Portugal has a number of attractive visas and schemes that are designed to entice people from outside of the EU, particularly affluent or self-sufficient people, to Portugal. The most famous two are probably the Golden Visa and the Non Habitual Residency (NHR) tax incentive, but equally enticing for many is Portugal’s D7 Visa & Residence Permit.
The D7 is aimed at people who have some means of supporting themselves. This could be through a pension, income from rental properties, income from a business they own, income from a remote job, social security income, dividends or income from investments, royalties, intellectual property, or savings. It’s sometimes called the “retirement visa,” “freelancer visa,” or “passive income visa” although these are more nicknames more than anything else.
It’s also suitable for remote workers and *freelancers, despite often being referred to as the “passive income visa,” and many people on the D7 are full-time remote workers, freelancers, or entrepreneurs. But, regardless of whether they’re actively or passively earning their income, the common denominator between all of these people is that they’re responsible for their own income in Portugal (i.e. not coming to work, although that is an option once the visa has been granted).
(*Remote workers will have an easier time applying for the D7 than freelancers seeing as a regular salary is seen as more stable than freelancer income. But if you aren’t successful with the D7, there’s still the D2 or “entrepreneur visa”).
How much do you need to support yourself in Portugal? Your income (as the main application) needs to be the equivalent of Portuguese minimum wage, which is €635 per month, but many peoples’ experiences suggest the minimum is closer to €800 or €1,000 per month.
This make sense: the aim of this visa is to attract people who can support themselves so the further you are from the minimum, the better.
Secondary applicants (namely a spouse) only require 50% of the main applicant amount (50% of €635) while children under 18 require 30% of the main applicant amount (30% of €635). Dependent children above the age of 18 can also be brought, again at the 30% rate, however, you do have to show that they’re dependent (e.g. they’re in full-time education). The cut off-point is roughly 24 years.
It’s worth mentioning that while €635 is the average cost of living in Portugal, it would be very difficult to live in somewhere like Lisbon or Porto on €635. You’ll also have other costs besides rent and food to think about.
Naturally, given that pensioners are a big focus of this visa, there’s no age limit or health requirements.
D7 Visa VS D7 Residence Permit
The words D7 Visa and D7 Residence permit are used interchangeably because essentially they’re part of the same thing, but it’s worth being aware of the difference.
The visa basically gives you permission to come to Portugal and attend the interview with SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), but it’s all leading to the residence permit which is what gives you permission to live in Portugal, get access to healthcare, etc.
Step #1: Apply for the D7 Visa
You apply for the D7 Visa at the nearest Portuguese consulate in the country where you are resident rather than in Portugal. Unfortunately, you cannot apply in Portugal.
If successful, the visa gives you a 120 day (4 months) period in which you can move to Portugal, rent or buy a place, get settled, and attend an interview with SEF for the D7 residency permit (who then give a decision within 90 days of that interview).
Don’t worry if SEF don’t give you an answer within the 120 days in which your visa is valid for Portugal. You are still able to remain in Portugal while you wait for the answer.
Step #2: Live in Portugal on your residence permit
Once you have your residence permit, you are then able to live in Portugal for a specified period of time (which is renewable). Normally it is valid for 1 year at a time, but it’s sometimes given in 2-year blocks. Normally, the first permit is for 1 year and the following 2 renewals are for 2 year periods.
After 5 years of living in Portugal, you would be eligible to apply for permanent residency and also, should you wish, Portuguese citizenship.
Step 3: Apply for permanent residency and then Portuguese citizenship
After 5 years, you’re eligible for permanent residency. Permanent residency is renewable in 10-year blocks rather than the typical 2, so thankfully that’s a lot fewer visits to SEF.
For many people, one of the objectives of living in Portugal is to obtain Portuguese citizenship for the so-called “EU passport” or a second passport. This becomes an option after 5 years of being resident in Portugal.
What you can and can’t do
Here are the limitations of the D7.
- You can live in Portugal.
- You can travel within the EU.
- You can work freelance or remotely for companies in other EU countries.
