How to get Portuguese Residency

Today’s blog is all about how to get Portuguese Residency. Getting Portuguese residency is relatively simple if you have an EU passport. If you live outside the EU then the process might be a bit more complex This is unfortunate for people in the UK wanting to move to Portugal post Brexit, but don’t worry it is still possible.

You can’t just Rock Up!

One important thing to understand is that you can’t just ‘rock up’ and start living in Portugal. This is the case even if you have an EU passport. Although in some countries this may be possible, there is some bureaucracy in Portugal that has to be adhered to.

How to get Portuguese Residency as an EU Passport Holder

If you are an EU passport holder then you can enter Portugal as an EU citizen and then apply for a document called a CRUE within 90 days to get a 5 year residency certificate which can then be renewed further at the end of the 5 year period. CRUE stands for Certificado de Registo de Cidadão da União Europeia. This process is relatively pain free.

You will need to turn up at your local Camara (town hall) or even better make an appointment online. If you are in Lisbon the best and easiest place I found to get the CRUE certificate was Quiosque Europeu – Loja Cidadão Saldanha (Mercado 31 de Janeiro). You should take the following documents with you to your appointment:

  • EU Passport
  • Proof of Portuguese address (rental contract or utility bills)
  • NIF Number
  • Portuguese phone and phone number
  • Proof of work or funds if you are supporting yourself (may not be necessary)

Some people are also being asked for an Attestado de Residencia (an official signed testimony by a Portuguese citizen to say that you live in Portugal) but in my experience and that of fellow expats they are rarely asked for in Lisbon.

Brexit and the end of the Transition Period

The end of the Brexit transition period was 31st December 2020. The UK has now official left the EU. If you were a resident in Portugal prior to the end of the transition period, you probably got your residency this way. If you were living in Lisbon before the end of the transition period but did NOT get your CRUE then you should still have your rights protected under the withdrawal agreement, but you will need to go through the SEF with your evidence. SEF stands for The Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras. The SEF is a police service integrated into the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose mission is to enforce immigration and asylum in Portugal, in accordance with the provisions of constitutional, legal and governmental guidelines. You can email SEF here: brexit@sef.pt

How to get Portuguese Residency as an EU Passport Holder

If you are not an EU passport holder (for example you have a UK or a USA passport) then you will probably need to apply for a visa before you apply for residency.

A Note on the Schengen Visa

Remember that a Schengen Visa will allow you to stay in Portugal for up to three months, but if you are wanting to apply for residency, you will want to be in Portugal for longer than three months, so the Shengen visa is only suitable for tourism purposes and not for longer stays.

UK residents have a Svhengen Waiver, but they must not exceed 90 days in EU countries within a 180 day time period. That is any EU countries all added up. So you cannot do 90 days in Portugal and then 90 days in France – you could only do 90 days in France and Portugal in total.

D7 Visa

The Portugal D7 Visa is a popular option for entrepreneurs, digital nomads and freelancers coming to Portugal. You may need to prove that you have income to sustain yourself for at least a year and funds coming in if you are a freelancer.

Paperwork needed for your Visa Application

You are likely to need the following for your Visa application. Remember that the type of Visa you are applying for will vary depending on the length and purpose of your visit.

  • Passport or other valid ID
  • Two passport photos
  • Return travel ticket details
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Access to criminal records by the Portugal immigration authorities
  • Proof of accommodation or Portuguese address
  • Proof that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your stay

Remember that obtaining a visa does not automatically grant you residency. You have a visa which grants you permission to be in the country for that length of time. You then need to get residency at your local Camara (Town Hall) or SEF using the visa as evidence that you have permission to work or study or live in Portugal.

Gaining Residency through Investment

If you have money to invest in Portuguese property or business, then you could also consider going through the Golden Visa scheme. If you have over €500,000 ready to invest in Portugal then you can go through the Golden Visa route which will speed up your residency and citizenship processes.

A Note on Residency and Citizenship

Just a reminder to say that of course residency is NOT the same as being a Portuguese citizen. Having residency means that you have the right to live in the country, being a Citizen gives you the same rights as a Portuguese citizen. If you have been living in Portugal on a residency certificate for 6 years or more and Portugal has been your main home for that long then you can apply for Citizenship, This would give you a Portuguese passport as well as the same voting rights as Portuguese citizens. You need to reach intermediate level in Portuguese language to apply for citizenship.

But, more on that in another blog!

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Can I get Residency in Portugal if I buy a House?

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