Are you interested in applying for permanent residency in Portugal? Are you wondering what the exact requirements are, and how permanent residency status differs from Portuguese citizenship?
The differences can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time living long-term in a foreign country.
In this article, I’ll give you all the details needed to make an informed choice about your long-term future in Portugal.
What is permanent residency?
Permanent residency is a type of immigration status granted to foreign nationals who move to another country.
It’s usually the second stage in a country’s typical naturalization timeline, coming after a certain number of years of temporary residency, but before the foreigner becoming naturalized as a citizen.
In Portugal, you can apply for permanent residency after spending five years as a legal temporary resident. Many foreigners choose to skip permanent residency and instead apply directly for Portuguese citizenship.
This approach makes perfect sense because the timeline and requirements are the same for both permanent residency and citizenship. That’s why for most people, Portuguese permanent residency is an optional step on the pathway to citizenship
It’s also possible to skip both permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship. In that case, you can simply renew your temporary residency status after five years. However, this approach would only make sense in certain cases, which we’ll explore further later on in the article.
Benefits of permanent residency in Portugal
Permanent residency in Portugal has several advantages over temporary residency. Here’s an overview:
- You can hold permanent residency status for 10 years before you have to renew it
- You’ll have less paperwork and less bureaucracy to deal with, as you’ll have fewer renewals
- Permanent residency status in Portugal is useful for citizens of countries where dual citizenship is forbidden (and who don’t wish to give up their original nationality to become Portuguese)
Permanent residency in Portugal vs Portuguese citizenship
So what are the main differences between permanent residency in Portugal and Portuguese citizenship?
The most important difference: permanent residency in Portugal does not allow you to apply for a Portuguese passport. Also, it will not make you an EU citizen.
With Portugal permanent residency, you only have the right to live freely in Portugal. You can travel freely as a tourist in the other EU countries, but only for stays of up to 90 days.
What’s more, permanent residency doesn’t give you the right to live, work, do business, study, or retire freely across the whole EU and EEA. Only Portuguese citizenship can do that, as having it automatically grants you full membership of the EU.
For example, if you’re a British national looking to regain the EU rights you lost after Brexit, permanent residency in Portugal wouldn’t be the right choice for you.
If you’re a US citizen looking to renounce your US passport (e.g. for tax reasons), then Portugal permanent residency wouldn’t be the right choice for you either.
For both of those objectives, obtaining Portuguese citizenship and a Portuguese passport is the only viable option for you.
|Permanent residency in Portugal||Portuguese Citizenship|
|Rights to live freely anywhere in the EU/EEA/Switzerland?||No||Yes|
|Can get a Portuguese passport?||No||Yes|
|Has the right to vote in national elections?||No||Yes|
|Has the right to run for office in national elections?||No||Yes|
|Portuguese language test required?||Yes||Yes|
|Needs renewing?||Yes, every 10 years||No|
|Can be lost once granted?||Yes, if you spend more than two consecutive years outside Portugal||No|
Permanent residency in Portugal: requirements
Just as with Portuguese citizenship, permanent residency in Portugal has several requirements that you’ll need to fulfil before you can apply for this upgraded residency status.
Maintain temporary residency for five years
The main requirement to be eligible for permanent residency in Portugal is to maintain your temporary residency status for at least five years.
Once you reach the five year mark (calculated from the start date on your temporary residency card), you can submit your application for permanent residency.
You can choose from several types of temporary residency, depending on your objectives and personal situation.
Here are the most common routes to get temporary residency in Portugal.
- The D7 Passive Income Visa – For remote workers and those with passive income (such as from a pension or rentals)
- The Portugal Golden Visa – For those who wish to invest in Portugal (in real estate, investment funds, or starting a Portuguese company and creating jobs)
- The HQA (Highly Qualified Activity) Visa – For entrepreneurial investors wishing to create their own research-driven startup in partnership with a Portuguese university
- Residency by family reunification – For non-EU family members, either of a D7 applicant or someone who is already an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen
- Residency as an EU/EEA or Swiss national – For those who wish to use their EU freedom of movement rights to live in Portugal
Overview of Portugal temporary residency options
|D7 Visa||Golden Visa||HQA Visa||Family Reunification||Residency as EU/EEA/Swiss|
|Minimum stay per year||183 days||7 days||7 days||183 days||183 days|
|Tax residency required?||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Minimum income level (per month)||€705 for one person||None||None||None||None|
You can also get temporary residency status using various other routes, including a work permit with a Portuguese employer, or a student visa, but these are beyond the scope of this article.
Reach A2 level in Portuguese language
To apply for permanent residency in Portugal, you’ll need to learn some basic Portuguese.
The requirements are exactly the same as for Portuguese citizenship – proof of language ability to A2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
The language requirement is probably the only reason why someone would choose to renew Portugal temporary residency status after five years, rather then going for permanent residency or citizenship.
But A2 level is just one level up from beginner (A1), so it’s very achievable in just a few months of dedicated study.
For most people, getting permanent residency in Portugal is an optional step on the pathway to Portuguese citizenship.
Permanent residency status is useful because it upgrades your temporary residency status, removing the need for regular renewals (which is especially important if you’re resident on the D7 Visa or Golden Visa pathway).
Fewer renewals (and less paperwork to deal with!) is an important benefit for any foreigner living in Portugal, even for existing EU/EEA/Swiss nationals with five-year temporary residency status. In that case, permanent residency in Portugal removes the need to reapply every five years.
Permanent residency status is also useful if you’re a national of one of the countries that forbids dual citizenship, as it gives you the right to live and work in Portugal, plus travel freely as a tourist across the Schengen zone (for 90 days at a time).
However, permanent residency in Portugal does not grant EU citizenship, nor does it give you the right to apply for a Portuguese passport. What’s more, you still need to acquire Portuguese language skills to at least A2 level, to be eligible for permanent residency in Portugal.
The ultimate immigration status is still Portuguese/EU citizenship, and that’s what we recommend for the majority of our readership.