Moving to Portugal:
The Complete Guide

Are you thinking of relocating to Portugal? If yes, then you must be a bit worried as well as scared right now, arent’ you? Not because of the place but because of the lengthy process that you need to follow.

  • How to get a visa?
  • How much are the expenses?
  • Where should you live in Portugal?
  • How will you manage the schooling of your kids?

…and many other questions need to be answered before you move. This scenario demands a crucial need for proper information and guidance and that’s what this post is all about!

The following sections will provide you with precise information as well as guidance regarding every aspect of moving to Portugal. So, without any further ado, let’s dive in!

What Are the Pros and Cons of Moving to Portugal?

It is pretty obvious that you will research the benefits of living in a country before moving there. Hence, here we have some great insights for you.

Advantages of Living in Portugal

  • Affordable: If you are a foodie, it will be the best place for you. Food, bread, wine, and other grocery items are extremely affordable.

Moreover, if we talk about accommodation, the monthly rent of a 1 bedroom flat in Lisbon and Porto is €670 and €460, respectively. This is way less than New York and London where it costs more than €1,800. These figures make Portugal an affordable country to live in.

  • Leisure: One thing that Portugal assures you of is leisure. You will never get bored or tired of the place as it has a lot to offer. The first distinguishing factor in Portugal is the stunning beaches, such as Praia de Mirimar, Praia de Carvalho, and Praia da Ursa. These coastline locations offer you soft sands clubbed with clear water to revitalize your mind.

Other than this, the weather in the country is perfect. Portugal is blessed with warm summers and mild winters. The months of March to October are usually warm, including July to August, the hottest. The month of December is wet which keeps the flora and greenery of the country intact.

  • No Language Barrier: Well, well, well! This will be a surprise for you. People in Portugal are familiar with speaking English, especially in big cities so you’re not going to have communication issues.

As English is taught in the schools of the country for nine long years, most people communicate with expats in English, especially if they are the younger generation. As they are pretty welcoming, they never refrain from trying to communicate in English.

  • Community: If you are moving to Portugal, you will surely love the people there. The locals of the Portugal community are super friendly. They are very welcoming and helpful, no matter if you speak their language or not.
  • Transit: Unlike other countries like the UK and US, the traffic in the cities of Portugal is less, which allows for easy transit at any hour of the day.

For instance, in central Lisbon, you can get anywhere within 20 minutes on foot or 10 minutes by public transportation. If you want to opt for a cab, it is also affordable.

Disadvantages of Living in Portugal

  • Expensive Goods: Here is a con but not a dealbreaker, of course. Unlike rent and groceries in Portugal, the cost of consumer goods like fashion and electronics comes at a fat price. They can be costlier than the prices in the US, where companies offer hefty discounts.

Moreover, if you order anything from outside of the country, like from the US, it may take months to get through the Portuguese customs.

  • Driving Issues: Most of the local streets of Portugal are narrow, which makes it unfavorable for driving. It can lead to accidents.

Yes, the highways of the country are wide and spacious enough, but they are subject to tolls and you will end up paying a lot in just tolls.

  • Portuguese Is Tough: If you are moving to Portugal, it is pretty obvious that you should learn some Portuguese. Yes, most of the people speak English over there, but it will become necessary for you to learn Portuguese at some point in time.

Portuguese is a tough language, especially in regard to pronunciation. Hence, it takes a lot of effort and time to learn.

Visas and Residence Permits

To get a visa for Portugal, whether it is on a permanent basis or temporary, there are various formalities that you need to meet. Now, the requirements for acquiring a Portuguese visa are the same. Some extra conditions get added in case of multiple scenarios listed below.

As people can move to Portugal for various reasons like Work, Study, Business, Permanent Residency, etc., they need to fulfill some criteria and submit the required paperwork. To apply for a Portuguese Visa, it is necessary for you to possess the following:

  1. A complete Portugal visa application (available in both English and Portuguese)
  2. Two passport-sized photos not more than three months old
  3. A valid passport with copies of your previous visas
  4. A copy of your travel insurance with at least €30,000 coverage
  5. A copy of your return ticket, though it is not necessary in all cases
  6. Proof of accommodation during the stay
  7. Proof of funds sufficient enough to support you during the visit
  8. Proof of your civil status, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.
  9. A cover letter disclosing the reason for the visit

All these documents need to be submitted to the Portuguese Embassy for obtaining the visa. As per the additional documents or criteria is concerned, here are the various scenarios where you may need to add some extra documents to get the visa or residence permit.

Visit

If you are a European citizen, you don’t require any permission to live in Portugal for up to three months. But, post three months, it becomes necessary for you to register with câmara municipal (City Hall). You need to inform about your place of residence and obtain a Registration Certificate.

