As we mentioned in the previous chapter, there’s a very significant difference between obtaining and carrying a visa in Portugal and obtaining and carrying a residence permit. While you don’t need a visa to enter the country and visit for a while, a residence visa is required if you plan to live, work, or attend an educational institution within the country for an extended period of time.
Here’s the main difference between the two:
Residency visas are short-term documents, usually lasting for only three or four months. The sole purpose of obtaining a Portuguese residency visa is so you can later apply for a residency permit and register as a resident.
Residence permits (Titulos de residência) are also temporary documents. However, these remain valid for an entire year during the first year and then can be renewed every two years, depending on how long you need to stay in Portugal.
Residence permits are a means to allow people to live in the country as long as they need to while also putting them on track towards applying for a permanent residence permit—which we’ll talk about in just a moment.
Much like visas, Portugal offers several types of residence permits, including work, education, family reunification, and special permits. Aside from the special residence permits, the primary difference between the permits and visas is time.
Essentially, all types of residence permits remain valid up to two years before they must be renewed while visas only allow you a three to four-month stay before you must leave the country.
The Special Residence Permit
As for the special residence permits, the applicant must have a unique situation in order to obtain one.
Some of the most common types of “unique situations” include:
The Permanent Residence Permit
Once you’ve lived in Portugal for a minimum of five years on a valid residence permit, you can then apply for a permanent residence permit. Of course, this is only if you wish to live in the country indefinitely. Otherwise, you can simply continue extending your temporary permit for as long as you need to.
Having a Portuguese permanent residence permit allows you to live and work in the country without uncertainty and without having to sacrifice your citizenship of origin. The benefits also include traveling to Schengen countries for free and sans passport as well as access to high-quality education, social security, and health care.
Additionally, permanent residence permits must be renewed every five years to remain valid.
So, if you plan to apply for a Portuguese residence permit of any kind, you must:
When applying for a temporary Portuguese residence permit, you’ll need the following documents:
You can expect to pay around $79 for the permit alone—not including the processing or other fees—and $36 per each renewal.
If you’re applying for permanent residence in Portugal, you’ll need all of the above documentation plus the following:
Obtaining a permanent residency permit is a pretty quick and painless process. However, it does cost around $240 for the permit alone.
It’s also important to note that when applying for either type of residency permit, you’ll need to bring with you a copy of all documentation translated into Portuguese. Some may also need to be properly legalized with the Apostille of Hague stamp.
You can find a list of the documentation that must be legalized here.
Why and How to Move to Portugal From the USA
Are you planning to move to Portugal from the United States? Here is everything you need to know about making the move safely and efficiently.
We tell you how to get the most appropriate visa, how to obtain residency, taxes, education, healthcare and how to optimise your cost of living.