One of the challenges of obtaining some residency visas, including the D7, is the need to already have accommodation in Portugal before you move to Portugal.
You can’t just arrive in Portugal and then look for a place when you arrive; you need to have a Portuguese address when you submit your residency visa application.
Suitable accommodation can take many forms:
- If you’ve purchased a property, that’s definitely acceptable: you just need to show the deeds to the property.
- Another option is a letter of invitation or term of responsibility form someone who’s resident in Portugal, inviting you to come and stay with them. This letter typically has to be notarised to be accepted and you’ll likely need to send a copy of their ID with the document as well.
- However, for most people, the D7 accommodation requirement means renting an apartment for at least one year, and that lease agreement needs to be registered with Finanças, the Portuguese tax authority. This only needs to be in Portuguese, but could be translated into Portuguese if you wish. Obviously, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer review the lease agreement before signing anything. It is then the landlord’s responsibility to register the signed lease with the tax authority.
Airbnb and hotel bookings, which were often accepted as a form of accommodation in the past, no longer are (in most cases).
Finding a Rental
There are two main ways that people find a rental for the D7 (or other residency visas that require proof of accommodation).
- Rent a property online sight-unseen.
- Come to Portugal on a “scouting trip” to find a property to rent.
Although a lot of Portuguese rental agents don’t like to sign rental agreements with people who are outside of the country and have never seen the property in real life, this is becoming more and more common. Bigger rental agencies, like Remax or Century 21, will probably be more used to the requirements of the D7 than private landlords.
There are lots of different ways to find rental properties, but some of the most common are:
- Classifieds websites like Idealista, OLX, and Custo Justo.
- Facebook groups about property or aimed at expats.
- Reaching out to landlords on sites like Airbnb or Flatio to see if they would be willing to offer a long-term contract.
You don’t get to see the properties in real life, but you can still get a good feel for the property. Google Maps can help you get an idea for the neighbourhood as well, although be aware that some things might have changed since the map was made.
Regardless of whether you view an apartment in-person or virtually, many Portuguese rental contracts have a clause that allows you to break a contract one third of the way through, providing 120 days notice is given. As contracts are typically at least a year in length, in practice this would mean you’re able to leave the contract after seven months.
Coming to Portugal to find a rental
Another option is to come to Portugal on a scouting trip and to rent (or even buy) a place while you’re here and then go back and apply for the D7.
It can be a bit tricky to estimate the dates correctly and obviously there’s the cost of coming to Portugal, but the benefit is that you get to see lots of rental properties in person and find somewhere that you really like.
We are retired US citizens and started our visa process right when the requirement for accommodations changed to an annual lease. Everyone said it is next to impossible to find one, especially in the Algarve. I found one in Vilamoura, however, our scouting appointment was still 2 weeks out April 2023. Well, our amazing realtor and landlord held the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom 4th floor condo with lift for those two weeks (WOW) The realtor actually showed up at the appointment and showed us the beautiful condo and underground parking. ALL furniture, kitchen dishes, pots and pans, coffee machines, down to the linens are included in the price. NOW the best part, we still needed to apply for our visa and didn’t think we would return to Portugal until January of 2024!!! No problem just pay one month’s deposit and we will hold it (UNRENTED) until January! The rental agreement was sent via e-mail to consider with our attorney and they made changes to our advantage! We have signed legal documents and are ready to go to our VFS San Francisco appointment! We have been blessed step by step in our process. Good luck to fellow adventurers traveling to the beautiful country of Portugal!Donna
Buying a Property
Another option would be to purchase a property.
Generally speaking, most people advise against buying a property until you are sure you want to live there for many years. If it’s your first time in Portugal, it may take a year or two of living here before you’ve worked out where it is you want to live. Many people move to the countryside only to find out they actually prefer small towns or cities — and vice versa.
However, if you already know Portugal well, and know where you want to live, you could buy a property and this would satisfy the address requirement for the D7 visa.