While many people have heard of Portugal’s D7 or golden visa, Portugal’s D2 visa is less well known. This is aimed at entrepreneurial third-country nationals (those from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland) that want to start a business, expand an existing business, or work as a freelancer or independent service provider in Portugal.
There’s no restriction on what that business could be. So if you have plans to open a shop, cafe, or modelling agency, or work as an independent contractor, this could be your ticket to a great new life in Portugal.
It also offers the standard benefits of residency that everyone wants: ability to apply for Portuguese citizenship after 5+ years, access to the Portuguese health system, easier travel within the Schengen Area, and family reunification.
The first and main requirement is this: can you set up a business or freelance activity that will support you, and any dependents, in Portugal? Will it provide enough money for you to comfortably live or will it raise concerns that you will need support from the Portuguese state?
Starting a business, especially in another country, is quite a lot of work. Small businesses famously have a very low success rate: according to one study, 49.7% of small businesses fail within five yearshttps://www.lendingtree.com/business/small/failure-rate/. Because of this, the D2 shouldn’t be seen as an easy way to move to Portugal for those that don’t have another route such as a pension or job offer. And, it’s not: as part of your application, you’ll be required to submit a business plan or a work services contract and your approval will be based on whether it’s likely your business will succeed. If you’ve already started other businesses, or are opening a branch of an existing business, this may be easier to demonstrate – you don’t have to start a completely new business in Portugal.
As well as meeting this requirement, some of the more specific application requirements include:
- Application form
- A NIF number (tip: you can get this and a Portuguese bank account through companies like Bordr or E-Residence)
- A Portuguese bank account, funded with at least enough money to live on for a year (again, Bordr and E-Residence can help here)
- Criminal records check
- Authorisation for a Portuguese criminal records check
- Proof of accommodation in Portugal: 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)
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 with Portuguese customers.
A good milestone to aim for is the A2 level of Portuguese. This is the minimum level you will need if you decide to apply for Portuguese citizenship and permanent residency later on, but it can also be considered the minimum level you will need if you want to survive in Portugal – and especially run a business here.
The following courses all cover A2-level Portuguese:
- A1 & A2 From Mia Language Academy Portuguese
- Portuguese Pro from Talk The Streets
Read a full list of courses that cover A2 European Portuguese
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 or fiscal number
- A Portuguese business bank account
- 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 probably need an accountant as well.
Other requirements include:
- Proof of financial means to run such a business or a document providing previous successful ventures or a loan from a Portuguese institution https://www.vfsglobal.com/one-pager/portugal/india/english/pdf/Residence-visa-independent-profissional-activity.pdf
- If joining the startup program, a declaration issued by IAPMEI certifying membership with a certified incubatorhttps://www.vfsglobal.com/one-pager/portugal/india/english/pdf/Residence-visa-independent-profissional-activity.pdf
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:
- A work contract https://www.vfsglobal.com/one-pager/portugal/india/english/pdf/Residence-visa-independent-profissional-activity.pdf
- Proof of academic qualifications or relevant experience in the field where you’ll provide your services https://www.vfsglobal.com/one-pager/portugal/india/english/pdf/Residence-visa-independent-profissional-activity.pdf
- Proof that you are qualified to practice this profession, according to the ways the profession is regulated in Portugal https://www.vfsglobal.com/one-pager/portugal/india/english/pdf/Residence-visa-independent-profissional-activity.pdf
In the past, many independent service providers were able to apply for the D7 instead and were advised by their lawyers to do so. Whether that will continue, or whether they’re encouraged to apply for Portugal’s new digital nomad visa, remains to be seen.
Another consideration could be the golden visa which does have one or two routes for entrepreneurs. The benefit of the golden visa over the D2 would be that it only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal (14 days every 2 years in practice).