Hi David, I had mixed experiences, just getting my 5 year residency this week (using UK passport).
Firstly I had to get my NIF, which was super-easy at Financas in one of my two local towns; although queues are long, so get there early to grab a number to be seen.
Then I had to get a statement of where I lived, which had to be done in the other town as my residence fell in this jurisdiction… THIS was a problem, as I moved in with my partner, so had no rental agreement, utility bill etc. I also needed 2 voting residents to sign for me, and the person who OWNED the house had to provide the plan of the house, as well as sign the documents (I also needed a copy of the passports of all these people… who were strangers to me). I tried to lodge, but two of the people, despite living within a km of the Junta de Fregsia were not registered to VOTE in that town, but the neighbouring ones, so they would not accept them. We had to find two more. Once all paperwork was provided (which took several days to do, and I have no idea how I would have found people to sign for me if I did not have a Portuguese partner);, it was super fast and cheap to get the document.
I needed both my NIF and that document to be able to get a Post Office box, a bank account (as well as proof of a job for the bank!), and even to apply to attend language classes in the area.
With both of those, I then had to go back to Financas in the other town, to change the address on the NIF to the correct one in Portugal, rather than UK. Once again, very fast, once you get through the queue.
Then with all this documentation, plus proof of income or bank balance, I went to the City Municipality office, also in the same town as the NIF, to get my 5 year residency; which only took about 30mins including waiting time.
All the people were very nice to me, but very frustrated I could not speak much Portuguese. I noticed their overall tolerance level and kindness varied a lot depending on the nationality they were serving; but I think that is normal in any country.
I am in a country area.
My son was on an Australian passport and in Lisbon, and he had a much harder time and I don’t think he would have got it completed without his bosses in attendance with him. But in the city offices he could book appointments online, which I couldn’t, but they were months in advance too.
So I think it varies a lot from place to place.
Personally, Unless you have to, I would not rely on much online… I just set aside days to walk in and deal with it all. But I understand that many people don’t have that option. Good luck!