Portugal, the land of sailors and great explorers is no longer just a tourist attraction – it has also become a popular destination for immigrants in recent years. When you move to Portugal, you should inform yourself upfront to make this important step in your life as comfortable as possible.
If you are planning to move to Portugal, you can find our guide with all the information regarding entry requirements and organizational details below.
If you have any questions or comments about the content, we will be happy to help you further. We have a special article for UK citizens with additional information about visa programs.
As a member of the Schengen Agreement, all citizens of the EU, Switzerland and Liechtenstein can move to, stay, and work in Portugal without a visa. The documents required for entry are either a valid identity card or a passport. Other citizens need a visa.
If you are staying in Portugal for more than three months, you should register at the City Hall of your district, where confirmation of registration (Certificado de Registo) will be issued. The application costs a one-time fee of 15 euros and is valid for 5 years. A valid ID document is also required for registration, as well as proof of your residential address (for example, through your lease contract or a utility bill). You only have to prove sufficient assets if you do not already have a permanent job. After 5 years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit (Permanent Residence Certificate) at the Aliens and Borders Service. Permanent Residence lasts for life, but the ID document must be renewed every 10 years. Failure to register can result in fines between 400 and 1500 euros, and when incorrect information is provided in the application for permanent residence, the fines can go up to 2500 euros.
You can obtain your tax identification number, or taxpayer number, at a tax office or Loja do Cidadão. You will need to present an identity document (it must be valid for at least another year) and proof of address (for example, through a rental contract or an energy bill).
You can get your Social Security Identification Number (NISS) by requesting it from your employer, or, as a self-employed person, by emailing: ISS-Pedido-NISS@seg-social.pt. Social Security benefits will only be paid after you have paid contributions for 6 months.
If you receive your pension from another country, you do not have to register for Social Security. Only people who are in the Portuguese labor market should register. Social Security is a system that covers all types of social benefits: health insurance, unemployment insurance, and welfare insurance, as well as occupational disability. It also includes sickness, maternity, child, and unemployment benefits. Social Security also functions as social welfare and youth assistance office in Portugal. So when you move to Portugal you should consider registering in the NISS.
The best known banks are Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Santander Totta, Novo Banco, BPI, Millennium and ActivoBank. In some of them you can open an account online, in others you will have to go and open the account in person. To open a bank account, you will need:
In general, all banks offer applications to facilitate online transactions. ActivoBank does not charge any account management fees. Not everyone is comfortable with online banking. It is therefore advisable to take a look at other offers and conditions.
Most employers only transfer salaries to Portuguese bank accounts, and fees for cash withdrawals and other transactions can be easily avoided. ATM cards can be used to withdraw money at ATMs of other banks without additional fees.
Another reason to have a bank account is due to direct debit authorizations, which can only be made from national accounts, such as for automatic payments of energy, water, or internet bills.
If you move to Portugal and have a local income, regardless of whether you are self-employed or employed, you will have to pay taxes, and tax invoices are issued on specific transfer forms, and foreign banks usually do not offer adequate models for this type of regularization.
There are 3 major telephone companies in Portugal: Vodafone, MEO, and NOS. All of them have different packages offering internet, landline phone, and TV, and some have mobile phone contracts. The contracts usually have a 24 month loyalty period. The services depend on the respective price, so it is also worth considering smaller providers such as UZO or NOWO.
Since June 15, 2017, there have been no roaming charges within the EU. So if you want to make phone calls in Portugal with your cell phone and your existing number, you can do so via the providers on the terms of your domestic tariff.
If you are staying in Portugal for an extended period, it is advisable to get a Portuguese cell phone number as soon as possible. If you do not want to be tied to a contract, you have the option of a pre-paid card. Having a Portuguese cell phone number also makes it easier to enter into other contracts, such as electricity, internet, or even opening a bank account.
If you need extra internet, you can buy a mobile router and rechargeable internet cards. The Meo Enjoy Card is a good option, it costs €15 and offers unlimited traffic per day for 15 days.
