The D2: Portugal’s Residency Visa for Entrepreneurs [2024 Update]

The D2 is a residency visa that allows entrepreneurs, freelancers, and independent service providers from outside of the EU/EEA/Switzerland to immigrate to Portugal. It is suitable for those that want to start a business in Portugal, move an existing business here, or, alternatively, invest in an existing business 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 new life in Portugal.
  • There’s no job creation requirement.
  • There’s no minimum investment requirement, although you should have sufficient capital for the business you’re starting.
  • There’s no need to get approved by a business incubator (although your business plan will need to be approved).

Because of this flexibility, Portugal’s D2 visa is seen as one of the most attractive immigrant entrepreneur visas within Europe. And if you’re willing to base your business in Madeira or the Azores islands, you may also be able to benefit from those regions’ favourable tax laws. Alternatively, regions like Porto, the Algarve, and especially Lisbon, are increasingly popular destinations for digital nomads and European startups. For most people, however, the biggest benefit will be in getting to reside in Portugal.

Being resident in Portugal comes with a number of benefits for you and your dependents including:

  • Access to the Portuguese national health service (SNS).
  • Access to Portuguese universities and education institutes.
  • Visa free entry and circulation within the Schengen Area.
  • The option to apply for Portugal’s new NHR regime, if relevant.
  • Option to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of residency. Alternatively, you can apply for permanent residency, although most people choose to apply for citizenship.

The D2 is one of several residency visas aimed at entrepreneurs, investors, and freelancers, along with the digital nomad visa, golden visa, and startup visa. In this article, we’ll discuss the requirements of the D2 permit and compare it to other similar visas to see one is best for you.

Costs

Lawyer costs vary from around 895 for more of a no-frills service to around €3,000 for a service where you’re handheld throughout the entire application, including having someone attend your AIMA (previously SEF) interview with you.

It is also possible to apply for Portugal’s entrepreneur visa yourself. However, as the D2 is a little less straightforward than other residency visas, it’s recommended that you work with a qualified professional to make sure your business plan is viable and meets the requirements in terms of bringing social and economic contributions to Portugal.

TypeAmount
Legal Fees€900-€3,000
Startup CapitalDepends on business plan
Financial Stability12 X €820 for an individual
HousingDepends on housing type, but applicants should factor in the costs of renting for one year or buying a property in Portugal.
Government Fees€90 – consular fee & €155.50 – residence permit card fees
Health InsuranceVaries, but typically €500+

Eligibility

The following types of people can apply for the D2 visa:

  • Entrepreneurs looking to launch a new venture in Portugal.
  • Business owners seeking to expand their existing operations by opening a branch in Portugal.
  • Self-employed individuals, including independent or liberal professionals, aiming to work in Portugal with an existing work contract or a written job proposal. This also applies to freelancers and digital nomads, however, prospective applicants should consider speaking with a lawyer to discuss whether the D8 (digital nomad visa) would be a better fit.

Note: this visa is intended for citizens from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland (e.g. those from the UK, USA, or India). If you hold a citizenship from the EU/EEA/Switzerland, you do not need to apply for a residency visa, such as the D2. Instead, you can apply for your CRUE certificate at your local câmara municipal once you’ve moved to Portugal.

Main Requirements

The Portugal D2 Visa is divided into two primary categories to accommodate different entrepreneur needs: entrepreneurs and independent service providers.

For Entrepreneurs

This category suits individuals aiming to start a new business or expand an existing one in Portugal. Key requirements include:

  • Obtaining a NIF (Portuguese tax number).
  • Opening a business bank account in a Portuguese bank.
  • Establishing a Portuguese limited company (LDA).
  • Hiring an accountant proficient in Portuguese tax laws.
  • Present a business plan.
  • Financial Resources: You will need to show adequate financial resources to initiate and sustain the business. This includes covering annual corporate taxes and social security contributions. In Portugal, employers contribute to their employees’ social security, typically at 23.75 percent of the monthly salary. For context, the corporate tax rate for most businesses in Mainland Portugal is 21 percent.
  • Investment Declaration: You need to provide a statement confirming your investment or planned investment in Portugal, detailing its type, value, and duration. The visa application will be evaluated based on the investment’s economic, social, scientific, technological, or cultural impact, with special emphasis on job creation in Portugal, which will significantly enhance your application.

For Independent Service Providers

This path is tailored for those providing services to either local or international clients, and it has less stringent requirements than the entrepreneur route. It does not necessitate forming a Portuguese company or engaging an accountant.

However, applicants are still required to

  • Obtain a NIF.
  • Open a Portuguese bank account.
  • Show proof of relevant expertise or qualifications.
  • Provide evidence of a contract with one or more clients.

For those offering services to clients outside of Portugal, it’s worth comparing the D2 as an independent service provider against the D8, or digital nomad visa.

Additional Requirements

  • Age: Applicants must be eighteen years or older.
  • Criminal records check: A criminal records check from the country in which you are resident and any other countries in which you have resided.
  • Authorisation for a Portuguese criminal records check: A form agreeing for the Portuguese authorities to run a criminal records check in Portugal.
  • Proof of accommodation in Portugal: This usually means the deeds to a property you own, a rental contract that’s at least one year in length, or an invitation letter from someone resident in Portugal offering you accommodation (sometimes called a term of responsibility).
  • Health Insurance: You are required to have comprehensive health insurance for yourself and any dependents included in your application. Once you obtain your residence card, you will gain access to Portugal’s Public Healthcare System.
  • Financial Requirements: You must demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support yourself in Portugal for at least one year, independent of your business income. As the primary applicant, you should have at least 100% of the minimum annual salary, which is €9,840. For a spouse, an additional 50% of this amount is required, and for each dependent child, an extra 30% must be added.

