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For those who are looking to retire in Portugal from the UK, there is a good chance it is possible to do so. As this guide will show you, retiring to Portugal from the UK is a great option for many people!
Whenever you are looking at moving away from your home country and retiring somewhere else, it can be hard to find out all that you need in order to make the move happen. Thankfully this guide includes all of the things that you might not know about retiring in Portugal as well as answering any questions you might still have about it.
I hope that this guide will help you to make your retirement in Portugal a reality, and help you to find out everything you need to do in order to do so.
Reasons why people want to retire to Portugal from UK
There are many reason why people want to retire to Portugal from UK. Here are the main advantages:
- Cheaper cost of living – pension goes further
- Property is affordable
- Warmer and more pleasant climate than UK
- Opportunities for retirement hobbies – hiking, sailing, golf
- Good healthcare system
- English is widely spoken
The cost of living is much cheaper, especially outside of the main cities. You will find that your pension will go further, especially on food and drink. Properties are more affordable.
The climate is much warmer than the UK all year round and it’s especially sunny in the Algarve – one of the most popular regions with British pensioners. There are opportunities for new hobbies in retirement such as hiking, sailing and golf.
In addition, the Portuguese healthcare system is one of the best in the world. As a pensioner resident in Portugal you will have access to excellent healthcare which is often a concern for retirees.
If you are concerned about the language barrier, you really don’t have to worry. In the main expat and tourist areas, most locals speak excellent English. However, if you are eager to learn another language in retirement, opportunities to learn Portuguese will be there.
An Introduction to Retiring to Portugal from UK
Portugal has a great reputation as a retirement destination, and there are many things you can do to retire in Portuguese. It is easy for retired people to settle down in the country, as there is so much to do there.
When looking at settling down in Portugal, there are plenty of things that you need to know about the country as well as your target region. The more you are aware of about these things, the easier it will be to find somewhere to settle down.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all advice for everyone, which is why this guide offers a lot of different options for people thinking about moving to Portugal and retiring there. For example, some retired people might choose to live in smaller villages while others will want to live in the city. It really depends on the individual, as well as any family members that might be moving with you.
Retiring to Portugal from UK – The Paperwork
One of the biggest concerns of UK pensioners looking to retire in Portugal is the BREXIT issue! But rest assured, it is actually still not that hard to even in the post-Brexit era. As long as you have a pension of around €1000 a month, you can go via the D7 visa route. This is a summary of the paperwork that you will need to complete for the D7 Visa route:
D7 Visa Route
- Get an NIF number – this is your fiscal number which you will need to do any formal transactions in Portugal such as getting a mobile phone or purchasing a property. You can do this from the UK via email or through a representative and this can be done with your UK address. You can update to your Portuguese address at a later date.
- Apply for a D7 Visa – You can do this from the UK before you arrive and then apply for residency using this visa on arrival in Portugal. Apply on the SEF website or appoint a representative to help you. With the D7 visa, you will have 120 days to sort everything out in Portugal, such as finding a place to live.
- Update your NIF (fiscal number) to your Portuguese address when you have one. This is important for tax purposes.
- Apply for the Residency permit – When you arrive in Portugal with the D7 visa you can then apply for the D7 Residence Permit, which is valid for one or two year blocks. You will be able to renew this on a yearly basis until you reach 5 years when it is possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship if you meet the requirements (time spent in Portugal, taxes and language requirement). To remain resident in Portugal you will need to spend 183 days a year in the country.
- Consider NHR for 10 years of tax breaks – Non-habitual residency status. NHR is NOT (as the name may suggest) a residency status but a tax status. It offers several tax breaks for up to 10 years. If you have your pension paid directly to you in Portugal you may benefit financially with NHR status. You also get tax breaks from UK property income. Seek advice from an accountant to see if you would benefit from this.
- Apply for Healthcare (SNS) – Everyone who is registered as a Portuguese resident can also register to access the Portuguese national health service (SNS) on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen. However, you may want to make the personal decision to get private healthcare cover. More on healthcare below.
- Apply for your Portuguese bank account – This will be easier once you already have your visa, residency and proof of Portuguese address. I recommend ActivoBank. They spoke excellent English where I opened my account in the Lisbon branch. You MAY be required to complete this step earlier.
If you are a driver you may also need to change your UK driving license for a Portuguese one. This has to be done within a certain time frame, or you have to retake your test in Portugal with a Portuguese driving instructor! You will also need to inform HMRC and all of the relevant UK authorities that you are moving abroad.
