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Working in Portugal

Your Guide on Jobs and Finding Work in Portugal

When working in Portugal, you are sure to find a competitive but friendly atmosphere. If you plan on staying for a long period, learning Portuguese may be the key to many career opportunities.

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The Portuguese job market is becoming increasingly expat-friendly. Many tech companies based in Portugal welcome employees from all parts the world and these are increasing by the minute. If you are not in the field of IT or online businesses, it is trickier to join the Portuguese labor market if you do not speak the language. This is especially true for more traditional industries. However, the tourism sector is sure to have jobs for those who speak several languages.

In this section, we cover how to find a job in Portugal, the average salary in the country, and what a typical working day and week look like for those living in Portugal.

When taking up work in the country, whether as an employee or working as self-employed, you are expected to pay contributions to social security, which will grant you some benefits in return.

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How to Get a Job in Portugal

First, let us find out how to get a job in Portugal as a foreigner so you can beat the competition. First you must find out if you are eligible to work in Portugal as a foreigner.

Requirements and Eligibility to Work in Portugal

European citizens do not need a visa or a work permit to live and work in Portugal. These citizens are only required to register their address with the city hall and request a tax number with Finanças.

If you are a citizen of a third country, you will need to apply for a visa beforehand. This requires having a job contract or a promise of a job contract, and to apply for a residence permit once in the country.

Job Opportunities in Portugal for Foreigners

How is the Portuguese job market looking these days? Unemployment is still among the highest in Europe, and with a strong Portuguese-speaking job market, expats are at a disadvantage.

The growing number of international companies based in Portugal has made it easier for expats to work in the country. Job opportunities in the fields of IT, marketing, and in other online and tech jobs are increasing. Jobs in real estate and tourism have long been a safe option for expats. For hospitality businesses, speaking English is mandatory. However, as the majority of Portuguese themselves speak English fairly well, you might want to have other languages under your belt like French, Spanish, or German, which are highly valued in this job sector. You may find some opportunities as a language teacher as well.

No matter your line of work, the safest way to start a career in Portugal is, of course, to secure a job before moving to the country, whether you need a work visa and permit or not. You can find most opportunities online. You are also likely to find job openings on company websites. Make a list of companies in your field you would like to work with and keep an eye on their recruitment page to know of any openings.

How to Apply for a Job in Portugal

The best way to get a job in Portugal as a foreigner is to adapt to the Portuguese job market: follow their style of CV and know how to proceed in interviews and networking events.

The most common Portuguese CV is divided into three sections. You have your personal details at the top, followed by your most recent professional experience, and your most recent degrees and qualifications. Having said that, you are free to choose the structure that best fits your professional journey and emphasizes your specific skills. Just make sure to keep the following tips in mind.

Short CVs are appreciated—one page should be enough to demonstrate your fit to the position. However, other positions may require you to extend on some technical details, in which case your CV could be two pages long, but never more than three.

  • Start with your personal details. These include your name, nationality, date of birth, and your city of residence. There is no need to include marital status or your full address. Including a picture is also up to you—some recruiters advise including one, as it makes the CV more personable, but this is a matter of choice. Include your contact details and links to your professional social media, like Xing, or others.
  • Follow with your professional experience, with most recent first. Do not forget to list the job duties and to only include relevant job positions.
  • The third section should be your education and qualifications, again in reverse chronological order.
  • Optional information: You can list your hard and soft skills, if you wish. As for hobbies, you can include some if they are relevant, but even then, these should be kept to a minimum.

You should submit your CV in English if you do not speak Portuguese, or in whichever language is required for the job position.

Cover Letter Tips

Cover letters are not mandatory, but this, of course, depends on the job opening and your field of work. More technical job positions may not require a cover letter, while jobs that involve communication may ask for one.

Required References and Qualifications

References are not usually required, but as always, pay close attention to the specifications of the job application, as some recruiters may ask for them. If you are unsure whether you will need one, it is always a good idea to keep one or two recommendation letters handy, and provide the contact details of a trusted peer who can vouch for you.

In general, you do not have to show proof of your qualifications, at least when first applying for a position. If you do progress to other stages of the recruitment process, you may be asked for your diploma or other proof of your qualifications.

Interview and Networking Tips

The Portuguese place a lot of importance on presentation. When in doubt, go for a slightly more formal dress code for interviews. That being said, pay attention to the company culture. Are the recruiters addressing you in a formal or informal way? If you are applying for a startup, it is safe to assume the dress code will be more on the casual side.

If you are doing interviews in person, use a firm handshake when introducing yourself. The standard way of greeting with two kisses on the cheek is not appropriate in a professional setting.

As for networking, you will find this to be a powerful tool when looking for a job in the country. Once you are based here, make sure to meet peers and potential employers by going to events relevant to your sector. You can always attend an InterNations event, to know some expats already working in the country who can help you find your community, be it professional or personal. InterNations has a community in Porto, Lisbon, and Cascais.

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Minimum Wage and Average Salary

The average salary in Portugal is 1,100 EUR (1,200 (USD) gross a month. This figure is highly subjective. For highly qualified employees, the number goes up to an average of 1,800 EUR gross (2,000 USD). For those without a university degree, the number lowers to 900 EUR (990 USD).

