This felt epic.
So, you need a tax number in order to open a bank account. The theory is that you present yourself at the Finance Office with passport and proof of address, and that's it.
I managed to find the Finance Office (no indications that it was any kind of professional establishment), where they said ‘no’ a lot. I consulted my Portuguese phrase book and tried again. They admitted that they were the Finance Office, and pointed upstairs.
It turned out that by ‘upstairs’ they didn’t mean that I should go upstairs, but that I should go back out on to the street, turn right at the next corner, go into the building on the right, past the construction site on the ground floor, go up to the first floor and ask there.
Which I did.
It was straight out of Terry Gilliam: metre-high piles of paperwork everywhere, people going from desk to desk in fathomless patterns. I finally found the right queue (and queueing here is another discussion entirely) and got my basic details entered.
When I tried to pay the administration charge, the money was pushed back to me; I had to pay ‘downstairs’.
Back out onto the street, around the corner, into the disguised office. The woman there begrudgingly accepted the money and gave me a receipt. Was that it? No, I needed to bring the receipt ‘upstairs’.
Back out again, through the construction site, up to the first floor, receipt in hand.
The mounds of paper had grown while I’d been away.
Then I got the magic bit of paper stamped with the magic stamp. My work here was done.