The Best Residency Visas for Moving to Portugal

By James Cave / Published: February 2021.
Posted in: Visas & Residency

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There are lots of reasons to live in Portugal – the weather, food, and the culture, for example – but another good reason is the residency visas. For an ever-increasing number of people, Portugal’s visas are some of the most attainable residency visas in the EU. 

This is true for those that want to invest through Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme, but also for retirees, remote workers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. 

Another closely-connected benefit is that both permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship are possible after 5 years of living here. That means in just 5 years, you could put in your application for a Portuguese passport. 

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In this article, we’ll explore some of the different visas available to see how you could move to Portugal and, if you decide to, become a Portuguese citizen later down the line as well. 

Note 1: If you’re visiting Portugal for 90 days or less, you don’t need a residency visa but a tourist visa. The 90-day Schengen Visa allows you to visit Portugal (or any country in the Schengen Area) for 90 days within a 180 day period. 

Note 2: EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens do not need a visa to move to Portugal. You are, however, supposed to register as resident after being here for 90 days.

The D7 Visa

The D7 (sometimes called the passive income visa or type-1 visa) is increasingly becoming Portugal’s most popular visa. It’s basically aimed at those that already have their own regular income, and ideally passive income, such as a pension, income from property rentals, dividends, or similar. 

Increasingly, SEF are also accepting those with remote jobs on the D7. So, if you have a job that you’re able to do remotely, you could move to Portugal and live and work from here instead. 

One of the reasons that the D7 has become so popular is because the minimum financial requirements are incredibly achievable. In order to be eligible your monthly income (e.g. from a pension or remote job) needs to be the same or more than the Portuguese minimum wage which, in 2021, was equivalent to €635 per month. 

In practice, living off €635 per month in Portugal is incredibly challenging, and closer to a minimum of €1,000 per month is recommended, but this shows just how achievable this visa is for many people. 

Family reunification is also possible, although if those family members don’t have their own income you will need to be financially responsible for them. The financial requirements are just (if not more) achievable: for a spouse or partner you will need an additional 50% of the minimum income requirements and another 30% for each child. 

And just because you’re bringing your own income, that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. The D7 residency permit gives you access to public healthcare, as well as the right to study, and apply for jobs here. 

Read more about the D7 visa & residency permit

Golden Visa

The ARI (or Golden Visa) is probably Portugal’s most famous visa. The visa allows you to become resident in Portugal in return for making an investment in Portugal. That investment could be something altruistic like an investment in the Portuguese arts and culture scene or scientific research in Portugal or it could be as simply as purchasing a property for €500k or more (in some cases this can be lowered to €350,000 or even €280,000). 

But, even if you are planning on purchasing a property in Portugal anyway, that doesn’t mean that the Golden Visa is the right visa for you. 

The visa is actually best for those that don’t want to spend the majority of the year in Portugal as the requirements state you only have to spend an average of 7 days per year here. 

Why move to Portugal if you are only going to spend seven days a year here? Basically, the visa is aimed at those that:

  • Have money but don’t meet the requirements for the other visas. 
  • Want a path to permanent residency/citizenship but can’t commit to living in Portugal for the majority of the year. 

Examples of who this visa is ideal for include: full-time travellers, those that have full-time jobs in other countries, or those that want the benefits of Portuguese residency but want to stay somewhere else so they can maintain their tax residency somewhere else. 

Because this visa gives you the benefits of being resident here but without actually living here, the Golden Visa fees are much higher than other visas. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to see if one of the other visas would also work for you. 

Read more about the Golden Visa & residency permit

The D6 (Family Reunification) Visa

If you have the right to live in Portugal – for example, if you qualified for another visa or if you have an EU passport – but your family members do not, you can bring them to Portugal under the family reunification visa. 

Bringing family members such as a spouse or partner and children does mean taking on financial responsibility, especially if they don’t have their own income, however the amounts are reasonable. 

For a spouse or partner it’s 50% of the Portuguese monthly minimum wage which, in 2021, was €635 per month. For each child it’s 30%. 

Read more about the D6 visa and residency permit

The D2 (Entrepreneurship) Visa

The D2 visa or entrepreneurship visa, is a visa into those who want to start a business in Portugal. Entrepreneurship visas are common across Europe but what makes the Portuguese entrepreneurship visa so appealing is that:

  • There’s no minimum investment amount (although it’s recommended that you start with an initial investment of at least €5,000).  
  • Your business can be in any industry – you could open anything from a food truck to a hotel to a startup. 
  • Does not require job creation. 

