Minimal Timeline for the Initial SEF Application for the Portugal GV

Recently took a gander at the Portugal Golden Visa. I am very appreciative of everyone on this forum sharing insights and advice, so also sharing some timeline data in case helpful to anyone (if not, please ignore).

Many said it could still be done only in the most optimistic of scenarios while targeting the hard-stop date, so took a crack at it…

There’s no reason to assume ultimate success, but here’s the timeline trying to rush for T. Note that all dates are in chronological order with T as the hard-stop date. This is really a story of buyer (or rather “investor”) beware…

  • T-39 Came across 2 Funds that were more appropriate than others for our risk tolerance
  • T-37 Bank #1 that supports a lot of Americans says it cannot open a bank account “in time” thereby negating one of the 2 Fund options (as we understood it)
  • T-37 File request to be granted police certificate in local jurisdiction
  • T-35 Request for police certificate granted and appointment booked for fingerprint processing
  • T-35 Recommended to several additional banks accepting Americans
  • T-35 We had incorrect contact details for Bank #2, but luckily the phone number was for the contact’s colleague. The colleague puts us in touch with the contact.
  • T-35 Recommended to & signed up with Legal Counsel
  • T-35 Bank #2 asks us to pre-send certain personal documentation in electronic format regarding financial status, utilities, and passport
  • T-34 Bank #3 says we need to physically be in Portugal (but this is unworkable amidst COVID raging)
  • T-34 Bank #4 says to pre-send all personal financial and data documentation to see if they would agree to provide us bank opening forms. Considering time constraints, we provide this information anyway
  • T-34 Bank #2 needs FATCA forms filled out, plus a declaration and social security copy
  • T-34 Bank #2 account opening forms sent to it
  • T-34 NIF obtained via lawyer’s assistance
  • T-31 Provided finger prints and receive police report
  • T-31 Apostile a whole bunch of documents
  • T-31 Bank #2 needs employment letter
  • T-29 UPS driver arrives to pickup documents but forgets to bring official envelope and waybill; after calling support, another UPS driver comes after 4 hours and brings materials this time
  • T-28 UPS documents still sitting at major airport
  • T-25 UPS documents mysteriously sitting in China, which UPS claims is a hub
  • T-23 We contact Bank #3 to get an update on status, but they say they have not heard back from their compliance
  • T-21 Re-scanned entire passport for submission purposes because first scan was not considered acceptable
  • T-21 UPS documents have been stuck in China and UPS claims that it has no planes to move it out till today (or after 8 days being in UPS’ clutches) (but likely that UPS is prioritizing XMas packages and iphones over documents (thanks Apple!), but nevertheless failing to tell customers about this and still accepting urgent overnight documents)
  • T-20 iPhone arrives. Guess who is the carrier??? :grin:
  • T-18 UPS documents arrive but a good thing that they proved to be unnecessary. Unfortunately China may (or may not) have access to personal data now; vow to use FredEx next time
  • T-17 Bank #2 indicates compliance has agreed to open the bank account but now wants hard copy documents sent to it
  • T-17 Bank #2 compliance has found one discrepancy with the passport and needs a new front-page copy
  • T-17 Initial monies sent to account at Bank #2 to open
  • T-16 This time use Fedex to send documents to both Bank #2 and Lawyer
  • T-16 Bank #2 confirms initial monies received
  • T-16 Send a large chunk of money to account at Bank #2 to be “ready to go”
  • T-15 We contact Bank #3 to get an update on status, which they say they will follow-up on urgently.
  • T-14 Bank #2 receives FedEx of hard-copy bank documents
  • T-14 Lawyer receives FedEx of hard-copy apostiled documents
  • T-13 Bank #2 has still not provided account access
  • T-10 Told by Bank #3 that they are still working on our “case” but unlikely to get a response. We have never provided the bank account opening forms, because they claim they needed AML/KYC pre-approval. This bank is patently unhelpful because if we completely relied on the bank (which was initially misleading us), we would have been SOL
  • T-10 Remaining monies transferred to account at Bank #2 despite lack of account access
  • T-09 Bank #2 still has not provided account access (something seems wrong as we were told several days earlier that the account was opened and compliance approved)
  • T-08 Contact Fund Manager to update and request assistance with Bank #2 which still has not granted access despite full monies transferred
  • T-07 head over to local Portuguese embassy and first experience with their bureaucracy directly. Am worried about Bank #2 since nothing has happened which reassures at this point. Figure to get documents notarized / authenticated at the Portuguese embassy so there is no doubt if needed at the last minute. The first experience with their bureaucracy directly is, unfortunately and indeed, as bad as feared and ultimately ends with their guy about half my age yelling at me. Several signs indicate the guy is sitting around, not doing any work, and has a sense of entitlement. Probably one more term describes him, but this forum probably won’t let me say it… Nevertheless, nasty and unfortunate experience with their bureaucracy…
  • T-07 Standing instruction provided to Bank #2 to invest in the designated Fund as soon as accounts sorted out
  • T-06 Bank #2 still has not provided account access (something definitely seems wrong)
  • T-05 Bank #2 still has not provided account access (worries that we won’t make the deadline)
  • T-04 Bank #2 still has not provided account access (resignation that we have missed out)
  • T-03 Passwords to access account at Bank #2 provided
  • T-02 Revised Standing instruction provided to Bank #2 because it does not like the format of the original instruction
  • T-02 Monies transferred to Bank #2 still not showing in Account
  • T-02 Nevertheless, subscription made to Fund since monies are embargoed somewhere at the bank
  • T-02 Monies subsequently show in account at Bank #2 minus amounts in the Fund which also shows in account
  • T-02 Lawyer files SEF application
  • T-01 Lawyer successfully pays initial SEF application fee
  • T-00 XXX

Now we are still unsure of overall success with the application; not too optimistic seeing as how bureaucracy, COVID, overnight couriers, and ineptness have gotten in the way! And not all of it is the applicants’ side!!..

At some level unsurprising. But, wow. At least it’s a good cautionary tale.

You’ll feel better when you reach the finish line and receive your card. It may even be less than a year from now with the recent improvements in biometrics appointment scheduling.

39 days is pretty damn fast! And that you managed it even with all the hiccups at banks and UPS is quite impressive!