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.
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 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.
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…