Can UK Citizens Still Retire in Portugal After Brexit?

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Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

For many Brits, the main focus of the retirement plan is moving to a warmer European country like Spain, Portugal, or France. Brexit has made all of that a little more difficult, but the good news is that it’s still possible to retire in Portugal – and Portugal is one of the easier European countries to move to. 

Prior to Brexit, when the UK was an EU member, Brits could easily move to Portugal and simply apply for residency at the nearest câmara municipal or town hall without any visa requirement. Now, British passport holders need a visa to move to Portugal. 

There are two main visas that appeal to retirees: the D7 and the Golden Visa. 

If you or your partner don’t have an “EU passport,” don’t worry: Portugal offers several attainable residency visas. 

The D7

The D7 is aimed at those with a passive income, such as a pension or income from a rental property. That income should be at least more than the Portuguese minimum wage, but since this is less than €1,000 per month, it is an achievable visa for many Brits. 

The Golden Visa

Another popular option is the golden visa, which offers residency in return for investing in Portugal. Since one of the investment options is buying a property in Portugal, something many people plan to do anyway, this visa is worth exploring. 

Another reason to consider the golden visa is that it only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal – unlike most other visas, which require you to spend more than 6 months per year. If you’re looking for a more flexible residency permit, and one that allows you to travel as and when you want, the golden visa could be the right visa for you. 

The Schengen Visa

Alternatively, you can come to Portugal for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without needing to obtain a Portuguese residency visa. This potentially allows you to come to Portugal for 3 months in the summer and 3 months in the winter, which may be more than enough for many people. 

However, even though this option feels very flexible, many people find that they want to spend longer in Portugal – particularly during winter. 

What about Taxes?

That’s a question for an accountant as taxes can vary from person to person, depending on how much of the year they’re spending in Portugal. However, if you’re spending the majority of the year in Portugal – and most visas require you to do this – it’s quite likely that you’ll be considered a Portuguese tax resident. 

What about Healthcare?

Like the UK, Portugal has its own national health service known as the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) and healthcare works in a similar fashion to the UK: most people are treated under the public system but there’s also a private system as well. 

Again, similar to the UK, the Portuguese public health system is good but suffers from long waiting lists. Because of this, many expats choose to get private health insurance which cuts down the costs of using the private hospitals and enables them to get non-emergency treatment faster. 

Where Should I Live?

That’s entirely up to you – the whole of Portugal is your oyster – but there are a few areas that always appeal to British retirees:

  • The Algarve – Thanks to its warm weather (more than 300 days of sunshine per year) and beautiful beaches, the Algarve has been a popular retirement destination for decades. 
  • Madeira – The island of Madeira has long been popular with British retirees thanks to its year-round mild weather, beautiful fauna, and spectacular walking trails. 
  • Cascais – Situated just outside of Lisbon, Cascais attracts many retirees that want the benefits of a small seaside town while still being close to a major city and international airport. 
  • The Silver Coast – Marketed as a cheap alternative to the Algarve, the Silver Coast offers proximity to the coast as well as access to cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, and Aveiro, at a slightly lower cost than the south of Portugal. 
  • Castelo Branco – The region of Castelo Branco is known for being one of the most affordable parts of Portugal and many Brits have started moving here to take advantage of the cheaper property costs. 
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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.