country, the current local hillbillies still survive, in spite of their stupidity.

      Although it will get more challenging with trump removing their health coverage and other government assistance programs.

      • Maybe they can move in with you? You seem to be very generous with other peoples money.

        Q. Why don’t we create a legal path for immigrants who are educated, have skills and can contribute to this country and enforce the rule of law regarding illegal immigrants?
        A. Because its about creating more liberal voters. And our do-nothing Congress would rather shut down the govt than pass comprehensive immigration reform.

  2. I guess the question is 1) which country are you applying the visa for and 2) what type of visa is it? If your passport has a place of birth on it, it will prove a) citizenship and b) place of birth in lieu of a birth certificate. Check with the consulate to confirm.

    • I’ve already argued this with the immigration authorities. They seem oblivious to the fact that many people might be born in a country outside their citizenship…

  3. Portugal is notorious for bureaucracy and that comes from over 500 years ago. You need a piece of paper with a stamp to do anything. Oh, and you have to pay a fee for that.

    • Thanks Nick, I will check this out. According to all my legal advice so far, what the immigration agency is requesting is not lawful, and should be a straightforward “do it or else!” case.

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