4 Visas for Digital Nomads Coming to Portugal

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [More Info]

James Cave / Last Updated: February 3, 2023 / Posted in: Visas & Residency

“Portugal is a country for immigration. Every year, we receive thousands of immigrants, seeking opportunities in our country. A country that wishes to welcome immigrants as it wishes its emigrants to be welcomed, too” – The Minister in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and for Parliamentary Affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes [1]https://www.portugal.gov.pt/en/gc23/communication/news-item?i=parliament-approves-amendments-to-the-law-on-foreign-nationals

As of October 30th 2022[2]https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-10-07/digital-nomad-visa-portugal-wants-remote-workers-to-spend-a-year-in-the-country, Portugal has begun offering a new visa for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and it’s actually aimed at digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers.

This new visa seems to incorporate both types of nomads – it’s both a “temporary stay” and “residence visa” for digital nomads[3]https://www.portugal.gov.pt/en/gc23/communication/news-item?i=parliament-approves-amendments-to-the-law-on-foreign-nationals. In Portugal, you’ll meet people who are spending a week or two here while working online, but you’ll also meet plenty of people who have moved to Portugal and become resident here. They might still travel every now and then, but they now spend the majority of their time in Portugal. They’re semi-retired nomads, if you will. This new visa caters to both.

Although the “digital nomad visa” is likely to become the most suitable visa for digital nomads, it isn’t the only one: there are also other visas like the golden visa and the D7 to consider.

1) Residence Visa for the Semi-Settled Nomad [D8]

Ideal for those that want to live in Portugal and obtain Portuguese citizenship

  • Income Requirement: Earn at least four times the Portuguese minimum wage (around €3040 p/month in 2023)
  • Citizenship: Yes (application possible after 5 years)

A lot of digital nomads come to Portugal and end up setting down here, particularly in nomad hubs like Lisbon, Madeira, Ericeira, and the Algarve (particularly Lagos). This is especially true of those that have been globe-hopping for a few years and are now looking for somewhere to be settled for a large portion of the year.

Portugal is a great place to have as a nomad base. There’s a big nomad scene (particularly in Lisbon), the weather is good, the beaches are fantastic, it has a great quality of life, and the timezones work well for international work. Then there are benefits like the NHR tax regime, the possibility of applying for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years, and access to Portugal’s public and private health system. Oh, and Portugal’s seemingly positive attitude to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, at least while that lasts[4]https://www.euronews.com/next/2022/05/19/portugal-will-close-a-legal-loophole-to-start-taxing-cryptocurrencies-says-finance-ministe.

Of course, it’s a good idea to do your research before applying and, if the NHR regime is a major pull, perhaps speak to a professional to make sure your income qualifies (and to see whether NHR is actually the best way to be taxed). It’s also worth reading up what moving to Portugal entails, and what life the typical expat experience as a digital nomad or remote worker is like.

Although the income requirement is higher than what the D7 is, there are a couple of reasons this particular visa is potentially better:

  • Rather than being referred to as a “passive income visa” or “retirement visa,” it’s clear this visa is aimed at digital nomads and freelancers.
  • The residency permit lasts for 5 years rather than 2, so there are fewer renewals.
  • You can apply at a Portuguese consulate in your home country OR through SEF in Portugal.

2) Short Stay Visa for the Globe-Trotting Nomad [D8]

Ideal for those that want to stay in Portugal for longer than the Schengen Visa allows

  • Income Requirement: Earn at least four times the Portuguese minimum wage (around €3040 p/month in 2023)
  • Citizenship: No, unless the person moves to a longer-term visa

The most common type of digital nomad is the nomad who hops around the world, sometimes staying in a new place for a few days, sometimes for a few months. They usually do this on tourist visas and so their limitation is how long that visa allows them to stay. Most don’t stay longer than 6 months to avoid the risk of becoming a tax resident somewhere else (or whatever that country’s tax rules are). 

In Portugal (or anywhere in the Schengen Area) that limitation is typically 90 days in every 180 days. That means they can come to Portugal for 3 months, but they have to leave the Schengen Area for 3 months before they can come back again. 3 months is enough time for a lot of people, but if you fall in love with Portugal and make friends here, it can be heart-breaking if you have to leave. Many people try to get extensions for the Schengen Visa but usually without any success. 