On the other hand, if you are non-European, it is necessary for you to apply for a residence permit if you want to stay longer than three months in the country. For entering the country, of course, you might have to apply for a visa depending on your nationality. The basic requirements of a visa application are the same for almost all applications.

When you apply for a residence permit, you will be issued a residence card that you need to carry with you at all times.

Note: The validity of the residence permit card is for one year and is renewable.

Here are the necessary requirements for a residence permit as a visitor:

  1. A valid passport
  2. Two colored photos with a blank background
  3. Valid residence visa
  4. Proof of sufficient funds for the visit
  5. Proof of your accommodation like if you are going to stay with your relatives, tax payment info, and financial status of them.
  6. Permission to check your criminal record in Portugal by the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras)
  7. Proof of enrollment or payment of social security

Study

Portugal is a country that has around 16 public universities, which makes it one of the best places to study in the world. This is why moving to Portugal to study is a legitimate reason. The basic terms of the visa application are the same, but as you will be going there as a student, some terms of the requirements get added, such as:

  • You need to submit a letter of acceptance from the respective college, university, or high school
  • You have to get proof of payment of the tuition fee
  • A criminal record certificate could be requested by some embassies

Now, as you have deposited all the necessary documents to the embassy, it may take from one to around three months to process your application.

Note: The time taken by the embassy to process your application depends on the country from which you are applying.

If we talk about the cost of the Portugal student visa, it will cost you around €60 for those who want to stay for less than three months. If the time of stay is more, €99 will be the cost of the student visa.

If you have to stay for more than three months in Portugal for your study and you are a non-European, you are required to get a residence permit. For that, you need to fulfill the same criteria as you did for obtaining your visa. Plus, you need to have proof of enrollment at the designated university and proof of payment of fees.

Note: If your study is for more than a year or two, it is necessary for you to renew your residence permit card.

Work

If you are moving to Portugal for employment purposes, there are again some conditions that add to your visa requirement list. These conditions can vary a little depending on the fact if you are employed in a company in Portugal or have a company of your own (self-employment).

  • If you are employed at a firm in Portugal

Your employer applies for a work permit for you, and once it is approved, you can apply for your work visa. For a work visa, you need to satisfy all the basic conditions of obtaining a visa mentioned above, plus the ones mentioned below:

  • A copy of the employment contract
  • A copy of the bank statement for the last six months
  • A declaration by the Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional (IEFP)
  • Your latest filed income tax returns
    • If you are self-employed

    This is an entirely different scenario where you are self-employed and do not have any job in the country. In such a case, you need to satisfy the mentioned conditions apart from the basic conditions of visa application.

    • Proof of having a business venture of your own or a contract of providing services (like a freelancer)
    • Declaration by an authority that you are capable of taking up employment.

    You can also apply for a self-employed visa as an entrepreneur. For that, you need to fulfill the following criteria:

    • A proof of your investments in the company
    • A proof that you have ample financial means in Portugal
    • A declaration from IAPMEI saying that your business is an incubator

If you are a skilled worker with high qualifications, you can also apply for an EU Blue Card. The card is specifically for highly skilled people and is valid for one to four years. With an EU Blue Card, you can work in 24 out of 27 EU states. If we need to talk about the cost of a visa and residency in Portugal,

  • The price of a long-term work visa will cost around €83, and a residence permit will add €72 more
  • For an EU Blue Card, you need to invest around €107 and €100 for the residence permit
  • If you are applying for a self-employment visa, it will cost you around €532, whereas a residence permit for an investment visa will amount to €5,300

Live

The last scenario on the list is that you are moving to Portugal for living, whether temporary or permanent. Here are some crucial points about residency in Portugal:

  • As mentioned above, if you are a non-European citizen and have resided in the country for at least three months, you need to apply for a residence card that will extend your time of living in Portugal by one year. Post this; you can renew the card for two more years, twice. And when you complete five years of living after moving to Portugal, legally, you can apply for permanent residency.

The basic conditions of getting permanent residency in Portugal are:

  1. An application form duly signed by you
  2. Two passport-sized recent photos
  3. A valid passport
  4. Proof of accommodation and ample funds for sustenance
  5. A valid temporary residence permit
  6. Proof of basic command of the Portuguese language
  7. Permission for SEF to check criminal record

Accommodation in Portugal

The very first thing that anyone would look for at a new place is good accommodation. And if we talk about Portugal, the city has a mix of both affordable and pricey accommodation.

If you want to opt for rented accommodation, the expensive cities like Porto, Lisbon, and Faro offer spaces at a monthly rent between €700 and 1,500. On the other hand, if we talk about the cheap accommodation locations in Portugal like Guarda, Castelo Branco, and Portalegre the rent prices vary from €300-450. All you will need is a valid ID and the last few tax returns.

If you want to own a house in Portugal, it will cost you somewhere between €500,000 and €2 million in Lisbon. A house will cost you near to about €300,000 in the cheaper cities in the country.

