How to become a resident in Portugal: all possible ways

A Portugal residence permit can be obtained in different ways: by employment, study, family reunification, investment, etc. It gives an opportunity to live, work and do business in the country for an unlimited period of time.

The most attractive way to obtain a residence permit in Portugal is by investment because it doesn’t require individuals to reside in the country.

Residence permit in Portugal

Benefits of having residency in Portugal

An opportunity to live, work or study in Portugal. Portuguese residents can live in the country for the duration of a permit. They also can enter the country anytime, even if the borders are closed to foreigners. Therefore, they have a safe haven if something happens in their country of origin.

Preferential tax regime.  Obtaining the Non-Habitual Resident status allows one to pay taxes on the income earned in Portugal at a flat rate. While the income tax rate in Portugal depends on how much money one earns, the highest rate can be 48%. With the Non-Habitual Resident status, the tax rate is always 20%.

The status is given for 10 years and can’t be renewed. Only new tax residents can apply for it. To do so, they need to fulfil one of the following requirements:

  • have lived in Portugal for more than 183 days in the last year;
  • purchase a residential property in Portugal and use it as a permanent residence;
  • serve on a ship or aircraft of a company registered in Portugal on December 31st of the reported year;
  • have been in public service in the foreign mission of the Portugal government in the last 12 months.  

All applicants also must not be Portuguese tax residents and not pay taxes in the country for 5 years before applying for a Non-Habitual Resident status. 

Travel visa-free within the Schengen Area. A Portuguese residence permit gives its holders a right to enter the Schengen countries without visas and stay there for 90 days out of a 180-day period.

Citizenship in 5 years. After five years of holding a residence permit, a person can apply for Portugal permanent residency or even citizenship. To be able to apply for it, one needs to live in the country for 183 per year and prove knowledge of Portuguese on the A2 level. 

Relatively low cost of living. Portugal is one of the least expensive countries in Europe. For example, a family of four would need around €2,000 per month without rent. At the same time, a family of four would need almost €3,000 without rent for the same period to live in Germany.

How to obtain a residence permit in Portugal

The Portuguese climate is pleasing. Winters are mild, summers are warm and sunny. The warmest month is August with an average temperature +27.8°C

Ways to obtain a Portugal residence permit

Portugal is one of the best countries for those who enjoy slow living. Portuguese citizens are never in rush, and cities and towns are not as busy as in other countries

All ways to obtain residency in Portugal

Madeira is one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal. It is known for landscapes, beaches and warm sea washing its borders

How to get residency in Portugal

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and the oldest city in Western Europe known for its rich architecture. Praça do Comércio with its statue of King José I, and the Triumphal Arc is one of Lisbon’s main sights

Residence permit by work

One needs to be employed by a Portuguese company to obtain a residence permit by work. Your employer must apply for a work permit from the Portuguese Labor Authorities. The type of permit you should get depends on the kind of work you will perform.

A standard residence permit can be obtained by most employees of Portuguese companies. It is issued for two years and can be renewed for three more years. After that, an applicant can apply for permanent residence or citizenship. To prove employment, one provides a labour contract.

2 years
The validity period of the standard residence permit by work

A residence permit for teaching activities is issued for persons who seek to teach in Portugal. It is issued for two years at once and can be renewed for three more years. To prove a right to obtain a residence permit, one needs to provide a contract of employment or invitation letter issued by an educational or vocational training establishment or research centre.

A residence permit for highly qualified specialists is given to engineers, doctors, and scientists, also issued for two years and can be renewed for three more. The applicant who is a subordinate worker must provide an employment contract of one year or more. Remuneration must be at least 1.5 times the national average gross annual salary or three times the index value of social support.

Residence permit by studying

A person accepted to a Portuguese university has a right to obtain a residence permit for the whole period of study. Firstly, the residence permit is issued for one year, which can be renewed for equal periods.

To apply for a residence permit by studying, one must provide proof of the following: 

  • registration in the higher education institution; 
  • tuition payment required by the higher education institution, if applicable;
  • evidence of having means of subsistence in Portugal.
All the ways of obtaining residency in Portugal
The University of Porto is the best in Portugal and ranks 274th in the QS World University Rankings 2023. Diplomas of Porto’s university are recognised across Europe and in the USA

Residency by family reunification

Relatives of Portuguese residents and citizens can apply for a residence permit by family reunification. It is issued for a period of time identical to the duration of the residence permit of an applicant’s family member. If you are a relative of a Portuguese citizen or a resident with a permanent residence, you will get a renewable residence permit for two years. 

Among family members who can apply for residency are:

  • a spouse or non-marital legally recognised partner;
  • underage or incapable children dependent on the couple or the spouse;
  • minors adopted by the applicant or their spouse;
  • adult children who are dependent on the applicant or their spouse and live with the applicant as well as study at a Portuguese university;
  • parents of the applicant or their spouse that are dependent on them;
  • underage siblings that are in the applicant’s custody.

