How to Get Portuguese Residency: Your Guide in 2024

Seeking to make Portugal your new home? The key to your move is navigating how to get Portuguese residency. This guide eliminates the guesswork, providing a clear path for everyone, from workers to retirees, investors to family members.
April 1, 2024
Ana Fankhauser
April 1, 2024

Looking to establish Portuguese residency? This guide breaks down everything you need to know about navigating the processes for both temporary and permanent residency. Discover the necessary permits, requirements, and benefits that come with calling Portugal home, whether you’re an investor, joining a family, or planning to work or study in Portugal.

Key Takeaways

  • Portugal offers two tiers of residency permits—temporary and permanent—with permanent residency attainable after five years and offering benefits like visa-free travel within the Schengen Area.
  • Several routes to Portuguese residency exist for non-EU nationals, including employment-based, investment-based (Golden Visa), and family reunification, each with specific eligibility requirements and application procedures.
  • Applicants must meet essential criteria such as financial stability, clean criminal records, and accommodation proof; for permanent residency, demonstrating A2 level language proficiency in Portuguese is also required.

Understanding Portugal Residency: Temporary vs. Permanent

Portugal Residency

Portugal offers two types of residence permits: temporary and permanent. A temporary residence permit is the first step for non-EU residents looking to make Portugal their home. It’s initially valid for one year and can be renewed for two years at a time. This permit enables you to work, study, and enjoy life in Portugal while you get settled in your new home. After fulfilling the necessary requirements, you can obtain permanent residence in Portugal.

Once you’ve held a temporary residence permit for five years, you can proceed to apply for permanent residency. Permanent residents enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. However, there are certain restrictions, such as the inability to vote or hold public office, and the lack of extensive visa-free travel that comes with Portuguese citizenship.

Compare Portugal Visas:

Visa Type Purpose Eligibility Key Advantages Key Disadvantages
D7 Visa (Passive Income) Passive income generation Income from sources outside Portugal Low minimum income requirement, path to permanent residency and citizenship Income must be generated from passive sources, such as investments or pensions
D8 Visa (Freelance and Remote Work) Freelance and remote work Self-employed individuals or remote workers with clients outside Portugal Opportunity to live and work in Portugal while serving international clients Requires proof of income and clients outside Portugal
Golden Visa Investment Investment of €280,000 or more in real estate or other approved investments Fast-track to permanent residency and citizenship, no physical residency requirement High investment threshold, potential for property market fluctuations
Startup Visa (D2) Entrepreneurship Innovative business idea and minimum investment of €50,000 Support for entrepreneurs and potential for high returns, path to permanent residency Competitive application process, risk of business failure
Tech Visa Highly skilled workers Employment in a qualified tech sector company Access to Portugal's growing tech industry, streamlined application process Dependent on securing employment with a qualifying company
Studnet Visa Education Enrollment in a Portuguese educational institution Access to Portugal's education system, potential for post-graduation employment Requires full-time study, may not lead to permanent residency
Family Reunion Visa (D6) Family reunification Close family members of Portuguese citizens or residents Allows family members to live in Portugal with their loved ones Dependent on the status of the family member in Portugal
Jobseeker Visa Job search Proof of job search in Portugal and sufficient financial means Opportunity to explore job opportunities in Portugal, potential to obtain a work visa Limited duration, no guarantee of finding employment

We offer all long-term Portuguese visas for your needs.

Routes to Obtain Portugal's Residency

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an investor, a student, a retiree, or looking to join a family member, Portugal provides several pathways to secure residency. Each route comes with its own set of requirements and processes, designed to cater to different individual circumstances. We will now explore these routes more thoroughly.

Employment-Based Residency

If you’ve secured a job in Portugal, you’re already on the right track to obtaining residency. Before applying for an employment-based residency visa, a non-EU national must:

  1. Obtain a job in Portugal, making sure that an EU citizen hasn't already taken it.
  2. The first step towards obtaining a work permit application comes from your employer, who initiates it with the Portuguese Labor Authorities.
  3. This step then opens the door for you to apply for a visa at your local Portuguese embassy.

Portugal offers various types of work visas, catering to:

  • skilled workers
  • highly-skilled workers
  • self-employed individuals
  • entrepreneurs

Each visa category stipulates distinct requirements, including recognized qualifications or evidence of establishing a business. Once you’ve arrived in Portugal with a residency visa, you must apply for a residence permit within four months.

Investment-Based Residency (Golden Visa)

The Portugal Golden Visa is a lucrative route to residency for those willing and able to make a substantial investment in the country. This program offers a range of investment options starting from €250,000, including:

  • Real estate acquisition
  • Capital transfer
  • Job creation
  • Investment in research
  • Cultural contributions to Portugal

Applicants must spend a minimum of seven days per year in Portugal, pay processing and issuance fees, and satisfy due diligence requirements to qualify for the Golden Visa. After five years of maintaining residency and investment, Golden Visa holders can apply for citizenship, providing an added incentive for those with an eye on long-term goals.

