The D2 Visa: Portugal’s Residency Visa for Entrepreneurs & Independent Service Providers

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Published: January 2021 & Last Updated: September 2022

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.

Main Requirements

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 years[1]https://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.

Other requirements:

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)

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 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:

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.

There are a number of companies that can help you obtain these things. E-Residence.com, for example, can help you get a NIF, Portuguese bank account, and open a Portuguese company.

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:

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).

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Comments

  1. Hey James,
    Thanks for the very informative articles.
    I am a consultant and generally work month on, month off assignments. D2 visa seems likely to fit the bill. My question is about citizenship 5 years down the track. As I am away about 200 days a year (and unlikely to be working in Portugal due to my industry), do you know how this affects the "5 years" rule? Specifically does it have to be 5 years cumulative time spent in Portugal? Or simply 5 years residency? Thanks!

    Reply
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  3. Hello! My partner and I have extensively researched the D7 residency visa and had a consult with a very informed person. Although we have remote income it is not passive.

    We were just wondering if anyone has been successful with the D2 visa as a freelancer/ fully remote worker? In other words as an independent contractor with international clients and contracts. We are technically entrepreneurs who work for ourselves, but will not be starting a business in Portugal but happy to register as Freelancers. Alot of digital nomads use this Visa but we also see a lot of conflicting information out there. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. 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
  5. 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
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  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
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  11. 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
  12. 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

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