An applicant must prove family bonds by providing documents: marriage certificate, birth certificate, certificate of incapacity of children of age, etc.

Residency for retired people

To obtain a Portugal residence permit, retired people need to fulfil three conditions:

  1. Buy real estate for a price that is higher than the average one. It varies from €80,000 to €120,000, depending on the region.
  2. Prove they have income outside Portugal that is at least €500 per month for the main applicant and an additional €250 per month for their spouse. Income can come from different sources: entrepreneurship, pension payments, income that come from the leasing of their apartments, etc. The only condition is to be able to prove income officially.
  3. Live in Portugal for at least 183 days.

Residence for financially independent individuals

Financially independent people who have income outside Portugal can get residency through a D7 visa. It allows applying for a residence permit upon entering Portugal.

The minimum monthly income
to obtain a D7 visa

The D7 visa requires the fulfilment of several conditions:

  1. An applicant must rent or buy real estate. There are no requirements for property or rental costs. However, it must be big enough to accommodate the applicant and their family members.
  2. The applicant must have a monthly income of no less than €705. It can come from a regular job or leasing of property outside Portugal, royalties, dividends, interests, or pensions.
  3. The applicant must reside in Portugal for at least 183 days a year.

If an investor applies for residency through the D7 visa, their family members can obtain a residence permit by family reunification. Among the eligible relatives are spouses, underage children and siblings, and parents financially dependent on the investor. 

Other ways to obtain a residency card in Portugal

Training. This residence permit is given for six months or the duration of the training period and can’t be renewed. The applicant must provide a contract with a professional training company or body.

Volunteering. This residence permit is granted to those who volunteer in Portugal. It is issued for a year or the duration of the vocational training and can’t be renewed. 

A volunteer needs to provide the following documents: 

  • a contract with the hosting entity responsible for the volunteer programme that includes information on the duration and schedule of the volunteer programme;
  • a guarantee of covering food and accommodation expenses;
  • evidence that the hosting entity has subscribed to insurance on civil liability.

Cultural activity. This residence permit is given to those who participate in a cultural activity on the country’s territory approved by the government. It requires one to provide a work or service contract compatible with a cultural activity or declaration of the entity that carries out the cultural activity. This residence permit is issued for two years and can be renewed for three more.

Portugal residency by investment: Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the easiest ways to obtain residency in Portugal.  Investors are also not required to live in the country for a long time; they need to spend no more than 7 days there.

There are 7 investment options that one can choose from when applying for Portuguese residency:

  1. Real estate purchase — €280,000+. The required price for purchasing real estate depends on the age of a property and the area where it is located. An investor needs to pay €350,000+ for real estate built more than 30 years ago. The price decreases to €280,000+ if this real estate is located in a sparsely populated area.

The cost of a commercial or residential property must be at least €500,000 if it is new and €400,000 if it was built less than 30 years ago and is located in a sparsely populated area.

Starting in 2022, the Portuguese government imposed restrictions on purchasing residential real estate. Investors can buy properties in the country’s inner regions, on the Azore islands and Madeira. Investing in residential properties in big or resort cities such as Lisbon, Porto or Cascais is no longer allowed.    

There are no limitations on buying commercial properties.

Residence permit in Portugal by investment in real estate

Apartments in a hotel complex are located on the coast of Madeira Island. They are ready for rent out, and their cost is €175,000

How to get residency in Portugal

A two-bedroom apartment in a new residential project is located in Grandola. The price for the property varies from €280,000 to €300,000

Investment options for Golden Visa in Portugal

Commercial premises in a residential complex with infrastructure are located in the capital of Portugal. The size of the property starts from 72 m² and its price varies from €896,051 to €1,772,133

2. Purchase of investment fund units — €500,000+. An investor needs to hold fund units for at least 5 years. Then the profit minus commission will be paid back to them.

3. Capital transfer — €1,500,000+. Forms of investment by capital transfer are:

  • capital transfer to the bank deposit;
  • purchase of securities and stocks in commercial companies;
  • purchase of state debt instruments.

Investments must stay in the bank account until an investor obtains permanent residence.

4. Business investments of €500,000+ and creating at least 5 jobs.

5. Opening a company and therefore creating 10 jobs. If the area where the company is opened is sparsely populated, the number of workplaces can be declined to 8. Employees are not required to hold Portugal citizenship or a residence permit before applying for a job.

6. Supporting arts and restoring cultural heritage — €250,000+.

7. Investments in research activities — €500,000+.

The Golden Visa is issued for two years and can be renewed for two subsequent periods of two years.

Requirements to the investor for getting a Portugal residence permit

There are specific requirements that are imposed on the applicant. To apply for a residence permit in Portugal, one must:

  • have no conviction for a crime which in Portugal is punished by a custodial sentence of more than a year;
  • not be within a period of prohibition of entry in Portugal following an expulsion measure from the country;
  • have no indication in the Schengen Information System;
  • have no indication in SEF’s Integrated Information System for non-admission purposes under article 33 of the Aliens Act;
  • have health insurance covered by the National Health Service.

