Portugal’s D2 Visa: Portuguese Residency for Entrepreneurs

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The D2, or “immigrant entrepreneur visa” as it’s sometimes called, is aimed at third country nationals (non-EU/EEA/Swiss)[1]https://moviinn.com/services/visas/types-of-visa#entrepreneurship-visa that want to start a business in Portugal. It’s also available to those that want to open a Portuguese branch of an existing business or to those that are already operating a business in Portugal but haven’t moved here yet.

If you hold a passport from an EU/EEA/Switzerland, you do not need to apply for a residency visa in order to move to Portugal and start a business here.

This D2 business visa isn’t as well-known as the D7 or the Golden Visa but, for those that have the drive to start a business in Portugal, it could be your ticket to a new life here. With the Golden Visa, the main requirement is that you have sufficient funds to invest in Portugal – starting from around €280k. With the D7, you need to prove that you have sufficient regular income coming into your bank account so as to live in Portugal. With the D2, however, you will need to show that your business idea or existing business can survive in Portugal.

Although that means the D2 is a little more complicated than other Portuguese residency visas, the D2 has a lot of strengths and is well-regarded when compared to other European entrepreneurship visas. One example is that there is no minimum investment required[2]https://www.portuguesedream.com/d2-visa-immigrant-entrepreneur-visa-for-portugal/[3]https://www.crownportugal.eu/portugal-d-2-visa-, although it should be noted that most immigration companies will suggest that you invest at least €5k worth of capital[4]https://tom-bradford.com/portugal-d2-business-residence-permit/. Others suggest you need an amount suitable for the type of business you want to establish[5]https://www.crownportugal.eu/portugal-d-2-visa- or “adequate capital” [6]https://www.portuguesedream.com/d2-visa-immigrant-entrepreneur-visa-for-portugal/. The reason for the €5k figure is likely because this is the minimum amount needed to open an LDA or private limited company in Portugal [7]https://www.companyformationportugal.com/set-up-lda-in-portugal.

There’s also no limitation on the type of business you decide to launch in Portugal: it could be anything from a café to a tech startup to an import or export business. It can also be a new Portuguese branch of an existing business that you’re operating elsewhere or it can be a business that you’ve already started operating in Portugal [8]https://tom-bradford.com/portugal-d2-business-residence-permit/. Other visas, like the startup visa, for example, are more restrictive and are aimed at entrepreneurs wanting to start a certain type of business.

Tax-wise, it has to be said, there are countries with lower corporation, dividend, and personal income tax than Portugal, even within Europe. However, the value of moving to Portugal is rarely for lower taxes but the ease of moving to a European country. Portugal’s low-ish cost of living, laid-back lifestyle, and all of the lifestyle benefits that come with living in Portugal (such as the good weather and safety) make is attractive on a personal level. It’s also possible to obtain permanent residency and apply for Portuguese citizenship after just five years[9]https://moviinn.com/services/visas/types-of-visa#entrepreneurship-visa.

Main Requirements

Applicants must demonstrate their intention to set up a business in Portugal. You will be assesses on whether your business will work in Portugal and provide you with enough money to live here.

Normally this is done through incorporated a company and submitting a business plan. For sole traders or freelancers, it’s done by submitting a contract for services with a Portuguese company [10]https://moviinn.com/services/visas/types-of-visa#entrepreneurship-visa.

Language Requirement

You do not need to speak Portuguese in order to be accepted for the visa, although it’s obviously recommended that you learn – especially if you plan to do business with Portuguese companies or Portuguese people. If you decide to apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship after five years, you will need to demonstrate at least an A2 level of Portuguese (exemptions do exist, for example for those coming from countries where Portuguese is the national language).

