How to Get Portuguese Residency: Everything You Need to Know

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Obtaining Residency

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.

The Different Types of Residence Permits

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:

  • Needing prolonged medical care for certain health conditions
  • Having completed military service for the Portuguese Armed Forces (PAF)
  • Being born in a Portuguese national territory to parents who are also holders of a residence permit
  • Children of parents who are resident permit holders that have resided within the country or a national territory from the age of 10 that have reached the legal age of maturity
  • Individuals who were born in a national territory and either never left or lived in Portugal starting before the age of 10

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.

Applying for a Residence Permit

So, if you plan to apply for a Portuguese residence permit of any kind, you must:

  1. Apply for a Portuguese residency visa
  2. Apply for a Portuguese residency permit within the residency visa’s time frame (3-4 months)

When applying for a temporary Portuguese residence permit, you’ll need the following documents:

  • A valid residency visa
  • A valid passport
  • Two recent and colored photos with a blank background. They must also be identical
  • Proof of residence
  • Proof of income or have sufficient means to support yourself financially, i.e, proof of enrollment in social security
  • Permission from the SEF to have a background check conducted within the country
  • Tax documents that show information for your registration with the Portuguese tax authority

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:

  • The standard application form completed and signed
  • Confirmation that you’ve mastered the basics of the Portuguese language. For this, there are various documents you can present such as:
  • An official certificate from a recognized educational institution
  • A “completing elementary Portuguese studies” certificate issued by the Institute for Employment and Professional Training (IEFPT)
  • A certificate of Education of Essential Portuguese (CAPLE), which is recognized by the Ministry of Education and Science  

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.

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Ana Fankhauser

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