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Visas & Work Permits in Portugal

The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements

EU residents will not need a visa to move to Portugal, but residents from all other countries will. There are several types of Portuguese visas which depend on the purpose of your stay, such as work visas and permits, self-employment visas, or visas for family reunification. For instance, you can apply for an EU blue card if you want a skilled-worker visa. Non-EU nationals must request a residence permit after arriving in the country and can apply for permanent residency after five years.

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To apply for a Portuguese visa, you should first find out if you need one. EU citizens are not required to get a visa or permit, but still need to register with local authorities. Non-EU citizens will typically need a visa to enter the country and apply for a temporary residence permit once there.

All visa applications and processes are carried out by SEF, Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, so get acquainted with them as you will need to contact them for all purposes related to your temporary or permanent residence permits. As of 2019, you can apply for visas online via their electronic platform, and schedule appointments to handle processes for residence permits.

Most Portuguese visa and permit requirements are relatively straightforward, and you can find all the information you need on official government websites. Just keep in mind that submitting documents in foreign languages requires presenting a notarized Portuguese translation as well.

Visas will cost around 80 EUR (88 USD) in most cases. You will also need to add the costs of residence permits, which are around the same amount. Fees for visas and residence permits in Portugal for investment purposes are by far the costliest, at around 500 and 5,000 EUR (550–5,500 USD), respectively.

Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

Obtaining a work permit and employment visa is the first main step of your relocation to Portugal. If you are a national of the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will not need a visa to enter the country—you simply need your national identity card. All other citizens from third countries will need to apply for a visa to enter Portugal.

In general, obtaining a visa for Portugal is not too difficult—the country is known as the gateway to Europe for a reason.

In this section, we focus on work and employment-based visas, so read on to learn about the requirements and application process. Temporary residence visas are covered further in this guide.

Portuguese Work Visas and Requirements

The exact way of applying for a visa depends on your nationality and the purpose of your stay. Typically, you will need to apply for a visa to obtain an authorization of residence, visto para obtenção de autorização de residência. This visa is valid for four months. Within that timeframe, you should enter the country (you are allowed two entries) and apply for a residence permit with SEF, the Portuguese Immigration and Border Services.

Types of Visas

Here are the different types of work visas you can request for moving to Portugal:

  • residence visa for employees (including sports activities)
  • residence visa for independent work
  • residence visa for entrepreneurs
  • residence visa for highly skilled workers, teachers, or artistic performers

To apply for a visa, you must go to a Portuguese diplomatic mission or consular post abroad. Know where to apply for a visa based on your nationality or current place of residence. Alternatively, you can begin your application process online at SAPA Portal, the automatic pre-scheduling system.

You will need to meet the following requirements:

  • not been convicted of a crime
  • not been prohibited to enter Portuguese territory
  • have no indication of non-admission in the Schengen information system
  • have no indication of non-admission in SEF’s information system
  • be absent of any requirement that might disqualify you for a visa

You will need to present the following documents:

  • Portuguese visa application form (available in both Portuguese and English)
  • passport valid for at least three months longer than the duration of your stay
  • two passport-sized photos
  • valid travel insurance
  • proof of your legal stay if applying from a country other than your country of origin
  • proof of having sufficient means to support yourself during your stay, or a term of responsibility signed by a Portuguese citizen or resident

For employment visas, you will also need:

  • a signed work contract (or promise of work), or a manifestation of interest by an employer;
  • a declaration by the Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional (IEFP), the Portuguese Employment and Professional Training Institute;
  • proof of your qualifications for the job.

Portuguese Bureaucracy

Bureaucratic processes carried out in Portugal are known to be slow and sometimes incongruent. Often, this is the most frustrating aspect of immigrating to Portugal.

For example, you may be asked to show a plane ticket or a flight itinerary from a travel agency when applying for your visa, which is often not included in the list of requirements. This is so the embassy knows the exact period for which to issue your visa. To be safe, it is best to ask about all the requirements that apply to you, by emailing or calling the Portuguese embassy and diplomatic mission of your place of residence beforehand.

