Portugal residency for EU/EFTA citizens

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The republic Portugal is a desired country to relocate to because of its high living standard, the appealing climate, the laidback lifestyle and the warm and welcoming locals. Portugal is a member of the European Union, the Schengen Zone, the United Nations and of NATO. If you have selected Portugal as your new or temporary home you might need to get a visa or permit if you decide to reside, work, or study and for long stays over 90 days.

Applying for a visa can seem like an intense and difficult task, but the Portuguese immigration policy is straightforward and easy to follow.

The Portuguese immigration system for EU citizens

In light of the world recovering from the effects of Covid-19 and the increasing immigrations demands into the Portuguese territory, the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Asilo (SEA), or Foreigners and Asylum Services has been installed. The Portuguese government sees the reformation of the public service as important. Technical-administrative and police functions are clearly segregated to ensure each department knows their role in the immigration processes, in a humanistic and less bureaucratic approach.

Her administrative duties are:

  • Assistance for issuing visas
  • Issuing residence permits
  • Assessing family reunification
  • Handling asylum applications

The SEA has distributed her police power further over different authorities:

  • GNR (National Guard), for guarding and patrolling land and marine borders
  • PSP (Public Safety Police), for airport borders and cruise terminals
  • PJ (Judiciary Police), for the investigation of crimes related to immigration and human trafficking

SEA function is there to help you with any inquiries related to your stay in Portugal, entry and re-entry into Portugal, residency permits; right and duties, renewal, extension of the permit. You can make an appointment in one of the SEA service points. They are located at the border, and in the main regions:

  • Norte
  • Centro
  • Lisboa Vale Do Tejo e Alentejo
  • Algarve
  • Madeira
  • Açores

Immigration policy for EU/EFTA citizens

As a member of the European Union and of the Schengen Area, Portugal has agreed to visa-free entry without border controls for EU/EFTA citizens. To travel within the Schengen Zone a valid national identification document for EU/EFTA citizens is sufficient.

EU citizens are citizens from the 28 EU member states, of which the member states of the Schengen zone can travel holding a valid identity card, where other EU countries do not require a visa, but should travel with a passport valid for up to six months. EFTA citizens are citizens from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The situation for UK citizens may change following Brexit, but until then UK citizens can travel visa free with a passport valid for up to three months and no longer than 10 years old.

EU/EFTA citizen

  • Have free-visa entry
  • Do not need to register for a short stay up to 90 days
  • Do need to register with the Portuguese authorities in case you wish to reside, work, or for long stays over 90 days

With the exception of third-country national family members and relatives of Portuguese or EU citizens Family members and relatives of EU citizens who are not EU nationals may be granted entry, and a valid international travel passport is required. In certain cases a visa may be needed, please be advised to contact the Portuguese consulate in your home country to verify your situation. The Portuguese authorities will provide you with guidance. For family members or relatives of EU citizens who are not EU nationals, this rule does not apply and you will be requested to present a visa for entry.

Portuguese immigration policy for longer than 90 days

The immigration rules differ depending mainly on the purpose and the planned length of your stay in Portugal. There are basically two outlines to follow. visa2 (1).jpg

All EU nationals are free to travel for a period up to three months. Even so with the purpose of finding a job or to start up a business, once you have successfully done so you will have the same rights as a Portuguese citizen. In case you wish to stay longer than three consecutive months, you will need a registration certificate. After a period of five years an EU citizen will be eligible for a Portuguese permanent residence certificate.

Today the European Community has an agreement with 61 visa-free countries. Any nationals from those countries can travel with a valid passport to the Schengen Zone. These visa-free entries are only for leisure purposes. In case you intend to work, study, reside or retire in Portugal you will need a visa or residence permit.

EU/EFTA citizens should inform the SEA about their long-term stay. They are required to register at an address in Portugal and might need to apply for a national tax number (NIF). In addition to that, consider getting a local bank account (if applicable, nowadays many online banks offer multi-currency accounts), a Portuguese healthcare registration, and setting up a local telecommunications account.

Working in Portugal

As an EU/EFTA citizen you do not need a visa to enter Portugal for travel and to find work. You have the right to enter Portugal and stay for up to 90 days. Once you do find work, you should register with the civil register and apply for a NIF. As an EU/EFTA citizen you have the same work rights as a Portuguese citizen, like social security and building a pension.

Studying in Portugal

Students who are EU/EFTA citizens can freely travel to Portugal and enrol into a study. For many students an exchange program, such as Erasmus can set things in motion, but students can start a study out of their own movement. In case a student wishes to stay longer than 90 days, a registration of your stay is required. Make an appointment with a SEA service desk. You will be required to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself and proof of your enrollment in the school of your choice. You will have the right to work next to your study, just like Portuguese students.

Retiring in Portugal

EU/EFTA citizens who wish to retire in Portugal are welcome to do so as long as the retiree can prove they can provide for themselves and provide proof of a health insurance. In addition to that once the age of 66 has been reached retirees may apply for a Portuguese pension, if it can be shown that for at least 15 years of social security contributions have been made in any EU country. Pensions from another EU country could be transferred to Portugal. Find out via the calculator what that would mean for your pension.

EU rights under Portuguese immigration law

As an EU/EFTA citizen in Portugal you are protected by EU immigration laws, meaning that in certain situations you will receive support and even benefits in case you are eligible. Such as:

  • Family expenses relating to children and young persons
  • Maternity, paternity and adoption benefits
  • Health care, sickness benefits
  • Incapacity, Disability Pension
  • Old-age and survivors
  • Social assistance, Social Integration Income
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Adding together contribution periods

Getting Portuguese citizenship

After having lived in Portugal for five consecutive years, on a temporary residency card you can apply for permanent residency in Portugal with an SEA service desk. After that, in the sixth year, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship and obtain a Portuguese passport.