Are you thinking of moving to Portugal in the latter half of 2023?
This complete guide to Portugal residency has everything you need to know for how to get residency in Portugal in 2023.
Whether you’re looking for permanent residency in Portugal, or a temporary Portugal residency visa, this article outlines the requirements and processes to help you make an informed decision about your move.
The world has just emerged from two years of a pandemic to face the crisis of war in Ukraine.
With such alarming events taking place, many people are keen to secure safe haven in another country.
But, unless you have relevant family ties, getting another citizenship typically begins with getting residency somewhere. For many people, that somewhere could be Portugal.
Portugal is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for long-term residency, for both retirees and working professionals.
It’s also one of the easiest countries for Americans to move to. And not only Americans, but many other nationalities as well.
The process for getting Portugal residency is relatively simple, but there are some important things to know to help you choose which pathway to use.
In this article, we’ll outline the different routes to Portugal residency and explain how you can access them.
How to Get 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.
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.
Residency with EU family reunification
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.
Typically, 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.
Residency by investment: The Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa program is still fully operational under existing rules (with all routes still available) as of September 3, 2023. Here’s the latest information based on our discussions with Portuguese lawyers and other experts.
Investment funds are the fastest way to get your Golden Visa application safely submitted.
Main prerequisite: At least €280,000 available to invest in Portugal
Getting Portugal residency by investment – i.e. the Portugal Golden Visa – is the easiest and most flexible way to secure your residency status in Portugal.
The basic requirements are: having sufficient capital to invest (at least €280,000 for the cheapest real estate route), and a clean criminal record.
Portugal offers a wide range of investment types that qualify for the Golden Visa.
Most investors choose to invest either directly in Portuguese real estate, or via one of the qualified private equity or venture capital funds.
The funds route offers the one of the fastest ways to secure Portugal residency.
You don’t have to spend time looking for a property to invest in. Nor do you have to go through the legal processes involved in property purchase.
Instead, 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 in 2023 has now increased to €500,000, but you’ll have the potential for good returns with a professionally managed investment.
Many of the Golden Visa eligible funds invest in Portuguese real estate, which is a flourishing market.
Some funds will also allow you to buy prime real estate in top locations, like Lisbon or Porto, for a discounted price at the end of the investment period.
If that appeals to you, contact us for more information about funds.
If you want to get Portugal residency by investing directly in real estate, there are four investment thresholds available.
- €280,000: for real estate investment in a low-density area, for a property over 30 years old and in need of rehabilitation
- €350,000: for real estate investment in property over 30 years old and in need of rehabilitation (but not in a low-density area)
- €400,000: for real estate investment in any property in a low-density area (includes new developments)
- €500,000: for real estate investment in any property in any eligible area of Portugal (not including Lisbon, Porto or coastal Algarve regions).
As you can see, the lower investment thresholds involve more work, and restrict you in terms of geographical location.
However, one way to get Golden Visa real estate at the lower thresholds is by investing in a property that’s part of a rehabilitation development project. We can help you get in touch with professionals on these projects. Contact us if this is of interest.
There’s also the option to invest in a hotel or resort development project, which can allow you access to the €280,000 and €350,000 thresholds without wasting valuable time searching for a property in a low-density area, or spending time doing rehabilitation.
Investing in hotels offers an easier, faster and cheaper way to get Portugal residency via the Golden Visa real estate route. Contact us for more information on investing in hotels for the Golden Visa.
Residency with 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) making an investment in high-value research and development activities at one of Portugal’s universities.
The Portugal 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 which could be patented and become a valuable asset. Your business could make great returns for you in the future.
For more information about the Portugal HQA Visa, please book a call here.
Residency with passive income: The D7 visa
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.
Types of passive income that are eligible for the Portugal D7 visa include: pension income, dividends, rental income, or royalties.
A salary from remote work outside of Portugal MAY (depends on 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 around €700 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 typically isn’t enough 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 the 50% and 30% for dependent spouse and children (if applicable).
For a family of four, that’s a minimum of €21,600. 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 the 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.
How to get residency in Portugal as an entrepreneur: The D2 visa
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, 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.
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.
How to get 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.
How to get 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 2023.
At present, Portugal is actively seeking immigration, so the government has made the process accessible for a wide variety of people.
If you’re looking for a safe haven, a second home, or a fresh start – then Portugal might be exactly what you need.