Required documents for obtaining a residence permit in Portugal

The application for a residence permit can be filed online. In general, the list of documents required for the application is the following:

  • a passport or other valid travel document;
  • evidence of sufficient means of subsistence;
  • evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation;
  • permission for SEF to check Portuguese criminal records (except for those under 16 years old);
  • supporting evidence of registration within the Tax Authority.

The applicant must also provide additional documents applicable in every specific case and two coloured photos taken recently.

Process of obtaining residency in Portugal: the Golden Visa as an example

The process of obtaining the Golden Visa takes around 6 months. It consists of several steps.

  1. Preliminary Due Diligence. It is required if a person applies for residency by investment. During preliminary Due Diligence, a licensed agent checks an investor and their family members against different databases and on the Internet. It reduces the risk of refusal to 1%.
  2. Fulfilment of conditions required for a residence permit. In the case of the Golden Visa, you need to choose a suitable option and make an investment. That might be purchasing real estate, capital transfer, business investment, etc.
  3. Preparation of the documents. When the investment is made, the licenced agent starts to prepare documents for the application. They also translate and notarise them as well as fill out government forms. Then the documents are filed electronically to the SEF, the Portuguese Immigration Office.
  4. Biometrics. To receive a residence card, an investor and their family must come to Portugal to submit their fingerprints.
  5. Collection of the permits. The process of considering an application takes around 6 months. After the approval, an investor can collect residence permits personally or through a lawyer. 
  6. Renewal of the permits. The permits must be renewed two years after. The process of renewing is the same as the initial one.

Permanent residence in Portugal

A permanent residence in Portugal can be obtained only after a temporary residence permit. It can be done in 5 years. The permanent residence is given unlimitedly; however, it must be updated every 5 years.

5 years
A period after which one can apply for permanent residence

Permanent residence is not obligatory if you want to obtain citizenship. However, it is a good choice for those whose country of origin doesn’t allow dual citizenship. 

The permanent residence gives the same rights as the temporary residence does. That includes the opportunity to live in Portugal, visa-free travel to the Schengen states, and access to high-quality medicine. 

Permanent residence holders cannot participate in elections or hold public office.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a residence permit?

A residence permit is a document given to foreign nationals who desire to reside in a specific country. The period it is issued depends on the country and type of permit.

Some residence permits allow one to work on the territory of the country that issued them, and some — don’t.

How to get Portuguese residency?

There are many ways to get residency in Portugal. That include:

  • by marriage or family reunification;
  • by work or self-employment;
  • by studying;
  • by retirement.

However, the easiest way to obtain a residence permit in Portugal is by investment.

What does a permanent residence in Portugal provide?

With a permanent residence, one can live, work and study in Portugal for an unlimited period of time. One can also travel to the Schengen states visa-free and benefit from an attractive tax regime.

What is the fastest way to get permanent residence in Portugal?

Permanent residence can only be obtained by a person who has held a temporary residency in Portugal for 5 years. The easiest way to get one is to invest. The investor can choose among 7 options: the purchase of the real estate, business investment, acquisition of funds units, and others.

The residence permit obtained by investment requires its holders to spend 7 days per year in Portugal, while others demand its residents to live in the country permanently.

How much to invest in Portugal to get residency?

The amount of investment depends on the option you choose.

  • real estate purchase — €280,000+;
  • purchase of investment fund units — €500,000+;
  • supporting arts and restoring cultural heritage — €250,000+;
  • investments in research activities — €500,000+;
  • capital transfer — €1,500,000+;
  • business investments of €500,000+ and creating at least 5 workplaces;
  • opening a company and creating 10 workplaces.
How long does it take to get residency in Portugal?

It depends on the type of residency you’re applying for. For example, getting a residence permit by investment takes around 6 months.

How hard is it to become a Portuguese citizen?

The process of becoming a Portuguese citizen is not very simple. One needs to live in the country for 5 years and have knowledge of Portuguese.

However, obtaining a Portuguese residence permit is easier if one gets it by investment. For example, the Golden Visa doesn’t require its holder to live in Portugal: an investor must spend no more than 7 days a year there.

Can I get residency in Portugal if I buy a house?

Yes, it is possible to obtain Portuguese residency if you buy a house. However, there are some restrictions: residential properties can only be purchased in the inner regions of the country as well as on the Azore islands and in Madeira.  

The real estate investment options are the following: 

  • €280,000+ — if you buy a property that is older than 30 years old, is for refurbishing and is located in sparsely populated areas;
  • €350,000+ — if you buy a property that was built more than 30 years ago and is for refurbishing;
  • €400,000+ — if you purchase real estate that is new and located in sparsely populated areas;
  • €500,000+ — if you purchase a new property.
How to become a resident in Portugal: all possible ways