Family Reunification Residency

Family ties can be a powerful motivator for relocation, and Portugal recognizes this with its family reunification residency route. Relatives of Portuguese residents and citizens, including spouses or registered partners, minor or dependent children, and dependent direct ascendants, are eligible to apply for a residence permit by family reunification. The resident in Portugal must first obtain approval from the SEF before the family member applies for a visa in their home country.

The family reunification residence permit’s validity is tied to the length of the resident family member’s existing permit. The initial permit for partners married for 5 years is valid for two years. After that, it can be renewed every three years. Dependent children under 18 years of age typically obtain their individual residence permits within 2 years of residence in Portugal. Demonstrating the family relationship is a critical part of the process, necessitating documentation such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, or certificates of incapacity.

Essential Requirements for Portugal Residency

Essential Requirements for Portugal Residency

No matter which pathway you take to secure residency in Portugal, fulfilling certain requirements is obligatory. These include:

  • Demonstrating financial resources, such as a stable income or proof of income authorizing the transfer of private capital to Portuguese banks or ownership of immovable property generating income.
  • Having either owned or long-term rented accommodation in Portugal, with proof of payment required.
  • Having a clean criminal record from Portugal and your home country.

To be eligible for permanent residency, you must meet these requirements.

Documentation and Application Process

The application process for Portugal residence permits begins with lodging an application at the Portuguese embassy/consulate in your home country. Upon entering Portugal with a residency visa, registering at the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) within four months is mandatory. The Portugal residence permit requirements may include a valid passport, employment contract, proof of income or profession, proof of accommodation, health insurance, and a criminal record certificate, all translated into English or Portuguese and duly legalized.

The renewal process depends on the type of residence permit you hold. For instance:

  • Temporary permits generally last for one year and require renewal
  • Study permits are valid for the duration of the study program and require yearly renewal
  • If you’re a permanent resident, you must provide proof of health insurance with Schengen coverage of at least €30,000

Bear in mind that maintaining your residency status hinges on renewing your permit in a timely manner.

Language Proficiency and Integration

For those seeking permanent residency in Portugal, proficiency in the Portuguese language is a key consideration. The level of language proficiency expected for applicants of permanent residency is the A2 level. This level allows individuals to perform simple, everyday tasks in Portuguese, such as introducing themselves and understanding basic phrases and expressions.

A2 level proficiency, demonstrating basic knowledge of Portuguese, is a prerequisite for securing permanent residency in Portugal. It’s worth noting that learning the language is not only a requirement but also a vital part of integrating into the Portuguese society, culture, and way of life.

Benefits of Portugal Residency

Benefits of Portugal Residency

One of the most significant benefits of Portugal's residency is the privilege of visa-free travel within Europe’s Schengen Area, including for UK citizens who lost this benefit due to Brexit. Portuguese residency requires a low physical presence, averaging seven days per year, but still counts towards citizenship eligibility.

Beyond the travel benefits, residents can enjoy a high quality of life in Portugal, which is known for:

  • Its mild climate
  • Rich culture
  • Local cuisine and wines
  • High level of security

Portugal also ensures access to excellent educational institutions and grants residents the right to work and study in the country.

Furthermore, Portuguese citizens who are permanent residents in Portugal are eligible for free health care services after five years of residency, while all residents have access to quality healthcare clinics and hospitals.

Transitioning from Temporary to Permanent Residency

Temporary to Permanent Residency

Once you’ve held a temporary residence permit for five years, you can proceed to apply for permanent residency. To apply for permanent residence permits, you must provide:

  • A valid passport
  • Recent photographs
  • Evidence of a valid temporary residence permit
  • Proof of stable income and accommodation
  • Evidence of having lived in Portugal for at least 5 years

Your permanent residence card will be valid for five years and must be renewed at the end of each period.

Remember, your permanent residency status can be cancelled if you spend an extended period away from the country without an acceptable justification. Hence, it’s crucial to uphold your residency status by residing in Portugal for the stipulated duration.

Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship after Residency

Five years of legal residency make you eligible for Portuguese citizenship. This process requires you to demonstrate proficiency in Portuguese by passing the CIPLE exam, which attests to a language proficiency at the A2 international level. The good news is that Portugal allows dual citizenship, enabling you to maintain your original nationality while acquiring Portuguese citizenship.

The citizenship application process requires the following:

  • A valid application form
  • A criminal record certificate from SEF
  • Evidence of Portuguese language proficiency
  • A clean health record
  • Proof of Portuguese residency

It can be a complex process, so employing the services of an immigration lawyer can aid in navigating the complexities of the citizenship application and ensure adherence to legal requirements.

