How to get Portuguese Residency?
Mile after mile of sandy beaches, buzzing cities, and a high quality of life, Portugal ticks all the boxes. Indeed, living in Portugal, dipping into the local cuisine, or getting lost in the historic towns or breathtaking nature could be the perfect country for you to call home. However, how to get a Portuguese residency to kickstart your dream here?
Moving to Portugal and gaining Portuguese residency may seem a little complicated at first, particularly if you are not an EU national. For EU-nationals, the process is fairly straightforward. For non-EU nationals, which now include the Brits, you will need a visa to get residency in Portugal. So, how to get Portuguese residency?
There are different options depending on your situation and you should ensure that you are well informed on the most up-to-date information of each. There are different options that you can consider, notably the D7 Visa and Golden Visa.
What is Portuguese residency?
With a high quality of life, a beautiful climate all year-round, and certain tax incentives to lure in expats, many foreigners are looking to move to Portugal and obtain Portuguese residency.
Portuguese residency basically means that you are legally allowed to live in Portugal and you have residency in the country. After five years as a Portuguese resident, you are able to apply to become a permanent resident and citizenship (provided you meet the criteria).
Who should apply for Portuguese residency?
You should apply for Portuguese residency if you are looking to live, work or study in Portugal.
How do you get a Portuguese residency if you are an EU-national?
As an EU-national, given that it is free to live, work and travel, the process to get a Portuguese Residency is pretty straightforward.
In the first three months, you will not need a visa to stay in Portugal. After this, you will need a document authorizing residence in Portugal. All you will need to do is register at your local city hall (camara municipal), which will issue a residence certificate valid for five years. Also, you will need to register with the Portuguese tax authorities. You will need to fulfill one of the following criteria:
- Be either employed or self-employed in Portuguese territory
- Have sufficient funds for yourself and family members (if applicable) and have health insurance
- Be enrolled at an officially accredited private or public teaching establishment and have sufficient funds for yourself and family members (if applicable)
Permanent residence for EU nationals
After legally living in Portugal for over five years, EU citizens and their family members must apply for a registration certificate of permanent residence.
You must apply for the certificate before the residence certificate expires at the SEF offices, after scheduling an appointment. The cost will be EUR 15 for the registration certificate of permanent residence.
How to get a Portuguese residency if you are a non-EU national?
There are different pathways to secure Portuguese Residency if you are a non-EU national, non-Swiss, and non-EEA. The D7 Visa is probably the most practical visa if you are looking to retire or work in Portugal, while the Golden Visa will be more attractive to you if you are looking to invest in the country.
Note that if you are staying for less than 90 days, some non-EU countries, such as the USA and UK, amongst others allow you to stay in the country visa-free for the duration of this time. Be sure to check with your government’s website about traveling to Portugal to see if this is the case for you.
If you are a non-EU citizen and are looking to move to Portugal with your own funding, then the D7 visa could be for you. This allows non-EU citizens to obtain Portuguese residency provided they have sufficient means to support their stay in Portugal.
The visa is perfect for retirees and entrepreneurs alike who want to live in Portugal without having to make a major financial investment. The visa can be renewed after one year for two successive periods of two years. After this time you can apply permanent residence and even citizenship.
You must be a non-EU national and have sufficient funds to support yourself while in Portugal (€7.980 for the first adult; €3.600 for second or more adults; €2.160 per child), in addition to the following:
- Hold a clean criminal record
- Show proof of a place to live in Portugal
- Be willing to be a fiscal resident
- Be willing to reside in Portugal for more than 183 consecutive days.
There are two main steps to securing your D7 visa:
- The first step is completed in your home country at a Portuguese embassy. Simply present all the necessary documents and, if your application is approved, the embassy will deliver a temporary visa (valid for four months from the date of issue) permitting you to travel to Portugal, along with an appointment date with the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).
- For the second step, you will need to attend your appointment with SEF. Here, they will grant you an initial one-year period visa, which is renewable for two consecutive years. Note that in Lisbon and Porto it will likely take longer to get an appointment with SEF and may take up to 120 days.
Following this, you will have your vital D7 visa, which allows you to reside in the country for five years, and after which you will be able to apply for permanent residency and even citizenship.
Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular residency-by-investment programs in the world. The scheme provides investors with a doorway to other EU-member countries.
There are a number of different ways to secure the Golden Visa and the requirements vary depending on the investment route taken. The most popular pathway is through real estate, although investment funds are also proving to be an attractive option.
Golden Visa options:
- Capital transfer of at least €1 million into Portugal
- Generate 10 new jobs for a Portuguese business or single-member company (eight new jobs in low-density areas)
- Invest in real estate – Buy property in Portugal amounting to €500K (€400K in low-density areas)
- Invest in real estate rehabilitation – a €350K real estate investment in rehabilitation projects (€280K in low-density areas)
- Investment in preserving national heritage – an investment of at least €250K
- Investment in research – of at least €350K in research
- Invest €350K in an existing Portuguese business. They must incorporate or increase the share capital and create at least five full-time jobs for at least three years.
- Invest a minimum of €350K into a private equity fund in Portugal
Note that the program will significantly change from 1 January 2022. Following this, the investment threshold to qualify will increase. For example, the minimum fund amount will increase from €350K to €500K and the capital transfer amount will increase from €1 million to €1.5 million.
For more information on attaining citizenship through the Portugal Golden visa, consult our guide here.
Real estate investments will only be applicable to the interior of the country, ruling out Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas. Our article on Portugal’s golden visa changes, updates and new rules for 2022 will provide you with more information.
Other pathways to residency
How to get Portuguese residency by marriage:
You are able to acquire Portuguese citizenship through marriage after three years of marriage, or three years of cohabitation, to a Portuguese citizen. For this, the applicant must provide documents that prove they have an effective connection to the Portuguese community. However, there is no requirement as to a prior period of residence in Portugal.
How to get Portuguese residency by studying:
Non-EU/EEA students will need to apply for a residence permit that is valid for one year. After this it can be renewed for up to five years at a local SEF office. For EU-citizens, you will need to obtain a residence certificate at the local council.
Permanent Portuguese residence and citizenship
Benefits of Portuguese residence and citizenship
Portuguese permanent residents and Portuguese citizens are able to:
- Participate in full Portuguese employment or self-employment (without the need for a work permit)
- Participate in education or study
- Access social security benefits and pension
- Buy property in Portugal
Additional benefits for citizens alone include:
- Vote in elections and referendums
- Obtain a Portuguese passport, allowing you entry to 186 countries visa-free
- Acquire EU citizenship, allowing you to travel freely across EU member countries
- Live, work, or retire in other EU countries
How to obtain permanent Portuguese residency and citizenship?
After five years of temporary residence, whether or not you are an EU national or a non-EU national, you will be able to register for permanent residence in Portugal.
As with EU citizens, after five years as a temporary resident, you must apply for a permanent residence certificate before it expires. To do this, you will need to go to the SEF offices, after scheduling an appointment. The cost is EUR 15 and will need to be reviewed every five years.
For citizenship, you are also able to apply after five years of living in the country. For this, you will need to provide basic knowledge of the Portuguese language and have a clean criminal record.
Portugal also allows dual nationality, so you will not have to give up your home country’s nationality.
Speak with a trusted advisor
It can be difficult knowing which visa is the right one for your circumstances. We recommend speaking with Goldcrest’s second residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions, who will be able to answer any questions that you may have in relation to which visa program is right for you.