It’s thought that the new digital nomad visa will allow you to come to Portugal for up to 1 year, making it ideal for those that know they want to come to Portugal for a longer period of time than the Schengen Visa allows. It’s also ideal for those that want to come to Portugal and do everything above board rather than hoping the murky rules about working in another country don’t come back to bite them. 

If you’re thinking of going down this route, it’s worth speaking to an accountant or lawyer to discuss the tax implications of staying in Portugal for more than 6 months. While those staying long-term will be happy to make the transition to paying taxes in Portugal, those staying for a shorter period of time may not feel the hassle is worth it.

3) Golden Visa for the Cash-Rich Nomad [Golden Visa]

Ideal for those that want residency and a pathway to citizenship but full freedom to travel

  • Income Requirement: Investment options start from €280,000
  • Citizenship: Yes (application possible after 5 years)

For a long time, Portugal’s most famous residency visa was the golden visa. This is a type of visa that offers residency in Portugal in return for making an investment in Portugal. There are a number of investment routes, from investing in hotel redevelopment programs to simply transferring a sum of cash to a Portuguese bank, but the most popular option for a lot of investors is to simply buy a residential property in Portugal (eligible amounts start from €280,000).

Most nomads don’t have €280,000 to invest, but if you do, this could be a very appealing route to residency because it only requires you to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal. Other visas typicallyrequire you to spend 6+ months, which may eat into your plans to travel the globe.

The downside, of course, is the cash you need to invest. Not only do you need to invest at least €280,000 (€500,000 is the typical amount) but there are also other costs, such as government fees, to factor in. However, if you have the money and don’t want to spend the majority of the year in Portugal, it’s certainly an option to consider.

4) D7 Visa for the Passive Income Nomad [D7]

Ideal for those with passive income, such as income from rental properties

  • Income Requirement: At least equal to the Portuguese minimum wage (around €705 per month)
  • Citizenship: Yes (application possible after 5 years)

Prior to the introduction of the “digital nomad visa,” when most people talked about Portugal’s digital nomad visa, they were actually referring to the D7 (and lots of websites still refer to this). While this wasn’t initially designed for applicants with income from remote jobs and freelance work, many were able to successfully obtain residency through this visa.

It’s expected now that the D7 will revert to being more of a “passive income” visa, but this may still suit some digital nomads who have income from sources like:

  • Rental income from properties
  • Dividends
  • Royalties
  • Pensions (if an older digital nomad)

The income threshold for the D7 is much lower than the digital nomad visa: most websites say more than the Portuguese minimum wage, which is a little over €700 per month. While you probably need more money to survive in Portugal, in practice, this threshold is about a quarter that of what the digital nomad visa asks for.

However, if you’ve spent any time researching the D7, you’ll know that applying isn’t always straightforward. Different consulates have different requirements and an increasing number require you to have a NIF number, funded Portuguese bank account, and one-year lease (or property deeds) before you make the application.

What About Those with an “EU Passport”?

If you hold a passport from an EU country like Spain or Ireland, you don’t need to apply for a visa to come to Portugal on either a short or long-term basis. However, if you’re planning on staying long-term, you will need to apply for residency and check what the tax implications are, particularly if you stay for longer than 6 months.

Comments

  1. So if you earn less than €2.8k a month is this visa completely ruled out? What visa is the best route for those able to work remotely but not meeting the minimum of €2.8k a month? Are there any other suitable options?

    Reply
  2. Does the proof of accommodation requirement mean you have to rent a place for a year like the D7 or will Airbnb be acceptable?

    Will there be a minimum savings amount?

    Reply
  3. Looks like this is essentially the D7 but for remote workers and freelancers. I would consider a digital nomad visa to be something that offers some kind of tax exemption. This is more of a residency visa, especially the long-term section. The short-term section (up to 1 year) is a temporary stay visa but as there has been no changes to the tax law it seems that it will also make you tax resident after 6 months. So it's okay if you want to spend more than 90 days but less than 183 days. But I don't know why anyone would want to stay between 6 and 12 months as it involves becoming tax resident in Portugal for a short amount of time but still carrying on work for companies outside of Portugal. This is likely to become messy.

