Moving to Portugal: Relocation Guide

Are you planning to move employees to Portugal? You're in the right place. Our in-depth relocation guide to Portugal will help you every step of the way.

With bustling cities set against stunning backdrops, favorable tax policies, and a vibrant economy, Portugal is a popular destination for expats and digital nomads alike. The country has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe and offers multiple career opportunities. Add a mild Mediterranean climate, and it's easy to see why life in Portugal appeals to so many.

In each of the sections below, we cover all the essentials of how to move to Portugal. From how to choose and apply for visas to finding housing, how to get citizenship in Portugal, and more, here's what you and your employees need to know.

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Moving to Portugal: Relocation Guide by Localyze

Which countries are visa/permit exempt for Portugal?

Portugal is included in the EU/EEA/Switzerland agreement, which allows citizens from these countries to relocate to Portugal visa-free.

Citizens of many other countries can stay in Portugal without visas or permits for up to 90 days within 180 days. This includes the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, and others. However, citizens from these countries must obtain a work permit to be eligible for employment in Portugal.

Moving to Portugal: Which countries are visa/permit exempt for Portugal?

What types of work visas are there for Portugal?

Work visas in Portugal can be broken down into three main categories:

📌 The EU Blue Card: Typically valid for the length of your employee's contract.

📌 Short-term work visas: Valid for up to twelve months, renewable in some cases.

📌 Temporary work visas: Valid for up to two years, renewable in many cases.

Moving to Portugal: Blue Card visa

EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is an excellent option for highly skilled expats in Portugal. To qualify, your employee will need a higher education degree, or proof of equivalent qualifications with at least three years of experience. Your employee must have already received your job offer and employment contract. As with all member nations participating in the EU Blue Card program, Portugal imposes a salary requirement. As of 2024, the minimum gross salary defined in the employment contract must be at least 1.5 times the average gross salary for the profession in Portugal.

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How to get a work visa or permit for Portugal?

Before you can move employees to Portugal, your company must be registered to ensure it has the capacity to sponsor foreign workers. Once that is complete, prepare a formal work permit application, then submit it along with supporting documentation to the Portuguese Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP).

Some essential documents include:

  • Proof of your company's financial stability.
  • Justification for hiring a non-EU, EEA, or Swiss worker.
  • A detailed description of the employee's qualifications, and a copy of the proposed employment contract.

Once the IEFP approves a work permit, assist the employee with travel arrangements and applying for the appropriate work visa. The employee must also apply for an Autorização de Residência, or residence permit, at the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service within four months of their arrival.

Portugal offers four varieties of residence permits: work, study, family reunification, and a combination permit for medical care or military services. Each residence permit allows third-country nationals to live in Portugal for up to two years; they can be renewed for up to three years. After five years of living in Portugal, visa holders can apply for permanent residency.

What are the qualification requirements for a work visa or permit in Portugal?

The specific qualifications for a work visa in Portugal vary, depending on the visa type. For example:

  • Applicants for the Highly Qualified Activity visas must hold a higher education degree (or have equivalent experience) in fields like science, technology, or research. Depending on the specific visa, they may also need some level of work experience.
  • Digital Nomad visa applicants must have proof of confident income that meets or exceeds Portugal's minimum wage. Remote workers and freelancers must have documentation of remote work activities completed for clients outside of Portugal.

Is a formal assessment of qualifications required?

The Portuguese National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP) may require a formal assessment of foreign qualifications for some professions. If ANQEP requires your employees to undergo this process, they'll likely need to provide diplomas, school transcripts, and course descriptions.

Which documents do employees need to get ready?

As with migration to most countries, immigration to Portugal requires significant documentation. Here are the documents employees need to collect early in the process:

  • Valid passport 
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage license or equivalent (if family members are also moving)
  • Diplomas, transcripts, and professional certificates 

Once the employee has received an approved work permit, they will need these documents for the visa application process:

  • Passport photos
  • Employment contract
  • Letter of introduction from the employer
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of financial means, if required, for their specific visa
  • Degree certificate
  • Criminal record certificate
  • Curriculum vitae

Keep in mind that some documents, especially diplomas and transcripts, may need to be translated into Portuguese for consideration.

Moving to Portugal with family and spouse

Can employees move to Portugal with family?

Family members can apply simultaneously with a primary work visa holder or after the visa holder has relocated. Either way, they'll need proof of their relationship, such as a marriage license or birth certificate. Each family member must also apply for a residence permit within four months of arriving in Portugal.

How to move to Portugal with pets

As for pets, employees can take cats, dogs, and ferrets with them to Portugal. Each pet must be microchipped and be up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. A health certificate prepared by a veterinarian is also required for each pet. 

