I had heard that we should allow a fair amount of time to sort out opening a bank account and Maria and Paulo had advised us that the bank would need passports and a small amount of cash to open the account, about €250 should do it. Its worth noting that €250 is written with a comma when writing cents as well e.g. €250,00. Nothing had really prepared us for the amount of time it took.
The process is actually very easy, especially if you have the help of someone like Paulo and Maria, who had a very good understanding with the local Bank Manager. Liliana, the young lady that worked on the front desk at Remax, showed us the way to the Bank, The manager had been warned we was on our way, but when we arrived he was out. I think it was getting close to lunch and he had to do some shopping before lunch. We sat in the office for what must have been and hour and half, we had nowhere else to go, but I think both Teresa and I were feeling the need for the toilet.
Eventually the manager, I think he was the manager appeared and sat at a nearby desk, at which point the young lady who had been serving others whilst we waited called us over. One can only imagine that the manager had to be on site, but didn’t have to actually handle the work.
Once we got going it only took about 30 minutes, but it’s worth noting that you have to really ask for everything. We wanted a current type account that we could transfer money into and pay bills online as well as having a Visa type card that we could use to buy items and draw cash from the cash points. We also wanted Internet access so we could manage our account from the UK. Everything was possible and arranged, we also logged on to our new account from the banks office as well, so we where good to go, but you must remember to ask for all the bits you need, else you may have to come back.
It is important to get a bank account if you are doing something like this, it did make our life a lot easier, especially as some of the self service machines, e.g. the petrol stations when unmanned will only take Portuguese Visa cards the UK ones will not work. If they are manned you can usually pay inside but never at the pump.
We had the additional problem that as we had brought a plot of land, we didn’t really have an address, and the bank will not accept a UK address. Lucky for us Paulo and Maria where happy for us to us the Remax office address and the bank was happy. The draw back is that any post would go to the Remax office, including our cards when they were ready. We overcame that as Remax agreed to send them on to us as and when, all we had to do was to refund them the postage. So again you see how useful and helpful a good Estate Agent can be to you.