    As someone else pointed out you can apply through SEF but avoiding SEF is definitely the best option. Better to apply through the consulate or through VFS who will likely be managing applications for consulates in a lot of places. First step would be to contact the consulate though.

    In terms of documents I've been told I'll need the following:
    Passport photos
    Valid passport
    Proof of income (e.g. services provided for freelancers or work contract for employees)
    Proof of 2820 euros per month income (before tax most likely given people will have different taxes and pension contributions)
    Schengen Travel insurance
    Criminal record certificate for every country you've resided for more than 1 year
    Criminal record check from SEF to show no criminal records in Portugal
    Roundtrip flights (presumably not for the long-term stay. This one is also a bit of a pain for nomads since they don't always know what they'll be doing in a few months. It's likely people will book a lot of flights to places outside of the Schengen like the UK or Croatia)
    Documents showing current fiscal residence

    No mention so far of NIFs or Portuguese bank accounts or savings but as with the D7 this could be down to the individual consulate or VFS office

    Reply
  4. This visa is being marketed as a way to move to Portugal and work from the beach but there are a lot of facts that aren't being considered

    Stay in Portugal for 183 days and you'll become tax resident there!!
    You'll have to pay social security too. Most people don't want a Portuguese pension so they'll be contributing to social security elsewhere as well.
    The minimum income amount is higher than most people would want. That amount would be fine for Lisbon but they should have lower amounts if you move to other parts of Portugal
    There are cheaper digital nomad visas around the world. Of course this is a visa for an EU country so it should be priced higher than places like Medellin
    Most companies aren't going to let you go and work from Portugal unless they have a physical presence there. And no company is going to open a physical presence just so you can work from there. The way these digital nomad visas are written about is completely inaccurate.
    Prices in Lisbon are high. Lots of newspapers say you can get an apartment for €700 but this is simply not true. Try double that.

    Reply
  5. I can see why PT government wants digital nomads.

    - They are young unlike the retirees Portugal normally attracts and so are less likely to be a strain on the Portuguese NHS
    - They have their own income and seem capable of finding and getting remote work again unlike retirees who are not skilled in this area
    - They are unlikely to look for jobs locally (see point above)
    - They have enough disposable income to rent and this new system will probably see SEF require nomads to have an official rental contract aka the government gets to see its tax dollars

    But it seems like the government has just accepted that places like Lisbon are going to become unaffordable for the Portuguese. Algarve also seems this way but I guess the Portuguese gave up on the Algarve a long time ago. Lisbon will just be filled with laptop carrying foreigners who don't integrate with locals or try learning Portuguese.

    It's like the PT government is downsizing the country, getting all the Portuguese to move out of Lisbon, renting out Lisbon to foreigners and trying to live off the Lisbon income.

    Reply
  6. I have done a lot of digging on this nomad visa and this is what I have concluded.

