It is the last step for British citizens to have their new resident card, under the withdrawal agreement concluded between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Loulé has been operating since this Wednesday, September 7, a biometric data collection post, where the British will have to go to finish the whole process.
This post, which operates in Espaço Cidadão, near the Municipal Market, was inaugurated yesterday, the 7th, with the presence of Patrícia Gaspar, Secretary of State for Internal Administration.
Speaking to journalists, the minister explained that this is an “important phase for the British communities” because it will “guarantee the final step” in this process: “the collection of biometric data from citizens who were already registered on the Brexit portal”.
Now, after collecting this data (such as height, fingerprint and photograph), the British will «receive their resident cards, thus ending their process».
Loulé is, according to SEF data, the Algarve municipality with the most British citizens (3.504), followed by Lagos (3.369), Albufeira (2.177) and Tavira (1.577).
A total of 18.714 UK citizens reside in the Algarve.
These were people “resident in Portugal, at the time of Brexit, and there is an exit agreement that allows them to formalize their residence in Portugal, since the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU”, said Patrícia Gaspar.
According to the Secretary of State, the future objective is to “extend this network” of posts, also including “the Registry and Notary offices and the Citizen Spaces of the Agency for Administrative Modernization”.
For the time being, this space in Loulé is only the second in operation in the whole country, after Cascais.
Also present at the ceremony in the Algarve, Fernando Pinheiro da Silva, national director of the Foreigners and Borders Service, said that this collaboration between «SEF and the municipalities has gone very well».
Furthermore, in Loulé, the municipality provided the necessary facilities and human resources to carry out the care and collection of biometric data, while the SEF provided training to employees.
Vítor Aleixo, mayor of Loulé, alluded precisely to this fact.
«We respond quickly, in logistical terms, so that this process of normalization of British residents in the Algarve, which there are many, can happen with comfort and speed», he considered to journalists.
According to Patrícia Gaspar, there is also the «signing of a protocol with the Parish Council of Quarteira, which will also have a service post».
Until they receive their residence cards, the certificate with the QR Code, which can be downloaded from the Brexit Portal, remains an official residence document in Portugal under the Withdrawal Agreement and is valid until the new card is issued, as well as the current European Union residence documents, which continue to be accepted for travel purposes, as long as they are valid.
Photos: Pedro Lemos | Sul Informação