New Changes Have Streamlined the Immigration Process

Some recent changes to Portuguese immigration processes will make it easier to apply for residence or renew your stay:

  • You are no longer required to have a criminal record certificate before applying at SEF. On the day of your appointment, you simply need to give SEF permission to access your registration so no need to go to the Portuguese criminal record services beforehand. (Please keep in mind this may not be true for all citizens entering from outside the EU.)
  • You will be scheduled an appointment with SEF automatically when applying for a visa. You just need to inform your consulate or embassy of the date you plan on traveling to Portugal.
  • You will be able to make an appointment with any SEF directorate or regional delegation, regardless of your area of residence.
  • SEF will reuse documents already in their possession, avoiding unnecessary visits to SEF offices.
  • You can renew your residence permit or request an extension of stay entirely online if you register at SEF Portal in MySEF.
  • Immigrants who cannot prove their legal entrance into Portugal can still have their immigration status regularized through the exceptional regime for humanitarian reasons. They must meet all the requirements of eligibility established by law and have been working in Portugal for over a year while making contributions to social security.

All documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a notarized translation in Portuguese.

How Much Do Portuguese Work Visas Cost?

Submitting a request for a long-term work visa costs 83 EUR (91 USD). The issuance of the residence permit for this type of visa costs 72 EUR (79 USD).

If you wish to apply for an EU Blue Card, this will cost 107 EUR (117 USD), to which you would add 100 EUR (110 USD) for the residence permit once the visa is approved.

You may have to pay 17 EUR (18 USD) for photocopies of certificates or other documents.

Business Visa in Portugal

If you need a shorter visa for business, you can request a business visa for the following purposes: seasonal work, independent work, highly qualified activities (such as researching, lecturing, etc.), employee transfers between headquarters or offices (must have been working for the company for at least one year).

To apply for this visa, you must go to the consular post and apply with the documents mentioned above. Alternatively, you can apply online through the SAPA Portal.

Family Visas: When You are Moving with Family

A foreign citizen who holds a valid residence permit in Portugal has the right to family reunification. This includes spouses or partners under common-law marriage, minor or disabled children under the couple’s or spouse’s care, minor adoptive children, children of age who are single and studying at a Portuguese education institute, minor siblings, and parents who are under the resident’s or spouse’s care.

The family’s, spouse’s, or fiancé’s visa process starts with the resident submitting a request for family reunification with SEF.

Required Documents to Submit

You will need:

  • Proof that you have the right to family reunification (e.g. a residence permit in Portugal or an EU blue card)
  • Proof of having entered Portugal legally, such as a visa
  • Proof of the family ties (e.g. marriage certificate, birth or adoption certificate, etc.)
  • The family members’ or spouse’s IDs, and copies
  • Two passport-size photographs with a white background, if applying at the SEF office in Odivelas, Aveiro, or Braga
  • The resident’s ID or passport
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to support the family
  • Permission for SEF to access the family members’ criminal record in Portugal
  • The family members’ criminal record from the country where they have lived in the past year

All documents in a foreign language need an official translation to Portuguese. This is done at a Portuguese notary, your country’s consulate in Portugal, or a Portuguese consulate abroad.

Once this request has been approved, the spouse or family members may submit their request for a residence visa at a Portuguese consular post.

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Self-Employment Visas

If you are looking to get a self-employment visa in Portugal, this section covers the requirements, application form, and processes you need to know about.

There are two options for self-employment visas in Portugal: the residence visa for independent workers and the residence visa for entrepreneurs.

What are the Requirements to Apply for a Self-Employment Visa?

You will need to meet the following requirements:

  • not been convicted of a crime
  • not been prohibited to enter Portuguese territory
  • have no indication of non-admission in the Schengen information system
  • have no indication of non-admission in SEF’s information system
  • be absent of any requirement that might disqualify you for a visa

To apply for this type of visa, go to a Portuguese diplomatic mission or consular post in your place of residence. Find out where to apply for a visa, depending on where you currently live. Alternatively, you can apply online via the SAPA Portal.

