If you intend to move to Portugal, whether you’re coming for a short period or a long run, there is something you need to take care of: your Visa! And depending on what your plans are, there are a few options to consider.
Portugal has been on the radar for tech professionals for quite some time now. This tiny square of land is now more than a buzzword; it has been capturing the attention and becoming the location of choice for professionals and businesses worldwide.
And it’s more than its welcoming culture, sunny beaches, diverse landscapes and quality of life. The skilled workforce, favourable business environment and advantageous tax system for foreigners are reasons so many professionals are travelling to Portugal.
The truth is that navigating the realm of Visas can be confusing. Portugal is no different, although the secret is to understand that the country has a range of Visas to cater to different purposes, from tourism to work, study, and investment. Whatever reason is bringing you here, it’s essential to acknowledge and understand the various Visas available to make an informed decision about your relocation. Here’s what you need to know about the most common Portugal Visas available, as well as their requirements and benefits.
Portugal Visas: what’s in there to know
Whether you’re drawn by Lisbon’s historic charm, Porto’s vibrant culture, or the Algarve’s serene beaches, understanding the Visa requirements is a crucial first step in making your move a success.
1. Tourist Visa
As the name itself displays, this one is the ideal option for those wanting to explore Portugal’s wonders temporarily. It is designed for a short stay in the country, such as for tourism or visiting friends and family. This Visa allows you to stay in Portugal for up to 90 days within 180 days. It is ideal for exploring the country and getting a feel for its lifestyle and culture.
2. Student Visa
Again, the name is quite self-explanatory. This is the ideal (and necessary) Visa if you’re planning to study in Portugal. To apply, you’ll need an acceptance letter from a recognized educational institution, proof of funds to cover tuition and living expenses, as well as valid health insurance.
3. Schengen Visa
Portugal is part of the Schengen Area, which means that if you’re a citizen of a Schengen Agreement country, you can enter Portugal with a Schengen Visa. This Visa permits you to stay in any Schengen country, including Portugal, for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This is a good option for short-term stays in Portugal, which includes tourism, business meetings, or family visits.
4. Type 1 – Temporary Stay Visa
If you’re going over 90 days stay in Portugal, you might want to consider a Type 1 Temporary Stay Visa. This Visa covers various purposes, such as work, study, family reunification, and research. The application process may require documentation like a valid passport, proof of sufficient funds, and a clean criminal record.
5. Type 2 – Residence Visa
Next on the ladder comes the Type 2 – Residence Visa, suitable for people intending to move and live permanently in Portugal, whether for retirement, work, or to start a new business. To obtain this kind of Visa, you’ll have to obtain a residence permit within four months of arriving in Portugal. It’s advisable to start the application process from your home country.
6. D2 Visa – Self-Employment Visa
For entrepreneurs and freelancers planning to establish themselves in Portugal, a D2 Self-Employment Visa is the option to go. To apply, it is required to present a comprehensive business plan, proof of relevant experience, and sufficient financial means to support yourself during the initial stages of your venture.
7. D7 Visa
Those who already have a steady income from abroad might apply for a D7 Visa, which is designed for retirees, freelancers, and individuals with passive income. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate a consistent source of income that meets Portugal’s minimum requirements. The D7 Visa offers a pathway to permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship.
8. Work Visa
This one goes to the non-EU citizens intending to move to Portugal. To apply for a work Visa, applicants must have a job offer from a Portuguese employer, who – on his side – must prove that no EU citizen is suitable for the position. In addition, applicants need to meet certain qualifications and experience requirements.
9. NHR (Non-Habitual Residency) Programme
Pensioners and professionals with specialized skills with income from employment or individuals with passive income might find Portugal’s NHR programme particularly attractive, as it offers a special income tax regime with attractive tax benefits, for the first ten years of residence, making it a compelling option for those looking to optimize their financial situation while enjoying the Portuguese lifestyle.
Among the advantages of the NHR programme, there’s:
- Special individual tax treatment on incomes for ten years;
- Tax Exemption for almost all foreign-sourced income;
- Tax residency within the EU in a white-listed country;
- Tax exemption for an inheritance;
- A 20% flat rate on certain Portuguese-source incomes (for specific cases), plus social security;
- No wealth tax;
- Free cash remittance to Portugal
10. Tech Visa
This one is particularly interesting for tech professionals (as the name itself says). Portugal offers a Tech Visa program to attract skilled professionals in the technology sector, aiming to boost the country’s tech ecosystem by providing a streamlined Visa process for qualified individuals.
11. Highly Qualified Visa
Highly qualified immigrants with a promise or a work contract with national companies might apply for a Highly qualified Visa. This particular Visa allows both its holder and his/her family to enter Portugal for work purposes and establish residence.
12. Digital Nomad Visa
This is the most recent addition to the list of Portugal’s Visas. Launched on October 2022, its actual designation is “residence Visa for the exercise of professional activity provided remotely outside the national territory”. Simply put, remote workers can live and work in Portuguese territory for up to 12 months. People holding a Digital nomad Visa have their income taxed at 20% instead of the 50% that can be applied to Portuguese workers with the progressive rate. Plus, its holders can travel visa-free throughout the Schengen Area and after one year, they can apply for residency and stay longer in the country.
13. Startup Visa
Destined for non-EU-Schenghen start-up founders who want to be part of the Portuguese start-up community, the StartUP visa enables its holders to stay in Portugal for five years after the incubation period. This Visa involves the National Network of Incubators spread throughout Portugal, ensuring the StartUp business will kick off within a community of experienced entrepreneurs already familiar with the Portuguese and European markets, thus fostering the business growth.
14. Seasonal Work Visa
The Seasonal Work Visa is appropriate for short-term or seasonal employment and commonly used in sectors like agriculture and tourism. The employer must provide a job contract detailing the terms of employment for the applicant.
15. Family Reunification Visa
Spouses, dependent children, and elderly parents being the family members of non-EU citizens living in Portugal can apply for a Family Reunification Visa. To do so, the primary Visa holder must demonstrate the ability to support the family members financially.
16. Golden Visa
The Golden Visa program has been making headlines for quite some time now. This one is popular among investors and wealthy individuals seeking long-term residency in Portugal. By investing in real estate, creating jobs, supporting cultural heritage projects, or contributing to scientific research applicants and their families become eligible for this Visa, thus being able to live, work, and study in Portugal. After five years, the Golden Visa holders can apply for permanent residency or citizenship.
Portugal Visas exceptions: countries exempt from holding a Visa
It’s actually quite comprehensive (and available on the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website):
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina*
- Brunei Darussalam
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Holy See
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia*
- San Marino
- Serbia (* and **)
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Note that according to the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are some exceptions:
* The exemption shall apply only to holders of biometric passports.
** Excluding holders of Serbian passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate.
Need help figuring things out?
Portugal’s Visa system offers diverse options to suit various needs, making it an attractive destination for expatriates and investors. Before applying for any Visa, it’s recommended to thoroughly research the specific requirements and consult official sources or legal experts.
You can find all the details on the Visas available on the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and – still – with such a comprehensive list, it might be difficult to choose the most suitable option for you. However, we can help you with that. Reach out to us on Softlanding to figure out all the details and help you out with the process.