Confused about getting a Business, Work, Passive Income, or Study Visa? Here’s all about visas to Portugal!

Last Updated on November 1, 2022 by Maryam Siddiqui

Citizens around the world are increasingly interested in living in Portugal and enjoying the Portuguese way of life. If you’re one of them, you’ll need to apply for a visa before planning anything else. But which one should you apply for? Keep reading to get to know all about visas to Portugal!

A visa will ensure you have a residence permit that allows you to live and work in Portugal. It also ensures that you can stay here for a long time. But with so many different technicalities, it can get confusing. 

How much will it be? How much time will it take? What documents do you need to submit? Let’s inform you of all the important details to make your dream come true. Happy reading!

Table of Contents

Many questions arise when talking about visas to Portugal, but luckily, we’ve got answers. In this article, we will talk about visas and residence permits in Portugal and cover the following subjects:

Residence Permit in Portugal

The procedure to obtain a Residence Permit may change according to the applicant’s situation. However, most of the time, the applicant will apply for the standard procedure, which is split into two stages.

Which visa to Portugal should I apply for

The first one takes place in the applicant’s country of residence, and the second one is in Portugal.

  • Country of residence: Initial procedure to apply for a visa to reside in Portugal. It usually begins at the local Portuguese Consulate (or Embassy). In this stage, you must choose the type of visa to apply for.
  • In Portugal: Final stage of the process. It starts after you receive the visa (stamped in the passport). At this stage, you will apply for the Residence Permit at Foreigners and Borders Services (SEF), in Portugal.

Obtaining a visa

For the first stage of the process, you can perform different activities, depending on your country of residence.

As an example, to obtain a Work Visa in South Africa, you will need to register at the VFS Global website and follow the procedure on this platform.

Apply for a visa to Portugal online on VFS Global

For other countries, there may be no intermediaries (such as VFS Global), and the Consulate or Embassy of Portugal will perform the procedure.

Therefore, during this initial procedure, you (or your lawyer) should check the regulations of the country where you will apply for the visa in order to comply with the local guidelines.

In any case, prior to the application procedure for a visa, you must make sure that you have all the requirements for the application to start the process.

Obviously, depending on the type of visa, you must present different documents and follow different procedures.

In this article, we will only address the procedure for obtaining a Residence Permit (applicable to those who intend to reside in Portugal). There are other visa types focused on those who don’t plan to reside in Portugal, such as the short-term permit and the temporary stay visa.

After this initial stage comes to an end with the granting of the requested visa, the second (and last) stage takes place.

Obtaining a Residence Permit

In this second stage, you will have to present the documents to request your residence title to live in Portugal: The Residence Permit.

This procedure takes place in Portuguese territory, and it follows a standard path, no matter the type of visa that was applied for in the first stage.

Therefore, when in Portugal, every applicant will follow the same route to obtain the Resident Permit.

There may be a situation where Portugal has an agreement with a given country, making this procedure undergo some small changes according to the agreement conditions.

Now we will analyze the main obligations, rules, policies, and deadlines related to the process of obtaining visas for residence in Portugal.

All about residence visas to Portugal

Before addressing the types of visas that allow the Residence Permit in Portugal, let’s take a look at some information related to visas to Portugal. They are as follows:

There are many types of visas in Portugal, such as:

  • the Schengen Visa (for short stays of up to 90 days in Portugal and can be granted for the purposes of tourism, family visit, business, seasonal work, transit, etc.);
  • the Temporary Stay Visa (intended for those planning to stay in Portugal for a period of up to one year); and
  • the Residence Visa (intended for those planning to stay in Portugal for over one year).

In this article, we will analyze some types of Residence Visas to Portugal. 

The period for issuing visas may vary according to the procedures of the Portuguese Consulate in your country of residence, but usually, you will have to wait up to 60 days.

After the issuance of the Residence Visa, you must travel to Portugal in order to comply with the second stage of the process.

After the issuance of the visa, the applicant may enter Portugal and stay there for up to 4 months (with the possibility of two entries) until be interviewed at SEF.

