Let’s clear up a few word confusions first. When you come here to live, you “emigrate from” your home country and “immigrate into” Portugal. You then become an immigrant. You might also be called an “ex-pat”. That doesn’t mean you are an “ex-patriot”, which suggests that you no longer love your own nationality, as I read online recently! Ex-pat is an abbreviation for “ex-patriate” and simply means you’ve left your native land to live in another country.
Who may enter, travel or reside in Portugal? Well, for a start: the direct members of the family of a Portuguese citizen – whether born here or not; also the offspring of foreign nationals whose births were registered in Portugal; children born in Portugal to foreign citizens who have lived here lawfully for at least five years; and finally, stateless persons born in Portugal.
EU / E.E.A, Andorran and Swiss Citizens – These citizens may enter, travel and reside in Portugal without a visa, and all of them, including citizens of Malta, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, may use a valid ID card instead of a passport to identify themselves.
Passport Note: If you present your passport for identification here (and in most other countries), it must have at least six months’ validity before the expiration date, and – if relevant – must bear the details of any children covered by that passport.
All EU Citizens are allowed to seek work in Portugal without having a work permit, but if you are asked to present alternative forms of identification at any time, it is useful to be able to show either a work permit or driver’s licence.
If you are below retirement age and still work, you can register for our Social Security and will be eligible for some welfare benefits under this system.
Non-EU Citizens – There are varied rules, depending on your home country or territory, but unless it had clear former links with Portugal, e.g. as an ex-colony, like almost all non-EU citizens, you will require a visa allowing a visit of up to 90 days. Rules for a work permit application vary. Talk with me for clarification.
Residence Permits – Only EU Citizens may apply for residency from within Portugal. Others must apply at an embassy or consulate in their own countries. EU/EEA, Andorra and Switzerland citizens who have been in Portugal for three months/90 days MUST apply for the “Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União de Europeia” or Registration Certificate at their local Municipal Council offices. In order to apply for it, you need:
- A valid Identity Card / Passport plus a written, signed and witnessed Affidavit declaring that you have a professional or business activity as an employee or are self-employed in Portugal; OR An Affidavit, declaring that you have sufficient funds/income/savings for you and for your family, and that you are covered by private and/or national health insurance under a reciprocal agreement that provides the same to Portuguese citizens in your country of origin.
- If you are a student: A valid Identity Card / Passport plus an Affidavit declaring that you are enrolled in an officially recognised school – either public or private, and documents showing evidence such as bank statements showing that you hold sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents. Also, you must present evidence that you are covered by private health insurance or a reciprocal national health scheme that applies to Portuguese citizens in your country of origin.
NOTE: I can help you with all the documentary evidence you need to show.
After Five Years’ Residence: If you hold the “Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União de Europeia” and have lived in Portugal for five years, you can apply for the Certificate of Permanent Residence for EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens.
Once you have a Certificate of Permanent Residence, remember: it doesn’t last forever! Do one of two things before it expires: 1) Renew it or 2) Complete the procedure for becoming a Portuguese citizen.
BREXIT Note: After Brexit, when the U.K. leaves the EU, visas, work permits, proofs of health insurance and different rules for permanent residence registrations and certificates will probably be required for U.K. Citizens. Keep checking this website for updates.
The Golden Visa Permit: This path to permanent residency was initiated for individuals with a considerable amount of capital to transfer into Portugal, including: investment in real estate (between 350,000 – 500,000 euro, depending on location) which can then be lived in, let or rented for residential or commercial use; investment in a wide variety of existing businesses or creation of a new business employing at least 10 permanent workers. Currently, investors only need to be present in Portugal for 7 days in the first year and two periods of 14 days each in the second year.
Securing the Golden Visa can be a complex, time-consuming process. Let me reduce the delays and frustrations and help you to locate the most attractive property or business investment options.
Because Golden Visa rules tend to change a little from year to year, you should first refer to the SEF (Border Control and Immigration agency) website, and then consult with me to plan your way ahead.
Portuguese Citizenship: Citizenship is earned or conferred through birth, familial relationships or naturalisation of foreign nationals after a qualifying period of residence and fulfillment of any other requirements by the State. You are not required to renounce your citizenship in another country.
NOTE: Your specific needs are best discussed face-to-face with your English-speaking lawyer. Meet with me. I can explain and guide you through what you need to do.
If you and your family want to become citizens, please note that to gain either the Certificate of Permanent Residence or full Citizenship, you must demonstrate at least basic spoken and written capability with the Portuguese language by presenting a Certificate of A2 proficiency in accordance with the CEFR, or Common European Framework of Reference for Languages issued by one of the following institutions:
- An accredited school in Portugal or another Portuguese-speaking country
- IEFP (Portugal’s Institute for Employment and Professional Training)
- An accredited centre that can evaluate knowledge of Portuguese as a foreign language
To integrate into Portuguese society and become a fully-active participant in your community, you should speak and write enough of our language to understand how our systems work and what is going on around you. I urge you to begin language lessons as soon as possible. They will open a thousand insights and wonderful opportunities for you.
NOTE: If you pass the language proficiency test for your Certificate of Permanent Residence, you do not have to take it again for the Citizenship application.
Golden Visa Holders: In case you do not fulfill this language requirement, your only option is to continue to renew your existing registration or certificate residence. If you have invested in Portugal to gain a “Golden Visa”, the language competence requirement still applies, and you may only continue to renew your Golden Visa as long as you maintain the same level of investment.