    - I believe the visa will ask 2820 per month and not the smaller figure. You must have hit this amount in 3 of the last 4 months. This is €33,840, which isn't that giant a salary. Some people are complaining about it but it's not a lot. Most people in North America and a lot of Europe will be bringing this home.
    - The application will be through the consulates so you would apply in your country of residence. Some people said that you could apply through SEF if you were already in Portugal but from what I've heard SEF are not an organisation you want to deal with. Maybe its better to go home and apply if you're already here 🙂
    - If you spend more than 183 days you will become a tax paying resident in Portugal. I think a few people coming on the 12 month visa could get caught out with this. Most will be still paying tax in another country. It will be possible to only pay tax once if there's a double tax treaty between the countries but this is much too much paperwork for the average digital nomad.
    - It could be a good deal if you want to come to Portugal for more than 90 days but less than 183 days as you won't need to start paying Portuguese taxes yet. Maybe you need to tell the Portuguese government that you are staying less than 183 days otherwise the tax man will send you a letter in the mail
    - If you do become a tax resident you could apply for NHR. For those with big salaries this could be very nice. But with the cost of social security I couldn't see that it was any better than paying tax in Germany on 100k. I believe it is better than paying tax in Ireland. BUT these figures do not take into account deductions (like healthcare) which do not seem possible on NHR. You will also need to pay social security at 21% on the 80%.
    - Nobody is talking about the fact that employers will not want their employees working from Portugal as it will mean social security contributions in Portugal. Big paperwork pain in the a$$!
    - Some people are saying you can come to Portugal and pay no tax. This doesn't seem to be true. Sad!
    - You could come to Portugal and not tell your employer that you've applied for this visa as a job contract letter can be enough. But it's going to get messy when Portugal starts asking for taxes and social security and you've already paid these elsewhere. You can claim back if there's a double taxation treaty but this sounds like another pain in the A$$.
    - BUT I think this is a good visa for those that want to move to Portugal and are willing to become tax resident there. It's clearer than the D7 and it has a specific income amount. You can get citizenship if you go this way.
    - NOBODY knows anything about this visa including lawyers and people in SEF. This seems to be common in Portugal but it is worrying. The whole thing was announced to grab news headlines without any consideration on how the thing will work. Again this seems to be common in Portugal.
    - Nothing has been mentioned about minimum stay requirements. This will likely be 6 or 8 months of the year. That's definitely less flexibility than most digital nomads (even those that want to move to a European country) want. It's not clear whether this will be tracked if you travel on land though.
    - It's not clear what happens if you have to travel for work. Can you spend less than the 6-8 months in the year? This will affect a lot of digital nomads especially those that have businesses that involve travel by their nature.
    - This visa will offer all of the same benefits that other visas offer (studying, healthcare, family reunification, etc)
    - Other digital nomad visas like the one in Bali don't tax you but you don't get benefits like healthcare so it depends on your goals. Also Portugal is a European country with all of the benefits that come with that. Bali is a developing country.

    Reply
    • Thanks Romero,

      There's a lot of information there. I think the most positive takeaway from what you've said and what I've read elsewhere is that this is a visa aimed at digital nomads. It shows the government is looking to attract nomads to Portugal and so it's great news for those from places like the UK or US that want to move to a European country and obtain an "EU passport."

      There's definitely some things that are confusing but I think it's a good opportunity for those that want to move to Portugal and base their lives here.

      Reply
  7. You haven't commented on the socio-economic effects of digital nomads in Portugal. Higher house prices, higher rents, more strain on resources like public transport, non-integration within Portuguese society and earning differences between foreigners and natives...

    Reply
    • Hi Carla,

      This are all problems, yes, but perhaps beyond the scope of this article, which focuses on the new digital nomad visa. It's a difficult one to write about because the Portuguese government is obviously looking to attract digital nomads, however, this has negative effects for locals living in Portugal. This is especially an issue in Lisbon. Unfortunately, I don't have any solutions here although I think there could be more of a push to increase integration and encourage people to settle in areas other than Lisbon and other nomad hotspots. I don't discourage people from moving to Portugal because these issues exist, but try to encourage them to make a difference where they can (e.g. by trying to integrate).

      Reply
  8. Ok, so I work for the US company. US companies can legally hire people abroad (as remote workers too) only if they have a physical presence in the country, or hire an Employer of Record. There is no third way. In both cases local subsidiaries must run a locally compliant payroll - practically a domestic companies that hire. When it comes to taxes and social contributions.
    It is so easy to say that the visa is aimed at people who work for the foreign companies, but when it comes to proof, those companies will have to resort to local hiring, or no hiring at all - despite the fact that remote worker's salaries are coming from the US. Portuguese government can adopt a law about pink unicorns, but there are practical legal steps that must be obeyed, and that is where it really gets messy in Portugal.

    Reply
  9. Again, there will be issues with this, namely tax issues. Foreign companies cannot, in great majority of cases, allow their workers to work remotely without having a physical presence in the country, or using Employer of Record - and in both cases those entities run a local payroll despite the fact that the foreign company is paying the salary.
    If anyone is smart enough to understand how to deal with this, I am all ears.

    Reply
  10. Hey guys,

    This was a good informative article but now it's been 5 days from 24th Sept but not able to find any info on this new DNV for Portugal. Neither VFS nor Google returns anything but this article.Does anyone has any official source of this info?

    Thanks

    Reply
  11. Any official updates on where to find the application details associated with this, or any details at all? VFS isn't updated and I cannot find anything online except for this post.

