Ready to work remotely from Portugal, but not sure which residency visa to go for?
Ever since the financial crash of 2008, Portugal has taken a pragmatic stance on immigration. The government has introduced a range of residency visas aimed at enticing skilled foreigners to Portugal’s shores.
Foreigners are welcome in Portugal to run businesses, work remotely, or just live a peaceful life using their own sources of passive income, such as a pension.
During the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic, Portugal became a top choice for digital nomads from all over the world, because of its natural beauty, outdoor lifestyle, affordable cost of living, safe environment, and straightforward residency pathways.
I’ve tested out lots of co-working spaces in Portugal and visited the famous Digital Nomad Village in Madeira. I’m confident that Portugal is one of Europe’s top destination for digital nomads.
If you plan to become a digital nomad in 2023, then Portugal is a great choice for your first destination.
Let’s dive in!
What is a digital nomad visa?
A digital nomad visa is a short-term visa that bridges the gap between a tourist visa and a long-term residency visa.
It allows the holder to legally work remotely, usually for companies outside in a foreign country.
The digital nomad visa takes away the need for “visa runs”, where the digital nomad would cross the border to “reset” their tourist visa allowance.
This setup allows the digital nomad to support themselves without taking jobs from residents of the country of temporary stay.
Digital nomad visas have become very popular in the wake of the pandemic, with many countries around the world announcing new digital nomad visas.
So far, at least 11 European countries have created digital nomad visas, with several more in the pipeline.
Let’s take a look at the different ways to get a Portugal ‘digital nomad’ visa.
Portugal Digital Nomad Visa – Different Routes
Portugal has long been ahead of the game when it comes to making life easy for remote workers and those with passive income.
The new digital nomad visa comes in two different types, depending on how long you want to stay in Portugal.
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
Digital Nomad Visa Option #1: Temporary Stay Visa
The Portugal temporary stay visa is valid for stays of up to 1 year and can be renewed.
It allows you to work as a self-employed freelancer or online business owner, so it’s a good fit for digital nomads.
You can travel freely in and out of Portugal on this visa (although you must follow other immigration requirements in the Schengen zone).
To be eligible, the main factor is proving that you have sufficient income to support yourself during your stay in Portugal. The Portuguese government has set this threshold at four times the Portuguese minimum wage. So you’ll need at least €2820 per month.
You can show proof of the required minimum income by completing a statement of responsibility from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. You may also be asked to show your bank statements and invoices for further proof.
The temporary stay visa is a great fit if you want to try out Portugal for a short time (but longer than the 90 day Schengen tourist allowance), without committing to becoming a long-term resident.
You can find all required forms and documents for the application for the Portugal temporary stay visa here, at the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
Digital Nomad Visa Option #2: Residence Visa (D8)
This option is for remote workers who prefer a longer stay in Portugal, with the goal of getting residency.
It’s also suitable for those who want to start their journey towards Portuguese citizenship.
- NIF and Portuguese bank account
- A salary from remote work that is at least four times the Portuguese minimum wage (that would be €2820 per month minimum)
- Proof of personal tax residence in Portugal (a 12 month rental agreement registered with the tax authority)
- An employment contract from an employer based outside of Portugal
- For freelancers, you’ll need a contract that proves you’re working with clients
- Bank statements and payslips (or invoices) to prove your monthly income
The digital nomad residence visa process involves two stages:
- 1) The embassy stage, in which you submit your application for the digital nomad visa at your nearest Portuguese consulate in your country of citizenship or permanent residence.
- 2) The residency permit stage, which happens at the immigration department once you enter Portugal using your digital nomad visa.
If successful, the consulate will grant you a double-entry visa valid for four months. In this timeframe, you’ll enter Portugal and complete the second stage – applying for a residency permit at SEF.
Other Visas To Consider
Portugal D7 Visa – Passive Income Visa
For digital nomads who have passive income from abroad, getting Portugal residency via the D7 visa is straightforward.
Before the official Portugal digital nomad visa was launched in October 2022, the D7 was a common choice for remote workers.
In the past, some consulates would also accept salaried remote work for the D7, but this will be revised now the digital nomad visa has been launched.
If your income comes from a remote job based outside of Portugal, you’ll need to apply for the new digital nomad visa, not the D7.
However, if you draw your entire income as dividends from an online business based abroad, you may be able to get the D7 Visa.
Types of passive income that are eligible for the Portugal D7 visa include: pension income, dividends, rental income, or royalties.
So how much income do you need to apply for the D7? Portugal specifies that applicants should show evidence of passive income that’s at least the equivalent of the Portuguese minimum wage.
At present, this is €740 per month for one applicant. If you want to bring a dependent spouse or children, you’ll need another 50% of income for your spouse, and 30% more for each dependent child (under 18).
