Updated: February 6, 2023
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 place to call home. However, how can you get Portuguese residency to kickstart your dream here?
Moving to Portugal and gaining Portuguese residency may seem a little complicated at first, mainly if you are not an EU national. For EU nationals, the process is pretty straightforward. For non-EU nationals, including UK citizens, you will need a visa to get residency in Portugal. So, how to get Portuguese residency?
Different options are available depending on your situation, and you should ensure that you are well informed on the most up-to-date information. You can consider various options, notably the D7 Visa and the Golden Visa.
What is Portuguese residency?
With a high quality of life, a beautiful climate all year round, and specific tax incentives to lure in expats, many foreigners are looking to move to Portugal and obtain Portuguese residency.
Portuguese residency 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 can 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 Portuguese residency if you are an EU national?
As an EU national, given that it is free to live, work and travel across the EU area, the process to get a Portuguese Residency is pretty straightforward.
You will not need a visa in the first three months to stay in Portugal. After this, you will need a document authorizing your residence in Portugal. All you will need to do is register at your local city hall (Câmara Municipal), which will issue a residence certificate that is 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 enough 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.
After scheduling an appointment, you must apply at one of the SEF offices (Portuguese immigration and border service) for the certificate before the residence certificate expires. The cost will be €15 for the registration certificate of permanent residence.
How to get Portuguese residency if you are a non-EU national?
There are different pathways to secure a Portuguese residency if you are a non-EU, non-Swiss, and non-EEA national. The D7 Visa is probably the most practical if you are looking to retire or work in Portugal, while the Golden Visa will be more attractive if you would like 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, allow you to stay in the country visa-free for this time. Be sure to check your government’s website about traveling to Portugal to see if this is the case for you.
If you are a non-EU citizen looking to move to Portugal with your 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 significant financial investment. The visa can be renewed after one year for two successive periods of two years. After this time, you can apply for permanent residence and even citizenship.
In order to apply for this visa, you need to:
- Be a non-EU national
- Earn a passive income of at least €760 per month (your income can come from pensions, transferable equity, real estate, intellectual property, or financial equity)
- Show proof of a place to live in Portugal
- Be willing to reside for more than 183 consecutive days per calendar year in Portugal
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 SEF.
- You will need to attend your appointment with SEF for the second step. 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, after which you will be able to apply for permanent residency and even citizenship.
The 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.
The ways to secure the Golden Visa and the residency requirements vary depending on the investment route. The most popular pathway is through real estate, although investment funds are also an attractive option.
The Portugal Golden Visa experienced some changes from 1 January 2022. The new options can be found below.
Golden Visa options:
- Capital transfer of at least €1,500,000 into Portugal
- Company incorporation and creation of 10 new jobs for a Portuguese business or single-member company – €500,000
- Invest in real estate – Buy property in Portugal amounting to €500,000 in an interior area of Portugal. If the property is located in a low-density area, then a 20 percent discount will apply.
- Invest in real estate rehabilitation – a €350,000 real estate investment in rehabilitation projects in interior areas. If the property is located in a low-density area, then a 20 percent discount will apply.
- Arts donation– an investment of at least €250,000
- Investment in research – of at least €500,000 in research
- Invest a minimum of €500,000 into a private equity fund in Portugal.
For more information on attaining citizenship through the Portugal Golden visa, consult our article: How to Get Portuguese Residency with the Portuguese Golden Visa.
Residential real estate investments now only qualify if they are located in the country’s interior areas, ruling out Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas. Note that for commercial properties, you can invest anywhere in the country. 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 can acquire Portuguese citizenship through marriage with a Portuguese citizen after three years of marriage or three years of cohabitation. For this, the applicant must provide documents that prove they have an adequate connection to the Portuguese community. However, there is no requirement for 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 in Portugal that is valid for one year. After this, it can be renewed for up to five years at a local SEF office. If you’re interested in how to get residency in Portugal for EU citizens, you will need to obtain a residence certificate from the local council.
How to get Portuguese residency with the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa?
Portugal has recently launched its Digital Nomad Visa, which has made it possible for digital nomads to stay or work in Portugal for a specific time.
Remote workers can take this visa to apply for either a residency permit that can be renewed for up to five years or a temporary stay visa that has a maximum validity of one year. This makes it possible for remote employees who make four times the local minimum salary to live and work in Portugal (about €2,800 every month).
To get a Portugal Digital Nomad Visa 2022, just submit your application at a Portuguese Consulate abroad or the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras immigration office in Portugal. To do this, you must present a contract of employment or evidence of self-employment, proof of income for the past three months, and proof of tax residency.
Permanent Portuguese Residence and Citizenship
Benefits of Portuguese residence and citizenship
Portuguese permanent residents and Portuguese citizens can:
- 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 172 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 €15 and will need to be reviewed every five years.
For citizenship, you can also apply after five years of living in the country. For this, you will need to provide basic Portuguese knowledge and 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
Knowing which visa is the right one for your circumstances can be challenging. We recommend speaking with Goldcrest’s second residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions, who can answer any questions you may have concerning which visa program is right for you.