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.
January 11, 2024
Ana Fankhauser
January 11, 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. Discover straightforward steps to acquire your temporary residence permit and transition seamlessly to permanent residency. Expect a jargon-free breakdown of documents, fees, and timelines, steering clear of excessive details to pave your clear route to a new life in Portugal.

Key Takeaways

  • Portuguese residency can be obtained through various visas tailored to different individuals, such as students, professionals, retirees, or investors, starting with a valid residence visa and transitioning to a temporary residence permit, which requires proof of income and other documentation.
  • Permanent residency in Portugal can be achieved after five years with a temporary permit, requiring evidence of connections to Portugal, proficiency in Portuguese, and adequate financial resources, whereas the Golden Visa program offers residency to investors provided they adhere to specific requirements, including minimum stays and investment criteria.
  • Pathways to Portuguese residency also include employment, which requires an employment contract with a Portuguese company and adhering to work visa prerequisites, and family reunification, where relatives can join Portuguese residents through the D6 Visa by providing evidence of their familial relationship.

Pathways to Portuguese Residency

Portuguese residency permit and golden visa

Navigating the pathway to Portuguese residency can be a complex process, with a variety of options at your disposal. Whether you’re a student, a working professional, a retiree, or an investor, Portugal has a residency route tailored to your needs. The process generally starts with securing a valid residence visa, which is necessary for non-EU citizens planning a long-term stay in Portugal. The visa application must be submitted at the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence and is typically valid for 120 days.

After entering Portugal with a valid residence visa, the process continues by scheduling a meeting with the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) to initiate your residence permit application. From here, you can explore various visas, such as residence, work, and family reunification visas. For those interested in investing, Portugal provides an enticing chance to obtain residency through the Portugal Golden Visa program, which requires investing in real estate or capital transfers, leading to Portuguese citizenship.

Temporary Residence Permit: The First Step

For non-EU citizens seeking Portuguese residency, the process starts with obtaining a temporary residence permit. This permit is granted to individuals who can demonstrate a monthly income of at least EUR 1,070 to sustain themselves. Essentially, you’ll need to prove that you have enough financial means to live comfortably in Portugal. This involves providing evidence of your monthly income, securing health insurance, and, in some cases, obtaining a work permit.

When it comes to documentation, the process requires the following:

  • Your passport
  • Recent photographs
  • Evidence of means of subsistence
  • Proof of adequate accommodation
  • A criminal record certificate

These are among other specific documents according to your purpose of stay. If you’re applying with family members, additional documents proving the relationship may be required.

Beyond this method, Portugal provides the Portuguese Golden Visa program, enabling investors and their families to live in Portugal.

Obtaining Permanent Residency in Portugal

After continuously living for five years with a temporary permit, the next stage in your Portuguese progression is acquiring permanent residency. To obtain permanent residency, you must demonstrate connections to Portugal, exhibit basic proficiency in Portuguese, and possess adequate financial resources. As part of the application process, you’ll need to provide evidence of continuous residency, adequate income, proof of accommodation, and a clear criminal record.

Permanent residency comes with its perks, offering nearly identical rights and obligations as Portuguese citizens. The permit is not limited in validity, but it requires renewal every five years or in the event of any changes to the holder’s personal information. There’s also a fee associated with acquiring Portuguese permanent residence, which is $240.

Family Reunification: Bringing Loved Ones Together

Gaining residency in Portugal doesn’t only concern you; it also involves uniting your family. Family reunification allows relatives of Portuguese residents and citizens to join them in Portugal. To be eligible for the D6 Visa, also known as the family reunification visa, you need to provide evidence of your direct ascendant or family relationship, such as a marriage certificate or a birth certificate.

The application process for a D6 Visa involves:

  • Submitting an application directly online or by telephone
  • Providing evidence of relationship to the sponsoring family member
  • Submitting valid passport or other travel documents for all applicants
  • Providing a criminal record certificate

Establishing Residency Through Employment

Establishing residency through employment in Portugal

Another frequent path to Portuguese residency is through employment. The Portuguese visa, specifically the Portugal work visa, is designed for non-EU citizens who have successfully obtained employment in Portugal and meet the necessary requirements. Applicants must:

  • Demonstrate their eligibility for the job
  • Provide evidence of a clean criminal record
  • Show that they have secured accommodation
  • Show that they have the financial means to sustain themselves in Portugal.

Working for a Portuguese company and having the employer submit a work permit application to the Portuguese Labor Authorities are requirements for acquiring Portuguese residency through employment. The standard Portugal residence permit obtained through work is valid for two years, and it is one of the various types of residence permits available.

Work Visa Essentials

Regarding Portugal’s work visas, several options are available:

  • Temporary stay visas for foreign citizens searching for employment
  • Long-term Schengen Visa (type D) for travel within the Schengen Area
  • Work visas are tailored for skilled workers and self-employed individuals.

