How to Get a Portugal Visa

You don’t need a visa to enter Portugal. Anyone with a passport can enter the country for a maximum of 90 days. However, after that period you will need one.
February 16, 2022
Ana Fankhauser
February 16, 2022

Portugal continues to be a top destination for American ex-pats. Its coastal location, warm climate, and amazing culture continue to bring visitors from around the globe. The problem is that once they visit, they don't want to leave!

Currently, around 7% of the Portuguese population is made up of ex-pats from other countries. This includes all visa types.

Experts expect that number to grow in the coming years. Currently, ex-pats live in the big cities. Areas like Lisbon, Faro, Setubal, and Porto hold most of Portugal's ex-pat population.

But, those cities can only accommodate this wave of immigration to Portugal for so long. Eventually, the growing ex-pat population will spill out to the areas surrounding those major cities.

With Portugal becoming such a popular immigration destination, many ex-pats wonder which Portuguese visa is right for them. Fortunately, that's exactly what we're going to cover in today's article. Consider this your go-to comparison guide of Portuguese visas.

We're going to cover the various Portugal visa types and the prices associated with each one. We'll also talk about the step-by-step process law firms will take you through to obtain your visa.

We have a lot of information to cover. Let's get going!

Understanding Portuguese Immigration

The Portuguese immigration system works in the same way as many states within the European Union. Residents of the EU can move to Portugal without applying for immigration status. This is because Portugal is considered part of the Schengen Area.

The Schengen area covers 26 countries that lie outside the EU. These countries have border control arrangements set up with the EU. As a result, EU residents can travel to these countries freely.

But visa legislation in the Schengen area only allows for "short stay" visas for EU residents. This means they can only stay in Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. Therefore, if an ex-pat from the EU wanted to settle down in Portugal, they would need to eventually register as a permanent resident.

The rest of the world has to go through the traditional immigration and visa process in order to relocate to Portugal. They don't even have the luxury of the "short stay" Schengen visas that the EU has at their disposal.

Expats from other countries can relocate to Portugal for a number of reasons. Relocation for work, retirement, reuniting with family, and education are all valid reasons to receive a Portuguese visa.

Even if ex-pats are traveling for the above reasons, they still need to apply for a visa. As a result, there are certain criteria they need to meet to gain access to the country.

Portugal also offers a Golden Visa program. This program is aimed at attracting wealthy ex-pats into the country for investment purposes.

Who Needs A Portuguese Visa?

Like many other countries, Portugal works on a two-tier visa system. The immigration rules that apply to you depend on which country you're migrating from. If you're emigrating from a country within the EU, you're subject to different rules than ex-pats from countries outside the EU.

Citizens of the EU

As we mentioned earlier, Portugal is a member of the EU. This means EU citizens have the luxury of visa-free entry to Portugal.

Residents of the EU can extend this visa-free entry to Portugal to their relatives, as well. This is true even if the relatives don't live in a country within the EU.

Portugal is unique in that it's also a member of the Schengen Area. These are the 26 countries that have no border control with the countries of the EU. Residents of these countries can travel from one to the other freely.

There is no need for a visa or passport. All EU residents can travel to Portugal with just their proper identification documents. But this only approves them for three months of travel.

If EU residents wish to stay in Portugal longer, they need to apply for a registration certificate. This allows EU residents to remain in Portugal for longer than three months. After going through this process for 5 years, EU residents can request permanent Portuguese residence.

Permanent Residence for EU Citizens

EU residents are eligible for these permanent resident permits but they need to be careful. The permanent residency permits for Portugal have an expiration date. Residents of the EU will need to be mindful of the expiration date on their permits and renew them every so often.

The registration certificate for EU residents lasts approximately 5 years. The cost is about 15 euros to get your certificate. Each member of your family that's living in Portugal will need a certificate.

Only certain family members of EU residents are allowed to emigrate to Portugal. A legal spouse or partner, dependent children, and dependent grandparents are the only non-EU residents that can use their relatives' EU status to emigrate to Portugal.

In addition to registering, each member of your family will need to sign up for social security in Portugal.

There are slight changes in the immigration policy and the rules you need to follow. This all depends on your reason for emigrating to Portugal. Students, retirees, permanent residents, and even investors all have different immigration criteria.

It's important to talk to your local branch of the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service before making the move.

Non-EU Citizens

The immigration and visa process for non-EU citizens looks a little different. They don't have the luxury of being able to freely visit Portugal.

Some countries outside the EU have a border agreement with Portugal. If your home country doesn't have one, you'll need to apply for a visa.

There are currently 61 countries that have agreements with Portugal. The UK, United States, Australia, Japan, and Canada are all included in this list. This means residents of these countries don't need to apply for visas for short stays within Portugal.

If a non-EU resident wishes to stay in Portugal longer than three months, they'll need to apply for a long-term Portuguese visa. They need to apply for a visa before entering Portugal. Then, they'll need to apply for a permanent residence registration upon their arrival.

Portuguese Visa Types

There are three general types of Portuguese visas. People wishing to visit Portugal can either apply for a short-stay visa, a Temporary Stay National visa, or a Long Stay National visa.

Short stay visas are good for trips up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Temporary stay National visas are good for stays in Portugal up to one year. Long Stay National visas are good for trips over one year.

