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Portuguese in the UK are frustrated by online appointments at consulates

Portuguese in the UK are frustrated by online appointments at consulates

Scheduling an appointment at the London consulate through the website is almost a “lottery”, leaving many Portuguese people frustrated after months of not being able to renew their personal document.

The online appointment platform of the Portal das Comunidades Portuguesas is currently the only way to obtain a vacancy for the issuance or renewal of a citizen’s card and passport, as the options for booking by phone or email have been discontinued.

To access, enter your personal data or use a digital mobile key, but most of the time users face the message “Currently there are no vacancies, try again later”.

“There were no vacancies. I had to log into the site every day to try to score. It was a game of luck,” Rita Jose complained to the Lusa agency from Chippenham, 175 kilometers west of London.

After two months of trying, this kindergarten teacher was able to schedule a passport renewal six months later, and it took her a week to see her daughter a month later. “Online access is not difficult, vacancies are the problem”, he lamented.

Other guys have had less successful experiences, like Mariana Chaves, a pastry chef in Cornwall, southwest England, who spent more than a year trying to get an appointment to renew her passport.

Frustrated, she wrote an email to the Consular Service Center (CAC), which responded with a link to an online planning site.

Bearing in mind that it takes about five hours to drive from Cornwall to London, others advised her to travel to Portugal as the journey would take about the same amount of time and would solve the problem quickly.

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“That’s when I started researching on the Internet and joined a group on Facebook. One day someone wrote that there were vacancies and I was able to schedule it for November. The passport expired in August,” he told Lusa.

The person responsible for the warning is Rosanna Alves, an executive manager in London, who lived there for six years and tried religiously every day for five months, including weekends.

“I tried once on a Friday morning at 11 and I was surprised because instead of the message that there were no vacancies, I had a series of options. I decided to share to help people in the same situation”, she explained to Lusa. The tag is “still easy, two clicks”, he admits, but “you have to be very persistent”.

Isabel Silva and Luciana Breda were the beneficiaries of Rosanna’s gesture and were able to schedule the meetings they had been trying to do for months.

“I started a year ago. I stayed a whole day and tried at different times, and the message was always the same: “Try later”, said Isabel Silva, manager of a supermarket in London.

Luciana Breda, a cleaner in the same city, worries about the added difficulties for the elderly or those without computer skills.

In your case, your son’s passport has expired and he has not been able to take a vacation in Brazil for two years. “It’s a lot of emotional exhaustion,” he admits.

The consulate in London clarified that scheduling vacancies will continue to open for the next three months, “on an almost daily basis, with timely reinforcements for closer dates if withdrawals are announced”.

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Additionally, there will be vacancies every Saturday morning, which will run from 9am to 1pm until the end of this year.

Gisela Doria, from Norwich, central England, said she ended up using consular accommodation in Great Yarmouth after trying “for months on end, at different times of the day”.

It’s the same at the Manchester consulate, said Bruna Amaral, who lives in Liverpool and needs an appointment to renew her autistic sister’s passport.

For the past two months, she had been making a habit of scheduling an appointment every day — before going to work, at lunchtime and at the end of the day, after coming home — but until now she couldn’t.

Interestingly, when accessing the site, options arise to visit other consulates in the Republic of Ireland, such as London or Dublin, which have vacancies in October.

“Don’t even think I’m going to Dublin”, he replied: “So many people are waiting, it’s sad”.