Practical Considerations for New Residents

Having navigated the legalities of securing residency in Portugal, you can now turn your attention to the practical aspects of day-to-day living. In Portugal, especially in urban centers like Lisbon and Porto, the housing market is highly competitive. Rental costs vary by location, with Lisbon averaging over €13 per square meter and cities like Braga offering more affordable rates, such as around €600 for a two-bedroom apartment. Keep in mind that tenants in Portugal are responsible for utilities separately from rent, which are estimated to cost around €100 monthly for electricity, internet, water, and gas.

For banking, ActivoBank is highly recommended for expats due to its low fees, paperless transactions, and English-speaking services. It’s also worth getting familiar with the Multibanco system in Portugal, which provides comprehensive ATM services, allowing for various transactions besides cash withdrawals, like paying bills and purchasing tickets.

Brexit Implications for UK Citizens Seeking Portugal's Residency

Brexit has brought about multiple changes for UK citizens who are pursuing residency in Portugal. Following Brexit, UK nationals can apply for new residence permits in Portugal, which confirm their status as beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement and replaces the previous EU residence documents. Existing EU residence documents for UK nationals will continue to be recognized in Portugal until the new residence permit is issued.

Post-Brexit, UK nationals, now considered foreign citizens, are subject to EU freedom of movement restrictions and require a visa for stays that exceed 90 days in a 180-day period. Furthermore, changes to the Golden Visa program mean that UK citizens can no longer qualify for the program through real estate investments in Portugal since October 2023.

However, family members of UK nationals who are third-country nationals will continue their residency in Portugal through the regular renewal process post-Brexit.


Securing residency in Portugal is a desirable goal for many, and it’s easy to see why. The country offers a high standard of living, a favorable climate, and a rich and vibrant culture. Whether you’re seeking temporary or permanent residency, the process can be navigated with the right knowledge and preparation. From understanding the different routes to obtaining residency to mastering the Portuguese language and understanding the practicalities of daily life, there’s much to consider.

Yet, the benefits make the effort worthwhile: the privilege of visa-free Schengen travel, access to a high quality of life, and the potential for obtaining Portuguese citizenship. Whether you’re a UK citizen navigating post-Brexit changes, a retiree planning a relaxed lifestyle in the sun, or an entrepreneur seeking new business opportunities, Portugal offers a warm welcome and a promising future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I immigrate to Portugal?

To immigrate to Portugal, as an American, you'll need a Portuguese residence permit if you plan to stay longer than three months. After residing with a proper permit for five years, you can apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship. This process requires both patience and dedication.

Is it hard to get a residence permit in Portugal?

Yes, obtaining a residence permit in Portugal is challenging for non-EU citizens, as it requires living in Portugal for at least 5 consecutive years and presenting various documents as proof (date not included).

What are the income requirements for Portuguese residency?

To obtain Portugal residency through the D7 Visa, you need to make at least the Portuguese minimum wage of €820 per month, and this income requirement also applies to your dependents. The temporary residence permit is initially valid for two years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional three-year period.

What's the difference between temporary and permanent residency in Portugal?

The main difference between temporary and permanent residency in Portugal is that temporary residence permits are initially valid for 1 year and can be renewed, while permanent residency is issued indefinitely without the need for regular renewal. This allows holders of permanent residency to have a more stable and long-term status in Portugal.

What are the routes to obtaining residency in Portugal?

To obtain residency in Portugal, you can choose from various routes such as employment, investment (Golden Visa), family reunification, study, marriage, and retirement, each with its own set of requirements and processes. Choose the one that best suits your situation and follow the specific steps to secure residency.

About Movingto

Movingto is a leading immigration law firm that specializes in helping individuals and families navigate the complex process of relocating to Portugal. With a team of experienced lawyers and immigration experts, provides tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.

Why Choose Movingto?

  • Expertise and Experience: Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of Portuguese immigration law and years of experience assisting clients with various visa applications, including the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, Startup Visa, and Family Reunion Visa.
  • Personalized Approach: We understand that every client's situation is different. Our lawyers take the time to listen to your goals and provide personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.
  • Comprehensive Support: offers a comprehensive range of services beyond legal advice, including assistance with document preparation, property search, and relocation planning.
  • Competitive Fees: We offer competitive fees and transparent pricing so that you know exactly what to expect.
  • Exceptional Client Service: Our team is committed to providing exceptional client service. We are responsive, attentive, and always available to answer your questions.

Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to establish a business in Portugal, a retiree looking to enjoy the country's favorable tax regime, or a family seeking to reunite in Portugal, is here to guide you every step of the way.

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