International individuals who wish to work and stay for longer than 90 days in Portugal may apply for a Portugal residence permit. The residence permit is usually long-term, from one year up to three years. You may be eligible for different types of permits depending on the reason why you are moving to Portugal and how long you plan to stay.

What Is a Portugal Residence Permit?

A Portugal residence permit is an official authorization that lets third-country nationals work and live in Portugal. Generally speaking, Portugal issues two different types of permits:

  • Residency Visas
  • Residence Permits

Residency Visas

These visas are always short-term, usually only 3 or 4 months. They are issued by a Portuguse Embassy for the sole purpose of granting the applicant entry into Portugal before registering as a resident. Once a foreigner enters Portugal with their residency visa they have four months to register at the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) to get their residence permit.

Residence Permits

These permits are temporary, usually valid for a year, and can be renewed annually depending on how long the applicant needs to stay in Portugal. Holders of a temporary permit can switch to a permanent residence permit when they have lived in Portugal for at least five years.

Permanent permits are available to those who wish to continue living indefinitely in Portugal; those who don’t plan to do so can continue extending their temporary permit.

Types of Portugal Residence Permits

Here is a list of different types of Portugal residence permits:

  • Residence permit for work purposes.
  • Residence permit for study purposes.
  • Residence permit for family reunification.
  • Special residence permit.

Portugal Residence Permit for Work

You can receive a Portuguese residence permit for work  if you have secured employment in Portugal. In order to qualify for this residence permit, the job position you applied for must have not been filled by an EU national within the last month.

When you want to apply for the permit your employer must start the application for the work permit at the Portuguese Labor Authorities. Afterward, you apply for a visa at the local embassy in your country of residence.

Once you have been granted a residency (entry) visa, you must travel to Portugal, where you can apply for a residence permit at the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). Your first residence permit is issued for a year, but it can be extended according to your needs and your employment contract.

In terms of work permit there are several types depending on the work you will be doing:

  • Work Visa for Skilled Workers.
  • Work Visa for Highly-Skilled Workers.
  • Work Visa for Self-Employment.
  • Work Visa for Cultural Activities.
  • “Tech” Visa.
  • Work Visa for Teaching.

See: Portugal Work visa

Portugal Residence Permit for Study Purposes

A residence permit for students in Portugal is given to international students outside the EU who have been accepted into an educational institution in Portugal. This permit is also valid for a year and can be renewed every year for the duration of your study program.

If you want to stay in Portugal after you finish your studies you must have a job so you can switch to a Portugal work visa.

See: Portugal Student visa

Portugal Residence Permit for Family Reunification

You must apply for this type of residence permit if you want to move to Portugal to join a close family member who is either a resident in Portugal or a citizen. A family member includes:

  • A spouse or a registered partner.
  • A minor child (biological or adopted).
  • A child of age but who is dependent on the Portuguese resident.
  • A direct descendant who is dependent on the resident.

The permit is valid for the same amount of time as the residence permit of the Portuguese resident. In cases of partners who have been married for 5 years then the permit initially is valid for two years and then it can be renewed every three years. The holders of this permit can work freely and study in Portugal and after five years they can apply for a permanent residence.

See: Portugal Family visa

Special Residence Permit for Portugal

A Portugal residence permit can be issued based on some specific situations. These all depend on the unique situation of the applicant, however, some of the most common types of special situations residence permits include:

  • Residence permits for individuals who suffer from health conditions requiring prolonged medical care.
  • Residence permit for individuals who have completed military service in the Portuguese Armed Forces.
  • Residence permit for minors, born in national territory to foreign parents who are holders of residence permit.
  • Residence permit children of resident permit holders, who have reached the age of majority and remained on a regular basis in the national territory from the age of 10.
  • Residence permit for individuals of age who were born in national territory and never left the territory, or who remained in Portugal from before they were 10.

Portugal Residence Permit Requirements

These are the documents you need to prepare when you apply for a Portugal residence permit:

  • Valid passport.
  • Two recent identity pictures.
  • Application form (when initially applying for your residency visa).
  • Valid residence visa (the 3-4 month-long visa before you apply for your permit).
  • Evidence of sufficient financial means.
  • Proof of accommodation.
  • Health insurance or supporting evidence he/she is covered by the National Health Service.
  • Family certificate (if applicable).
  • Criminal certificate.
  • Parental consent (if applicable).
  • Employment contract.
  • Acceptance letter from university (student visa).
  • Paid tuition fees (student visa).

