I tried again to apply for my residency permit this morning. A sweetheart of a guy went through the process with me: first he sent me off to get photos taken, while he started filling out the form. It was a regular photo booth, but members of the public aren’t allowed to operate it themselves: you go to reception, and from there they call an overseer who puts your money into the machine and presses the button for you. You know, just in case…
So I get back, and he’s just getting started on the form. He fills out by hand four pages of personal details, stamping, dating and initialling each page with different combinations of the four stamps on his desk.
When I said that I thought it was going pretty quickly, he said that this was the easy part. The long part was issuing the receipt.
And so it came to pass, the receipt was another form to be completed by hand, which duplicated all of the information already given. So, he writes it all out again and hands me the carbon copies of the form. As I’m about to go he says that the receipt is valid for three months - would I like it stamped? I said ‘Well if you have a stamp, I guess we should use it.’ He then produced a fifth stamp and happily stamped, dated and initialled each page, declaring, ‘This is Portugal, we have many stamps!’.
So the bureaucracy turned out to be fun after all :)