As with all of the other visas, the D2 not only gives you the right to live in Portugal but also the right to travel within the Schengen Area – perfect if you have clients within the rest of Europe. 

Read more about the D2 visa & residency permit

The Startup Visa

Unlike the entrepreneurship visa, the startup visa is specifically aimed at those that want to launch an innovative startup or bring an existing one to Portugal. This visa also aims to plug you into the Portuguese startup and entrepreneurial community. 

As with the other visas, it’s aimed at Non-EU/EEA/Swiss applicants. 

Applicants will need:

  • To show a solid business plan (that’s approved by an incubator).
  • To show their startup has the ability to create jobs (besides those of the entrepreneurs included in the business plan).
  • To show their business can turn over €325k per year within 5 years (or have €325k in assets). 

Although this visa has much stricter requirements than the entrepreneurship visa, it does allow multiple startup applicants on the same application. It also aims to plug you into the Portuguese startup ecosystem. 

Read more about the Portuguese startup visa

The D4 (Student) Visa

Portugal is a popular place to study and home to several great universities, including one of the oldest in the world: Coimbra University. 

And with an affordable cost of living, great weather, food, and culture, Portugal is a fantastic place to be a student. 

This visa is also suitable for those that are interested in later applying for Portuguese citizenship: time spent studying in Portugal counts towards your citizenship application. However, if your course lasts for less than 5 years you’ll need to either begin another course or apply for another visa in order to reach the 5 years of residency needed to be eligible for citizenship. 

Read more about the D4 visa & residency permit

The D3 (Highly Qualified Professional) Visa

The D3 is aimed at highly qualified professionals from outside of the EU/EEA/Switzerland. This is normally something the employer applies for rather than the applicant, but knowing that there is a relevant visa should give confidence to those from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland who want to apply for a job in Portugal. 

Besides being able to work in Portugal, the other benefits of this visa include family reunification (being able to bring your family members here) and being able to apply for the EU Blue Card.

Examples of those that might qualify for the D3 include managers (such as executives or directors) or experts in certain intellectual and scientific activities (such as engineers or legal experts). 

To be eligible: 

  • The job activity must be considered a highly skilled activity. 
  • The candidate must be qualified for this activity. 
  • The contract must be for more than 1 year. 
  • The salary must be equivalent to 1.5 times the average Portuguese salary (reduced to 1.2 in cases where there is a strong need for additional workers). 

12 thoughts on “The Best Residency Visas for Moving to Portugal”

  1. Dear James,
    fantastic website!
    might I please ask you or others familiar with the process about obtaining a NIF and D7 visa.
    1. I know a third party can obtain a NIF for someone resident in the UK and open a bank account too what i am not clear about is if on a 2 week holiday to Portugal i can call into a "citizens shop"/ /SEF office to obtain one and the process if booking an appointment ? (my wife speaks fluent portuguese and is Brazilian).
    2. if NIF is obtained then i think i can open a basic function bank acccount with Activobank online (to put funds into prior to D7 application) using current UK adddress
    3. with a NIF and portuguese bank account i think i can use the form "Portugal application for National Visa" to put in a request for a D7 visa via VFS Global offfice london and then use the temporary visa issued to apply for a 2 year D7 once we actually move
    4. I want to to avoid paying intermediaries to do these above actions on my behalf where possble.
    5. what are your virws about challenges of completing steps 1 to 3 without assistance , is it possible ?
    regards
    Mike

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      1. You might find this answer from Bordr helpful - "All non-EU residents need a fiscal representative to apply for a NIF on their behalf. Your fiscal representative does not necessarily need to be a lawyer, but they do need to be a Portuguese tax resident and a Portuguese permanent resident or citizen. If you have a trusted friend or know someone in Portugal who is willing to take on the responsibility, they can absolutely be your fiscal representative."

      If your wife lives in the UK with you then presumably she doesn't meet the criteria.

      You can go to Finanças with a fiscal representative (e.g. a lawyer or, as Bordr suggests, someone resident in Portugal) but I think this route is only worth it if it's a friend or family member. You would probably need to pay a lawyer and you might as well save both your time and do it remotely rather than queue at Finanças or a Loja de Cidadão. Bordr are very helpful and offer a discount, which you can find on this page.

      2. Not sure about online (I think this is only an option for residents) but it should be possible in person.

      3. You don't necessarily need a lawyer to apply for the D7, and many people apply without one. The benefit of a lawyer is they submit tons of these applications every month, so they know what is likely to get accepted, which means you're more likely to get accepted the first time around.