As of January 1, 2021, workers will receive a minimum wage of 705 euros per month. The salary is paid fourteen times, resulting in a total of 9,310 euros at the end of the year. The legal minimum wage in Portugal, as in other countries, is an essential reference for regulations in labor and social law. Wages in Portugal are quite low compared to other European countries. Only Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Slovakia are behind Portugal in the euro countries. However, Portuguese wages have risen slightly since 2015 and it was recently announced that the Portuguese minimum wage will reach 850€ by 2025. When it comes to real wages, you have to take into account that these also depend heavily on the specific industry, and workers who speak several languages have a higher income, especially when companies have their headquarters in other European countries. You will find most companies in Portugal’s two largest cities: Lisbon and Porto. The food and textile industries are important branches, and the metallurgical industry, cork processing, and the financial sector are also becoming important employers in Portugal.
Another very important job market is the tourism industry, which has many employees, especially in the summer and in the areas of the Algarve, the Azores, Lisbon, Porto, and the Douro region. The labor market in Portugal for expatriates is mainly dependent on language skills. The official language, of course, is Portuguese which increases the chances of finding a job. For foreigners without any knowledge of Portuguese, it is also possible to work for companies based in their respective countries of origin that are also based in Portugal. Many Portuguese companies with business relations with, for example, Germany are also increasingly looking for German-speaking employees.
The need for trained specialists in the fields of business administration and engineering, even in the IT area, is increasing.
EU citizens do not need a work permit to work in Portugal. The only requirement here is that you must register with the registration office if you are staying for an extended period (more than 90 days). If you are still looking for a job, you must prove that sufficient financial resources are available for the period of the job search. In the case of an existing or potential employment relationship, the employment contract or a confirmation from the future employer must be submitted.
Taxation is a complex issue in Portugal. All employees or self-employed people in Portugal are also required to file an income tax return. It is advisable to hire an accountant to fill out the IRS declaration.
There are two different types of income tax:
It’s the tax on wages and income. IRS is issued for all other types of income, including self-employment. Total income is divided into five tax classes (brackets), and the tax class is based on annual income. It also depends on whether you have children, are otherwise dependent, or are married. The relevant IRS tables can be found online:
These tables and tax laws are updated annually in the State Budget (OE) and announced in March each year. It has been possible to enter your invoices online for a few years now if a tax number has been provided. The system is called e-Fatura:
It is particularly practical that all invoices are already in the system when the tax return is filed and transferred to the IRS.
All invoices that are issued by February 15 can then be transferred to the correct section. As an additional help, the tax office provides an annual filing aid that you can download from your IRS portal. IRS filing runs from April 1 to June 30. Any tax refunds will be paid during this period, no later than August 31 of the same year.
This is the corporate income tax. IRC relates to companies and profits are taxed at a flat rate of 17% up to 25,000 euros and 21% thereafter in mainland Portugal, 14.7% in Madeira, and 16.1% in the Azores.
A legal obligation for health insurance also applies to Portugal. It guarantees the basic medical care of the Portuguese population and all the people who live and work in the country. Unlike in other countries, there are no different mandatory health insurance providers, so you do not need to apply for anything. If you already have a job, your employer registers you with Social Security (CRSS – Centro Regional de Segurança Social) and pays the contributions, if you have a permanent contract. However, in order to be able to see a doctor, you must register with your responsible health center (Centro de Saúde). You can do this in person, and all you need is your identity card and confirmation of your registration.
The main advantage of legal health insurance is that you usually pay low fees for doctor’s visits. One disadvantage is the long waiting time for an appointment. Depending on how busy the health center is, you may have to wait several hours to make an appointment, or you will only have an appointment the next day. Therefore, it is often advisable to go in the morning. Since the benefits of compulsory health insurance are not sufficient for many migrants, it is advisable to take out private health insurance. Depending on the insurance and the respective offers may differ significantly from each other.