Financial Self-Sufficiency

As with the D7, you will also need to show “proof of means of subsistence,”[11]https://www.ada-legal.com/en/portuguese-d2-visa/ which is basically that you can support yourself. What’s normally asked for here is that you have more than the Portuguese minimum wage, which at around €635 per month isn’t high when compared to other European countries. Normally, you’re expected to fund a Portuguese bank account with at least 12 months[12]https://tom-bradford.com/portugal-d2-business-residence-permit/ of funds (€635X12 = €7620). However, even though the Portuguese minimum wage is only €635, don’t assume that it’ll be easy to live on this in Portugal – especially in a city like Lisbon. You should be realistic about the cost of living.

These funds are expected to support one person. For a dependent spouse or partner, add another 50% and another 30% for each dependent child[13]https://tom-bradford.com/portugal-d2-visa-the-rules/.

Accommodation

Proof of accommodation in Portugal is also required[14]https://www.ada-legal.com/en/portuguese-d2-visa/. This usually means deeds to a property, a rental contract, or an invitation letter from someone resident in Portugal offering you accommodation (sometimes called a term of responsibility).

This article on accommodation options for the D7 visa, a slightly different visa, provides some relevant suggestions.

Criminal Records Check

As with all other visas, you will need to submit a criminal records check for you and any dependents who are 16 or over [15]https://www.portuguesedream.com/d2-visa-immigrant-entrepreneur-visa-for-portugal/.

Entrepreneur or Independent Service Provider?

When applying for the D2, there are two categories of business person that you can apply as: entrepreneur and independent service provider.

Applying as an Entrepreneur

The D2 allows them to open any kind of business in Portugal or to open an arm of an existing business, which may be an easy route for those with established businesses. Unlike the startup visa, there are no limitations on the type of business: you could launch something in the hospitality or tech sector, for example. 

Entrepreneurs will need a NIF (fiscal number), Portuguese business bank account, and to open a limited company in Portugal, known as an LDA, which can have one or several partners. And, because you’re opening a company, you’ll need an accountant as well.

You can either come to Portugal and obtain these things yourself or you can enlist the services of a company to help you with the process. 

Other requirements include:

Each of those things comes with an initial cost and then there are the ongoing costs of maintaining a company, using the services of an accountant, and paying taxes (corporation and personal) as well as social security. 

Applying as an Independent Service Provider

The independent service provider, namely someone who provides services to Portuguese or international clients, is another category of people that can apply for the D2. 

There’s slightly less setup involved here than there is for entrepreneurs. There’s no need, for example, to register a company or to get an accountant, although getting an accountant is always recommended in Portugal. 

Some of the requirements for independent service providers include:

Many people that fall under the independent service provider category may also be eligible for the D7 and some companies will recommend that you opt for the D7 instead. It’s recommended that you speak to a professional to see which visa is most suitable for you. 

Applying for Permanent Residency & Citizenship

Permanent residency is possible after just five years and it’s also possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship at this point[21]https://moviinn.com/services/visas/types-of-visa#entrepreneurship-visa.

During those first five years, you’re normally required to spend at least six consecutive months living in Portugal (or eight months with gaps) to maintain your residency and be eligible for permanent residency. Allowances are made if your business requires you to leave Portugal for work purposes. 

As mentioned, you need to provide a business plan that shows the value of your business to the Portuguese economy and society. If you’ve already started other businesses, or are opening a branch of an existing business, this will be easier to show – you don’t have to start a completely new business in Portugal.

Comparisons to other visas

The D2 is one of several residency visas aimed at those that want to move to Portugal. Other visas that may be suitable include the startup visa, golden visa, and the D7.

D2 VS the Startup Visa

As well as the D2 entrepreneurship visa, Portugal also has a startup visa.

This visa is slightly more restrictive than the D2 visa in that it’s only suitable for technological or startup-type businesses. It also needs to be able to generate an annual turnover of €325,000 within five years of entering a tech incubator, as well as have the ability to create jobs. You’ll also need a written declaration of interest from a Portuguese tech incubator. You’ll also need to have sufficient funds in your bank account – €5147 per year (per person).