Documents you must present

There are some documents that must be presented regardless of the type of visa requested, such as:

  1. Filled SEF form
  2. Copy of your Passport
  3. Proof of means of subsistence
  4. Proof of accommodation
  5. International Travel Insurance
  6. Criminal Background Certificate

Having a Residence Permit (obtained through the Residence Visa) for a period of 5 years allows its owner to request the Permanent Residence Permit (which must be renewed every 5 years) and even to apply for Portuguese Nationality.

Proof of means of subsistence

Proof of means of subsistence is the document proving that you have the financial conditions to live in Portugal during the period of the Residence Permit without the need for additional income.

This value is linked to the minimum wage, and in 2023, you should present at least the below amount in a Portuguese bank account.

  • €8,460 for the first adult (main applicant)
  • Plus €4,230  for the second adult (spouse)
  • Plus €2,538 for each child

This amount should be deposited in a Portuguese bank.

Proof of accommodation

Proof of accommodation is related to your address in Portugal: A place to stay as soon as you arrive in the country.

Depending on your country of residence, different documents may be accepted for this purpose. Among the most common, we can highlight:

  1. One year Lease Agreement in Portugal (most commonly required document)
  2. Property Ownership in Portugal
  3. Invitation letter signed by a person residing in Portugal (on some occasions)
  4. Proof of hotel or Airbnb reservation (on some occasions)

International travel insurance

The International Travel Insurance must be valid throughout the entire period of the permit.

This document must cover the expenses resulting from repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical assistance, and hospital care. Also, the minimum amount insured must be €30,000.

It is worth mentioning that some countries have agreements with Portugal; therefore, some requirements may change according to the citizen’s nationality.

As an example, due to the Social Security agreement between Portugal and Brazil, Brazilians may present the PB-4 document to comply with the International Medical Insurance requirement.

Below we’ll analyze some types of visas to Portugal that, if granted, will authorize the applicant to be granted the Residence Permit in Portugal.

D4 Visa – Study

The Study Visa, commonly known as the D4 Visa, authorizes its owner to study at higher education institutions in Portugal (university or polytechnic level) for one year or more.

International students at the university of Coimbra

The process for obtaining this visa follows the general rule, as previously described (two stages, the initial in the country of residence and the last one in Portugal). The submission of documents also takes place in the first stage of the process.

You must submit the following documents: 

  • Passport
  • Proof of means of subsistence
  • Proof of accommodation
  • International Travel Insurance
  • Criminal Background Certificate
  • Letter of Acceptance or Enrollment (Issued by a Portuguese institution)

Therefore, before applying for a Study Visa, the applicant must be enrolled in a Portuguese educational establishment.

Important Information about the Study Visa

Pay attention to deadlines!

In Portugal, the school year (beginning of classes) starts in September. Therefore, the candidate must enroll for the course at the beginning of the year (when the selection process in the educational institutions usually starts).

After being approved, the candidate must apply for the visa at the consulate or embassy of Portugal, where he or she resides, or online via the VFS Global website.

The candidate will then receive the decision on whether the visa was granted or not in up to 2 months. 

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Visa waiver

Since 2017, it is possible for students already approved and enrolled at university to travel to Portugal without a visa. This procedure was approved to prevent you from missing classes due to any delays.

In this case, the applicant must schedule an appointment at SEF (in Portugal) to present the required documents to obtain the Residence Permit.

You will obtain your Residence Permit and be able to start your course only after completing this procedure.

It is important to emphasize that this is an exceptional procedure. So it is always recommended to undergo the standard procedure to obtain a Study Visa in the residence country.

However, if SEF understands that you do not meet the requirements to obtain the Residence Permit in Portugal, your Residence Permit can be denied.

D7 Visa – Passive Income

The D7 Visa is undoubtedly one of the most common visas for those who wish to reside in Portugal.

It is intended for people who have passive income, such as pensions or finance investments revenues.

This visa seeks to attract people with a profile that can be good for Portugal; once these people: 

  • Have their income guaranteed outside Portugal and will bring these resources to Portugal and, therefore, heat up the local economy.
  • Won’t need a job in Portugal, which is why they will not compete with the Portuguese labor force.