However, the cost of living in Portugal is rising all the time. The minimum wage typically isn’t enough to live comfortably in the major cities.
It’s best to have at least €1,000 a month for one applicant plus the 50% and 30% for a spouse and children.
You’ll also need to show proof of having sufficient savings to support you in Portugal in case you lose your passive income source. This should be deposited in a Portuguese bank account.
You’ll need to have at least 12 months’ worth of the minimum salary, plus the 50% and 30% for dependent spouse and children (if applicable).
The more passive income and savings you can show, the stronger your application will be.
Portugal D2 Visa – Entrepreneur or Independent Service Provider
For those who don’t have a source of regular passive income, the D2 visa is another national visa that fits the bill as a Portugal digital nomad visa.
The D2 is a good fit if you want to open a new business in Portugal, set up a Portuguese branch of an existing business, or move to Portugal to run a business that’s already here.
Getting residency with the D2 visa mainly depends on having a viable business (or business idea) that you can run in Portugal. The business can be anything from a coffee shop to a wellness retreat to a real estate agency – there are no restrictions.
There are two main route to getting residency with the D2 visa. The first is the entrepreneur route, which will require you to incorporate a company in Portugal and hire a Portuguese accountant.
You’ll also need to show evidence of having sufficient financial means to set up and run the company. As you’re incorporating a company in Portugal, you’ll need to pay Portuguese corporation tax every year, along with social security contributions.
The second route to the D2 is the independent service provider route. This option is a good fit for those who wish to provide services to domestic or international clients. It has fewer requirements compared to the entrepreneur route.
You don’t have to incorporate a Portuguese company, nor do you need an accountant. You’ll need to show proof of having contracts with clients, along with proof of relevant experience and/or qualifications in your field of work.
A residency application for the D2 visa is most likely to succeed if you have a strong business plan that shows how your firm will profit in Portugal.
The Portuguese authorities want to know that your company or service activities will provide enough money to sustain you while you live in Portugal.
In general, applying for the D7 visa is more straightforward compared to the D2.
Residency in Portugal for EU citizens
If you’re an EU passport holder, you don’t need any sort of Portugal digital nomad visa to work remotely from here.
You can enter freely and stay for up to three months without registering.
If you wish to stay longer than three months, you should declare your presence at the local municipality office (camâra municipal) and get a temporary residency certificate (usually valid for five years).
Accommodation in Portugal for digital nomads
If you’re moving to Portugal as a digital nomad, finding the right accommodation will be high on your list of priorities.
Luckily, Portugal is well geared towards short-term stays, so you’re sure to find something that’s a good fit.
NB, if you’re going for a more long-term Portugal digital nomad visa option, like the D7 or D2 visa, you’ll need proof of a 12-month rental contract to apply for the visa.
There are plenty of Airbnbs all over Portugal, so you should have no trouble finding one that suits your budget.
Prices for short-term accommodation can get quite high in major tourists hubs such as Lisbon or the Algarve. Most Airbnb hosts offer discounts for longer stays, e.g. over one month.
But for stays beyond this, Airbnb can get expensive. You’d be better off exploring one of the other options, like Flatio or private accommodation.
Created for medium-term stays, Flatio is a worldwide service catering specifically to the needs of digital nomads.
Designed for stays of a few months or more, Flatio offers fully furnished, no deposit apartments at prices typically more reasonable than those of Airbnb.
It’s well worth checking out Flatio, as the service covers most major cities in Portugal, as well as digital nomad hubs such as Madeira Island.
#3. Private accommodation
Private accommodation can be a good way to find apartments at more reasonable prices compared to Airbnb or Flatio.
I’ve had good luck finding short-term private accommodation in Portugal on expat Facebook groups for the cities I’ve stayed in.
On the downside, private landlords will probably ask you to pay a security deposit.
Portugal doesn’t have any kind of deposit protection scheme, so you may end up losing your deposit in the event of a disagreement. Ideally, avoid handing over more than one month’s rent as a deposit.
#4. Co-living communities
Many digital nomads in Portugal are moving into some of the country’s co-living communities. In these shared spaces, each individual has their own bedroom, but share other facilities like the kitchen and bathroom.
There may also be organized co-working hours, from a large shared workspace. Co-living can be a good opportunity to combine the social and networking opportunities of co-working, with the benefits of reduced accommodation costs
But they won’t be the right fit for everyone, especially if you’re more introverted or used to living alone.
Here are some of Portugal’s most popular co-living set ups:
- Selina Secret Garden (Lisbon)
- Outsite (Cais do Sodre)
- The Sea Office (Costa da Caparica)
- Madeira Digital Nomad Village
If cutting costs is important to you, you might consider living in a hostel for a while. Portugal’s major cities have plenty to choose from.
