Moving to Portugal from the US: Visa Requirements 101 

Moving to Portugal from the US: Visa Requirements 101 
Updated on April 24, 2024

Every year, thousands of Americans are drawn to Portugal’s rich culture, stunning landscapes, and warm weather. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retirement, an adventurous lifestyle, or simply a change of scenery, understanding Portugal’s visa requirements is your first step toward a successful move. Here’s what you should know. 

Why Expats Choose Portugal 

The promise of a relaxed, affordable lifestyle, combined with cultural richness and safety, makes Portugal one of the best options for those looking to relocate from the US. Portugal’s many benefits include: 

  • Cost of living: Portugal’s cost of living is significantly lower than in many parts of the US. This makes housing, healthcare, and daily expenses much more affordable, allowing Americans to stretch their income further. 
  • Quality of life: Portugal ranks highly in global quality of life indexes. The country boasts an excellent healthcare system, high educational standards, and a healthy work-life balance. 
  • Welcoming culture: The Portuguese are known for their warm and welcoming culture, making it easier for Americans to feel at home. English is common, especially in urban areas and business settings, helping reduce the concerns of a language barrier. 
  • Natural beauty: Portugal’s diverse landscapes—from pristine beaches along the Algarve coast to the verdant valleys of Douro—offer breathtaking views and a multitude of outdoor activities. 
  • Warm weather: The Mediterranean climate, characterized by mild winters and sunny summers, is particularly appealing for those seeking a pleasant year-round climate. 
  • Expat community: Portugal is already home to a vibrant expatriate community, offering a supportive network for newcomers. Various expat groups and forums provide resources and social opportunities to help ease the transition. 
  • Tax benefits: Portugal offers attractive tax incentives for expats, such as the Non-Habitual Resident program, which provides favorable tax treatment for the first ten years of residency. This program is particularly beneficial for retirees and professionals with high-value skills. 
  • Safety: Portugal is consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. Low crime rates give residents a deep sense of security and well-being. 

Benefits of Portugal’s Visas 

The primary benefit of a Portuguese visa is that it allows you to live (and possibly work) in Portugal. A visa can also grant you access to the Portuguese healthcare and education systems. After five years, you can pursue permanent residency and possibly even citizenship. This will give you the right to live and work in any EU member state—not just Portugal. 

Even without citizenship, Portuguese visa holders have access to the Schengen Area, allowing them to travel freely through EU countries. 

Types of Visas for Moving to Portugal 

Portugal offers several visa options, each catering to different needs and goals. Understanding the specifics of these visas can help you make the right decision for your unique situation. 

Work Visa (D1 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Professionals who have received a job offer from a Portuguese employer. 
  • Overview: Permits individuals to live and work in Portugal, contributing to the country’s workforce. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Valid job offer from a Portuguese employer 
    • Professional qualifications and experience relevant to the job 
    • Labor contract specifying terms of employment 
    • Health insurance valid in Portugal 

Learn more about Portugal’s Work Visa program

Entrepreneur Visa (D2 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Entrepreneurs planning to start a business in Portugal or freelance professionals. 
  • Overview: Facilitates the entry and stay of entrepreneurs looking to launch or transfer their businesses to Portugal, encouraging innovation and economic development. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Business plan demonstrating the viability and economic potential of the project 
    • Sufficient financial resources to start and run the business 
    • Proof of investment or capital transfer 
    • Registration with the Portuguese tax and social security authorities 

Learn more about Portugal’s Entrepreneur Visa program

Highly Qualified Activity Visa (D3 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Highly skilled professionals, researchers, or higher education teachers. 
  • Overview: Targets individuals engaged in high-value activities, promoting knowledge and innovation in Portugal. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Job offer or contract in a high-skilled occupation 
    • Recognition of qualifications 
    • Health insurance valid in Portugal 

Short-Term Student Visa (D4 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: International students enrolled in Portuguese educational institutions for a course lasting less than 90 days. 
  • Overview: Allows students to reside in Portugal for up to 90 days while they complete a short-term Portuguese educational course. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Proof of enrollment in a recognized educational institution 
    • Sufficient funds to cover living expenses 
    • Health insurance valid in Portugal 
    • Proof of accommodation 

Learn more about Portugal’s Short-Term Student Visa program

Long-Term Student Visa (D5 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Students who are enrolled in a Portuguese education for a course lasting LONGER than 90 days. 
  • Overview: Designed for students enrolled in degree programs or long-term educational courses, facilitating their stay for the duration of their studies. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Official acceptance letter from a recognized Portuguese educational institution 
    • Proof of sufficient funds to cover tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the study program 
    • Health insurance valid in Portugal 
    • Clean criminal record certificate 

