I’m a UK citizen. Will I still be able to move to Portugal after Brexit?
Portugalist usually receives this question a few times per week — sometimes a few times per day.
The truth is: nobody really knows what’s going to happen. The UK and the EU are currently playing a complicated game of chicken and the stakes of that game are the rights of many UK citizens. Many of these citizens didn’t vote for Brexit and many will have dreamed of one day moving to someone in the EU, somewhere like Portugal.
Moving Before Brexit
Although the UK has already left the EU, as part of it’s transition period, it’s still being treated as an EU member and its citizens are still being treated as EU citizens.
That means that if you were to move to Portugal from the UK before the 31st of December 2020, and apply for residency, you would be given a 5-year residency permit. You also can apply for a NIF without a tax representative, which isn’t a huge benefit but is one less hoop to jump through.
This would allow you to live in Portugal for 5 years. After those 5 years are up, you would be able to apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship. Portuguese citizenship comes with many benefits, but the most important one to many people will be a Portuguese passport.
Portugal recognises dual citizenship, so you wouldn’t need to give up your UK passport. You could have both.
What to consider
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.
Secondly, you probably won’t be able to move to Portugal on the 31st of December. After all, it’s New Year’s Eve. Nor, the week before: it’s Christmas. You can probably rule out the second half of the month, being honest.
Some councils seem to have an arbitrary rule that you have to be in Portugal for 90 days before applying for residency. This means that if you had appointment on the 15th of December, you would need to have arrived in Portugal on the 15th of September.
Whether or not that will be relaxed or not remains to be seen.
It’s necessary to physically be in Portugal to attend your appointment to get your residency certificate. You also need a NIF, which you can get in person (for free) or through a specialist immigration company (paid).
Moving After Brexit
As mentioned, moving to Portugal after Brexit is a little more complicated as nobody knows what the UK’s relationship with the EU is going to look like yet.
Some EU countries are considering a grace period into 2020, but they also have demands – particularly from their citizens living in the UK – that they want met. Whether the UK will meet them is another story.
It’s hoped that the UK would have a different relationship with the EU than most other third countries — a better one — but assuming it doesn’t and negotiations fall apart, Portugal has some schemes that may be relevant to UK citizens.
These schemes are currently available to non-EU citizens, but UK citizens should be eligible for them in the future.
Golden Visa Scheme
Portugal has a generous Golden Visa Scheme for those outside of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland that allows you to obtain a 5-year residence permit when you purchase a house worth €500,000 or more. In many cases, there are exceptions where it can be €350,000 or more.
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.
D7 Visa & Residency
Portugal has a special residency scheme for Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens that’s known as the D7 or passive income visa.
Essentially it’s for those that have some form of income already. That could be through a pension, but it could also be from self employment, stocks and shares, dividends, royalties, or anything else.
To qualify, your regular income needs to at least equal the Portuguese minimum wage. While this is less than €1,000 per month, you don’t want to be too close to the line. At least €1,000 per month is recommended.
Read more about the D7 Visa and Residency Permit
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.