Application Process

The following is an example step-by-step guide to applying for the D2. In practice,

  1. Gather Documents: Create a business plan (for entrepreneurs) or show an agreement for future work (for independent service providers) along with other documents such as proof of funds, and proof of capital to start the business.
  2. Submit Application: Once you have gathered all the required documents, submit (or have a lawyer submit) these.
  3. Attend an Interview: Typically you will need to attend an interview at the Portuguese consulate in the country in which you’re resident.
  4. Wait for Approval: Wait for approval of your residency visa, which is typically approved within 60 days of your interview.
  5. Move to Portugal: Once you have your visa, which is valid for four months, you will need to move to Portugal and attend an interview with AIMA.
  6. Attend AIMA Interview: Attend an interview with AIMA.
  7. Receive Residence Permit: The residence permit (which is normally valid for two years and then renewable for another three) is typically sent out around 2-3 weeks after the interview.

Bringing Family Members

It is possible to include certain family members on your D2 application or to bring them to Portugal later through a process known as family reunification. A lawyer can advise on which route makes more sense.

One of the main requirements for bringing dependents is to show that you can support them financially in Portugal.

MonthlyAnnual
Individual€820€9,840
Couple€1,230€14,760
Couple + Child€1,599€19,188

For a spouse or partner, you will need additional 50% of the main requirement, and for each dependent child, an extra 30% must be added. You will also need to show a year of savings (e.g. €9,840 for an individual or €14,760 for a couple).

Typically, the following family members can be included on a D2 application or family reunification visa (D6).

  • Partner or long-term spouse.
  • Dependent children.
  • Dependent parents.

Will I be Able to Apply for Citizenship?

After five years of residency in Portugal, you will be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship via naturalisation. This applies if you are on the D2 visa.

It’s possible that you may even be able to apply sooner. As of 2024, the clock starts ticking from when you apply for residency—not when you get your residency card following your AIMA appointment. In the past, it could take 6-12 months to finally get your residency permit.

Now, by the time you move to Portugal, you will already have at least a few months that count towards the citizenship requirement.

Language Requirement

You do not need to speak Portuguese in order to be accepted for the D2 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 initial 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. However, if you’re running a business in Portugal, you should aim to get to at least a B2 level as soon as possible, if not a C1 level.

Read a full list of courses that cover A2 European Portuguese or read our complete guide to learning European Portuguese.

BeginnerA1ACESSOSurvival Level
BeginnerA2CIPLEGood, but basic level
IntermediateB1DEPLEGetting by with relative ease
IntermediateB2DIPLEQuite comfortable
AdvancedC1DAPLEReally comfortable
AdvancedC2DUPLEBasically Fluent

Other Visas

Visa NameAimed atCapital RequirementSalary RequirementPhysical Stay Requirement
D2Entrepreneurs/FreelancersNone€8206-8 months p/year
D8Freelancers/Remote WorkersNone€3,2806-8 months p/year
Golden VisaInvestors/Entrepreneurs€500,000None7 days p/year

The D2, as mentioned, isn’t the only residency visa aimed at entrepreneurs, investors, and freelancers.

As of 2024, the D8 (or digital nomad visa) is the most typical residency visa for freelancers to apply for, despite the D2 also existing. The salary requirements for the D8 are higher, but lawyers typically push prospective applicants in this direction.

D8 vs D2: Although the D2 does have an option for independent contractors, the D8 is now considered the main visa for freelancers and the D2 is more the domain of entrepreneurs.

The golden visa is aimed at both investors and entrepreneurs. Unlike the D2 and D8, it only requires permit holders to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal. Because of this, it’s a popular choice with those that want residency in Portugal but aren’t interested in moving permanently right now. Examples of this would be those that are still working or running a business elsewhere or those that are currently travelling. If you’re happy to spend the majority of the year in Portugal, the D2 typically makes more sense as the legal and government fees for the golden visa are much higher.

With the golden visa, you can either invest in something like a fund (e.g. a venture capital fund) or you can invest or create a Portuguese business.

D2 vs Golden Visa: The golden visa is typically favoured by hands-off investors whereas the D2 is aimed at entrepreneurs. However, the golden visa does allow you to invest in a business or create a business. The biggest difference between the golden visa and the D2 is that the golden visa only requires you to spend around 7 days per year in Portugal (versus 6-8 months with the D2).

There is also the option of the D7 visa, however this is aimed at those that have a passive income (such as a pension, income from a rental property, social security, or income from dividends).

D2 Vs D7: The D7 is for passive income (such as dividends or a pension) whereas the D2 is for actively earned income, usually through a company.

FAQs

If I rent a property, do I need a 6 or a 12-month lease?

It depends on the consulate. Some places accept a six-month lease, while others require a 12-month lease as a minimum. Note: that even if a six-month lease is allowed, it can be hard to find a landlord that wants to rent for that short a period [source].

Should a couple apply on the same application or two independent visas?

The challenge of applying separately is the costs. If a husband and wife apply for a D2, the amount required is the main amount + 50%. However, if there are two separate applications, each would have to show €820 (the amount for the main applicant) [source].

What happens if my visa is rejected?

In Portuguese administrative law, it’s important to remember that you’re entitled to make your case if the authorities are about to take steps to reject your application [source]. It’s recommended that you work with a lawyer to ensure the best chance of success.

Can I move to Portugal if I have a criminal record?

The particular crime would have to carry a prison sentence of more than 12 months to affect your D2 application, based on Portuguese law. It is important that you mention the record upfront and craft a personal statement that not only notes that criminal record but also the applicable Portuguese law [source].

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