In order to use the full range of services, most insurers often have to pay for the first visit to the doctor. Only subsequent visits are partially or fully paid for by the insurance. Dental bills are usually not included in most offers and often have to be booked as additional insurance. This applies, particularly to the cheaper rates. Full reimbursement of costs is only available from doctors and clinics in the respective insurance network. If you need to be treated but are currently in another city, it may be that only part of the treatment is covered. In particular, cheaper insurance packages often offer a maximum amount of benefits per year. If you have insurance with a maximum limit of €15,000 per year, this can quickly be exceeded for specific illnesses or operations. You often have to get involved with extra services, such as blood tests or CT scans.
The costs differ depending on the services and the age of entry and are between 15 and 150 euros per month. There are also insurance packages that can cost much more. It is generally advisable to take out private health insurance. With private insurance, you can go to private hospitals where you can also find many doctors who speak German, English, Spanish and French, which can avoid any language barrier at the beginning of your time in Portugal. What your health insurance should cover is a very individual decision, so it is advisable to take the time to get accurate information about prices and services and, if necessary, compare several insurance companies with each other. There are also insurance offers from England or Denmark that you should take into consideration. Here are some suggestions for private insurance providers:
Under Portuguese law, working days lost of up to three days are not paid. Therefore, if you have a cold and do not go to work, this will be deducted from your salary at the end of the month. Employees can only claim sick pay from the fourth day of illness – self-employed workers or people entitled to voluntary social insurance from the 11th day of being unable to work. The amount of sickness benefit depends on the duration and type of illness. If the illness lasts from four to 30 days, you will receive 55% of your earnings. From 31 to 90 days, you will receive 60%, from 91 to 365 days 70%, and people who have been on sick leave for more than a full year receive 75% of their income. There are different rules when it comes to tuberculosis. Note that only public health authorities (Health Center) issue valid notes for sick leave. This is due to the fact that in case of inability to work, not your employer, but the state will support you.
If you have a regular job in Portugal or have had one in the past, you are of course also entitled to a pension. There are two types of pensions. First, the regular pension (old-age pension) and the social pension (old-age social pension). You are entitled to the regular pension if you are employed, self-employed, or have voluntary social insurance. Entitlement to the social pension applies to Portuguese citizens, foreign nationals residing in Portugal who belong to one of the EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland (Community provisions on social security). You will receive your pension when you have reached the retirement age of 66 years and five months (as of 2019) at the time of application. If you have not yet achieved this, you may be entitled to an early retirement pension in the following situations:
The right to a social pension exists for people who are not subject to a compulsory social insurance scheme or who do not fall within the scope of the transitional regulations for agricultural workers, or for people who are covered by it but who do not meet the defined waiting periods for retirement. In addition, recipients of a disability, old-age, or survivor’s pension whose amount is less than the minimum social pension rate. The amount of the pension is calculated on the basis of the contribution years and the declared income of the insured person.
If there is a need for care, the regular pension can be increased with the care allowance and also the solidarity allowance for the elderly, which is granted to pensioners residing in Portugal and with low income from the normal retirement age for pensions from the general social security system. It should also be noted that there are different retirement ages in all EU countries. If you are entitled to a pension in two or more EU countries, it will only be paid to you when you have reached the relevant retirement age. For example, this would be 60 in France, but only 67 in Denmark. Consequently, you would not be paid a Danish pension until you reached the age of 67.
If you already have a car and don’t want to sell it, you can take it to Portugal. You will need a Portuguese tax number (NIF) for the import and registration process. You must also be registered online with the Finances portal. The tax office will send your password to the address you provided within a few days. With this access data, you also have full access to the official vehicle tax simulator. What documents do I need to import a car?
When you move to Portugal and register your vehicle for the first time in Portugal, you will need the form Impresso Modelo Unico (https://www.irn.mj.pt/IRN/sections/irn/a_registral/servicosexternosdocs/impressos/automovel/requerimento- deregisto / download file / file / ANEXD57.pdf? nocache = 1216986303.52) as well as a certificate from the tax office that proves that the vehicle is “debt-free”. If you only want to change the registration of your car inside Portugal, use the same form as for the first registration and submit your vehicle documents and your tax number. The registration is made by the Conservatória de Registo of the respective municipality.
