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Moving to Portugal

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to Portugal

Find out all the necessary steps to move to Portugal in this comprehensive guide. We cover all the requirements for your relocation to Portugal from shipping your belongings and pets, getting a visa and a residence permit, and everything you need to know about banks and taxes. We also cover taking up work in the country as well as some interesting facts about Portugal and its culture.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

Have a look at our all-hands guide on how to move to Portugal. Our sections cover every step of the relocation process: from getting a visa to finding housing, schools, handling your finances, and more. For each of these sections, we cover all things to know when relocating. So, is it easy or hard to move to Portugal? This will mostly depend on how much time you have to plan your relocation. However, even if you are diligent with your research, it’s safe to say dealing with government bureaucracy is almost always challenging.

So why move to Portugal? The country’s friendly attitude, relaxing beaches, and growing city centers will make it worth your while. These are only a few of the benefits of going to Portugal. As most countries in Europe, you can expect free healthcare and education systems, appealing social security benefits for anyone who pays taxes, and the possibility of enjoying the same rights all around Europe if you stay in Portugal long enough.

Whether you prefer the quiet countryside, flourishing city centers, or anywhere in between, you will find the perfect spot in Portugal.

relocating

Relocating

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

The process of relocating to Portugal should be relatively easy if you follow the country’s customs rules, especially when coming from outside of Europe. Not doing so could mean your belongings end up being held at customs, which will require a good deal of persistence to get them back. You will need a Certificado de Bagagem (luggage certificate) from the Portuguese consulate or diplomatic mission, and a complete inventory of your possessions. Your items must arrive no later than 90 days after you enter the country. Given the country’s geographic location, you may have a full range of options for shipping your household goods to Portugal—air freight, road, or sea. Choosing which one best suits you depends on your needs. Air freight is fast but expensive. Sea freight is slow but affordable. Road freight is right there in between, relatively fast and relatively cheap. Storing your household goods in Portugal may need some preparation. There are not many storage companies in the country, but you are sure to find something close to your area if you do an online search. The biggest companies are open all year long, 24 hours a day. Beware that you will not find prices online for most companies, nor be able to book online—you may have to email or call the company beforehand to request their services. If you are moving to Portugal with pets, you should know Portuguese law is fairly relaxed. Your four-legged friend should be vaccinated against rabies, which means it must be at least three months old. However, for breeds which are considered dangerous, you may need a special permit and a signed liability term. As for your own vaccinations required for Portugal, no special precautions are needed. Having your routine vaccines up to date is enough, but as always, check with your doctor before leaving to know of any specific vaccines that could be beneficial for you.

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visas-work-permits

Visas & Work Permits

Find out how to get a Portuguese visa and work permit as a foreign citizen. If you are an EU citizen, you are in luck—you can enter Portugal freely and only need to register in the country after three months. The Portuguese visa application process takes place in your current country of residence, at the Portuguese embassy, diplomatic mission, or consular post. Do keep in mind, these processes are not very organized. You may be surprised to see that you are missing one or two documents even after being provided a full list of visa requirements for Portugal by your own embassy. When in doubt about any required document, research online, and contact the embassy or consular offices by phone or email well in advance. There are different Portuguese visa types—which one you get will depend on your purpose for being in the country. You can ask for a visa for work, investment, study, family reunion, among others. Most Portuguese visas cost around 80 EUR (88 USD). Keep in mind, you need to pay for your residence card as well, which is about the same amount. Investment visas are considerably more expensive, at around 500 EUR (550 USD), plus 5,300 EUR (5,800 USD) for the residence card.

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housing

Housing

Finding accommodation in Portugal will not be an easy task in the busiest cities Lisbon and Porto. In this section, we explain how to rent a house or apartment in Portugal. Average rent is almost the same as the average salary, forcing both locals and expats to share accommodation in the country. That also means the most affordable apartments and houses disappear fast. Even if you earn a good salary, you should still expect rent to take up a significant part of your expenses. In this section, we also cover everything you will need to know on how to buy a house in Portugal as a foreigner. We show you what housing in Portugal is like, from the different types of houses you can find to average house prices. As with most countries, prices will vary significantly if you wish to live in a big city or surrounding areas, or in the countryside. Setting up utilities in Portugal should also be relatively easy. You can contact most utility companies online, and have them set up within a few days to a week. Some electricity companies have apps available, so you can send the exact count on your meter and not have to pay a cent extra.

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healthcare

Healthcare

Find out how the healthcare system and health insurance in Portugal works. The Portuguese public healthcare system is free for resident taxpayers. It is high quality too, just not very speedy. Expect waiting times for just about everything—waiting lists to register with family doctors, see specialists, have elective surgery, and so on. Between visiting your family doctor, getting a request for a medical exam, receiving the results, and taking it back to your family doctor or specialist, you could wait several months to years, depending on the specialty. For that reason, many people choose to take out private health insurance in Portugal, which is relatively affordable. Read on to know what to expect when giving birth in Portugal and how to find a doctor in the country, in both the public and private healthcare systems. For private doctors, a quick online search for hospitals and clinics should suffice—just make sure the doctor or center is part of your insurer’s network of partners. For public healthcare, you will have to register with the city hall before going to the local health center, and for the busiest ones, you may be placed on a waiting list.

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Banks & Taxes

Opening a bank account in Portugal usually requires a few documents, a minimum deposit, and a visit to a branch. We provide a list of best banks in Portugal, options for no fee bank accounts, online banking, and bank accounts in Portugal for non-residents who wish to open one while still abroad. We also cover all you need to know about the tax system: how much the tax is in Portugal for your salary range, how to file your taxes online with Portal das Finanças, and how to get a NIF, the Portuguese tax number which you will need for practically everything.

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education

Education

Learn about your options for international schools in Portugal in this section, from British to French or German schools. The education system is similar to other European countries. School is mandatory from primary education until high school, and the public school system in Portugal is free for all residents. Most international schools are in bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto, but also Faro, where many expats settle. However, the best schools in the country are almost exclusively private schools, and Catholic ones at that, so expect some expenses with schooling if you want to ensure the best quality education for your children. The same cannot be said for higher education. Some of the top universities in the country are public. While not completely free, they are still significantly cheaper than private universities.

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working

Working

Working in Portugal can be a great step in your career, especially if joining the dynamic business culture of growing and modern cities Porto and Lisbon. More and more opportunities for expats are popping up in these main cities for fields in online business like programming, marketing, design, videography, etc. If you opt for more traditional job sectors, tourism or teaching are the safest options. We show you how to get a job in Portugal, from what a typical Portuguese CV looks like to the interview stage, and network opportunities. If you wish to take up self-employment in Portugal, be sure to do your homework about what type of legal entities you can create, and which one is most appropriate for your business. This is to ensure you do not have any issues for things like taxes or debt. Find out what the average salary in Portugal is and what Portuguese social security covers for its taxpayers in case of need.

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living

Living

Right now, the cost of living in Portugal is slightly unstable due to skyrocketing rent prices and low salaries. This has made it expensive to live in Portuguese cities like Porto and Lisbon and forced many residents, whether local or expats, to share accommodation. Regardless, you will find Portugal to be affordable for everyday expenses, like groceries, utilities, or eating out at restaurants. If your salary is above average, you should be able to live in the country comfortably. This section also covers all you need to know about driving in Portugal. If your current license cannot be exchanged for a Portuguese one, and you do not want to take the theory and practical exam all over again, you can always rely on public transportation in Portugal for traveling within and between cities.

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Updated on: January 29, 2020
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