Please remember that your documents need to be translated into either English or Portuguese if they are not already, and some documents may require legalization. Make sure to check with the embassy before you apply.

How to Apply for a Portuguese Residence Permit?

This is how you apply for a Portuguese residence permit:

  1. Apply for the visa residency.
  2. Apply for the residence permit.

Apply for the visa residency

Before applying for a permit you first need a residency visa which allows you to enter Portugal for the purpose of gaining a residency permit. The residency visa is valid for four months and it allows for double entry. The processing time for a residency visa is 60 days.

You must lodge your application at a Portugal embassy/consulate in your country. Before you do so you have to make an appointment with the embassy, you can either write an email or visit the embassy personally to schedule the appointment.

Make sure you assemble all the required documents, and the visa application form before you hand in your application. Also, you may be asked to sit for an interview at the embassy.

In cases where you want to apply for a residence permit on the basis of work or family reunification, your employer and your family member must submit an initial application at SEF or at the Portuguese Labor Authorities for you. In this case, the application requirements will vary depending on whether you want a Portugal work visa  or a family visa.

Apply for the residence permit

Once you have a residency visa you can freely enter Portugal and then apply for your residency permit. You have to apply at SEF for your residence permit and also register for your social security number at a registration office.

Don’t forget that you have only four months before your residency visa expires; you must visit SEF and the registration office before that time.

Benefits of the Portugal Residence Permit

There are several benefits you gain as a holder of a Portugal residence permit:

  • Visa-free access to the EEA/EU and Schengen Area.
  • Access to the workforce.
  • Unlimited access to education.
  • Access to the Portuguese healthcare system.
  • Unemployment benefits (in case you lose your job).
  • The option to bring over other family members.
  • The option to become a Portuguese citizen.

How Long is a Residence Permit for Portugal Valid?

The first residence permit is usually valid for a year. You have to renew your permit yearly, and after the first year, your permit may be extended to a two-year permit.

After five years of temporary residence permits, you can switch to a permanent residence permit.

A residence permit for study purposes is valid for the same amount of the length of your study program, but you must also extend it yearly and once your study program is over your permit is no longer valid. You cannot switch to permanent residency with a student permit.

Portugal Residence Permit for UK Citizens (After Brexit)

British nationals residing in Portugal after Brexit will benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement. This agreement, signed by the UK and the EU, discusses a number of new regulations and policies on several issues including trade and UK nationals’ freedom of movement in the EEA/EU.

Holders of a Resident Permit During the Transition Period

The Withdrawal Agreement protects UK nationals the right to hold their Portugal residency even after Brexit. New residence permits were issued to UK nationals replacing their Registration Certificates issued by the town halls and certificates or Permanent Residence issued by SEF. The new permits became valid before 31 December of 2020, which confirmed the holder’s status as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.

British nationals who possessed a residence permit had to apply for the exchange of their previous permits online through SEF’s website.

Applying for a Residence Permit After the Transition Period

UK nationals who did not have a previous permit but wish to apply for a Portugal residency after January 1st of 2021 (the end of the transition period) must apply for a permit through the regular process at SEF.

Cross- Border Workers

Individuals who live in the UK but work in Portugal, also known as “cross-border” workers can continue working in Portugal as their rights as cross-borders are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

However, as a cross-border worker, you must send an email to the competent authorities and ask for a certificate proving your status as a cross-border worker and that you are free to travel across the countries.

What’s the Cost of a Portuguese Residence Permit?

The cost for a Portugal residence permit is €84. You have to pay a fee as well every time you renew it, the fee will depend on the type of your residence type.

Residence Permit to Portuguese Citizenship

You can apply for Portuguese citizenship after living for a long time in Portugal. After five years of living with a temporary residence permit, you can apply for a permanent permit and one or two years later you can apply for citizenship.

Residency by Investment in Portugal

Residency by investment also known as “Portugal Golden Visa ”, is a way of getting your residency by investing an amount of money in Portugal, typically in property. The amount varies on the type of investment you are planning on making, for example, if you plan on purchasing real estate you need to invest at least €500,000.

When you meet the criteria for a Golden Visa you will receive a residence permit that is usually valid for a year initially, and then you can renew the permit after two years. Once you finish 5 years of living in Portugal you can apply for citizenship. The requirements for residence under a Golden visa are not as strict as the regular application process for a residence permit or citizenship.