Applying for a work visa requires specific documentation. This includes a valid passport with the visa stamped, proof of residence, a completed visa application form, two passport-sized photographs, and an employment contract. To demonstrate proof of qualifications, you need to provide documentation such as the employment contract, company tax statements, proof of registration with Social Security, and evidence of your status as an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen. Note that obtaining a work visa in Portugal typically involves a process that can span several months.

Employment Contract Necessities

An employment contract is an integral component of your progression towards Portuguese residency. The contract must include the following information:

  • Identification, signatures, and address or location of the parties
  • An unequivocal statement by whoever promises to enter into the contract
  • It must be in written form for non-EU expatriates.

Registering an employment contract with Portuguese authorities is a necessity, and failure to do so can result in a lack of protection against discrimination and penalties for the employer. The contract is essentially a guarantee from your employer that you have a job waiting for you in Portugal, and it is necessary for obtaining a work permit.

Study Route: Student Visa and Residency

Student visa and residency in Portugal

Portugal offers a valuable educational experience for international students. If you’re a non-EU student enrolled in a Portuguese educational institution, you can secure residency in Portugal via a student visa. A residence permit for study purposes is a specific type of visa available to international students from non-EU countries who have been accepted into a Portuguese educational institution.

To qualify for a student visa, you must show a valid passport, a letter of acceptance from a university, evidence of payment of tuition fees, and if you’re a non-EU student, you must apply for a residence permit upon arrival. The student visa application involves completing the student visa application form, providing a valid passport with a photocopy, submitting two recent passport photos, and providing proof of acceptance into a Portuguese educational institution. The visa typically corresponds to the length of the study course, up to a maximum of five years.

Investment Avenue: Golden Visa and Beyond

Portugal golden visa program

Investment is another viable avenue for Portuguese residency. The Portugal Golden Visa program is a popular choice for investors worldwide. This program enables eligible investors and their families to reside, work, and pursue education in Portugal, while also offering the convenience of visa-free travel to European countries within the Schengen Area. Note that the qualifying option of real estate investments has been discontinued within the Portugal Golden Visa program.

To maintain the Golden Visa and be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship, foreign nationals must:

  • Reside in Portugal with the visa for at least 5 years
  • Spend at least 7 days in Portugal during the first year and at least 14 days during the following two-year periods
  • Adhere to Portuguese immigration and nationality laws

The initial application incurs a fee of €5,364, with subsequent renewals costing €2,663 after the first year.

Passive Income Visa: D7 Route

The D7 Visa, also known as the Retirement or Passive Income Visa, is a pathway to Portuguese residency for individuals with a consistent and steady income. This income, which may include pensions or rental proceeds, must meet or surpass the Portuguese minimum wage, currently set at €760 per month or €9,120 annually.

Capital Transfer and Job Creation

Investment in Portugal isn’t just limited to the Golden Visa program. Capital transfer and job creation also offer opportunities for residency through investment.

Here are the requirements for obtaining Portuguese residency through capital transfer:

  • The minimum amount of capital transfer needed is 1.5 million euros.
  • These investments can comprise Portuguese public debt instruments, securities, or the share capital of a Portuguese resident entity.
  • The investment must be retained for a minimum of 5 years.

If you’re leaning towards job creation, you’ll need to create a minimum of 10 jobs to secure Portuguese residency.

Retirement and Lifestyle Choices

Many find the prospect of retirement in Portugal appealing due to its breathtaking landscapes, lively culture, and temperate climate. Popular retirement destinations include the historic center of Lisbon, the trendy beach spots in Portimão, and the relaxed atmosphere of Braga along the northern coast.

Portugal’s cost of living is relatively inexpensive compared to other European countries, making it an appealing choice for retirees wanting to stretch their retirement dollars.

Health Insurance and Healthcare Access

Considering healthcare is crucial when relocating to a new country. In Portugal, all residency applicants, including American expats, are required to have health insurance. Once you’ve obtained residency, you can register with the health center in your area to get your health number, allowing you to access Portugal’s healthcare system.

Public healthcare in Portugal is provided at no cost for individuals under 18 and over 65, with low costs for other age groups and exemptions available for specific groups.

Legal Documentation and Requirements

Securing residency in Portugal necessitates certain documentation. Whether you’re applying for a temporary or permanent residence permit or a work visa, you’ll need to provide various documents. These typically include:

  • Evidence of health insurance
  • A police clearance certificate
  • A receipt of payment of fees
  • A bank statement
  • A bank reference
  • A valid passport
  • Two recent identity pictures
  • Proof of accommodation

The Role of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF)

The Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) plays a significant role in the residency process. SEF oversees a range of immigration processes, offering vital support to individuals seeking to establish residence, employment, education, or investment opportunities in Portugal. SEF processes residency applications by enforcing immigration laws, managing visa and residency application procedures, and safeguarding Portugal’s borders.