Many hostels organize events and can be a good place to meet other digital nomads, but can be distracting for those who prefer a quieter environment.
#6. Serviced Apartments
These are typically found in larger cities or more touristic destinations, such as Madeira. They typically provide a fully furnished apartment with a kitchen, complete with cleaning and laundry services included.
Serviced apartments are a convenient choice for digital nomads, because everything is included in the monthly rent. They offer a more authentic experience compared to hotels or hostels, allowing you to prepare your own food and live like a local.
Living in a hotel isn’t for everyone, as it can be restrictive and quickly gets expensive.
Also, typical hotel rooms lack proper kitchen facilities, so you’ll be confined to eating hotel meals or going out to restaurants.
But a hotel might be a useful option, especially in the early days of your stay in Portugal.
Best destinations in Portugal for digital nomads
Portugal is fast becoming a top destination for digital nomads in Europe.
But which of the country’s beautiful places are the most well-suited to remote workers? Let’s take a look at some of the hotspots.
The Portuguese capital Lisbon has become the classic digital nomad city, and it’s full of facilities to cater to remote workers.
From co-working spaces to tech conferences and meet ups – Lisbon has everything you need as the perfect landing pad in Portugal.
In Lisbon, you’ll find plenty of digital nomads from around the world, along with great cafes, international food and non-stop events.
Portugal’s second city, historic Porto is rapidly becoming a top choice for digital nomads in Portugal.
While the weather is cooler and damper than Lisbon, Porto is more affordable than Lisbon and very well set up with co-working spaces.
If you want something a little more low-key than the capital city lifestyle, then definitely consider Porto.
Costa da Caparica
With prices in Lisbon on the up, many digital nomads are seeking out more affordable alternatives within easy striking distance of the capital. Costa da Caparica is a great choice for this.
You can be right on the beach and experience its sleepy beach town vibes, while still plugging into the resident community of remote workers from around the world.
If you need some big city excitement, then Lisbon is just a short train ride or easy drive away.
The mystical town of Sintra is another good digital nomad base within easy reach of Lisbon.
With its stunning scenery, cool temperatures and other-worldly vibes, Sintra used to be the summer escape for Portuguese nobility.
It now has an up-and-coming international remote worker scene, with a diverse mix of people from Inner Mongolia to Birmingham.
One of Portugal’s most popular surf towns, Ericeira is a great place to work close to the ocean.
It’s popular with digital nomads because it’s an easy 45 minute journey from central Lisbon.
If you’re into surfing alongside your laptop work, definitely check out Ericeira.
The tiny island of Madeira, hundreds of kilometres from mainland Portugal, has become one of 2022’s hottest digital nomad destinations.
Thanks to the Digital Nomad Village project, launched in 2021 in the midst of the pandemic, Madeira has put itself firmly on the map for remote workers worldwide.
Madeira is an ideal destination for remote working. It has fast Internet speeds, plenty of natural beauty and access to outdoor activities, and a year-round summer season. If you’re looking for a place to say goodbye to winter, Madeira is perfect for you!
FAQs: Portugal Digital Nomad Visa
Do digital nomads pay tax in Portugal?
If you stay in Portugal for longer than 183 days in a year, then you may be considered a tax resident. In that situation, you may have to pay tax on your worldwide income. However, you may be eligible for special tax status through Portugal’s NHR tax scheme. You should talk to a professional tax advisor to clarify your individual situation.
Do I need a visa to be in Portugal?
If you hold an EU passport, you can enter Portugal freely and stay indefinitely without a visa. Those from third countries with a special agreement with Portugal can enter without a visa for stays of up to 90 days in 180. Other nationalities will require a Schengen visa to enter Portugal.
Why is Portugal the best place to work as a digital nomad?
Portugal is the best place to work as a digital nomad because it has some of Europe’s fastest Internet speeds, along with diverse and beautiful destinations, from the lively city of Lisbon to the beautiful tropical island of Madeira. Portugal also has a good infrastructure for digital nomads, including many laptop-friendly cafes, co-working spaces, co-living spaces, and entrepreneurial networking events.
What’s the internet speed like in Portugal?
The Internet speed in Portugal is generally very good, especially in the large cities and on Madeira Island. At present, the highest internet speed you can get in Portugal is 1 Gbit/s. Standard internet service provides about 350 Mbit/s, with fibre optic internet still in the process of being implemented.
Before you go…
Portugal now offers a straightforward way for digital nomads to get residency.
The Portuguese government officially launched the new digital nomad visa in October 2022 – providing a great option for salaried remote workers who want to live in Portugal.
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