Updated: This post has now been updated since January 1st 2021 when the UK left the EU.
The UK has now left the EU and the withdrawal period is over.
This means that UK citizens are no longer EU citizens. While the UK was in the EU, UK citizens had an automatic right to come and live in Portugal (or any other EU country). There’s now no longer an automatic right and, it seems, that UK citizens will be treated the same as any other 3rd country (or non-EU) citizen (e.g. those from the US, India, Brazil, Australia, etc).
That doesn’t mean that you can’t move to Portugal anymore: it just means that now you don’t have an automatic right and you will need to apply for a visa, attend an interview with SEF, and obtain permission to live here.
Portugal has some of the most attainable residency requirements of any EU country so, if you want to live in the EU and perhaps earn that “EU Passport,” it’s worth looking at Portugal.
If you were living in Portugal before Brexit
2020 was a messy year with Brexit, Covid, and everything else, but if you were living in Portugal prior to the 31st of December 2020, and can prove it, you may have an easier route to residency.
The Portuguese government have been quite understanding that it was very difficult to get appointments during 2020, particularly the last few months, and have introduced a grace period until June 2021.
If you can prove that you were living in Portugal before the Brexit cut-off date, you should be able to obtain a 5-year temporary residency permit in Portugal rather than the 1-2 year residency permit those applying on visas like the D7 will get.
How do you prove it? Flights into Portugal, use of your credit card here, a rental contract, or an Airbnb contract are all things that would show that you were living in Portugal.
Otherwise…How to apply for residency in Portugal
Post-Brexit, Brits will most likely need a visa to come and live in Portugal the same way as Americans or Australians do.
There are a number of visas available, but the most common visa routes are the Golden Visa or the D7 Visa.
The Golden Visa
The Golden Visa is an investment visa that gives you your residency in return for making an investment in Portugal. You don’t have to invest in Portuguese companies, however: one of the routes is buying a property in Portugal.
The property is normally required to cost €500k or more, but there are some exceptions where it can cost €350k or even as little as €280k.
After 5 years, you would have the option of applying for permanent residency (which is renewed every 10 years) or citizenship (which comes with a Portuguese passport).
The benefit of the Golden Visa scheme over other forms of residency is that you only need to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal – perfect for those that have commitments elsewhere or want to travel.
The D7 (also nicknamed the “retirement visa” or “passive income visa”) is one of the most popular visas due to its low costs and attainability. It’s essentially open to anyone with a regular and ideally passive income (such as a pension, but a remote job is also a possibility) that amounts to the Portuguese minimum wage.
Given that the Portuguese minimum wage is less than €700 per month, this is a very achievable visa for a lot of British retirees, those with rental income, freelancers, or those with a remote job back in the UK.
Read a longer writeup of the D7
The D2 (or entrepreneur visa) is ideal for those that want to start a business in Portugal. There are no limitations on what the business could be, and the suggested required startup capital is just €5k, so this could be ideal for those that want to move to Portugal to start a new self-employed career.
Read a longer writeup of the D2
The NHR scheme is open to all new residents to Portugal, not just those that are moving from outside the EU, so it’s worth mentioning here.
NHR stands for Non-Habitual Residency, which is somewhat of a confusing term as many of the people who use the scheme are, in fact, residents. It’s basically a tax incentive to attract people to Portugal, a country that otherwise doesn’t have attractive tax rates.
Many people are able to avoid paying tax completely, while others are able to reduce their tax bill considerably. As of 2020, pensioners pay 10% tax on their pensions which could be attractive for those with large pensions.
Whether or not it’s the right solution for you will depend on many factors including where your income is coming from, where you’re currently tax resident, and how it’s paid to you (e.g. dividends, royalties, etc.).
Generally, though, it’s seen as a very attractive reason to move to Portugal.
A Few Considerations
Becoming resident in Portugal *normally means becoming tax resident here. If you’re a freelancer or pensioner that mightn’t make a big difference to your life but, if you’re still in full-time employment with a UK company, it’s something you’ll need to speak to your company about.
While some companies are fine with having their employees in another country, or moving their employees to a freelance or contractor role, others are unwilling.
*Normally is the key word here: there does seem to be a possibility where you can remain tax resident in the UK, at least temporarily, but have your residency in Portugal (buy purchasing a property or renting a property). This isn’t normal, however, and so it’s recommended that you get expert help.