If you plan to move to Portugal, you also have to register your car. However, this does not have to be done right away. Portugal allows vacationers who are planning a more extended stay, to drive a vehicle for 185 days per calendar year that is not registered in the country itself. If you stay less than six months, you do not have to pay a vehicle registration tax (Imposto Sobre Veiculo). However, if the car is not registered, it cannot be rented in Portugal during this period. If you have been living in Portugal for more than six months, you are legally obliged to register your vehicle in Portugal. Then the ISV (registration tax) is due, and customs collect this. Not registering your vehicle can result in tax evasion.
Driving licenses from the EU are generally recognized in Portugal. This means that if you are only on holiday in Portugal, you do not have to be afraid of traffic controls. However, if you have already registered and are a resident with permanent residence, you must have your driver’s license rewritten. In Portugal, there are national regulations that have to be applied to the license holder. As with the registration of a vehicle, there is no particular hurry to register a license. If you come from a country in which your driver’s license is valid for an unlimited period or different than in Portugal, and you have been registered in Portugal for two years, you must exchange your driver’s license. If you are over 40 years, you must provide a certificate of general fitness to drive. If you are also wearing glasses, a certificate from the ophthalmologist is required as well. If you only need a “normal” Portuguese driver’s license (vehicles up to 3.8 tons and trailers up to 750kg, the above-mentioned certificates are sufficient. The medical documents must be sent online to the IMT (Road Traffic Office) from May 15, 2018. You can ask your doctor whether he has the appropriate software.
Via Verde is a road toll collection system that facilitates the payment of car journeys on Portuguese freeways and the payment of parking in major cities. For cars with foreign plates, there are other options for payment of tolls and SCUTS such as CTT, Payshop, or Caixa Multibanco, and the apps Telpark, EMEL, and iParq for parking in cities.
In addition to the health insurance and pension insurance mentioned above, you also need car insurance for your vehicle in Portugal. It is also advisable to take out household insurance for your apartment or house. If you have registered your vehicle in Portugal, this must also be insured. In Portugal, vehicle taxes (IUC – Imposto Único de Circulação) are payable after the year of the license plate. Payment can be made either directly through your Finanças account or in person at the tax office. The receipt for the payment must be carried in the vehicle.
You are advised to ask your bank if they can provide you with adequate insurance since most Portuguese banks work together with different insurance companies. In Portugal, all vehicles must have at least third-party liability insurance. Also, the car is not insured, but the driver is. This means that different people can drive your car if they have a valid driver’s license. The disadvantage of this type of insurance is that you cannot benefit from accident-free discounts, as this is not taken into account in Portugal. The insurance premium depends on factors such as the condition, age, make, and model of the car.
Two types of insurance are available:
Of course, it is also advisable to get enough information and compare services and prices.
In a rental property, own damage insurance can protect against unpleasant surprises. If you need to replace furniture, for example, you may be reimbursed for this and other items. It is advisable to make a list and indicate the amount you would have to spend in case of significant damage. Some insurers do not pay claims for damage to appliances that are more than eight years old. These include, for example, a TV or DVD player. Computers cannot be more than five years old. If possible, you should choose home insurance that offers you full compensation, regardless of the age of the damaged items. The value of your insured property is updated annually.
When you move to Portugal, education might be an extremely important point to clarify or even be the reason why you want to move to Portugal. The Portuguese school system is very good and there is no need to send ids to privet schools in order to get a proper education. If your children are supposed to attend Portuguese universities, attending a normal school in Portugal might even be the better choice because of the language.
Basic education in Portugal consists of three consecutive levels and begins after pre-school for children ages 3 and up. However, pre-school is not a requirement in Portugal.
First Cycle – which lasts 4 years and runs from Grade 1 to Grade 4, usually with only one teacher, and occasionally supported by English teachers, since the subject became compulsory in 2015;
Second Cycle – lasts 2 years and covers Grade 5 and 6;
Third Cycle – the third cycle lasts 3 years and runs from Grade 7 to Grade 9. Students have several subjects with specialized teachers in the area and there is usually a Class Director who is responsible for coordinating other matters concerning the students.
