How to Get Portugal Residency: 6 Different Routes Explained

Portugal residency

Are you thinking of getting Portugal residency in 2024 or beyond?

The good news is: Portugal offers a range of routes to residency. Here, I’ll go through the key factors to help you choose the right route for your individual situation and goals.

My personal experience of getting Portugal residency began in early 2020, when I arrived in Lisbon from the UK.

At that time, UK citizens could still get residency using EU/EEA freedom of movement rights.

That meant my residency process was fast, and straightforward. It cost just €15 for the official residency certificate (known as the CRUE). I’ll describe that process in further detail below.

How to Get Residency in Portugal in 2024: 6 Different Routes Explained

Residency in Portugal

Remember, the starting point is always getting temporary residency. All the options in this section allow you to do that.

After maintaining temporary residency status for five years, you’ll be eligible to apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship.

#1. Residency as an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen

Getting Portugal residency begins with getting a temporary residency permit.

There are several ways to do this depending on whether you hold an EU/EEA/Swiss passport or not.

If you’re an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen, then you’re in luck. Getting residency in Portugal will be simple for you.

Once you arrive in Portugal and find accommodation, you should go to your local municipality office (Câmara municipal) with your passport.

Just tell the official that you wish to become resident in Portugal, show them your EU passport (and sometimes proof of your address in Portugal), and pay a fee of €15.

They will then issue you with a temporary residency certificate, valid for five years, known as the CRUE.

Thanks to EU freedom of movement of persons, you have the right to become resident in Portugal without any prerequisites.

For those of us without an EU passport, things get a little more tricky.

#2. Residency with EU family reunification

resident in Portugal

Another good way to become resident in Portugal is by having a spouse or long-term partner who is an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen.

If that’s your situation, then becoming resident in Portugal will be relatively straightforward for you.

First, travel to Portugal with your spouse or partner and find accommodation.

Then, your EU/EEA/Swiss citizen partner should follow the process outlined in the previous section to get their five-year CRUE certificate.

Once your partner has that certificate, the next step is to make an appointment with your local branch of SEF (Portugal’s immigration and borders authority). You’ll become a resident of Portugal via a process called EU family reunification.

This ruling enables the family members of an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen to obtain residency in any EU country through their spouse or long-term partner.

It applies not only to the non-EU spouse/long-term partner, but also to dependent children and dependent parents.

If you’re not an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen and nor is your partner – don’t worry!

There are still plenty of easy ways to become resident in Portugal.

Let’s take a look at what’s available and how to do it.

Curious about what Portugal is known for? Here’s our roundup of 31 people and things to know about, from the Moors to bacalhau.

#3. Residency By Investment: The Golden Visa

get residency in Portugal
Avenida Liberdade, one of Lisbon’s most iconic streets

Main prerequisite: Sufficient capital to invest in Portugal

The Portugal Golden Visa has changed, but there are still several ways to get it. .

The basic requirements are: having sufficient capital to invest, and a clean criminal record.

Portugal offers several investment types that qualify for the Golden Visa. Note: real estate investment is no longer included in the program.

The investment funds route offers the one of the fastest ways to secure Portugal residency.

You can simply transfer your money into the fund and then submit your application for the Golden Visa.

The minimum investment for Golden Visa funds is €500,000, and you’ll have the potential for good returns with a professionally managed investment.

If that appeals to you, contact us for more information about funds.

Residency By Investment: The HQA Visa

Main prerequisite: At least €175,000 available to invest in a research startup with a Portuguese university

Another investment-based route to Portugal residency is the Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa. This program was introduced in 2019 and is designed for entrepreneurial investors who wish to undertake a research project in Portugal.

The HQA program combines two key components: 1) setting up a business in Portugal, and 2) investing in high-value research and development activities at one of Portugal’s universities.

