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Visas for Portugal

Citizens of the EU have the right to travel freely between its member states, and may live, work and study in Portugal for an indefinite amount of time. EU nationals therefore require no more than their passport or ID card in order to pass border control, and indeed may not even be asked to present this if travelling via Spain and certain other borderless areas of mainland Europe.

If you are a EU national entering Portugal, you will not be required to demonstrate that you have a return ticket to your country of origin or that you have sufficient funds in order to support you while you are in the country – although it is of course wise to ensure you at least have the latter.

Portugal is part of the Schengen region. Under the Schengen Convention, Australian, Canadian and US citizens are permitted to travel to the Schengen region for 90 days during a six-month period, without the need to apply for a visa. Once 90 days have elapsed you will be required to leave Portugal and will not be permitted to re-enter the country, or any other within the Schengen area within a minimum period of 180 days.

If you wish to extend your stay once you are in Portugal, you must contact the Serviço de Extrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) for up-to-date information on your eligibility and application process.

Residence for EU citizens

EU nationals wishing to remain in Portugal for more than three months should request a Certificado de Registro, or Registration Certificate. This will usually be required by your employer, academic institution or landlord, so it is worth making your application promptly upon your arrival.

The Registration Certificate is obtained from the council office for the area in which you are staying. Following five consecutive years of residence in Portugal you will be eligible for a Certificado de Residencia Permanente, or Permanent Residence Certificate, which formalises your situation as a permanent resident in Portugal. The certificate is obtained via SEF and more information on how to apply can be found at www.sef.pt.

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Residence for non-EU citizens

Nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland enjoy the same residence rights as those of EU countries and may also apply for a Registration Certificate and Permanent Residence Certificate. All other nationalities are required under Portuguese legislation to obtain a visa in order to live and/or work in the country.

Which visa option you choose will depend on your individual circumstances, the means by which you intend to support yourself once in the country, and whether you qualify for residency under one of the government’s incentive programmes designed to encourage active investment into the Portuguese economy.

Portuguese visas are usually issued for a period of four months, during which you may lodge your application for temporary residence. A temporary residence permit is then valid for one year and may be renewable for successive two-year periods. After five years of consecutive residence you may become eligible to receive a permanent residency permit.

You will usually need to demonstrate that you are travelling to Portugal for one of seven core purposes:

  • For work (you will need to show an employment contract and supporting documentation)
  • To pursue professional activity (you will need to provide documentation demonstrating a contract to provide services, the commercial and cultural relevancy of such services and your ability to support yourself and your commercial enterprise)
  • To pursue scientific research, teaching or academic activity linked to a higher education institute
  • To study or volunteer
  • As part of a higher education mobility programme
  • For family reunion
  • To retire on a pension or private income

Golden Residence Visa

The Golden Residence Visa is a visa option available to foreign nationals who wish to invest in the Portuguese economy. In most cases the investment is made in Portuguese real estate, however it may also be made in a business, franchise or other investment vehicle.

There are specific criteria that must be met in order to receive the Golden Residence Visa. At the time of writing these are either a bricks-and-mortar investment with a value of at least 500,000 Euros, a capital transfer of at least 1 million Euros, or the creation of 10 jobs. The investment activity must be maintained for a minimum of five years in order for you to remain eligible to retain the visa.

The advantages of the Golden Residence Visa are that it provides the right to remain in Portugal and/or any other EU territory and offers the possibility of obtaining a permanent residence permit and conversion to Portuguese citizenship if desired. The initial visa is issued for one year and must be renewed every two years, demonstrating continued investment plus presence in the country of at least seven days during the first year and 14 days each subsequent two years.

If you are considering relocating to Portugal for work, study, retirement or other purposes, it is important to do your homework carefully when it comes to visas, to ensure that you have the right to remain in the country for as long as you may wish to. For more information about Portuguese visa options and requirements, visit the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) website or contact a reputable immigration lawyer or service provider who will be able to give you up-to-date information to match your individual needs.