As part of its services, SEF offers guidance and aid to both immigrants and local authorities. To arrange an appointment with SEF, you need to pre-book by contacting SEF’s Contact Center to secure a convenient date and time for your appointment.

Tax Considerations for Residents

Comprehending tax implications is significant when arranging your relocation to Portugal. To become a tax resident in Portugal, you need to have resided in the country for over 183 days or six consecutive months in a calendar year. Alternatively, having a permanent residence in Portugal also qualifies for tax residency..

Portugal has a special tax program known as the Non-Habitual Resident Status. This program appeals to international investors and professionals, including those who become Portuguese tax residents, by offering tax benefits such as:

  • A flat 20% tax rate on Portuguese income
  • Reduced tax rates
  • The opportunity to exempt foreign-earned income from taxation in Portugal for a period of 10 years.

To qualify for Portugal’s NHR status, you must not have been Portuguese tax residents within the past five years, and you must either hold citizenship in the EU/EEA/Switzerland or have acquired the Golden Visa. Note, however, that the deadline for applying for non-habitual residency is the 31st of March of the tax year, when applicants become tax residents in Portugal.

The Prime Minister of Portugal has announced his intention to eliminate the Non-Habitual Resident program starting in 2024. It is important to note that the program may come to an end.

Lastly, if you’re a US citizen planning to move to Portugal, obtaining a NIF, a tax number in Portugal, is crucial, as it’s essential for various legal and financial activities.

Language and Integration

Proficiency in the language is a significant prerequisite for residency in Portugal. Applicants for residency must exhibit the capacity to comprehend straightforward, brief sentences and fundamental everyday conversations. Language proficiency is assessed through the CIPLE Portuguese Proficiency Test, a compulsory examination for individuals seeking Portuguese citizenship. The minimum language standard for citizenship in Portugal is A2.

Portugal offers the following services to assist newcomers in acquiring proficiency in Portuguese and facilitating cultural adaptation:

  • Portuguese Host Language (PLA) courses provided in multiple languages
  • Implementation of an integration strategy, including a Plan for Immigrant Integration
  • Integration services provided by the High Commission for Migration
  • Educational courses or programs specifically designed for new residents in Portugal

These services aim to support immigrants in their integration process.

Residency Renewal and Path to Citizenship

Residency renewal and path to Portuguese citizenship

After living in Portugal continuously for five years with a temporary permit, you can apply for permanent residency. After obtaining permanent residency, you may then apply for Portuguese citizenship. American expats and individuals of other nationalities are eligible to obtain Portuguese citizenship upon fulfilling the residency requirement of five years and demonstrating proficiency in Portuguese at the A2 level.

Once you’ve completed five years of residency in Portugal with a temporary residence permit, you become eligible to apply for permanent residency and, subsequently, for Portuguese citizenship. This opens up a world of opportunities, from the freedom to live and work in Portugal to enjoying the benefits of being an EU citizen.

Portugal acknowledges dual citizenship, allowing you to retain your original citizenship while obtaining Portuguese citizenship. This means that you don’t have to give up your home country’s citizenship to become a Portuguese citizen, offering the best of both worlds.


In summary, securing Portuguese residency opens up a world of opportunities, whether you’re a student, a working professional, a retiree, or an investor. From the initial stage of obtaining a temporary residence permit to the final step of becoming a Portuguese citizen, the journey is filled with exciting possibilities. While the process may seem complex, with the right guidance and support, your dream of living in Portugal can become a reality. Here’s to your successful path to Portuguese residency!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can US citizens get residency in Portugal?

Yes, US citizens can obtain a long-term visa or residence permit for a long-term stay in Portugal. It is required for staying in the country beyond the initial 90 days.

Is it easy to get temporary residency in Portugal?

To obtain temporary residency in Portugal, you will need to secure employment or have a monthly salary of at least EUR 1,070 and intend to stay for at least 3 months. The residency permit is valid for one year and can be renewed. For more information, you can speak to immigration agents.

What are the income requirements for Portuguese residency?

Applicants must show a minimum passive monthly income of €760 (or €9,120 annually) based on the Portuguese government's minimum wage in order to obtain the D7 visa in 2023.

What are the tax considerations for residents of Portugal?

If you reside in Portugal for more than 183 days or have a permanent residence there, you may be considered a tax resident. Portugal also offers a Non-Habitual Resident status, which provides different tax benefits.

What are the language and integration requirements for residency applicants in Portugal?

Residency applicants in Portugal must demonstrate an understanding of basic everyday conversations and sentences, and they can benefit from official language courses and integration strategies. This helps facilitate cultural adaptation for immigrants.

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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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