Keep in mind that you can also apply for the Non-Habitual Tax Resident’s regime and be granted tax incentives for 10 years!

Retirees and passive income move to the Algarve

For the purposes of the D7 Visa, we can considerate passive income, for example: 

  • Retirement income (pensions)
  • Property rental
  • Royalties
  • Dividends
  • Financial investments

Thus, in addition to the standard documents, you must submit proof of periodic income.

We can’t forget that, in addition to presenting the passive income, the applicant must also provide Portuguese bank statements that can prove the means of subsistence (for the applicant and the entire family).

Since 2020, this Residence Permit has been valid for 2 years.

Also, as mentioned before, after residing in Portugal for a period of 5 years, the resident can request the Permanent Residence Permit for Portuguese nationality.

D2 Visa – Business

The D2 Visa, also known as the Business or Entrepreneur Visa, was developed to attract businesses to Portugal.

With new businesses, the country will receive more money for taxes and profit from creating new jobs. Therefore, this visa provides an immediate financial return to Portugal.

However, this type of visa is not accessible to everyone, as the applicant must have an entrepreneurial spirit, and also financial support to go after it.

Business visa for entrepreneurs in Portugal

Below are some expenses that you will have to bear, even before applying for a visa:

  • Opening of the company in Portugal: from €220 to €360.
  • Accountant Service: Around €180/month
  • Social Security: €150/month

Therefore, the entrepreneur will need to spend around €600 to start the process.

Not every type of company will be approved for the purpose of obtaining a D2 Visa.

The SEF will carry out an in-depth analysis both in relation to the company’s situation and the partners’ backgrounds. The greater the chances for a successful business, the higher the chances of being granted a visa.

Important Information about the Business Visa

Documents

In addition to the documents applicable to most visas, the applicant should submit the following documents:

  1. Detailed and strong Business Plan
  2. Proof of the incorporation of the company
  3. Documents that prove the partners’ experience
  4. The financial statements to carry out the business

Knowing the territorial configuration, the cultural aspect of its citizens, and all other characteristics that may influence its business are very important.

Activity relevance

The applicant should also check if the activity is to be developed as special relevance in Portugal.

In this context, the greater the economic, financial, structural, and cultural return for the benefit of Portugal, the better.

We know how difficult it can be to start a business in a foreign country since you need to consider its population preferences, language, lifestyle, and so on.

This is why it’s incredibly helpful to have experienced people assisting you throughout the process. Get in touch with Viv Europe and ensure that you get your Business Visa on time.

D1 Visa – Subordinated Job

The Subordinated Job Visa or Work Visa is undoubtedly one of the most complex in terms of procedure. This visa authorizes citizens already hired by a Portuguese employer to reside and work in Portugal during the Residence Permit period.

The first step required to obtain a Work Visa is to seek job vacancies in Portugal. Usually, applicants perform this procedure online by searching specialized websites, such as SAPO Empregos, Indeed, Adecco, and Linkedin.

Find a job to apply for a work visa to Portugal

After going through the company’s hiring process and being hired, it’s time for the employer to act.

The employer will have to obtain a Certificate issued by the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP). This document will be required for the applicant’s visa application.

So yes, this can be a complex process.

The IEFP Certificate consists of a document proving that the company has publicized the job offer and has carried out the selection process with other candidates. Therefore it can prove that only the foreign candidate has the required skills to be hired.

Some workplaces also consider hiring local citizens instead of foreigners. That is one of the reasons why this visa can be a bit more demanding.

As you see, an employer has additional requirements to hire a candidate from outside Portugal.

Therefore, the most important requirements for obtaining a Work Visa are the Employment Contract (or even a Promise) and the IEFP Statement.

Other visas for workers

It is also important to highlight that other visas are also related to the exercise of professional activity in Portugal, such as the D2 Visa for freelancers and the D3 Visa for highly qualified professionals.

Startup Visa

Portugal is becoming the new Startup Hub in Europe. With so many new businesses and coworking spaces, entrepreneurs are thriving in the region of Lisbon and Porto. Business incubators and the ideal geographic location attract many individuals to be a part of this growing economy. 

