What on earth is going on with SEF appointments?

SEF - or, Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras - Portugal’s immigration and borders service has become somewhat of a hot topic for Golden Visa applicants. Specifically regarding the almost impossible task of getting hold of an appointment with them of late.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://nomadgate.com/sef-appointments/

Great article!

Words of encouragement: I was able to book my biometrics in Coimbra with patient diligence. As noted, cancellations do open up from time to time, particularly at certain hours of the day and week. Next-day Azores appointments often open up in the hour before midnight, Portugal time. But note that you can not cancel an appointment on the same day, so if you book it, you’re stuck with it! And the immigration people will be cross with you if you miss an appointment without a good excuse.

One of the big law firms appears to manually reshuffle the appointment calendar during the mid-morning of Portuguese business days. You can often find plum spots if you check at just the right moment. I found a Coimbra appointment two weeks ahead of time–plenty of time to book travel and all that.

Good luck everyone!

1 Like

Can you please send the link to get the appointment? Are you saying that midday is the best time to check?

Thank you

Log in to your account at ari.sef.pt and click the calendar.

It’s like playing the lottery with sweat equity. Check as often as your motivation calls for.

This is a well written article. I agree one of the largest problems is the lack of communication and transparency.

I agree too

Do you have the link for family reunion visa? that one is one for golden visas. Thank you

There is two interesting articles worth reading over similar on the same situation.


Regarding this first article you identify, it sounds positive however, despite SEF knowing about this situation of irregular bookings on the platform for months it still continues.

Even worse, it seems to be a sick joke. The article you reference is based on a 2019 incident. If you think anything will improve now with the same behavior 2 years later, you are surely the sucker here.

Expresso | SEF queixa-se ao Ministério Público por suspeita de venda de vagas de atendimento

Hi I did my biomatric in Aug 2019 and until now the status is “under process”. What options do I have? what next steps can I take?

That is truly bizarre that you are still awaiting your GV Card 25 months after your bio-metrics. My guess would be that there is an outstanding issue with your application, which hasnt been adequately handled by your lawyer / GV Firm.

Hi nevada

Did you have to re-login in order to refresh the locations? or is it simply changing the region suffice for refreshing the appointment page? I tried every ten mins for days in a row without seeing a single opening.

It makes a fresh dynamic query for openings every time you change the location dropdown. Your login lasts for about 24 hours before you have to log in again. It starts to act a little strange when the login expires. Probably fine if you start a new window each day.

It can definitely be slow and discouraging, but I succeeded & others did too. Wishing you luck and endurance!

Hi Nevada

Like you said, I tried tirelessly for months without success. The scheduling system suddenly opened a whole months’ worth of appointments at 18:30 (Central European Time), for all locations. I snatched one as quickly as I could move my hand. Now I can book my flight for Oct.

Thank you so much for the encouragement!


Hi Sam

I’m in a similar position - however, I am trying to get my biometric card to replace my residency certificate (a new requirement as a result of Brexit).

Plus I am outside of Portugal in a red country (South Africa).at the moment. Will I be able to communicate with SEF if they give me a date that I cannot meet?

Does anyone know a reliable contact at SEF? It could even be a generic email they have, as long as they use it and reply to it? I feel like it is a black hole, no reply, no information flow!

Did you try calling them on the phone?

Yes, I tried these two numbers they listed on their site
(+351) 808 202 653 & (+351) 808 962 690

according to the AFIP folks, attempting to call SEF at this point is a near useless exercise. You might have some luck around 8-9. Relating what I’ve read, YMMV.