Applying for residency in Portugal as an EU citizen is relatively straightforward, especially when compared to applying as a non-EU citizen. Those from the EU/EEA/Switzerland have the right to live in Portugal, so in theory it’s just a case of moving here.
In theory, anyway. In practice, you may have get asked for seemingly random documents, but, otherwise, most people manage to register for residency without any major setbacks. Other aspects of moving to Portugal, like changing your driving licence or matriculating your car, can be more complicated, but this bit is usually fairly easy – many are able to do it in less than ten minutes.
This article is relevant to those from within the EU/EEA/Switzerland. If you hold a passport that’s not from one of these locations, you’ll likely need to apply for a residency visa and this usually needs to be done before you move to Portugal.
How to Register
Registering involves visiting your nearest câmara municipal (town hall) to get your CRUE or Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia. You’ll probably need to take a senha (ticket) when you enter. If you’re not sure which to take, there’s usually a security guard that you can ask.
You can apply for your certificate after you’ve been in Portugal for 90 days and you must apply within 30 days. If you don’t register, it’s possible that you could be fined between €400 and €1,500 [source].
It is possible to voluntarily get this before the 90 days are up [source], but câmaras may say no. Some will also ask for proof of when you entered Portugal (e.g. a flight ticket) to make sure that it has been 90 days, but others won’t.
Different town halls will have different documentation requirements. Some just require an ID (e.g. a passport or European ID) and some proof of address while others require other documentation like a NIF and funded Portuguese bank account. It really depends on the local câmara and it’s difficult to know unless you go in or speak to someone who’s applied for residency there recently.
While town halls should only ever ask for ID, proof of address, and proof of financial means [source], the following documents are typically asked for:
- ID (e.g. passport or ID card)
- Proof of address (e.g. property deeds, mortgage statement, rental contract, utility bill, NIF document)
- Three month’s of bank statements
- NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal)
- A statement confirming that you have the necessary financial means to support yourself (e.g. pension or savings), are working, or are a student (document provided by câmara)
- Fee (around €15)
These documents may also be asked for:
- Private health insurance (normally only required if your country asks the same of Portuguese citizens)
- Proof you don’t owe any money to the Portuguese social security department (Declaração da Segurança Social com os Descontos Efetuados)
- A document from your local Junta de Freguesia, signed by two witnesses which confirms you live where you do (Atestado De Residência)
Students will be asked for a declaration they they are registered at a public or private educational institution [source]. They’ll also be asked to show sufficient funds or evidence that they’re supported by a family member. If Portuguese citizens who move to their country require private health insurance, the same will be asked of them in Portugal.
Besides ensuring you have the basic documents, what the person processing your CRUE wants to determine is whether or not you’re likely to become a burden on the Portuguese state (i.e. will you run out of money). Proving that you won’t is important.
Non-EU Family Members
Non-EU family members (e.g. a spouse or direct descendant under 21 years of age [source]) can find more information about applying for residency here.
Now you have residency
Now you have temporary residency, which is valid for five years, you can move onto the next stages of Portuguese bureaucracy like:
- Getting a NIF (if you don’t already have one)
- Opening a Portuguese bank account
- Registering with you local centro de saúde and getting a número de utente (so you can use the public health service)
- Obtaining private health insurance (if that’s something you want)
- Registering for social security
- Registering or exchanging your driving licence
If you lose your CRUE or move house during those five years, you will need to apply for another.
Interestingly, getting residency doesn’t automatically mean tax residency in Portugal. Determining residency is more complex than that, but Finanças often count your “tax residency” from the date your NIF was registered to a Portuguese address. As mentioned, it’s more complicated than this and you can’t avoid paying taxes in Portugal simply by never switching your NIF address over. You might meet the tax residency requirements in other ways (e.g. having a main address in Portugal or spending more than 183 days in a tax year here).
Permanent Residency & Citizenship
After five years, you can apply for permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship. Obtaining permanent residency is fairly quick, assuming you can get an appointment, while the citizenship application usually takes around 18-24 months.
Permanent residency is ever-so-slightly different to temporary residency. One benefit is that it’s currently renewed every ten years whereas temporary residency for EU citizens is renewed every five.
You may be wondering whether it’s worth applying for Portuguese citizenship and obtaining a Portuguese passport if you already have a passport from an EU country. Generally, it doesn’t offer any additional benefits, but it can make paperwork slightly easier in Portugal if you’re a citizen rather than just a resident.
There’s also always the risk that your country could one day decide to leave the EU like the UK did. Since Portugal recognises dual citizenship, it may be worth it.