The Startup Visa is a visa for people who have an innovative project and who intend to develop it in Portugal.

For this reason, Portugal has created policies to attract entrepreneurs and foreign talents, especially in the area of technology.

In short, through the Startup Visa, citizens outside the European Union can develop their Startup companies in Portugal and obtain their Residence Permits.

However, not every startup is in a position to apply for this visa, only those that meet the legal requirements. That’s because before applying for this visa, a Portuguese incubator needs to select, shelter, and support your startup.

Agência para a Competitividade e Inovação (IAPMEI), is responsible for carrying out this program. And also for the analysis, selection, and certification of startup companies.

Therefore, the first step to start this process is: Enroll in the startup shelter process.

If IAPMEI chooses the candidate’s startup, only then can the applicant start their visa process.

To participate in the selection process, the startup must enroll at the IAPMEI portal.

Requirements to participate

The candidate must also meet some requirements, among them:

  • Develop a new Startup in Portugal to produce innovative services and goods
  • The Startup must have the potential to create new jobs
  • Prove that the project or Startup is tech-related
  • Not having residence in the Schengen countries
  • Have enough funds in a bank account

The Startup must be innovative, scalable, profitable, and a job generator. For this reason, only the best players will be able to compete for this visa.

The decision to approve this procedure takes around 30 days from the submission. During this period of time, the startup will be evaluated based on the mentioned requirements.

It is worth mentioning that no incubator will concentrate on more than 20 startups at the same time.

Considering all these requirements, a comparative analysis between the Startup Visa and the Business Visa (D2 Visa) is recommended for entrepreneurs interested in developing a project in Portugal.

D6 Visa – Family Reunification

This visa authorizes the citizen’s family with a residence permit to reside in Portugal.

However, only the family members listed in the Foreigner’s Law may apply for reunification. Among them, we can highlight the following:

  • Spouse
  • Partner (a stable union)
  • Underage or disabled children
  • Minor children adopted by the couple or one of the spouses
  • Older children who are single and are studying in a Portuguese educational institution
  • Parents or children who are dependent on the applicant
  • Minor brothers who are under the guardianship of the applicant

The procedure for obtaining family reunification changes whether the citizen is in Portugal.

Family reunification visa to Portugal

Also, the documents to present can vary according to the status of the person requesting Family Reunification (e.g., spouse or child). However, in all cases, the main document you must present the proof of the family bond.

There are, however, many details related to each type of Family Reunification process. So you and your lawyer must analyze your case individually.

Just as an example, the family reunification of a partner (known as a Stable Union) may depend on the registration in Portugal of the documents that prove this union.

Finally, it is worth noting that the validation period of the applicant’s Residence Permit for Family Reunification will be the same as that of the holder of the Residence Permit.

Why are people moving to Portugal?

There are many factors to explain this trend. One of the most important is being able to live the Portuguese Way of Life.

That means, among other reasons, living in a place where people consider a peaceful environment more than constantly thinking about making money or living a busy life.

But that is not all. It’s also living in a country that has:

  • A well-defined climate
  • Security
  • Affordable cost of living 
  • Welcoming people
  • Paradisiacal places
  • Delicious food

For this reason, Forbes has ranked Portugal as one of the best countries to live in, especially after the COVID-19 crisis.

There are indeed many reasons that encourage people to move to Portugal. You can find some of them in our article: 8 Reasons Why Portugal Became So Popular.

Do you want a Visa to Portugal?

Chances are that you’ve read till the end because you have plans of moving to Portugal soon. We hope this article on visas to Portugal helped you understand what you need to do to obtain one and relocate. 

It’s helpful to get in touch with individuals who’ve made the same you’re about to. Join our Facebook Group – All About Portugal For Expats, and ask as many questions as you’d like! 

Once you’re ready to take the next step, Viv Europe’s experts will be waiting to be at your service. Obtaining a visa is much easier when you’re guided by professionals who’ve helped hundreds of people before you. Contact us today and start working on your dream! 

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