Portugal is growing in Popularity exponentially - it has a great climate, great food, great culture, great prices, one of the highest English proficiency rates in the world and it is a doorway to Europe. All of this combined makes it a expat paradise and more and more people are planning to come here to get more out of their money and a good quality of life. So the question arises, how do I move to Portugal?
Step 1 - Get a Visa
The first thing you need to figure out is if you need a visa, and what kind of Visa you want to apply for.
Visas will give you residency and usually have to be requested at the embassy of Portugal in the country of origin, they usually need to be renewed yearly and after 5 years you can apply for citizenship.
However if you are already a citizen of the European Union there is free circulation within the Schengen Area, you can just come here, stay for up to 90 days, and report your intent to live in the country to SEF, that will emit the necessary documents, it's a very straightforward process, at the worst you'll have to deal with some delays from Portuguese public services and some documentation requests.
If you are living anywhere else you will need to choose a Visa. There are many types of Visas in Portugal:
D7 Visa - Self Sustenance Visa - You need to prove you won't be a burden to the Portuguese state, either by passive or active income. For active income it will need to be a job contract with no expiration (permanent position). You can read more about it here
Authorization of Residence for Investment Visa - Golden Visa - It's main advantages are that you only need to spend 15 days a year in the country and that you can aggregate your direct family with ease. The current minimum is 350k investment, from 2022 on it will be 500k (and exclude high density areas) You can read more about it here.
D2 Visa - Entrepreneurship Visa - For those who would like to start a business in Portugal - you need to submit a business model, prove it's sustainable and if approved keep your plans. You can have associates. We don't provide as much support with this visa as it's not related to property, but we will help clients that choose this route in what we can, Ana can provide some support on call too given she has started multiple businesses.
Family Reunion Visa (D6) - for those that already have a direct family member in the country - direct family is considered spouses, parents with over 65 years of age given proof they need support with living (incapacities), children under 18 years of age or up to 23 if studying. The family member who is a resident/citizen must prove capacity to provide for the family members or them for themselves, so they won't be a burden to the state.
D1 Visa - Work Visa - For those that are offered a job position in Portugal, any contract will grant you residency for the duration of said contract, but you do need to have a contract before applying.
D3 Visa - For highly qualified professionals - Can be obtained through a job post that requires superior studies or by highly qualified professionals that already have a job (elsewhere) and want to base in Portugal. Applicants must submit degrees and job experience, if employed proof of employment, if being employed in Portugal the company usually assists with the process.
Student & Research Visas (D4)- For those investigating applying for a degree in Portugal - Most common is university degrees, but the same can be done with research positions, applicants must provide admission to university/research facility and proof of identity.
You should study which one is a better fit for you and plan accordingly, keep in mind Portuguese Public services and embassies in general tend to be rather slow, all Visas are often delayed, but the D7 and the Golden Visa are usually the slowest ones!
Step 2 - Contact the Embassy on you country of origin
With exception of the Golden Visa, any other Visa application must be submitted through the Embassy of your country of origin (if you're citizen of Brazil the Brazilian embassy; if you're a citizen of India, the Indian Embassy; if you're a citizen of the US, the US embassy).
There are a number of services that give you assistance with visa applications but what they will do is help you prepare and gather the documents and insist with the services to try and speed things along, overall everything is dependant on your Embassy and SEF (Portuguese Foreign & Border Services) and it's perfectly possible to do everything on your own, it might just be a bit more stressful.
For the golden Visa you must purchase/Invest before applying and then apply through SEF to get the Visa. You need a lawyer for this process as it is quite more complex than most Visas (and expensive).
Often each embassy makes different requirements, for example for the D7 it is required "Proof of adequate accommodation", Portuguese government doesn't require a specific number of months or contract, it can even be done with a portuguese citizen vouching to house you, however they have to prove they have the capacity to do so (own a house with enough rooms ho house the individual/family).
However different embassies make different requirements - some require up to 12 months rental contracts, others just require 3 and give you time to find them when you are already in the country.
Some embassies also require Health Insurance although that is not at all demanded by the Portuguese estate (only travel insurance for the trip itself).
Step 3 - Gather the necessary documents
The basic documents that are:
Country of origin ID and Tax number,
Up to date photographs,
Your criminal record will also be checked in the EU database
The remaining documents vary depending on visa but are often - work contract / proof of income / bank statements / retirement proof / proof of adequate accommodation / family aggregate documentation.
The embassy usually gives you a deadline to gather these, then can be delayed if necessary.
Once everything is ready and submitted you just need to wait for the approval. Sometimes they request more documents too.
Step 4 - Approval / Trip
Depending on the visa you migh want to come to Portugal before you get the approval, you are allowed to enter the country on a tourist Visa for up to 90 days and you can use this time to gather a number of things - get a Tax ID (NIF number), Portuguese Bank account, scout for rentals or property to purchase, explore the locations you feel most attracted to, scout schools for kids, etc.
Some of these you can do digitally, but it is a much simpler process (and cheaper) doing it yourself when you come over, plus no matter how many youtube videos you watch nothing matches being here in person ;)
Unless you already know the country well I'd definitely recommend to consult with locals to understand if you truly would love to live here and get some help navigating the cities and markets, that is of course big part of what we do so we are always happy to help!
Once you get the final approval you can set residency in Portugal, either by renting or by buying, you will be asked on an interview on SEF where everything will be confirmed and details like fingerprints taken.
The hardest part if often the final trip, if you are moving your whole life to another country logistics can be a nightmare, so be sure to plan ahead! Once you are granted your Visa you will have a period of customs exemption for any personal goods you bring, you need to list everything you are taking and preferably identify it in each box too, to make the customs processing as smooth as possible!
Step 5 - Settling
After you get your Visa, you can also apply to the Non Habitual Resident tax benefits, but keep in mind taking advantage of this program requires you to spend at least 6 months in the country.
Now that you have your visa and residency you can take care of details like integrating into local communities, exploring your daily life and routines, finding the products & markets you like, exploring different cities, trying all our amazing dishes ;)
Keep in mind that although it will surely be an amazing experience there will be a period of adaptation, that there will be culture clashes, some things will likely not go so well. Come prepared for hiccups, come prepared for slow services, come prepared to meet some amazing people and some you would rather not have met.
Learn some Portuguese! Although Portugal has one of the highest English proficiency rates in the world, we always love when people try to learn our language (we know it's hard, no need to get self conscious about pronunciation).
If you maintain your residency for 5 years (you need to renew your visa and prove your conditions are maintained) you are granted the ability to apply for Portuguese Citizenship.
Hope this article was helpful, any questions you might have feel free to contact us, we provide support with the whole process and our concept is exactly to help future residents understand where in Portugal they will be happier and settle there! We are always available at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any assistance ;)