Long Stay visas are also known as Residency visas.

General Short Stay Visa

Short stay visas in Portugal are also known as Schengen visas. These visas can be granted for tourism, work, visiting family, business, or other short-term reasons. People who apply for the Schengen visa can also travel around to other countries in the Schengen Area for the duration of their visa.

These visas are good for general visits like tourism, short-term work or business, and family visits. Applicants will need to make sure they have the proper documentation along with their application paperwork.

You'll need to provide:

  • Valid Passport
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of financial stability for the duration of your stay
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Return ticket reservation
  • Evidence of the nature of your visit
  • Details of where you'll be staying during your visit

Seasonal Work Visa

This short-stay visa is specific to work duties for a particular season. The seasonal work visa applies to the following industries:

  • Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Forestry, hunting, fishing, or farming
  • Food, liquor, tobacco industries
  • Construction
  • Land transport

Seasonal workers will need to provide all the same documentation as the general short-stay visa. In addition, you'll also need to provide a copy of your work contract and compliance with national legal requirements. This is only in the case of regulated professions.

Airport Transit Visa

This visa allows travellers to catch connecting flights in the international area of an airport. This visa is mandatory for all passengers that change flights in a Schengen country. The only time this rule doesn't apply is if they're exempt from needing a Portuguese entry visa.

You'll need to provide most of the same documents as for the general short-stay visa. You'll also need to provide an entry visa for the country of your destination.

Study Visa

This type of Temporary Stay visa is good for any period of study lasting from 90 days up to one year. Studies included are secondary, graduate, and post-graduate education.

You'll need all of the basic general documentation. In addition, you'll also need proof that you were accepted into the appropriate course of study. This study needs to be at an accredited Portuguese institution.

You'll also need to provide proof that the course lasts no longer than one year.

The NHR Tax Regime

The NHR is known as the Non-habitual resident tax regime. The biggest benefit of the NHR regime is tax advantages. This comes in handy if you're getting any sort of income from a business or property within Portugal.

You're eligible for an NHR regime if you've recently moved back to Portugal and have been away for over 5 years. Many individuals apply for the NHR regime because it gives them very favourable tax rates.

An example is capital gains taxes on crypto. Portugal is becoming a popular haven for crypto investors because you can realise crypto profits almost 100% free of capital gains tax.

You'll also be able to greatly reduce the amount of taxes you owe to the government. The exact breakdown of taxation all depends on your main source of income.

In order to apply for the NHR regime, a person needs to meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Anyone who hasn’t lived in Portugal for the past 5 years (foreigners or Portuguese)
  • Anyone who hasn’t been on the NHR scheme before (you can only join once)
  • Anyone who satisfies both of the rules above and also become tax resident in Portugal

The Family Reunion Visa

The Family Reunion visa can also be called the Family Reunification visa. This visa is used to help residents reunite with family members that are living abroad.

Any Portuguese citizen has the right to bring over certain relatives with this visa. Those relatives include a spouse, dependent children, dependent grandparents, and grandchildren.

Family members of residents can apply for a Family Reunion visa after the resident has received their visa. This is true regardless of the type of visa they receive.

The Golden Visa

The Golden Visa is a visa available to wealthy individuals who plan on investing in the Portuguese economy. It's aimed at spurring investment and growth in certain areas of the country.

These target areas are known as areas of "urban regeneration". The urban regeneration areas require the lowest investment amount for visa approval. Applicants only need to invest 280,000 euros in urban regeneration areas.

If an applicant wants to invest in a low-density area of Portugal, they may need to pay more. In order to receive the visa, investors must invest in a property that's worth 400,000 euros or more in low-density areas.

Moving to a high-density area like Lisbon comes with the highest investment amount. In order to apply for a Golden Visa in this type of area, investors need to invest in a property with a value of 500,000 euros or more.

Once you are approved for a Golden Visa, you can apply for a Family Reunion visa to bring over family members.

The D7 Visa

The D7 visa is a Portuguese Visa that focuses on retirees. Any retirees who are living off of a "stabilised income" and wish to relocate to Portugal can apply.

A "stabilised income" is a pension, intellectual property, real estate, or financial investment. The D7 visa allows retirees to relocate to Portugal regardless of age. This visa is valid for 2 entries into the country and is good for a period of 4 months.

Not everyone who applies for the D7 visa needs to be a retiree. Younger residents of some countries can show their bank account statements as "stabilised income". This makes them eligible for the D7 visa.

They can apply for the visa from there before they leave their home country and arrive in Portugal.

The D2 Visa

The D2 Visa is known as the "immigrant entrepreneur" visa. It's not as well-known as the D7 or Golden Visa. It's also a little more complicated to get.

To qualify for this visa, you have to demonstrate that you have enough passive income coming into your bank account to live in Portugal. The unique part of this visa application is that it revolves around your business idea.

The Portuguese government will ask to see your business plan. They'll also ask for sound reasoning for starting the business. Your business network will also play a part in whether or not you get approved for the D2 visa.

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Ana Fankhauser

Ana has worked in many startups and moved to a few countries, which led her to create MovingTo. She believes that remote work is a growing trend that is here to stay and that digital nomads will move to countries that have more to offer than the ones you were born into. She mostly writes opinion pieces for MovingTo.

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