Healthcare

The healthcare department of Portuguese is the best as well as affordable. The country has both public as well as private healthcare options for its residents.

Public healthcare is free of cost but can consume a lot of your time of yours. Public healthcare is not entirely free; actually, you will end up paying between €6 and €22 for seeing a family doctor or for a house visit. Moreover, a diagnostic test or exam may cost you around €40.

Moreover, the private healthcare services in Portugal are fast as well as affordable. The cost and time of seeing a medical professional are both bearable. Typical health insurance will cause you around €20-50 per month. Whereas the waiting time for an appointment is 15-30 days for high-priority patients, whereas, for regular patients, it is 150-180 days. In public facilities, this time can go in the range of years.

Education

Education should be your number one concern if you are moving to Portugal. Why? Well, if you want your children to excel in life, it is best to safeguard what they learn and schools are the places that can guide them well.

Portugal, just like other countries, has both public and privately owned schools. Public schools provide free education to all of the residents, and the level of education has elevated in recent years. Private schools, on the other hand, cost around €300-400 per month for preschool and kindergarten. The fee for daycare and childcare can be around €400 per month.

From the primary level to high school, the cost for a private can be between €450-550 per month. If you are opting for a premium international school, be ready to pay a whopping monthly fee in the range of €800-2,000 per month. Just like the price, the quality of education is also top-notch in these schools.

If we talk about higher education, public universities will cost you close to €1,000 per year, whereas a private university will charge around €3,000 per year.

Working

Due to its brilliant and attractive facilities, Portugal has become a hub for IT companies that have raised the employment scope in the city.

The average salary in Portugal is around €1,100 per month. It can go up to €1,800 if you have some advanced skills.

Other than this, some of the tops paid professions in Portugal are hotel manager (€80,000/per year), product manager (€39,000/per year), marketing manager (€27,000/per year), and many others. A normal working week is 40 hours. So, if you move to Portugal, your working regime will be light.

Cost of Living

If you are moving to Portugal, it is necessary to consider at which location you will be living. As it highly decides the overall cost of living. Here are some of the average rent figures of various locations in Portugal:

  • Lisbon: €1,100
  • Cascais: €1,000
  • Porto: €700
  • Faro: €600
  • Coimbra: €500

Other than this, electricity will cost you around €50 per month whereas gas and water will cost  €20 and €30, respectively. Groceries will amount to close to €80 per month.

If you feel like eating out, a fancy high-class restaurant will cost you around €80, whereas an inexpensive one will cost around €10.

So, we can deduct that the cost of living is affordable if you have a decent income. Hence, moving to Portugal will be economical in the long run for you.

Banking and Taxes

Banking in Portugal

Managing your finances is a very crucial thing, and it becomes more important when you are moving to Portugal.

One of the best things about the banking system of Portugal is that it is extremely simple and cost-effective. It is easy to open an account, no matter if it is online or offline, in any bank in the country.

You can get an account in banks like Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BNP Paribas, Banco Santander Totta, Millennium BCP, and many others by submitting:

  • A valid ID
  • NIF (Your Portuguese tax number)
  • Address proof
  • Employment proof

The annual bank fee is around €60, whereas the minimum deposit of the banks varies. It is €100 for Banco CTT and €250 for ActivoBank.

Taxes in Portugal

No matter if you want to open an account or buy a house, it is mandatory for you to get a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal). This is a unique number using which you can pay taxes.

Note: You will be taxed on your income if you have lived in Portugal for a minimum of 183 days in a year.

The tax rates vary with your income. It can go from as low as 0 to 45.3 percent.

There is a special tax rate of 20 percent for those who are Non-Habitual Residents. By this status, a person who has not lived in Portugal for the last five years receives a flat 20 percent tax rate for up to 10 years. In some cases, the entire tax can also be exempted. This is mostly for pensioners and highly skilled employees. Portugal created this status in 2009 for alluring value-added potential in the country.

Things To Know Before Moving to Portugal

Apart from all the above-described factors, there are some little things that you need to know before moving to Portugal. Here are some quick pointers that you need to know before moving to Portugal:

  1. Decide on how to ship your necessities, by ship, air, or road.
  2. Be aware of the customs regulations. These will affect the things that you can carry across borders.
  3. Keep all your documents ready for the airport.
  4. Keep a list of all the required essentials like beverages, fuel, and eatables. Know about the things you need to pack.
  5. Keep a check on forbidden items in the country like drugs, firearms, gold bars, etc.
  6. Get the required medication and vaccination for entering the country like measles, polio, varicella, etc.
  7. Check if you can move with pets. If yes, then which breeds like Pitbull terrier, Rottweiler, and some other breeds are allowed but under certain conditions.

Good luck with moving to Portugal!

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