The HQA visa offers a number of benefits over the Golden Visa:

  • Faster processing timeline. Applications are normally approved in around 30 days. This means you’ll get your residence permit in hand faster and start the clock ticking to citizenship more quickly.
  • Lower overall cost. The HQA visa requires an investment of just €175,000. That’s significantly cheaper than the lowest threshold for the Golden Visa.
  • No-risk refund policy. If your HQA Visa application fails, your entire investment will be refunded in full. That means there’s no risk whatsoever!
  • Build a flourishing start-up and establish an EU business presence. Depending on the success of your business idea, you could generate intellectual property that could be patented and become a valuable asset. Your business could make great returns for you in the future.

For more information about the HQA Visa, please book a call with our specialist team.

Residency With Passive Income: The D7 Visa

how to get residency in Portugal

Main prerequisite: A regular source of passive income, or income from remote work

For those who work remotely or have passive income from abroad, getting Portugal residency can be very straightforward.

D7 visa include: pension income, dividends, rental income, or royalties.

A salary from remote work outside of Portugal MAY (depends on the embassy) also make you eligible to apply for the D7 visa (which isn’t the case with many passive income residency routes in other countries).

So how much income do you need to apply for the D7 visa?

Portugal specifies that D7 applicants should show evidence of passive income that’s at least the equivalent of the Portuguese minimum wage.

At present, this is a minimum of €760 per month for one applicant. If you want to bring a dependent spouse or children, you’ll need another 50% of income to account 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 isn’t sufficient to live comfortably in the major cities.

That’s why we recommend you 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 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.

Some people ask us if it’s possible to apply for a D7 visa with a large amount of savings but without a regular source of passive income. We typically don’t recommend this. With an ever-growing number of applicants for the D7 visa, Portuguese embassies around the world are becoming increasingly picky with their requirements.

Residency as an Entrepreneur: The D2 Visa

temporary residence permit portugal

Main prerequisite: The ability to start a new business or open an existing one in Portugal

For those who don’t have a source of regular passive income, the D2 visa is another way to get Portugal residency.

It’s designed for people who 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. 

In light of that, the D2 is also known as the Entrepreneur Visa.

Getting Portugal 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 visa 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 or hire 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.

After five years of maintaining temporary residency status in Portugal, you’ll become eligible to apply for a more permanent status.

There are two options here, which we’ll look at in the next section.

Permanent Residency in Portugal

Getting permanent residency in Portugal means you no longer have to renew your residency status every couple of years.

Anyone can apply for permanent residency after five years, no matter which route you used to establish your temporary residency.

Temporary absences of up to six months per year or absences of up to 12 months for valid reasons such as pregnancy or childbirth don’t count, although authorities may consider them when evaluating your five-year period of residency in Portugal.

A permanent residency certificate is valid for 10 years. You’ll need to renew it before it expires.

Having permanent residency in Portugal gives you almost the same rights as a Portuguese citizen, with several important exceptions.

Firstly, as a permanent resident, you won’t be eligible to vote in national elections or run for office.

But more importantly, permanent Portugal residency does NOT give you EU citizenship. Only applying for Portuguese citizenship can give you the many benefits of being part of the EU.

As part of your application for Portugal permanent residency or citizenship, you’ll need to show proof of having passed an exam in Portuguese language.

Fortunately, the level isn’t too high, only A2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Here are some tips on how to learn a new language.

Portuguese Citizenship

Getting Portuguese citizenship is the end goal for many people who seek residency.

The timeframe is the same as for permanent residency. You need to maintain your temporary residency status for five years before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

With Portuguese citizenship, you’ll have the following advantages over permanent residency:

  • You’ll become an EU citizen with full rights to freedom of movement – to live, work, do business, study or retire anywhere in the EU/EEA or Switzerland
  • You can vote in national elections and run for office in Portugal
  • You’ll be able to apply for a Portuguese passport, which is one of the strongest in the world
  • You won’t need to renew your citizenship, you’ll have it for life (although you will need to renew your passport)

Before You Go…

In this article, we’ve explored all the main routes to Portugal residency, both for EU and non-EU citizens.

We’ve also taken a look at long-term options, of permanent residency and citizenship.

As you can see, Portugal is one of the easiest EU countries to emigrate to in 2024.

If you’re looking for a safe haven, a second home, or a fresh start – then Portugal might be exactly what you need.

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