You will also need to present the following documents:

  • self-employment visa application form (available in both Portuguese and English)
  • passport, valid for three months longer than the duration of your stay
  • two passport-sized photos
  • valid travel insurance
  • proof of your legal stay if applying from a country other than your country of origin
  • proof of having sufficient means to support yourself during your stay, or a term of responsibility signed by a Portuguese citizen or resident
Applying as an Independent Worker

If you apply for a self-employment visa as an independent worker, you will need these additional documents:

  • proof of owning a business entity (e.g., a limited liability company, sole trader, etc.), or having a contract for providing services
  • declaration by a competent authority that you are qualified to take up employment in your work sector, when applicable
Applying as an Entrepreneur

If instead you apply for a self-employment visa as an entrepreneur, you will need to meet at least one of these additional requirements:

  • proof that you have made investments
  • proof that you have sufficient financial means in Portugal and intend to make investments in the country
  • a declaration by the IAPMEI that your business is in an incubator if you apply for a startup visa
What Kind of Investment is Required?

You can request this visa if you have made one of these types of investments, each following its own requirements:

Keep in mind that all documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a notarized translation in Portuguese.

How Much Does a Self-Employment Visa Cost?

If you are applying for a residence visa as an independent worker, the same fees for regular visas apply. The request for a long-term visa costs 83 EUR (91 USD), plus the issuance of the residence permit, which is 72 EUR (79 USD).

Applying for a self-employment visa costs 532 EUR (586 USD). The major cost comes when requesting a residence permit once the visa is approved. The cost of a residence permit for an investment visa is 5,300 EUR (5,840 USD).

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Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

Find out how to apply for a temporary residence permit and later become a permanent resident in Portugal.

Application for a Temporary Resident Permit

European citizens do not need a residence permit to live in Portugal. They can also stay in Portugal for three months without needing to register. However, after those three months, EU citizens should register with the city hall (câmara municipal) of their place of residence, and obtain a Registration Certificate (Certificado de Registo), which is mainly for monitoring population levels.

Non-EU citizens will need a residence permit to legally live in the country. Once their visa has been approved, they can enter Portugal and request their residence permit within four months.

As a foreign resident, you will be given a residence card, the Título de Residência. This card is the equivalent of your ID in Portugal and should be carried on you at all times. Your residence permit is valid for one year. You can renew it for two years, and two more after that, for a total of five years of residence. After those five years of living in Portugal, you can apply for permanent residence.

Temporary Resident Permit: Requirements and Fees

The application for a residence permit is done in person in one of SEF’s directorates or regional delegations, with the following documents:

  • passport or any other valid travel document
  • two recent identical photographs in color with blank background (only for appointments in Odivelas, Aveiro, or Braga)
  • valid residence visa
  • evidence of sufficient means of subsistence
  • evidence of having adequate accommodation
  • permission for SEF to check your criminal record in Portugal
  • supporting document with the necessary information for registration with the tax authority, Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira
  • proof of enrollment or regular payments to social security
Self-Employment Temporary Resident Permit

If you are applying for a self-employment temporary residence permit, you should show:

  • evidence of having founded a company or business entity according to the law;
  • service contract with a company as a liberal professional;
  • proof of regular payments to social security during the tax exemption period;
  • if needed, a written statement issued by the respective professional association proving you meet the conditions to become a member, or a declaration confirming you hold the necessary qualifications.

If you are granted this kind of permit, you can still take up work with a third party, provided you apply for a permit for employed workers later on.

The fee for temporary residence permits for the purpose of employment is 72 EUR (79 USD). Renewals cost 33.50 EUR (36 USD).

Registering with the Local Authorities

Once you have obtained your título de residencia, you will need to register with the junta de freguesia (the neighborhood or parish) where you will be living. This serves as proof that you are living in Portugal, as sometimes showing a rental contract is not considered sufficient proof.