      Reply
  2. Hi James,

    I wonder if you could point me in the right direction to find information on requirements for working as an architect in Portugal?

    Reply
  3. Hi James,

    Thanks so much for your work helping people understand the different Visa routes and Portuguese bureacracy.

    I've a situation where I am a UK citizen but with permanent residency in Spain. I also own a house in Portugal (inherited after two previous generations).

    I've seen some people ask similar questions about whether another EU residency would make applying for residency in Portugal easier, and it seems it doesn't. However you mention the potential option of remote work as fulfilling the requirements for the D7 Visa. I have worked remotely previously and my income was sufficient to exceed the minimum requirements, however it was as a freelancer.

    So my question is, does the D7 remote worker option include freelancers, or only permanent employees? And if only permanent employees, do you think it could be done if I were to set up a company?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Mikey,
      Did you get any answers to you query.
      I am a British citizen.
      I have a French permanent residency applied for after Brexit, granted for living and working there for a long time.

      I am hoping I might help me come to Portugal, so did you get any info.

      Thanks Andrew.

      Reply
  4. Hi,
    I am a 67-year-old single American woman receiving $1,314 per month in Social Security. I'm still working a full-time job here in Pa. but, as it's merely a survival job with a physical component (I lost my last career position in 2014), I'm very eager to leave it to concentrate on writing and editing remotely.

    I'm incredibly burnt out and no longer want to wait any longer. Although my job income is very low and, ideally, shouldn't take long to replace, I know it will take a bit of time to achieve a regular remote working income.

    I cannot live here in the U.S. on my Social Security alone. But I've heard I can live on it in Portugal for a while if I have to. I already have a friend there and I know others moving there within a few years. I want to come over as soon as possible after the start of 2022. How much do I need to have saved? How easy is it to get a studio apartment in a place like, say, Faro? How about Lisbon?

    Thank you very much,
    Ana Y.

    Reply
    • Hi Ana

      As a single, frugal person, you could probably live on the equivalent of €1,135.95 (I have!). Not in Lisbon (unless you're happy with a houseshare) but in another part of the country. I would look at idealista.pt to get an idea of studio apartment costs and see where you can afford. I think you would have to prioritise smaller towns, most likely inland, in order to find places with cheaper rents. After rent, groceries, utilities, etc it will probably only leave you with a small amount of money. If you can pick up remote work from editing and writing, it'll help, but if your freelancing career isn't established, it isn't a good idea to rely on it.

      Now, whether you would be approved for a visa like the D7 on that amount is another question. Besides cost of living, that's another thing you will need to consider.

      Personally, I think moving abroad can be difficult when you're doing it on a very tight budget. You don't have a support network around you, and the local job market here doesn't pay particularly well. I would thinking about both of those things when you're sizing up Portugal.

      Reply
  5. Hi,
    It’s Valentino again , I already commented on one of your sections and I already sent you emails but I don’t know if you received them. I got time to think about moving Portugal but I really want to know more info & plus some websites has got different info & they are out of date besides that most of the vlogs that are about moving to Portugal is from an American position & I’m of British nationality. The job that I really want to do in probably marketing the most, if not then I’ll be an estate agent. Is it possible for me to do marketing there? Because the job market is limited for me.

    I’m studying law in university and I have a business diploma from college. I looked for jobs in Portuguese in LinkedIn and that website you gave me and they are all in Portuguese which I don’t understand and I’m confused how expats from Britain find a job there if there websites are Portuguese. I could be doing something wrong but I don’t what so I want your input on this as you know Portugal very well.

    What are the steps to move to Portugal and in what order? Like do I get an NIF first or apply for the job first etc.

    I apologise if I seem annoying / bothering you

    Reply
    • Hi Valentino,

      It's possible to work in marketing here, sure, but most jobs where you're working in a Portuguese company are going to require you to speak the language. Being an estate agent may require less as there are a lot of foreign buyers but you're still going to need to be able to speak Portuguese and to get your licence (the exam is in Portuguese).

      There are very few jobs that are specifically for English speakers apart from specific roles in call centre work. You may also find that some of the tech companies in Lisbon work in English rather than Portuguese. Being able to speak English isn't a huge advantage since so many Portuguese people speak fantastic English.

      Generally, expats from Britain don't come to Portugal for a job. Most either have a pension, set up a business here, or work remotely for a British company. Wages here are low and there are limited jobs, so you generally have to make your own source of income.

      Reply

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