- You will have access to healthcare, education, and other services available to Portuguese people.
- After you have residency, you can apply for a job here or start another business.
- You don’t need to speak Portuguese to get the visa, although you will need to pass the A2 language exam later on if you apply for citizenship.
- You can normally leave the Schengen area on your visa (but there will be a specified limit on the number of times you can leave).
- You don’t have to leave Schengen every 90 days.
- You can’t move to another EU country.
- You can’t spend more than the maximum number of days outside of Portugal.
Who is not eligible for a D7
- Those from inside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland (they already have an automatic right to residency in Portugal).
- Those with certain criminal convictions (normally those that carry a jail sentence in Portugal).
- Those who do not have a means of supporting themselves.
Most people coming to Portugal through the D7 Visa will be doing so because they want to live in Portugal, want the freedom to travel within the EU, or potentially also the ability to apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship after five years. Some people will want all of that.
The entire process, which will take around 5-7 years in total, looks something like this:
D7 Visa -> D7 Residency -> Renewal -> Renewal again -> Permanent Residency -> Citizenship
The first step, however, is applying for the D7 Visa. This gives you 4 months residency in Portugal, after which you can apply for the D7 Residence Permit.
The D7 Visa
This process normally takes around 3-6 months, and can involve quite a bit of paperwork. You apply at your nearest Portuguese consulate in the country where you’re resident.
It may take a few weeks or months for you to be able to get an appointment at the consulate, so be sure to book it in advance. Embassy Pages have a list of all the Portuguese consulates – pick the one that’s geographically closest to where you live.
What you’ll need:
- Application Form.
- Valid Passport (Valid for at least 6 months after your D7 Visa would end).
- 2X Passport-Sized Photographs.
- Portuguese Bank Account.
- Motivation letter or personal statement explaining why you’re seeking Portuguese residency.
- Proof of regular income or passive income (e.g. dividends/savings).
- Proof of a place to live (either bought, rented, or staying with friends)
- Background check.
- Travel Insurance for the 120 days (at least €30,000 coverage and repatriation).
- 6 months of bank statements.
Background checks in some countries, including the US, can take several months, however, it is possible to pay an additional fee to expedite it.
Yes, you apply for your D7 Visa in your home country but the application requires you to have rented or bought a place in Portugal. It’s frustrating, but this is the reality.
You have two choices: either come to Portugal and organise these things yourself or, through the power of attorney, use a relocation firm to open your bank account, get you a NIF, and rent you a property.
Talk to Portugalist. We have partners that can help with both.
Proof of income
You will need to prove, in some way, that you have sufficient income coming into your bank account (or already in it) and that you will continue to receive this income for the duration of the residency permit.
Bank statements showing income from a pension or rental income, for example, would be an example with this.
In Portugal, the more paperwork, the better, so gather as many relevant documents as you can.
Proof of a place to live
For most people, this means a rental agreement. Airbnb and hotels tend to be problematic and are rarely accepted anymore. Instead, you normally need a rental lease.
If you have friends or family who are resident in Portugal, however, you can get them to write an invitation letter which says that you’re welcome to live with them while you find another place to live.
This is definitely one of the most difficult parts of the D7 as it can be difficult to arrange before moving to Portugal.
The D7 visa is open to those that don’t have criminal convictions that would carry a jail term in Portugal. Exceptions may be made, but this is the general rule.
You will need a background check from any of the countries you lived in to prove you don’t have any convictions.
While you’re on the D7 Visa, you’ll need health insurance to cover you while you’re in Portugal. You normally don’t need it once you move onto the D7 Residence Permit, but may be asked to keep up a health insurance plan for a period of time after (say 1 year). Cigna is a popular choice.
Once you have your residence permit and NIF, you may decide to apply for health insurance with a Portuguese company as it may be cheaper. Banks in Portugal, for example, offer health insurance as a product and offer reduced rates for current customers.
Showing that you have enough savings to support yourself should your other income dry up can help. Sufficient savings in this case would mean at least the minimum monthly salary multiplied by the number of months that the visa would be valid for.