Learn more about Portugal’s Long-Term visa program

Family Reunification Visa (D6 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Family members of valid Portuguese visa holders or residents. 
  • Overview: Allows families to live together in Portugal, promoting the unity of family units during the expatriation process. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Proof of familial relationship with the resident (e.g., marriage certificate, birth certificate) 
    • Evidence that the resident can financially support all family members 
    • Health insurance for each family member 

Learn more about Portugal’s Family Reunification Visa program

Passive Income Visa (D7 Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Individuals with a steady passive income, such as retirees or remote workers. 
  • Overview: The D7 Visa is designed for those who can support themselves financially without needing to work for a Portuguese entity. It’s an ideal choice for retirees, remote workers, and digital nomads
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Proof of regular passive income (e.g., pensions, rental earnings, investments) 
    • Must meet a minimum income threshold 
    • Health insurance coverage valid in Portugal 
    • Proof of accommodation in Portugal 
    • Clean criminal record from the home country and previous countries of residence 

Learn more about Portugal’s Passive Income Visa program

Golden Visa (Investment Visa) 

  • Who it’s for: Investors willing to make significant financial contributions to the Portuguese economy. 
  • Overview: Provides a fast track to residency for those making substantial investments, such as purchasing real estate, investing in businesses, or supporting cultural projects. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Minimum investment amount specified by the program (varies with the type of investment) 
    • Investment must be maintained for at least five years 
    • Proof of investment and legal entry into Portugal 
    • Health insurance valid in Portugal 
    • Minimal residency requirements to maintain the visa 

Learn more about Portugal’s Golden Visa program

Startup Visa 

  • Who it’s for: Non-EU/EEA entrepreneurs launching startups in Portugal. 
  • Overview: Aims to attract investment and talent in the startup ecosystem, supporting innovative projects. 
  • Basic requirements: 
    • Innovative business plan aimed at tech and scalable businesses 
    • Potential to create jobs and achieve a valuation of €325,000 within five years 
    • Sufficient living funds for the initial period of residency 
    • Enrollment in an incubator 

Learn more about Portugal’s Startup Visa program

Other Visas 

Portugal also offers other specific visas, such as the Tech Visa and the Intra-Corporate Transferee Visa. Each has its own criteria tailored to support Portugal’s economic and social objectives. 

How to Apply for a Portuguese Visa 

Applying for a Portuguese visa is a structured process that requires careful preparation and attention to detail. Follow these steps to ensure your application proceeds smoothly: 

Step 1: Identify the correct visa type

First and foremost, determine the visa that best suits your purpose for staying in Portugal. Each visa type has its own eligibility criteria and intended purposes, such as work, study, investment, or family reunification. 

Step 2: Gather the required documentation

Once you’ve identified the appropriate visa, compile all necessary documentation. This typically includes: 

  1. Passport valid for at least three months beyond the duration of your stay 
  1. Proof of sufficient funds to support your stay in Portugal 
  1. Health insurance covering your period of stay 
  1. Criminal record certificate from your country of residence 
  1. Specific documents related to your visa type, such as a job offer for a work visa, proof of investment for a Golden Visa, or an acceptance letter from a Portuguese educational institution for a study visa 

Step 3: Fill out the application form

Complete the visa application form, which can usually be found on the Portuguese consulate or embassy’s website in your country. Ensure all information is accurate and corresponds to the details in your supporting documents. 

Step 4: Schedule an appointment

Contact the Portuguese consulate or embassy to schedule an appointment for your visa application. Waiting times can vary, so it’s advisable to do this well in advance of your planned move. 

Step 5: Attend the visa interview

On the day of your appointment, bring all your documents and be prepared for a visa interview. The interview is an opportunity for consular officers to verify your documents and ask questions about your plans in Portugal. 

Step 6: Pay the visa application fee

There is a fee associated with the visa application, which varies depending on the visa type. This fee is usually paid on the day of your interview at the consulate. 

Step 7: Wait for processing

After submitting your application, there will be a processing period during which your application and documents are reviewed. The duration of this process can vary, so it’s important to apply well in advance of your intended departure date. 

Step 8: Collect your visa

If your application is successful, you will be notified by the consulate or embassy. You’ll then need to collect your visa, which will be affixed to your passport. 

Once you’ve completed these steps, you should be able to receive your Portuguese visa! 

Let Greenback Help You Build a Life in Portugal 

Moving to Portugal offers a gateway to a life of adventure, culture, and tranquility. By following the tips in this guide, you can bring yourself closer to achieving your dream of living abroad. 

At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we help Americans around the world file their taxes accurately and on time. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to assist you in any way we can. 

Every expat should know these 25 things about US expat taxes. Find out for yourself.
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