So, we have been living in Portugal for two months now, and Raios! (Damn!) It is amazing. I wish that I could convey how wonderful it is. Daily, I am blown away by how fantastic the food and drink are not to mention the scenery and how helpful and friendly the people are.
Slogging through the bureaucracy, however, continues. The movers packed and picked up our things in Denver on February 11th, and we are still waiting for our ship to come in, as it were. The first estimate for arrival of our personal belongings was April 11th. When we had not heard anything by the 15th, I sent an email to Transparent International (which has been anything but transparent), asking if there was a new guestimate for the arrival date. Finally, a few days later, I got an email from the company in the Netherlands that is handling the Euro portion of our moving program and was told that April 24th would be the new estimated date of arrival.
But I get ahead of myself. Let me back up. Around the time that we arrived in Porto I got an email from not so Transparent International informing me that our shipment was on a container and BYW, we owed them another $4,000! (I had already paid them $5,000.) Isto é uma merda do caraças! Go ahead and look that up if you dare, it is a multi F-word phrase in Portuguese. (Yes, my Portuguese is getting better by the day and more colorful to boot. I still have a long way to go, needless to say.) Oh, yeah you had a lot more stuff than we thought. Mad as a hatter did not even begin to cover how pissed off I was/am. My first thought was, you know what? Keep it, I don’t even need any of that stuff. Then, of course, I realized that it would become a legal nightmare that I would rather not entertain. So, I emailed them and asked, what are my alternatives? They said that they would check with the Euro movers and get back to me. They knocked off about two hundred dollars. So, now our 30 some odd boxes of personal items worth about $1,000 is costing us $9,000 to ship to Portugal.
My only small consolation is in the misery loves company department. After talking to other recent ex-pats to Portugal, it turns out that everyone we talked to went through the same thing! WTF is all I have to say. How can these mafioso movers get away with this?! I will be Yelping the bejesus out of them once we do get our things. Here is my advice to anyone moving overseas: DO NOT SHIP ANYTHING! Take only what you can check on the plane. It is not worth the brain damage. The estimates for moving our “act” overseas ranged from $3,000-5,000. What did we say about everything costing twice as much and taking twice as long as you think? Try three times.
Oh, and guess what? There is a list of documents that we have to come up with before taking delivery of our goods if we want to avoid paying duty on everything. Now, I had seen the certificado do bagagem mentioned early on in my research about moving to Portugal but lost the memo in the shuffle. It is one of the required documents and must be issued by the Portuguese consulate in the states that issued your resident visa. Flashback to San Francisco. I emailed the consulate in SF asking what I needed to do to get the luggage certificate? Well, they referred me to the site that spells it out. Again, color me clueless. Check it:
- Signed and dated declaration (must be in Portuguese, see example below)
- Add two photocopies of the declaration (so, the original plus two copies); (The copies do not need to be notarized BUT the original may have to be, check notes below);
- Copy of valid Portuguese ID Card OR a copy of valid Portuguese Passport (personal data page) OR EU country passport (personal data page) OR third country passport with residence visa (personal data page and residence visa page); (The copies do not need to be notarized);
- Documental evidence of the dates of beginning and end of residency in the country (copy of bills, driver’s license,…);
- Documental evidence showing the personal goods have been used for at least 6 months before the end of residency in the country;
- Cover letter explaining the service you require and your contacts (email and cellphone number);
- Self-addressed postmarked envelope;
- Check payable to “Portuguese Consulate”.
– Make sure you send all of the required documents. Incomplete applications will not be accepted and will be returned.
– It is necessary for the signature to be notarized if the declaration is made outside our jurisdiction (checked by the address on the return envelope).
– Person requesting this certificate must be a legal resident of Portugal, regardless of citizenship
It is almost as bad as the application for resident visa requirements. I could just cry. Can you say, frustrated to tears? And there is a prize in it for anyone who can tell me what, “documental evidence showing the personal goods have been used for at least 6 months before the end of residency in the country,” might be. (Like I saved all of the receipts for everything I ever purchased in the past 20 years.)
And that’s not all. There is a registration form that must be filled out by someone at the town hall here in Gaia saying that we are registered to live here, and proof of work contract, among other things that we already actually have.
Bongers International, the movers in the Netherlands (I swear, that is really their name.) now says that the container has arrived in Rotterdam. The new guestimate for arrival in Porto is between May 5-11th. Let’s hope it’s later since it took the Portuguese consulate in SF a week to reply to my email. Once I assemble all the documents, translate our inventory into Portuguese and have it all notarized, I must FedEx it all to the consulate with a prepaid return envelope and a check for $50.03 for the cost of the certificate. ($50.03, really?) I can only hope that I can pull it all together, and get the certificate back before our things arrive. Boa sorte. (Good luck) with that. If only we actually owned anything worth the $9k we could sell to make up for our stupidity. Experience is an expensive teacher, I guess. Caraças, I say.