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Sep 21, 2022·0 min read

Moving to Portugal

Have you ever wondered what those yellow circles on the Portuguese flag mean? It is none-other but a navigational device called an armillary sphere that helped Portuguese sailors to find their way in the endless sea. They were the first to open the way to India, circumnavigate Africa, and Globe in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Every year about ten million tourists visit Portugal. That's about as many as there are Portuguese citizens in the country. Some of them irreversibly fall in love with the beauty of this country and dream to move to Portugal leaving everything else behind.

Icebreaker: Homeland of Discoverers

Prior to moving to Portugal, you should know that Portugal is not only the westernmost but also the oldest country in Europe. The word "Portugal" was first mentioned in 868.

At that time there were wars to liberate the lands from the Moors, and the country was formed around the city of Porto, which gave the name. It is also interesting to note that Portugal is the only country in Europe whose borders have not changed since 1139.

Moving to Portugal is not difficult if you know what you are doing and are realistic about what the country has to offer. In this article, we have compiled important aspects to consider before moving to Portugal. We hope that it will help you understand how to move to Portugal and what kind of life awaits you there.

How to Immigrate to Portugal

Family Reunion


Students taking short-term courses of up to six months can enter Portugal with a Schengen visa type C. Longer study programs in higher education establishments require a Type D visa, which provides a temporary residence permit with annual renewal. In order to obtain such a residence permit, it is necessary to document the enrolment.


Immigration to Portugal on a work visa is most accessible to professionals in the field of medicine, agriculture, high technology, architecture, and construction. To move here, they must have a diploma that meets European standards and know the Portuguese language.

If the foreigner proves that he or she is needed in the labour market and provides an appropriate contract with the employer, they will be granted a one-year residence permit. If the job is maintained, the status is extended.

Family Reunion

If moving to Portugal via a Family reunion visa, the inviting party must provide:

  • Documents confirming kinship
  • Proof of ownership of the property/long-term rental agreement
  • Proof of ability to pay (e.g. last year's tax return and certificate of employment)
  • Certificates of criminal record of family members planning to obtain a residence permit


Applicants for the visa must be independent professionals. They can operate in Portugal, providing services to various customers only in one, two, or three of the activities originally declared.

The first-year income will not be taxed, by the second year it becomes about 15%. Additionally, freelancers in Portugal can remain in the simplified tax regime, if their annual turnover does not exceed 12 500 euros.


To move to Portugal on a business visa, you do not need to be a super-rich person, but you must have a passable business project. Documents are reviewed within one month, after which the applicant is issued a residence permit for one year. If the business will operate continuously, the visa can be extended.


Investors have the right to obtain a residence permit in Portugal. This requires the purchase of one or more properties worth 500,000 € - villas, apartments, houses, and so on.

There is an opportunity to invest from 350 000 € in the reconstruction of buildings of cultural and historical value or 250 000 € in support of the cultural heritage of the country, to invest in business or the economy of the country - from 350 000 to 1 million euro.

First Steps upon arrival in Portugal

  1. Get a National Identification Number (NIF).

    “Número de Identificação Fisca”l or a “número de contributes” required for everyone working and receiving income in Portugal. You must submit an application to the tax authorities in Portugal. The criteria and waiting period will depend on your country of origin.

  2. Get a Driving License.

    Fortunately, EU citizens can use their driving license until the expiration date. Citizens of countries with a bilateral agreement with Portugal can drive for up to 2 years to exchange their driving license for Portuguese. Citizens of other countries who do not hold foreign licenses / their license has expired, must take driving lessons and later pass a driving test to receive a Portuguese driving license.

Healthcare in Portugal

The healthcare system in Portugal is controlled by the Portuguese Ministry of Health and consists of the universal public health system "Servico Nacional de Saude" (SNS), the voluntary private health insurance system used by about one-fifth of the population, and specific social health insurance schemes (health subsystems).

Medical care in Portugal is available to those ex-pats who are legal residents of this state, including those who have received a residence permit in Portugal for investment. If you are an EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can use it to access public health care in Portugal.

To register for public health care in Portugal, you must first register with the Portuguese social security system (Seguranca Social) to obtain a social security number. Any legal resident registered with the local health centre is entitled to receive health insurance that covers basic health problems, such as illness or accidents.

Earning and Spending in Portugal

Income in Portugal
Taxation System
Cost of Living

In 2020, according to the National Statistics Bureau, the average gross annual salary in Portugal is about €18,400 ( €1,314 per month). The minimum wage in Portugal is €822.5 per month.

Luckily, foreigners moving to Portugal qualify for a special income tax regime of 20% for 10 consecutive years. In order to qualify, prior to moving to Portugal you must be living abroad for 5 years and transfer your address of residence.

Income tax rates in Portugal:

  • Income less than €7,112 - 14.5%
  • Income from €7,113 to €10,732 - 23%
  • Income from €10,733 to €20,322 - 28.5%
  • Income from €20,323 to €25,075 - 35%
  • Income from €25,076 to €36,967 - 37%
  • Income from €36,968 to €80,882 - 45%
  • Income over €80,883 - 48%

A single person moving to Portugal should expect to spend on average about €550 - €680 per month without rent, for a family of 4 estimated monthly costs would be about €1,900 - €2,300 without rent.

Renting vs. Housing in Portugal


The best accommodation option for expats moving to Portugal is renting. You can choose to change apartments and city locations until you find what fits you for the long-term stay.

Before renting in Portugal, you should consider that the majority of Portuguese residents do not speak English fluently, especially in smaller cities. Arranging the viewings and negotiating with the landlords could become somewhat problematic if you do not speak Portuguese. Some ex-pats living in Portugal suggest that landlords would rent out the accommodation to someone else without notifying or simply disappear.

Rent price in Portugal ranges between €300 - €700 for a 1 bedroom and €800 - €1,300 for a 3 bedroom apartment outside and inside the city center. The average renting price in Lisbon would be from 700 - 960 (1 bedroom) to €1,115 - €2,000 (3 bedroom) accordingly.


Fortunately for foreigners moving to Portugal, there are no restrictions on buying real estate in Portugal for expats. The only thing that would be required in a Numero fiscal de contribuinte (personal fiscal number). Purchasing a house costing over €500,000 in Portugal will allow you to qualify for a Golden Visa and therefore gain a Portuguese permit of residence.

The average house price in Portugal is about €250,000 or €1,900 to €3,200 per m2. Lisbon has the most expensive property, a square meter for an apartment would cost from €2,850 to €5,180 outside and inside the city center. T0, T1, T2, T3, etc. refer to the number of bedrooms in the apartment or a house. T0 is a studio apartment, a T1 is a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, living room, and washroom.

If you are not fluent in Portuguese, you can always hire or ask for a translator for the final transaction meeting. You can also request a translation of the escritura (title deeds) to fully understand what you are signing.

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