We’ve written and consulted quite a bit about U.S. citizens retiring to Spain. Recently, due to a lot of positive press, more and more people are asking us about the process of moving to Portugal and residency in Portugal. This post will take a 30,000 foot (9144 meter) view of the process. The great news is that it’s much easier than the Spanish residency process. Let’s dig in!
Why Move to Portugal?
If you haven’t visited, you really should. Portugal is a fantastic country. Great weather, nice people, and an excellent quality of living for those interested in retiring. There’s a nice mix of big cities and small towns, beautiful landscapes, beaches, and tons of culture to take in.
I’ve spoken to a great number of people interested in the “easy-going Spanish lifestyle”, and it is nice, but Portugal has it’s own easy-going lifestyle. We like to think of the country in 3 different semgments, but of course there are more. The north is know for Porto, the central coast is where you will find Lisbon, and in the south you will find the Algarve.
What Is The General Process?
Again, this is high-level. I won’t go into the specifics of any one type of visa, but generally, they all have the same basic requirements.
ENTRY Portugal VISa (Short-term Stay)
Before I get into the requirements for a long-term visa, let’s talk about visa requirements for those looking to visit, have a holiday, etc. As with other Schengen states, Portugal has a limit of a 90-day stay within a 180-day window.
This link provides the official requirements for entry into Portugal. There is a list of countries that do not require a visa to visit Portugal. That’s on the same link above, but here’s a direct link to the relevant part.
So if you’re American or Canadian, you’re all set. Other requirements shown, are pretty standard:
- The visitor must have a valid passport valid for more than at least three months of the duration of the required stay.
- The visitor must have sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of the stay.
- The visitor must not have any negative information registered in the SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Border Service) Integrated Information System nor in the Schengen Information System.
All of the above is pretty standard stuff. On to the long-term visas.
Long-term Stay – Portugal Resident Visa
If Portugal suits your fancy, and odds are it will, you’ll need to obtain a residence visa. This will allow you to stay longer than the aforementioned entry visa of 90 days out of every 180 days.
There are many different types of visas including family reunification, student, self-employed, and even a “golden visa” for investors willing to move a significant amount of money over to Portugal.
As with most other golden visas, the applicant must meet the following financial requirements:
- Deposit €1 million (approximately $1.11 million at the time of writing) into a Portuguese bank or financial institution;
- Create 10 jobs within Portugal;
- Purchase property worth at least €500,00 (about $555,000).
In addition to the above financial requirements, there are residency conditions where the applicant must remain in Europe (not just Portugal) for a minimum of seven days the first year, and at least 14 days after that. That’s a pretty easy condition to meet!
Here is our post on the golden visa for Spain.
Other Types of Visas (Family Reunification, Student, Self-employment, Retirement, etc.)
For the other types of long-term Type 1 visas I mentioned earlier, applicants will need meet a standard set of requirements including:
- Two recent, identical color photographs with a white background;
- Valid passport good for at least 6 months;
- A criminal background check from your country of origin (like the FBI Identity History);
- Proof of health insurance that is valid in Portugal/Europe. Note: Most if not all American insurance policies will not be considered adequate. This means private healthcare insurance from a European provider;
- Proof of Financial Means to support living and accommodation.
- Provide permission for the Portuguese authorities to run a criminal background check;
When granted, the long-term visas are issued for one year, with renewal every two years after that. You can apply for Portuguese citizenship after 6 years! That is 4 years sooner than Spain offers.
Residency in Portugal
There are more details and forms on the applying for residence in Portugal website. Once you have completed the applications and have the proper documentation, it must be submitted to the closest Portuguese Consulate for processing. In the U.S.A., these are located in Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, N.Y., or Boston. Apply at the consulate at least 1 month before your expected departure date.
What Is The Timeframe?
It’s different from Spain where applicants must obtain their initial visa prior to leaving for Spain. In the case of Portugal, you can leave for the country, and you will need to register for an immigration interview once you have arrived. As with other governmental agencies, this can take a long time. Think months instead of weeks, but don’t be concerned about overstaying the tourist limitations. Just make sure you have your interview scheduled.
Assuming all goes well with your interview, your one-year temporary residence visa will be granted. As mentioned above, after that first year, followed by (2) two-year renewals. After 5 years of residence in Portugal, you can apply for the permanent residence visa.
Working & Taxes
We don’t currently have all of the information in this area, but we have heard there are very good tax terms and rules for non EU citizens moving to Portugal. Also, in Spain you need to wait for 5 years before you are allowed to work, using the non lucrative visa. We have heard that the wait period is significantly shorter in Portugal.
So what do you think? Is Portugal sounding like a place you would like?
Important Reference Links:
- If you are interested in working in Portugal, here is a non EU couple sharing their experience.
- SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Border Service) – LINK
- General Residence – LINK
- Startup (Entrepreneur Visa) – LINK
- Investment – LINK
- Reference material for various visas
- More information about retirement in Portugal