What is a good salary in Portugal, then? If you consider the average rent in the country is 1,100 EUR (1,200 USD), you can start to grasp the problem locals face with the current job market, and the increasingly burdening rent prices. If you wish to live comfortably in the country, you should aim for at least 1,500 EUR (1,650 USD) net, as with this amount, you can find accommodation for one third of your salary.

The average annual salary will then vary by profession, qualification, years of experience, and so on. For a highly skilled worker, the average annual salary is around 22,500 EUR (24,700 USD).

The minimum salary in Portugal is established by law. It is currently set at 600 EUR (660 USD) a month. You start paying taxes on your income at 654 EUR (720 USD), so this minimum wage is not subject to taxation. However, you are still required to pay social security, which is taxed at 11% of your income.

Most In-Demand Jobs and How Much These Pay

The most in-demand jobs in Portugal are in the sectors of tourism (hotels, caterers, restaurants, etc.), communication (call centers), IT jobs, and healthcare (doctors and especially nurses).

For reference, we provide a list of these in-demand professions, along with other common occupations, and how much these pay on average.

Professions Annual Salary (EUR) Annual Salary (USD)
Accountant 21,000 23,000
Architect 20,000 22,000
Doctor, general practice 25,800 28,500
Held desk technician 10,000 11,000
Hotel manager 80,000 88,500
Marketing Manager 27,000 29,700
Nurse 12,000 13,200
Product Manager 39,000 42,900
Receptionist 12,700 14,000
Software Engineer 22,000 24,200
Teacher 13,000 14,300
UX Designer 22,000 24,200
Web Developer 15,000 16,500

Self-Employment

In this section you will find everything worth knowing about self-employment in Portugal. Find out how you can be self-employed, what the top self-employed jobs are, and some of the benefits you get as an independent worker.

How to Be Self-Employed in Portugal

There are several ways you can be self-employed in Portugal. Knowing which type of business to set up will be your first challenge. Companies are typically divided into two categories based on the number of employees: those who work with one individual only, known as pessoa singular, and companies who employ more than one person, known as pessoa colectiva.

Working as a Freelancer or Sole Trader

If you are going to be a sole business owner or a freelancer, you need to register the start of your business with Finanças before doing any type of trade. You might be able to pay your taxes with a simplified tax regime, as long as your business’ turnover does not exceed 200,000 EUR (220,000 USD). Freelancers often work under a taxation regime called recibos verdes (green receipts).

You may start a business as an empresario em nome individual. Be warned that in case of debt, your personal assets are at risk with this type of business. If you want to avoid this, you can create a unipessoal limitada, which separates your personal and corporate assets, but excludes some fiscal benefits and requires a minimum capital investment of 5,000 EUR (5,500 USD).

Owning a Company

If you are going to set up a business with more than one employee, there are several types of legal entities you can create, such as a Public Limited Company (sociedade anónima), Private Limited company (sociedade por quotas), Limited Liability Partnership (sociedade em comandita), cooperativa, among others.

All of these types of business are first created with Finanças. To avoid any issues with choosing the right type of business or even doing your taxes, it is highly recommended that you seek out the help of an accountant. InterNations GO! can have you connected to an accountant specialized in your type of business or activity, so you know you are going to be making the best choice according to Portuguese law. Talk to us today.

Top Self-Employed Jobs in Portugal

When it comes to freelance work, the top self-employed positions in Portugal are no different than work you could do elsewhere. Think accountants, designers, marketers, consultants, writers, developers, data analysts, etc.

You can also start a business in the tourism sector. Tourism is one of Portugal’s strongest markets, and with the number of tourists that are continuously on the rise, working in the hospitality sector is almost always a safe bet. This includes businesses, such as cafes, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, etc.

Self-Employed Benefits in Portugal

Self-employed workers in Portugal, who are legally required to declare their turnover and pay social security contributions, enjoy most of the benefits that other employees get.

The self-employed are protected by Social Security in the following situations

  • sickness and disease
  • paternity
  • work-related health conditions
  • invalidity
  • old age
  • death

This also includes unemployment benefits for empresários em nome individual, owners of establishments registered as a limited company, as well as independent workers who work mainly with one employer.

Business Culture

Portuguese business culture is quite balanced. The Portuguese work hard and for long hours, but can separate their professional life from their personal, and strive for a healthy work-life balance whenever possible.

Working culture in Portugal will vary greatly from industry to industry, and even company to company.

Startups have a fast-paced, all-hands attitude, do not require a lot of bureaucracy, and tend to be agile. These workplaces, which you will easily find in Lisbon, Porto, Braga, or Aveiro, to name a few, tend to be competitive but overall welcoming and friendly, or we would not be talking about the hospitable Portuguese.

On the other hand, older and more traditional industries may be set in their ways. Operations in these companies rely heavily on hierarchies, workers may place a lot of importance on ranking and social status, and the overall atmosphere may be competitive and resistant to change.

