Biometric Appointment To-Do List

tl;dr: What should I do while I’m in Portugal for my first biometrics appointment?

After many months of waiting, I finally have a biometrics appointment lined up in February. The process and documents for the appointments have been discussed ad nauseam on this forum, but I want to ask a different question:

While I’m in Portugal for my biometrics appointment, what other errands should I take care of?

  1. Can I get a “regular” bank account? For GV purposes, I have an account with Bison Bank. Should I also get, e.g. a Multibanco account and debit card since I will be there in person?
  2. Can I get a Portuguese phone number? Is it expensive to maintain?
  3. Can I rent a mailbox and set up mail forwarding to my U.S. address?
  4. Is there a transportation pass I should sign up for?
  5. Any other items I should look into?

Looking for advice from folks that have already been to a biometrics appointment or already live in Portugal.

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  1. It is worth opening a Bank account - eg Millennium - if your Bank does not have a branch in Portugal. This enables use of the Portuguese Multibanco system, which facilitates transfers, cash withdrawal, bill payment etc. You can cross-reference your NIF on withdrawals & payments using the Multibanco machines (keep the receipts with NIF as proof of your physical presence as proof of the 7-14 day physical requirement for GV).
  2. It is practical to have a local phone number, but this need not involve a long-term contractual arrangement. You can pick up a 15-day or 30-day Vodafone SIM card at the airport on arrival. The airport Vodafone counter offers deals for short stays (costs about €20 for 30 days) with about 10GB of internet and roaming in the EU, some time-limit of calls to the US/Canada/Australia/New Zealand & a couple of Lusophone countries. Allows you to operate like a local, while you decide whether you really need a longer-term option / contract with Vodafone, MEO or NOS (the 3 big phone providers).
  3. Mail can be directed to your lawyer/tax representative. A tax representative domiciled in Portugal is obligatory when the taxpayer resides in a third country (ie not in Portugal or in the EU) to ensure the necessary contact between the Portugal tax authorities and the taxpayer. This tends to be the most practical option for official letters (Bank or SEF etc).
  4. On transport in Lisbon, you can get a monthly bus card/rail card, or a card that allows X number of trips. For a longer time (eg a year or more in Lisbon), take a look at the carris.pt website to see if you fit into a group where they offer discounted rates.
  5. Begin to learn the language and get to know the country and its history. Lots of language courses - some that involve physical presence and online eg with the Instituto Camoes: Cursos Gerais de Português - Camões - Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua.
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Yes Millennium. Bison is good but primarily an investment bank. Millennium is good for all day to day stuff. Apply for Prestige Account. I don’t have experience of the other banks.

  1. Consider a prepaid mobile number. A Vodafone SIM card costs 10E, with a 5E credit, and costs 1.5E every two months to keep it going; you also have to use it to text or call every six months. You can text while outside PT to keep it going. Hang on to it, because you need a PT number for SNS and other things.
  2. Yes, definitely a Multibanco account, if for no other reason than to recharge your prepaid number. Our Millenium account effectively costs 5E a month.
  3. Transport card depends on where you are and if you are resident or a senior. If you are a senior in the Lisbon area, definitely get a permanent card to charge with monthlies and top-ups. In Porto it’s different. You might also look at the Combio cards if you are traveling intercity.
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