As remote work becomes more and more of a possibility of people, more and more people are looking at Portugal as a destination to work remotely from.
And, why wouldn’t you? Portugal, particularly areas like Lisbon and the Algarve, has great year-round weather with 300+ days of sunshine, a low cost of living, and is easy to fly to from most of Europe.
It also has a strong remote worker scene already, particularly in Lisbon where you’ll find 100s of digital nomads, freelancers, and startup owners.
There are smaller scenes in places like the Algarve and Porto, which is fine if you’re not looking to be surrounded by other people, and, if you’re comfortable with a little more isolation, there’s the whole of Portugal to explore.
Most people who plan to work while in Portugal book an Airbnb (or multiple Airbnbs) for their stay. There’s more space, it allows you to cook if you want to, and usually there’s a dining table to work from. Some places even have desks and office chairs.
Another option is to stay in a co-living space, a kind of hostel for other freelancers and digital nomads where you live together and work together. This often works out more expensive than booking your own accommodation, but can be a good way to meet other people.
And, of course, you also have the option of booking a hotel, hostel, guesthouse…whatever you feel like. Just make sure it has a good desk or work surface to work from.
You may want to work from a co-working space, which are offices that you pay to use. These can normally be booked on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and naturally it works out more cost-effective if you book it for the month.
Alternatively, apps like Croissant allow you to buy credit that you can use at multiple different co-working spaces.
Lisbon and Porto, in particular, also have lots of cafés, particularly the more moden hipster cafés, that you could work from as well.
If you spend more than 183 days in Portugal, you become a tax resident here and, legally, you should now file a tax return here and pay your taxes here. But what if you just come for a few days, weeks, or even months?
What happens if you’re visiting on a tourist visa where you’re not allowed to work, but you get an email from work that you have to reply to?
Remote working is still a grey area legally, both in Portugal and elsewhere. While some countries like Barbados have introduced specific remote work visas, Portugal doesn’t have such a visa.
It’s more black and white when you’ve been here six months – after that you should become a tax resident here, and technically you should register as living here after 3 months – but, up until that point, most people opt for a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. Unless, of course, your plan is to live in Portugal long-term.
Staying longer than six months
If you fall in love with Portugal – and many people do – you might decide that you want to base yourself here for the majority of the year and continue working for a company in another country.
This is absolutely possible to do, and it’s something that many people do. It can also be a path to citizenship after 5 years and, in the meantime, would give you a lot of freedom to move within the Schengen Area.
Having a remote job could make you eligible for some visas like the D7 Visa & Residence Permit, a visa which is aimed at non-EU citizens who already have some form of passive income or a remote job that they can do from Portugal.
It does mean paying your taxes in Portugal, and there will be a little paperwork involved in switching your residency from your current country to Portugal. Some people could benefit from Portugal’s NHR tax regime which, in most cases, allows you to pay a flat rate of 20% (+ social security) on your income over 10 years. For some people, particularly high earners, this can mean that moving to Portugal would allow them to pay less tax than they do currently.
The NHR tax regime isn’t the right scheme for everyone, though, and for many people the Simplified Regime, which taxes you on a percentage of your income rather than all of your income, may be a better option.
Deciding which one is right for you will take some research, and it’s recommended that you speak to a professional accountant as well.