This visa is obviously more complicated again than the D2, and at first glance it may not make sense to apply for the startup visa over the D2, however, it’s always good to get professional advice on the best course of action.

It seems that, because startups have a lot of value to Portugal, there may be some flexibility on the A2 language requirement for citizenship after 5 years. There also seems to be less of a requirement for physical residency in Portugal. If these two factors are of particular importance, it may be worth considering the startup visa over the D2.

That said, the startup visa is a lot more demanding in its requirements and it may be more cost effective to just learn Portuguese and spend 6 months of the year in Portugal.

D2 VS the Golden Visa

Although most people think of the Golden Visa as the property investment visa, this is just one investment area that the Golden Visa offers. It’s also possible to invest in a fund or start a company that creates jobs via the Golden Visa.

While the property requirements of the Golden Visa are very achievable for many, the investment requirements are less attractive. One option is to create at least 10 jobs in Portugal. Another is to transfer €1 million. There’s also a smaller investment option, but the amount is €350k.

For entrepreneurs, the D2 is more attractive in that the investment amount is lower (technically zero, but around €5k in practice) and you’re not required to create jobs.

However, if your goal is simply to buy your citizenship, so to speak, and you have the funds, the D2 may not be the best option for you: transfer of €1 million to a Portuguese bank account is much easier than setting up and running a business for 5 years. If you don’t have €1 million to part with, the property investment route may be more appealing and, again, this involves a lot less work than starting a running a business.

D2 VS the D7

The D7 is the more talked about visa for a number of reasons. Firstly, the requirements are a little more straightforward than the D2. Secondly, the D7 is more suitable for the type of people Portugal tends to attract (namely retirees, those seeking early retirement, employees able to work remotely, and freelancers).

If you meet the requirements of the D7 – basically that you have passive income that’s equal to the Portuguese minimum wage – it’s usually better to apply for this.

There are also no restrictions on starting a business in Portugal on the D7 visa, so you could enter on the D7 (assuming you meet the requirements) and then setup whatever business you were planning to set up.

Can I also apply for NHR?

Yes, you can.

NHR (Non Habitual Residency) isn’t connected to any visa, so you could join it regardless of whether you come to Portugal on the D2, D7, or any other residency visa. The main requirements for being eligible for NHR are that you haven’t been on the scheme before and you haven’t been normally resident in Portugal in the past five years.

However, even though people on the D2 can join the NHR regime they may not benefit in the same way as someone on another visa might. This is because NHR only applies to certain types of income (e.g. pensions or rental income) and typically income that comes from abroad. If you’re running a business in Portugal, it’s less likely that you’ll benefit from this scheme.

That said, you should probably still apply for NHR when you come to Portugal as you may have other types of income that qualifies. You also only get one chance to apply (unless you leave Portugal for five years and come back again).

Read more about NHR here

Why move to Portugal to start a business

Besides achievable visa requirements, there are a number of other reasons to choose Portugal as the place to launch your startup or business. 

Firstly, there are all of the reasons for moving here: the good weather, the low cost of living, the food, safety, and everything else. From a business point of view, however, Portugal is particularly attractive because it has a well-educated workforce, many of whom are fluent in English and often another language, and because wages here are lower than many other EU countries. 

This isn’t to say that everything about Portugal is perfect, however. Portugal has plenty of cons as well – including complicated bureaucracy, which is obviously a deterrent to many businesses – but for an ever increasing number of entrepreneurs the pros outweigh the cons. This is especially true for those that are looking for a second passport from an EU country.

D2 Application

Like the D7, the D2 visa is normally issued by the embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Basically, if you live in the UK, for example, you apply for the D2 visa there. If you live in the US or India, you apply there. However, if the applicant is already staying in Portugal legally (e.g. on a tourist visa), he/she can skip this step and apply for a residence permit in Portugal[22]https://moviinn.com/services/visas/types-of-visa#entrepreneurship-visa.

