What is the Best Visa for Freelancers Moving to Portugal?

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

Portugal has become a hotspot for freelancers from around the globe, thanks to its mild climate, vibrant culture, and, most importantly, attainable residency visas for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens. (EU/EEA/Swiss citizens have others ways for obtaining residency).

If you’re a freelancer with a nationality from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, figuring out the best visa option can be a bit of a challenge. Some articles mention a digital nomad visa, some call the D7 the digital nomad visa, and others suggest you apply for the entrepreneur visa.

Can you apply for any, or is there one that’s specifically geared towards freelancers and independent contractors?

The D8

While many freelancers have successfully applied for the D7 and D2 in the past, the introduction of the D8 (or digital nomad visa) in 2022 brought simplification and clarity to the residency visa application process. If you’re a freelancer or remote worker, the D8 is the visa you should apply for.

Applicants are required to show an average monthly income that’s four times the Portuguese minimum wage. As of 2024, this amounts to €3,280.

Can you add a spouse or partner and children to the application? Yes. According to Sandra Gomes Pinto [source], “there is no specific regime for the digital nomad visa in terms of family reunification. So it should follow the general rules, and the general rules are that you have to show +50% of your income for your spouse and +30% for each child.”

However, Sandra notes that this is unfair on those applying via the digital nomad visa versus others like the D7 as those applying for the D8 already need to show four times the Portuguese minimum wage.

The D7

While the D7 Visa was once an option for freelancers, recent changes have meant it is now solely aimed at individuals with passive income sources, such as retirement pensions, social security, dividends, or rental incomes. Previously, it was also aimed at those with a passive income but many freelancers and remote workers successfully moved to Portugal on it.

The introduction of the D8 has led to a clearer distinction: the D7 is for passive income and the D8 is for actively-earned income, such as freelancing work or a salary from a remote job.

While there might be exceptions, the overarching rule is that freelancers seeking to move to Portugal should apply for the D8 Visa instead. This is unfortunate for freelancers with a more modest income as the D7 only requires an income equivalent to the Portuguese minimum wage (€820 as of 2024) whereas the D8 requires an average of four times the Portuguese minimum wage (€3,280 as of 2024).

The D2

The D2 is a confusing visa because it is aimed at entrepreneurs, and some freelancers have applied for it in the past. Many lawyers don’t recommend that you apply for this visa as the chances of rejection are higher.

As Sandra Gomes Pinto mentioned in a previous webinar, “You could, but it’s more challenging because you have to have a business plan, capital investment, and approval. So from a legal point of view, it’s not as straightforward as the D7 or D8. With the D2, there are more discretionary powers and subjectivity, and this means there is more chance of getting rejected. [source]”

However, aside from the capital investment, the requirements are closer to the D7, only requiring you to show an income that’s closer to the Portuguese minimum wage of €820 per month. This makes even more of a difference when you factor in spouses and children.

If you’re unable to apply for the D8, it may be worth speaking to a lawyer and seeing whether the D2 is an option.

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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.

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