Working Days and Hours

In Portugal, a typical work week should make up 40 working hours in total, Monday through Friday. Each company can set their own schedules, but a typical workday in Portugal starts at 9:00 and ends at 18:30, with a one-and-a-half-hour lunch break in between. You are not expected to work on the weekends, unless otherwise stated in your work contract, and most Portuguese do not. Enjoying your downtime is usually encouraged and definitely practiced by the Portuguese.

Portuguese Workplace Dress Code

Depending on the industry you work for, you may be looking at two extremes—and anything in between—when it comes to business dress code. You will find the majority of companies and job positions go with a business casual look, but as always, reading the room is key.

Startups and company hubs, which are becoming more and more popular in the country, have a very relaxed attitude when it comes to attire. It is not uncommon for employees across the company to wear relaxed casual wear: think t-shirts, jeans, shorts, sandals, and sneakers. Importance is simply not placed on what you wear. Mind you, common sense still advises against wearing flip flips or sweatpants, but even then, this might go unmentioned.

On the polar opposite, you will find some businesses which require the formal suit-and-tie dress code. These are typically industries like textiles, chemicals, constructions, and other solid business sectors like consultancy agencies, law firms, and banks. Men typically wear dark suits, light colored shirts, and a tie, while women can opt for a blazer with trousers or skirts.

Social Security and Benefits

The Portuguese social security number guarantees you enjoy your rights as a taxpayer, whether that is free healthcare or benefits in case of invalidity, unemployment, paternity, etc. Foreigners can get a social security number if they are legally residing in Portugal.

What is the Social Security Number in Portugal?

A social security number in Portugal is called a NISS, Número de Identificação de Segurança Social. It is an 11-digit number that identifies you for the purposes of employment and social security benefits.

How to Get a Social Security Number in Portugal

If you are working as an employee, your employer should notify social security at the start of your work contract. Your employer must have your visa with them to prove you have entered Portugal legally, and properly register you with social security.

You will be asked to sign the form Mod.RV1009-DGSS, which should be filled by your employer. When your work contract is submitted, you should be granted your NISS.

If you are taking up self-employment, you are going to have to apply for a social security number in Portugal yourself. You will need to submit the correct form along with other documents to a social security office in your place of residence.

You will not be given a social security card in Portugal. Even though Portuguese citizens have this and other numbers on their Citizen Card, expats are given a piece of paper when they register with social security containing their NISS, which they must keep safe.

Documents to Register with Social Security as an Independent Worker

All citizens:

  • RV1000-DGSS form
  • ID from your country of origin
  • Portuguese tax number

Non-EU citizens should also present:

  • passport;
  • residence permit, Título de Residência.

Once you have registered with social security, you can take care of most procedures online, via the social security platform, Segurança Social Direta.

Social Security Benefits in Portugal

As a taxpayer, you are protected by Portuguese Social Security in the following cases:

  • unemployment benefits
  • work injuries and other health conditions
  • sickness and disease benefits
  • maternity and paternity benefits
  • old age pension
  • invalidity benefits
  • death benefits

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Maternity and Paternity Leave

Despite Portugal’s fairly comprehensive social security scheme, maternity leave is one of the shortest in Europe. However, it grants Portuguese taxpayers the option of extending the leave in exchange for reduced benefits, and having joint parental leave.

You are entitled to parental leave and benefits if you have paid social security contributions for at least six months, and for the quarter immediately preceding the month of the birth. During the period of parental leave, each parent is excused from work and from paying social security contributions.

Here is the full list of parental benefits the Portuguese state grants its taxpayers:

  • pre-natal benefit for pregnant workers who earn less than 9,150 EUR (10,000 USD) annually;
  • parental benefit, which is given to both the mother and the father while they are absent from work;
  • parental benefit for parents with economic difficulties;
  • extended parental benefits;
  • risk pregnancy benefits;
  • benefits of termination of pregnancy;
  • benefits of termination of pregnancy for parents with economic difficulties;
  • benefits for grandparents who are caring for the child.

Maternity and Paternity Leave in Portugal

Both parents are entitled to leave and benefits. Both mother and father have a mandatory period of leave, which is longer for the mother.

How Long is Parental Leave in Portugal?

Parental leave in Portugal has a duration of either 120 days or 150 days, and can be shared by both parents. Regardless of the duration or how it is divided between the parents, the mother’s leave is mandatory. If you do not ask for shared parental leave, the entirety of the leave is granted to the mother by default.

When it comes to maternity leave, mothers are entitled to 72 days of leave, divided as follows:

  • A maximum of 30 days’ optional leave before childbirth;
  • 42 days, or six weeks, of mandatory leave after childbirth.

As for paternity leave, fathers have a mandatory leave of 15 working days, divided into:

  • five consecutive days immediately after birth;
  • ten days, consecutive or not, within the first 30 days after birth.

Fathers are also entitled to ten optional days of leave, consecutive or not, within the period of the mother’s leave.

Maternity and paternity benefits depend on the duration of the leave of your choice. If you opt for 120 days of leave, you receive 100% of the RR, remuneração de referência, or reference income. If you opt for 150 days of leave, you are entitled to only 80% of the RR.

Check all the social security forms you might need, if you have to inform social security of your parental status.

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Updated on: November 19, 2019
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