Once granted, the D2 visa allows you to move to Portugal and attend an interview with SEF. Assuming the interview goes successfully, you’ll then be granted a temporary residence permit. Temporary residence permits are normally granted in 1-2 year blocks. After 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency. Rather than applying for residency in 1-2 year blocks, permanent residency is given in 10 year blocks.

It is possible to enter Portugal on a tourist visa rather than the D2 visa and apply for residency while in Portugal, but applying for the D2 visa from your country of residence is the most common and straightforward way.

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Article originally published on 19 January, 2021

19 thoughts on “Portugal’s D2 Visa: Portuguese Residency for Entrepreneurs”

  1. To clarify. I could go to portugal as a tourist without getting a d2 or d7 visa and then apply for residency when there? Im wanting to work self employed once ive moved there, doing property maintence and gardening. I currently have a business of that nature here and was going to apply for the d2 but this seems like a much easier option as i can gain more clients to prove my business viable if im over there rather than applying here. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Matt,

      The normal way is to apply for the visa first and then move to Portugal. The D2 does seem to allow you to apply for it from Portugal.

      Your plan is to go to Portugal and test the viability of your business over there. You would need to check the legality of this, as you may not be able to do this legally on a tourist visa.

      Reply
  2. Hey James,
    Hope you are doing great.
    What if one comes with family on a tourist visa? Will minor children be allowed to stay on legally till the D2 process is complete? Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Hello,
    I was wondering if anyone here got D7 visa having a remote job as the only passive income, as the feedback from the Portuguese lawyers differ quite a bit. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
  4. dear James,

    I have an import-export business, can I visit Portugal and then apply for a d2 visa in Portugal on a visitor visa or do I need to apply for d2 in my country?

    Reply
    • Hi Koti,

      Yes. According to the article:

      Like the D7, the D2 visa is normally issued by the embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Basically, if you live in the UK, for example, you apply for the D2 visa there. If you live in the US or India, you apply there. However, if the applicant is already staying in Portugal legally (e.g. on a tourist visa), he/she can skip this step and apply for a residence permit in Portugal.

      Reply
  5. Dear James,

    Thanks for such useful information. I’d like to know more about “Independent Service Providers”. I’m Brazilian, work in Brazil for a US Company. I am exploring the D2 visa for moving to Portugal and keep working for this company from there. It is possible to apply for D2 by proving that I have a service contract with this company? If so, do I need to register a company in Portugal? To know, I’ve explored the D7 visa but it’s not possible given labor incomes are not allowed as proof of incomes for living there under D7, only passive incomes are allowed.

    Reply
    • Olá Carina,

      A lot of people have been accepted for the D7 as remote workers, so I don’t think it always has to be passive income. It can depend on the consulate, though. There’s definitely a lot of confusion as to whether to the D2 or D7 is the best option for remote workers, and it can be hard to get a definitive answer.

      As an independent service provider though, the D2 probably makes the most sense and already having a client should definitely help. You would need to “open activity” as they say in Portugal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean opening a company (although it’s an option). There’s also the simpler option of issuing “recibo verdes.”

      Reply
  6. How much time person need to stay physically in portugal in 5 year duration under D2 VISA TO APPLY PASSPORT AFTER 6 YEAR.
    REGARDS

    Reply
  7. Dear James,
    As a foreigner and I want to become a Portuguese citizen, I heard that foreigners must live in Portugal for six years, including one year of permanent residency. However, if I have legally cooperated with a Portuguese citizen for three years, it will be reduced to three years. Is this true? Is it through D2 or Golden Visa?

    Reply
    • Hi xiaoxiao,

      They’re two different things.

      If you’re in a relationship or married to a Portuguese person for more than three years, that’s one route to citizenship. Another route is naturalisation or living here for five years (through the D2 or Golden Visa as well as several other visas).

      Reply

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