    Reply
  12. The long stay version of this looks to be similar to Spain's digital nomad visa which they just announced but perhaps better. It takes 10 years to get citizenship in Spain vs 5 in Portugal. The Spanish visa might offer a better rate of tax for the first 4 years (15% base rate) but this is the base rate and so Portugal's NHR flat rate of 20% might be better. Both seem to offer family reunification.

    Lots of EU counties trying to attract digital nomads now. Portugal will need to make sure this is competitive.

    Reply
  13. I wonder if the minimum income requirement will be more than the (inaccurate) €700 per month figure that was given for the D7. Given that most digital nomads live in Lisbon it seems unlikely they would be able to survive on €700 per month. A reasonable room seems to cost at least €400 per month and an apartment at least €900. You could move to another part of Portugal but I have yet to meet many digital nomads in the center of Portugal.

    Reply
    • Good point. The other digital nomad hotspots (Ericeira, Lagos, and Ponta do Sol) all have higher than average rents as well.

      A lot of nomad visas in other countries have set minimums (e.g. €24,000 for Malaysia) and some have minimum savings requirements as well. It will be interesting to see if Portugal has a minimum amount.

      Reply
  14. This seems promising but as usual the proof will be in the pudding. There is only a line or two in the law. It will be down to interpretation and that's where everything gets messy in Portugal. It would be great if this was as painfree as the USA's ETSA but my guess is it won't be.

    Basically the 6 month digital nomad visa will be an extended tourist visa. It means people can come and stay here for 6 months and spend money by renting Airbnbs and spending money in restaurants and at the supermarkets. It will be interesting to see which group become more valuable to the economy. Short term tourists might only come for a week and spend a lot of money but nomads will potentially be here for six months so may spend more money in that time.

    Reply
  15. @Stuart Wood

    SEF won't cope. Portugal loves to issue new visas or talk about how it wants more foreigners moving there but they never mention the fact that their immigration system is completely backlogged. Yes you can move to Portugal but once you move here you'll wait months and maybe even years to get an appointment with SEF. You can stay here of course but you won't be able to travel or leave the Schengen Area while you're waiting on an appointment.

    Reply
  16. @George

    It's a visa for those with an income. Savings isn't an income. I imagine it'll be like the D7 where savings generally weren't accepted as they were looking for regular passive income.

    Also starting an Etsy shop may not be enough. They will probably be looking for proof that you can support yourself.

    Reply
  17. Good morning I found this information very informative I would like to look into it a bit more I have visited Portugal before many years ago now that I have reached my Senior Status I would love to spend more time there or possibly live there for an extended time again many thanks for this information
    Kind Regards,
    E.Floyd Forth Jr.

    Reply
  18. Interesting that a new visa type can be introduced at short notice, but biometric cards for resident ex pats have still not been rolled out after two years and there is still confusion at border crossings using the QR codes. I wonder how SEF will cope with this additional workload!

    Reply
  19. If in the process of setting up an online business (on Etsy for example) could we still apply for this visa with bank savings rather than a monthly income? I've been trying to contact the consulate in London but the phone just rings off the hook for 2hrs!

    Reply
  20. Thanks for the article and this info about DNV. I was thinking of applying for a D7 and was not aware at all that Portugal is coming up with a dedicated DNV. Now I would rather go with DNV and hoping it doesn't have any complicated requirements specially when it comes to salary required.

    Is there a way I can subscribe to your posts on the site so I can keep myself updated, I did not find any subscription service?

    Reply
  21. So this makes Portugal more appealing than other European digital nomad destinations like Gran Canaria, Barcelona, Berlin, Riga etc where you can only get the 90 day schengen entry. But is this separate for schengen? Can I come to Portugal for 180 days on the digital nomad visa and then go to a schengen country like Spain for 90?

    Reply
    • I didn't read anything about savings, so I guess we'll learn more in the next few weeks. I do think it's always a good idea to have some kind of safety net in Portugal, though. The job market is a bit limited for non-Portuguese speakers and nomads tend to gravitate towards places with high rental prices (e.g. Lisbon, Ericeira, Lagos, etc).

      Reply

Leave a Comment