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Work Permits for Lisbon, Portugal

Having recovered from the economic and fiscal problems of the past few years, Lisbon is once more an extremely appealing destination for expats. Our guide informs you about the state of the city’s economy and potential job opportunities.
The city's seaport is still an important source of revenue and jobs.

Handling What’s Most Important: A Work Permit

If you have read our guide on working in Portugal, you may already be familiar with the process of acquiring a work permit for the country. The work permit is closely linked to the duration of time you may spend in the country, and the residence title you are granted.

Those who are citizens of a country which is part of the European Economic Area or Schengen Area are not subject to any visa or work permit regulations, though. From the time of your arrival, expats from these countries have three months to find a job and to apply for a registration certificate from your local council, which will confirm your right to stay in Portugal. Once you are employed, you will have the same rights as Portuguese workers. If after five years you are still working in Portugal and hold a valid registration certificate, you will be eligible to request a Permanent Residence Certificate.

For everyone else, your road to employment in Lisbon begins at the nearest Portuguese mission in your home country where you will be required to apply for a work permit. Application from within Portugal by virtue of a visitor’s visa is not possible.

Expats usually pick one of two visa categories — the Temporary Stay Visa or the Residence Visa. The Temporary Stay Visa is usually issued for four months with the possibility of multiple entry. The residence visa allows you to enter Portugal and is the visa you should apply for if you have the intention of becoming a resident. The visa must also be valid for the purpose of your stay. It is also important to note that the residence visa is not an actual residence permit: you must apply for the permit within four months of arriving in Lisbon.

Jobs for Third-Country Nationals

Job offers which are open to nationals of third countries — this means nations which are not part of the EEA or with which Portugal has an agreement on the free movement of persons — are limited in Portugal. In order to be allowed to advertise job openings to third-country nationals, employers need to apply for evaluation of the offer with the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP). The main requirement is that no applicants fitting the job description can be found in either Lisbon or the rest of Portugal, even after extensive advertising of the open position. If the IEFP decides in favor of the company, allowing them to extend the job offer, it will be posted on the institute’s website as well as Portuguese missions abroad.

From here, the process is straightforward: after you have successfully applied for the job, you will receive an employment contract or promise thereof, as well as a statement from the IEFP. You will need this statement to prove that your job offer was included in the quota and could not be filled by applicants with preferred status (Portuguese citizens, EEA nationals, third-country citizens already living in Portugal).

The Last Steps to Legal Employment

If you have been offered a job in Portugal and need to acquire one of the two visas mentioned above, you must supply the following, along with the employment contract and IEFP statement:

  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence
  • proof of travel insurance
  • a valid travel document
  • a ticket that ensures your return travel

If you are an executive or management-level employee assigned to a short-term project or job at a Lisbon-based subsidiary of your company, there is an additional visa category open to you. This is also important regarding intra-company transfers. The requirements are almost identical to those of the Temporary Stay Visa.

To expats moving to Portugal on a Residency Visa with the intention to apply for a residence permit, please be aware that the usual waiting time for the clearance of the permit is 60 days. It is therefore advisable to start the process as early as possible. The website of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) has further information.


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