The above paperwork may sound scary, but it’s really not. Do these things one step at a time and you will get there. Some people break it up by doing a couple of trips out to Portugal to scope out locations and sort out paperwork before they finally move. The UK government website has extensive official information on moving to Portugal for pensioners – here is the link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-portugal.
Golden Visa Route
As an alternative route, if you are looking to spend in excess of €500,000 on property for your retirement, then you may want to go via the Golden Visa route which gives you residency based on investment. It’s an exclusive programs that allows high-net-worth individuals to attain permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship. It’s the quickest route to a Portuguese passport and therefore EU rights.
Avoiding the most common Mistakes
There are also many mistakes that people make when they move to Portugal, which is why this guide aims to avoid these mistakes. For example, not researching your pension in detail can cost a lot of money. Here are the most common mistakes people make when moving to Portugal:
- Not doing due diligence on solicitors and estate agents (there are rip offs that go on).
- Buying or renting a place too far away from local amenities that they need access to.
- Missing tax deadlines such as missing the cut off date for applying for NHR status (this is before the March after you gain residency and become a tax resident)
Retiring in Portugal – Health and Medical Care
You need to think about your health and your medical costs during retirement. Portugal has some of the best healthcare in Europe, which is good news for those who are looking to settle here! However, it might not be easy to find out about any available medical facilities which means that you will need to do a bit of research into the healthcare services available in Portugal before moving.
Live somewhere Ambulance Accessible
When you choose where to retire in Portugal, it can be worth thinking about how long it would take for an ambulance to arrive at your house if needed.
Medical Facilities in Portugal
There are plenty of medical facilities in Portugal, which makes it one of the best countries to retire in when it comes to health care. As I’ve mentioned, all residents including retirees can register to access the Portuguese national health service (SNS) on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen. Take your proof of residency, tax documents, passport and NIF document to your local health centre and ask to register. They will give you an A4 piece of paper with your SNS number on it – this is your NHS number. They may want to do an initial health check.
You might also want to take a look at how Portugal’s healthcare system compares to your home country by visiting The World Health Organization website here: https://www.who.int/countries/prt/
Considering Additional Private Healthcare
You can purchase private health insurance in your home country before moving to Portugal so that you can ensure that you always have all the medical fees covered. This is something you might not know before moving, so it is worth checking out! The main advantage of this is cutting down on the waiting times.
Where to retire to in Portugal
One of the most important decisions that you will make is where to be based. Think carefully about whether you prefer rural or urban? Do you want an expat community or mainly locals? Do you prefer to be on the coast or living in the countryside? All these factors will influence where you want to be based in Portugal when you retire. Here are some of the most popular destinations chosen by British expats:
If you love the city and want an active retirement with access to bars and restaurants, Lisbon is an excellent place to base yourself. Lisbon has a diverse mix of expats, locals and digital nomads. It’s not the best place to be based if you want to learn Portuguese as most people will talk to you in English. But Lisbon has all the benefits of a capital city. Lisbon is also suitable for those who want easy access to an international airport for further international travel. The main downside to Lisbon is the cost of accommodation.
The coastal town of Porto, located in North-West Portugal, is known for its impressive architecture as well as its stunning beaches. Known for its colonial heritage, Porto has a streetcar system that runs through the historic center. The city also has a diverse cultural scene and an active nightlife, and is slightly cheaper than Lisbon.
Albufeira is a resort town and municipality located along the southern coast of the Algarve region in Portugal. It is a popular tourist destination, attracting people from all over the world. It’s a very popular destination for British pensioners to retire to. Based in the Algarve it offers year round sunshine.
Tavira, located in the district of the same name, is a town and municipality on the eastern bank of the Guadiana River in Portugal. It is famous for its historic buildings and monuments as well as for its beaches. Tavira is just 18 miles from the Spanish border making it a good base for exploring both Portugal and Spain.
Many people overlook the historic town of Tomar because they don’t know about its charm and history, but it’s a prime location for anyone who wants to live in Portugal. In fact, it has an incredibly rich culture with many festivals and historic sites to explore that locals take great pride in when showing them off. And most importantly, there are plenty of affordable living spaces. This is what attracts many people who want to retire here; they’ll save money on rent or can purchase property at a reasonable price if they choose to buy later on down the line.
For many people the idea of being on holiday for 365 days is a dream. But for those who live in Serta, Portugal (population less than 600) it’s a reality. But what makes this mountain village and its gorgeous surroundings so special? The cost of living is extremely low and Serta is another destination where you will pick up excellent value property. But there are other benefits – this beautiful destination offers stunning sunsets and you can see eagles and other wildlife up close. Serta is also an excellent destination to learn Portuguese.