Accommodation Options for the D7 Visa

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Written by: | Last updated on February 26, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 5 minutes

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:

  1. If you’ve purchased a property, that’s definitely acceptable: you just need to show the deeds to the property.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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).

  1. Rent a property online sight-unseen.
  2. Come to Portugal on a “scouting trip” to find a property to rent.

Renting online

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.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing james@portugalist.com or via the site's contact form.

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Comments

  1. Is it an absolute requirement that a rental agreement must be for 12 months when submitting to Washington DC? This is the last piece of our puzzle. We have secured a 6 month rental in Lagos but are getting nervous that it is an absolute requirement to have a 12 month lease. We went to Portugal this summer and were not able to find a 12 month lease during the time we were there. Our plan is to purchase a property with cash during our first 6 months in Lagos. Do you think this will be a problem? Thank you very much.

    Reply
  2. I came to know that booking done through uniplace website is being considered by many embassies for D7 visa. But I am yet to confirm from embassy at new delhi

    Reply
  3. Hello, please could you tell me which company does the virtual address? A link to their website would be really useful . Many thanks

    Reply
  4. Hi everyone,
    Are there any restrictions on a region of Portigal to rent and stay for the purposes of D7 visa regime? Does Madeira fit into the D7 regime requiremenrs?
    Thank you

    Reply
  5. Hello,
    We are looking at buying a property in a development that isn’t finished yet, would the purchase of this property cover the requirements for D7 visa? or would we still need to show a year long rental lease? We are looking to relocate early 2023 , our potential home isn’t due to be finished until early 2024 ……..does anyone know what we’d need to show to be able to stay in the country while our home is being finished?

    Reply
  6. Does anyone understand the process to verify that you lived in Portugal for the required 6-8 months after you are granted your D7 residence permit? Do you need to enter the EU through Portugal? If you have a home in another country in the Schengen area (e.g. France or Spain), could you travel within the EU during those 6 months and still have them count? Do they just verify that you have a rental agreement? Thanks for any advice!

    Reply
  7. The embassy here in Washington DC, through VS Global, requires a Portuguese bank account with $12,500 on deposit and a one-year lease. Obviously to do either one of these things you need a NIF number first. I was able to get an NIF while still in the states by working through an attorney familiar with the process; however, it was not inexpensive, I paid approximately $750 EU. I actually did this back in 2021 and began making regular deposits into my Portuguese bank account at Millennium Bank every month until I exceeded the required amount. I will be going over in a few weeks to rent the apartment and then we’ll submit all of my paperwork to VS. Also, I organized my submission documents into folders corresponding to the documentation that was required. The thought was to make it as easy for them as possible. Good luck with your applications and I wish you well. HD

    Reply
  8. This is the trickiest issue I see on the D7 application process; I am quite sure we would cover all requirements; however, there is always the possibility of the application being denied or rejected, leaving, as indicated above, loosing 7 months of committed rent (anywhere from 3500 to 7000 Euros), not an easy decision risking this kind of money. Any suggestions or advice?

    Reply
  9. Hello James, thank you very much again for this great resource! It is becoming my Bible. Could I please check with you if the consulates accept a letter from a friend (Portuguese citizen) stating that I will be living with them for 1 year while I find a permanent accommodation? Also, would you happen to know how long does a consulate typically hold your passport for while they process your visa? I am considering applying either in Britain or Russia as I am a citizen of both countries. Thank you very very much for your help!

    Reply
    • Hi Inessa, I also tried the method of using a letter from a friend stating that I would live with them. I contacted my nearest embassy about this beforehand, and they said no via email, so I’m doing the 1-year rental contract now.

      I have read that some embassies might accept this method, so best way is to get this info from your embassy beforehand. And I was told processing time could be between 2-6 months. (I’m applying from the embassy in New Delhi, India)

      Reply
      • Hello Dikshant,

        Have you applied for the visa? How did you manage to get a 1 year rental contract? Can you please let me know about this.
        I am in the same boat and was thinking about Airbnb, did you check with the embassy if they accepted Airbnb?

        Thanks

        Reply

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