Some people have been accepted on savings alone, but passive income (like a pension) seems to be preferred as it’s seen as more reliable, especially if you’re younger.
Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?
Although there is a lot of useful information on the internet about applying for a D7 Visa and Residency Permit, the truth is that it’s going to be a lot easier if you pay for an expert to handle the process for you.
Portugal is an extremely bureaucratic country, and unfortunately that means that the system has a lot of grey areas. Someone who manages this service for multiple clients, and has experience with these grey areas, will have a much better chance of getting your application through the system. They’ll also speak Portuguese, which definitely helps.
Costs vary from company to company, but expect to pay somewhere between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on the company and whether you already have certain requirements (like the NIF or a Portuguese bank account). If you have a partner or children, they will incur costs as well, but the costs will be lower than the first applicant.
Once you arrive in Portugal
Once you arrive in Portugal…
- Immediately setup your appointment with SEF.
- Open a Portuguese bank account (you may also be required to deposit funds into this account rather than continue to hold them in non-Portuguese bank accounts).
- Get a NIF
Combining NHR with the D7
It’s possible to apply for NHR (non-habitual residency) and the D7, and there are often tax advantages that come with this.
NHR is a tax incentive, which, in certain instances, means you won’t have to pay tax (or will only have to pay a reduced amount of tax) on certain types of non-Portuguese income for a period of 10 years.
While the NHR scheme is quite varied, the two groups of people who are typically most interested in the NHR scheme are:
- Entrepreneurs & freelancers
As of 2020, pensioners on the NHR tax scheme are now taxed at a rate of 10%. Other types of income such as income from a remote job, freelancing, property rentals are treated differently again.
Family members, such as your partner and children, don’t need to meet the €1,000 per month requirement.
- Spouse – 50% of the requirement for the first applicant
- Each child – 30% of the requirement of the first applicant.
Family members of the main D7 application are entitled to a residence permit, based on family reunification law.
Travelling within Europe
Yes, you can travel around the Schengen Area on a D7 Visa, but how much time can you spend outside of Portugal?
The truth is that you should be spending at least 183 days in Portugal, if not more, and this is something that will be looked at when you apply to renew your residency permit.
Open Schengen borders mean it’s difficult for SEF to know whether you are living in Portugal or not, but they can make assumptions based on whether you have a rental contract, by looking at your bank or credit card statements, or by checking the usage of your NIF number.
Obviously if you travel outside of the Schengen area, your passport will be checked when you leave.
What’s the Schengen Area? It’s a group of European countries that don’t have an internal border. Most EU countries, especially Western and Central European countries, are in Schengen, but some, like the UK and Ireland, are not.
The D7 VS the Golden Visa
The D7 and the Golden Visa both allow you to live in Portugal, but which one is better? Both have their pros and cons.
The main advantage of the D7 over the Golden Visa is cost.
Although there are costs involved with the D7, it typically works out cheaper than the Golden Visa as, besides the investment cost, the Golden Visa comes with government fees of around €5,000. You may also end up hiring a specialist company to help with the process, and this will add additional costs.
The D7, as mentioned, also doesn’t include any investment costs. The Golden Visa requires you to invest in Portugal, most commonly by purchasing a house for €500,000 or more (although there are exceptions where it can be €350,000).
The main advantage of the Golden Visa over the D7 is flexibility.
Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme only requires you to spend an average of 7 days in Portugal per year. It also grants you a 5-year residency permit rather than having to first apply for a visa, then a residence permit, then to renew the residence permit.
It is possible to start with the D7 and then, if you decide to move back to your home country or get a job which requires you to be out of the country a lot, switch to the Golden Visa, which has easier residency requirements.
Is there a language requirement when applying for the D7 visa?
There isn’t, however, being able to speak Portuguese will definitely be an advantage when dealing with the various departments of Portuguese government. Don’t assume that people will speak English. If you decide to become a Portuguese citizen after 5 years, there is a language requirement.