Each airline has different pet travel guidelines, so research the best option for your migrating employee.

To ensure that there are no issues upon entry to the European Union, each pet that comes from a third country (non-EU) must meet the following requirements:

  • Be clearly identifiable by a microchip
  • Be properly vaccinated against rabies — their latest shot should be administered at least 30 days before arrival, but no more than 12 months before 
  • Be accompanied by a veterinary inspector’s certificate, in which the microchip has been documented
  • In some cases vaccination certificates & blood test details must also be provided 

We always recommend that employees check if their country of residence has any additional requirements for exporting the pet.

Moving to Portugal: How to move to Portugal with pets

Residence permits in Portugal

Residence permits in Portugal fall into four categories: work, family reunification, study, and healthcare care/military service. Each allows for stays up to two years, with renewals for another three years. After five years of living in Portugal, visa holders may apply for permanent residency.

Here are the most common types of residence permits in the work category:

  • Residence permit for employed workers: A general residence permit for employed individuals
  • Residence permit for highly skilled activity: This permit covers engineers, legal experts, healthcare professionals, teachers, scientists, and management and business professionals.
  • Residence permit for highly qualified activity in tech: A permit for workers in the technology sector. Your company has to be accredited by IAPMEI for employees to qualify.

There's also a path to a residence permit for highly skilled workers known as the EU Blue Card. This is the rough equivalent of the Green Card in the United States. Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens may qualify for the EU Blue Card if they have highly sought-after skills and appropriate education. After residing in Portugal for 18 months, an EU Blue Card holder is eligible to apply for a residence permit for highly skilled workers.

Health insurance on a visa in Portugal

When applying for a work visa in Portugal, employees must have medical insurance that meets the minimum requirements of the Schengen Area. These types of policies are commonly known as "visa insurance". Most major insurance carriers offer visa insurance, with some policies specifically designed for use in the Schengen Area (including Portugal).

For an expat in Portugal, a visa insurance policy must have a minimum coverage amount of €30,000 and cover expenses throughout the entire Schengen Area, not just Portugal. The policy's duration should cover the work visa's initial period. If the visa is renewed, the visa insurance policy must be renewed for an equal amount of time.

Healthcare in Portugal operates on a hybrid system, with a universal healthcare system available to the public and a network of private providers. The public option—known as the SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde)—isn't typically available to employees on work visas. SNS eligibility requires a residence permit and some time of contributions to Portugal's social security system, so employees on a work visa typically depend on employer-provided health insurance or some other private coverage.

Moving to Portugal: How to prepare for the registration appointment

How to prepare for the registration appointment in Portugal

Before your company can sponsor employees to work in Portugal, it must be registered there. Registration in Portugal is similar to the processes in other countries, including filing the company name in the commercial registry and applying for a company taxpayer number. 

Ultimately, your company must book a registration appointment at an Empresa na Hora service desk or online via the Commercial Registry. To prepare for the registration appointment, follow these steps:

  • Request pre-approval of your company name on the Commercial Registry website.
  • Pay the appropriate registration fees with the Commercial Registry, typically €360.
  • Draft your company's article of association, including company name, purpose, and management structure.
  • Gather identification documents for shareholders and directors, like passports and photo IDs.
  • Hire a certified accountant. Although not required, an accountant with experience in Portugal can streamline the registration process.
  • Research licensing or registration requirements for your company or industry.

Tax & social security needs

Companies operating in Portugal are subject to corporate income tax. Known as IRC, the standard rate is 2%, but small and medium-sized businesses often qualify for a reduced rate. Employers are responsible for withholding and making social security contributions on behalf of their employees, with the standard contribution rate of 23.75% of the employee's gross salary. Employers are also responsible for withholding other taxes as applicable per Portuguese regulations.

Moving to Portugal: Tax & social security ID in Portugal
How to find housing in Germany

How to find housing in Portugal

The housing market in Portugal is highly competitive, especially in urban areas. Rental properties are typically advertised in Facebook groups and classified sites. For best results with these listings, it helps to already be in the local area, as many of these postings are made by private individuals.

Working with real estate agencies is often a better option for a company moving employees to Portugal. Agents can review their listings to find properties best suited to a migrating employee and their family in the right price range. As with any locale, finding the perfect place to live in Portugal is a balancing act of price, location, and availability.

Plan ahead for housing needs, especially if your employees are headed to a desirable area of Portugal. Popular tourist destinations, such as the Algarve, face a shortage of rental properties in the summer. In areas with a large student population, like Braga or Combra, leases are signed well before the school year.

FAQs about moving to Portugal

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions for expats in Portugal:

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