Moving to Portugal As An EU Citizen

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If you’re an EU citizen (you hold a passport for an EU member state like Germany or Ireland) the good news is that moving to Portugal is significantly easier than it is for those coming from outside the EU (e.g. people from the US, UK, and South Africa). Those that aren’t lucky enough to hold an “EU passport” will have to consider a visa (such as the D7 or golden visa) and will need to wait until that visa has been approved before they can move to Portugal. They’ll also have to jump through a number of hoops to get it – for example renting or buying a property in Portugal before they actually move here – whereas you don’t have to do any of that. 

Count yourself incredibly lucky because residency visas are bureaucratic and even though the fees aren’t always high, the other costs make it expensive. And if you’re already located in the EU, shipping your stuff will be significantly easier.  

Moving for less than three months

So what do you need to do in order to move to Portugal? If it’s for less than three months, nothing according to ePortugal.gov.pt, and that applies to family members, whether they hold an “EU passport” or not. 

For all intents and purposes, you’re still considered a tourist at this stage – just one that is able to stay for longer than the average holidaymaker. This means your accommodation will most likely be short or medium-term accommodation as well, as normal rentals in Portugal typically have a contract length of more than one year. Sites like Flatio and Airbnb are useful for finding month-to-month rentals. 

Moving for more than three months

If it’s for more than three months, which if you’re genuinely moving to Portugal it will be, then you need “a document authorising residence” such as a registration certificate or residence card. For most people, this means obtaining your CRUE or Certificado do Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia.

You and your family members can get this by visiting your local câmara municipal or town hall. There’s some debate as to whether you can get it before the three months are up, and it seems to vary from câmara to câmara. Your nearest câmara municipal will be listed on Google Maps. 

Anyone from another EU country can obtain residency in Portugal with some exceptions. The biggest one, according to ePortugal, seems to be whether you can support yourself here: Portugal doesn’t want people moving here and then relying on the state. How much do you need to support yourself? You shouldn’t have any less than the Portuguese minimum wage (which is around €705 per month), whether that’s through employment, self-employment, or a pension, but you may want to up this considering living in Portugal on that amount can be difficult. 

What about family members that don’t have an EU passport, such as a spouse or partner? According to ePortugal: Family members of EU citizens who do not have European nationality must apply for a residence card to be able to live in Portugal for more than three months. The residence card must be applied for within the 30 days following their first three months in national territory, at the offices of the SEF, after making an appointment.

Documents required 

While câmaras (town halls) should only ever ask for ID, proof of address, and proof of financial means, the following documents are often requested:

  • ID (e.g. passport or ID card)
  • Proof of address (e.g. property deeds, mortgage statement, rental contract, utility bill, NIF document)
  • Three months’ of bank statements
  • NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal)
  • A statement confirming that you have the necessary financial means to support yourself (e.g. pension or savings), are working, or are a student (document provided by câmara)
  • Fee (around €15)

These documents may also be asked for:

  • Private health insurance (normally only required if your country asks the same of Portuguese citizens)
  • Proof you don’t owe any money to the Portuguese social security department (Declaração da Segurança Social com os Descontos Efetuados)
  • A document from your local Junta de Freguesia, signed by two witnesses which confirms you live where you do (Atestado De Residência)
  • Students will be asked for a declaration they they are registered at a public or private educational institution. They’ll also be asked to show sufficient funds or evidence that they’re supported by a family member. If Portuguese citizens who move to their country require private health insurance, the same will be asked of them in Portugal.

Most likely they won’t. If they are you can simply make a list of the required documents and come back next time with them.

Next steps

After registering at the town hall, you will be given a temporary residency document which will be valid for five years. After five years, you will be able to apply for permanent residency and you will also be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship through naturalisation.

You can now think about registering for your número de utente or SNS number and, if you are working, your NISS number. You should also start putting a lot of work into learning Portuguese as you’ll need that a lot over the next few years. Here are some courses to get you started. 

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  1. For those who are an EU passport holder but have a non EU spouse herre is some information.

    It can take a while to get the sef appointment - like several months. When looking for appointments with sef don't just look where you live. Be prepared to look at options all over Portugal. We drew the line at Madeira and the Azores but we're willing to accept an appointment anywhere in mainland Portugal.

    We used a lawyer and would recommend the same. Trying to find sef appointments is hard work and it's much easier to have someone else search for them every day. Be prepared to wait a long time for one to become available.

    You will need documentation e.g.

    * Marriage certificate
    * Accomodation proof e.g. rental agreement or deeds or atestado
    * Passport and copies
    * Partners crue (residency certificate)
    * Proof of means of sustinence for both partner and eu Citizen
    * SEF fee (€21)

    Reply
  2. My partner is a non-EU citizen who entered Portugal on a tourist visa. I am an EU citizen who has obtained residency in Portugal. We were told that they would simply need to arrange an interview with SEF and we tried to arrange this for around the 90-day mark when the visa ends. Unfortunately we have not been able to get an appointment with SEF despite daily calls and constantly checking the website for new appointments. We are concerned that he will soon become illegal despite assurance that this won't be a problem as there is an extension in Portugal until the end of the year. However we are also hearing stories from people living here that have been unable to get an appointment with SEF for more than a year. This is concerning because we wanted to be able to travel but everyone tells us that it's better to stay in Portugal where we won't have any issues due to the extention. Is there anyway that we can speed this up?

    Reply
    • SEF is very behind and there are a lot of people in Portugal that are overdue an appointment, many of them with expired residency documents. So don't worry: there are a lot of people in the same boat.

      It's unfortunate if you want to travel as it's probably best not to. A lot of people take the opportunity to explore Portugal or to visit Spain, which is easy to visit via land.

      Reply
  3. I actually managed to speak to someone at SEF today so sharing here some information for others who might contact you:

    • There are currently no vacancies for EU citizen / EU family member appointments anywhere in Portugal

    • No one at SEF knows when the appointments will open but it will be published on the website

    • The advice is to check the website / Facebook page for an announcement that these appointments are available rather than trying to call up each day

    •.I have also signed up to the SEF email newsletter in the hope that the announcement might appear in there

    Reply