How to Move to Portugal from the USA

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Over the past few years, more and more Americans have been moving to Portugal. 

You may not have considered moving to Portugal before. In fact, you may not have even heard of Portugal. Situated on the West Coast of Spain, Portugal is a country that has gone under the radar for a number of years. All of this has changed, however, and Portugal is constantly cited as one of the top places to live or retire

What makes Portugal so attractive?

Well, there are plenty of reasons including good weather, food, an affordable cost of living (in some areas) and public healthcare. Portugal is also one of the safest countries in the world, something that cannot be said about many South and Central American countries. 

Flight-wise, Portugal also isn’t that far away. Lisbon is roughly 8.5 hours from New York, while São Miguel, one of the Portuguese islands in the middle of The Atlantic, is around 6 hours. 

But what really makes Portugal stand out are its very attainable visas, all of which have the possibility of Portuguese citizenship after 5 years. And Portugal recognises dual citizenship, which means that you can keep your US passport and get a Portuguese passport as well. 

The D7, for example, requires you to have a monthly income of more than €635 per month (although most relocation experts suggest this be closer to €1,000). This could be in the form of a pension or income from rental properties, but it’s also suitable for remote workers that have a salaried job in the US. For many Americans, this is a very achievable figure. 

You don’t need a residency visa to stay less than 90 days in a 180-period: the Schengen Visa covers that. However, if you want to stay longer, and actually move to Portugal, you will need to consider applying for a visa. 

Suggested Visas/Residency Permits 

The following are a few of the best residency permits for Americans (or anyone from outside the EU) who want to move to Portugal. 

D7

The D7 visa – which is often referred to as the passive income visa, the retirement visa, or type-1 visa – is probably the most popular Portuguese visa right now. That’s because the visa is incredibly attainable, particularly for American retirees and remote workers. 

The visa is aimed at those that have their own source of income, ideally passive. Pensions, income from property rentals, and dividends are all good examples of regular passive income that’s considered for the D7 while, increasingly, more and more Americans with remote jobs are applying for the visa as well. 

Basically, even though the residency permit does allow you to apply for work in Portugal, the visa is aimed at those that have their own source of income. 

How much money do you need to have? The minimum requirements are that you match Portugal’s minimum wage, which equates to roughly €635 per month. For many Americans, whether on a pension or a salaried remote job, that figure is very achievable. 

Read more about the D7 visa

Golden Visa

While the D7 is the most popular Portuguese residency visa, the Golden Visa is probably Portugal’s most famous visa. Because of this, many people assume that the Golden Visa is the main or only way that someone can move to Portugal. 

The reality is that the Golden Visa is just one way of moving to Portugal and it’s not right for everyone. It’s actually best for people that don’t want to live in Portugal for the majority of the year. 

Unlike most residency permits, which require you to spend at least 6 months of the year in Portugal, the Portuguese Golden Visa only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal in order to be a resident. This makes it perfect for those that want residency in Portugal – and with that a path to permanent residency and later a Portuguese passport – but want to be somewhere else for the majority of the year. 

Examples include people who are travelling full-time or those that are still working full-time jobs elsewhere. 

There are a number of ways that you invest in Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme, but the most common is simply to purchase a property here worth €500k or more (in some cases this can be reduced to €350k or even €280k). 

Other investment routes involve transferring €1 mil in funds to a Portuguese bank account, investing €350k in private equity or venture capital funds, or investing €250k in the Portuguese arts and culture sector. 

It’s worth noting that, because of its flexibility, the Golden Visa is the most expensive visa so it’s only worth applying for this if you really don’t want to live in Portugal. 

Read more about the Golden Visa

D2

The D2, also known as the entrepreneurship visa, is aimed at those that want to start a business in Portugal. 

Entrepreneurship visas are common in Europe but what makes the Portugal’s entrepreneurship visa so interesting is that: 

  • There’s no minimum investment amount (although an initial investment of around €5k is recommended). 
  • Your business can be in an industry – anything from a restaurant to a startup. 

Read more about the D2 visa

Routes for EU Passport Holders

If you’re fortunate to already have a passport from another EU country, you don’t need to apply for a visa to live in Portugal. You still need to obtain residency but EU passport holders have the right to live, work, study, and retire in other EU countries, whereas those from outside the EU need to apply for that right. 

Family Reunification Visa (D6)

If you have an EU passport, you have the right to move to Portugal. But did you know that your family can also join you there thanks to Portugal’s Family Reunification Visa (D6). 

Applying for this visa means taking on responsibility for anyone you bring to Portugal, and this means financial responsibility. Basically, this means not only having enough money to support yourself (calculated at at least €635 per month) but also a spouse or partner (calculated at 50% €635) and any children (calculated at 30%). 

Read more about the Family Reunification Visa

There’s a lot more to consider like the cost of living, healthcare, and taxes, but knowing just how attainable some of Portugal’s residency visas are is definitely a good starting point. 

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