Stage 4 - Apostilled marriage certificate required?

Hi all. Question on a surprise paperwork request that has come up in stage 4 of the process. My husband and I did our biometrics in Lisbon in Aug 2022, and had a domestic partnership (which we submitted at the biometrics appt). We got married in the interim. Our biometrics were apparently approved, but SEF thinks my husband is ‘single’ (which hasn’t been true the entire process, we have had a domestic partnership in place throughout) and is requiring an apostilled marriage certificate to obtain final approval. Our lawyers seem surprised by the request, but aren’t able to give any detail about it besides it’s something we have to do. Has anyone else had this happen? We’re assuming we just have to go along with it, but frustrating as it will add another couple of months to such an already frustrating process.

The marriage certificate would be apostilled by the state you got married in and shouldn’t take that long. When we had to get our birth certificates, they were ordered and apostilled within 10 days. And FWIW my partner and I have domestic partnership and are 100% single. The only way we would change that in Portugal is at the tax office, allowing us to file taxes jointly (which we don’t want to do).

We had biometrics in January 2023. Two weeks ago, SEF requested a new apostilled marriage certificate, saying the one we provided at biometrics expired. Super frustrating that they are lagging but we have to keep up to date on documents. On the other hand, does this mean they have opened the file for the final approval process?

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This does seem odd. Many of the current Lisbon biometrics folks have been waiting over a year so far and have not been asked for new apostilled documents (I have been asked to refresh other documents but not the crim background check, birth or marriage certificates in the meantime). I’m doubtful there is a new policy to require refreshed apostilled documents all around, whenever a document would have expired (under SEF guidelines) from the date of issuance/apostille. But it would be good to watch and see if this is the beginning of a pattern.

It is usually a good sign when they ask for a document; it means they have eyes on your file.

I’m worried about being asked to update apostilled documents. It makes no sense that birth certificates expire after a year. Same with the marriage certificate after 6 months. Maybe the criminal record makes some sense. But our lives have been overseas and all over the place making document collection quite difficult.

My wife and I were married on a Greek island and the marriage certificate is handwritten. We have an apostilled copy from over ten years ago, but have had to apply for another which is a big pain. It’s getting done somewhere out there, but I have no idea about its status.

Our kids were born in Australia and we’ve had to give power of attorney to someone in Australia in order to get these documents.

With the delays I’m hearing about, if we have to collect these apostilled documents again, we might just be caught in a vicious cycle.

Not sure if it may help anyone but just from my own experience…

I literally had 7 working days from the moment of booking the biometrics to the actual appointment, and it was also over the Christmas period! :joy:
Besides, I had to collect fresh documents from three different countries, with two of them being at war with each other :unamused:
So I ended up with almost complete set of documents, but not quite.
In one instance, I had an expired apostilled document and I had no time for a new apostille but I managed to bring a freshly issued unapostilled doc (i.e. I submitted both).
In another instance, the document was fresh and apostilled but it was a scanned emailed copy only, not the original.
Luckily, those niggles were disregarded by SEF and they happily accepted everything without asking me to re-submit anything later on.
So there is hope :slightly_smiling_face:


This is helpful to know that there is hope. I wish our lawyer could provide some hope!