For this, you will need to go to the junta de freguesia with your valid ID and a proof of address. This could be your rental contract/lease or your NIF with your Portuguese address.

Witnesses: More Portuguese Bureaucracy

Here is the tricky part: you need two people (must be Portuguese nationals) to serve as witnesses that you live in your freguesia, and they must live in that freguesia as well. You will need them to come with you and sign the form (which can be a hassle, considering the offices are only open during regular working hours).

Alternatively, you can take the form with you, have your witnesses sign the paper, and bring back their signature. However, you will need a copy of both witnesses’ ID to present with the form.

If you are worried about this part of the residence process, InterNations GO!’s Settling-In Services can help you register with the junta de freguesia and other local authorities in Portugal.

How to Obtain Permanent Residence in Portugal

Permanent residence in Portugal can be obtained after legally living in the country for five years. To do so, you must have applied and renewed your temporary residence permits.

Portuguese Permanent Residence Application

To apply for permanent residence in Portugal, you need an appointment with SEF. For this appointment, you should bring:

  • a signed standard application form;
  • two recent identical photographs in color with a blank background (only for appointments in Odivelas, Aveiro, or Braga);
  • passport or any other valid travel document;
  • evidence of sufficient means of subsistence;
  • evidence of having adequate accommodation;
  • permission for SEF to check your criminal record;
  • valid temporary residence permit;
  • evidence of a basic command of the Portuguese language
    • certificate issued by a Portuguese official or officially recognized teaching establishment
    • successful completion of studies issued by a teaching establishment
    • successful completion of elementary Portuguese studies issued by the Institute for Employment and Professional Training (IEFP) or by any other official or officially recognized teaching establishment
    • certificate of knowledge of basic Portuguese such as Teaching Portuguese as a Foreign Language (CAPLE), recognized by the Ministry of Education and Science.

Portuguese Permanent Resident Visa Requirements

To be eligible for permanent residency, besides the minimum residence period of five years in the country, you must not have received a custodial sentence or sentences which jointly or individually exceed one year in prison, even if its enforcement has been suspended.

Permanent Residence Fees in Portugal

Your permanent residence permit will cost 220 EUR (240 USD). You will still need to renew the physical card every ten years, which costs 40 EUR (44 USD).

What are the Benefits of Being a Permanent Resident in Portugal?

Foreign citizens who hold permanent residence in Portugal have the right to equal treatment to nationals when it comes to social security, fiscal benefits, participation in unions, recognition of diplomas, certificates and other professional qualifications, as well as the right of access to goods and services available to the public and the application of provisions granting them special rights.

This includes matters related to:

  • family reunification;
  • education and study;
  • undertaking remunerated employment;
  • pursuing activities as a self-employed professional;
  • professional guidance, training, improvement, and redeveloping;
  • healthcare;
  • access to the law and justice.

Residence Permits for Family Reunification Visas

If you wish for your family, spouse, or fiancé to join you in the country, they also need to obtain a residence permit once their visa has been approved.

To do so, the holder of the right to family reunification must schedule an appointment with SEF via the electronic platform. Once at SEF, the resident must present the following documents:

  • two recent identical photographs in color with blank background (only for appointments in Odivelas, Aveiro, or Braga)
  • proof that you are entitled to family reunification
  • authenticated supporting documents proving family ties
  • authenticated copies of the identification documents of the family members
  • evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation
  • proof of financial means to support the applicant and the family
  • extract from the judicial record in the country of origin of the family member
  • proof of economic dependence of any first-degree relative under the age of 65
  • full birth certificate, proof of economic dependence, and proof of enrolment in a Portuguese teaching establishment, in case of children who are of age, single, and dependent
  • certificate of incapacity of children of age, a certified copy of adoption decision, a certified copy of the custody decision of minor siblings, a copy of court decision giving legal guardianship to the resident or spouse of any minor children or incapable person, when applicable
  • circumstantial evidence of unmarried partnership

All documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a notarized translation in Portuguese.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: April 23, 2020
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