Secondary Education is not compulsory and is for students who want to continue with their studies. It lasts 3 years, from the 10th to the 12th grade. Students can choose from the following areas: science, art, humanities, and economics in general education schools, or other areas in vocational schools.
Public schools in Portugal are free for all children but do not cover financial support for the purchase of school books or other materials. For private schools, parents have to pay a certain amount every month. The amount is determined by the schools themselves but can go up to 800 euros per month or more. The fact that the schools pay for the teaching materials also varies from school to school. A distinction is made between international private schools and Portuguese private schools. The latter is particularly useful if you want your children to learn the new language as quickly as possible. Classes in private schools are smaller, which is why teachers may also be able to respond better to (new) international students. It depends on what is in your child’s best interest and of course on financial means.
Here you will find a list of private schools in all regions of Portugal:
Private schools and kindergartens are very popular among emigrants. International schools can be found all over the country and are also extremely popular. Not only because of the use of foreign languages but also because of the small class sizes. Often, emigrants also choose private schools to give their children the opportunity to return to their home country after graduation so that they can easily look for a job or a place to study there.
It is more than advisable to learn Portuguese if you move to Portugal. There are many ways to learn the Portuguese language. School or private language teachers, there are suitable teaching facilities for everyone. Language schools usually offer a wide range of different courses. Weekend courses, evening courses, online courses, or individual lessons. The advantage here is the relatively low price and the opportunity to meet other ex-pats. Intensive courses are usually also offered by language schools. These are particularly useful in the early days to acquire basic knowledge as quickly as possible and to constantly consolidate communication skills. However, if you already have a job and do not have time every day to devote to language learning, an evening or weekend course may be more appropriate for you.
Private or small group lessons are recommended if you want a teacher who can respond individually to you and your learning pace and also actively support your learning progress. A language tandem is ideal if you already have some prior knowledge and want to consolidate and improve it by actively speaking with locals. Another advantage here is, of course, to meet other language enthusiasts who might want to benefit from your native language. Online courses can also help you learn the language. The clear advantage here is the allocation of free time according to your needs.
Various language learning apps have also become very popular, but they are often more suited to learning vocabulary than to strengthening communication skills. The right kind of model for you depends on your individual needs. It is often also worthwhile to acquire some prior vocabulary knowledge through apps or online courses and then continue with a language course.
Of course, it is also important to know whether your money is sufficient in Portugal and what expenses you can expect. It is not very easy to calculate a general average cost of living, as this depends not only on the different regions but also on personal living standards and circumstances, and requirements. The cost of living in Portugal has increased in recent years and has reached the general EU average in cities like Lisbon and Porto. This is especially true for rental apartments. In rural areas or outside city centers, however, costs are still quite low. The prices of many goods and services in Portugal are at a lower level compared to other European countries. However, imported goods can be significantly more expensive.
Especially when it comes to rents, the city centers of Lisbon and Porto can be expensive. Many landlords raise rents in the summer because at this time many tourists look for apartments they can rent for several weeks. Therefore, it is advisable to look for apartments in the fall or even just in the winter, as rental prices go down again in the tourist spots and there is much more choice. If you move ot Portugal in order to appreciate cheaper rents, it is better to settle down in smaller cities like Braga or Coimbra.
In Portugal, you can eat well and it is very cheap. Traditional Portuguese restaurants in particular often offer daily dishes (Prato do dia) for 6 – 8 euros. They are also often available as a complete menu with salad, side dishes, and drink.
When you move to Portugal, you will find international discounters like Aldi and Lidl. Although they offer a smaller selection of food than the big supermarkets, they are still unbeatable in terms of price. If you are looking for a greater variety of food or a supermarket that also offers electrical goods, household goods, cosmetics, and clothing: Jumbo, Continente, or Intermarché.
In and around larger cities, you often don’t need a car. Lisbon and Porto, in particular, have great public transport connections. Even if you decide to live in the Greater Lisbon area, for example (Cascais, Estoril, Carcavelos, etc.) or on the other side of the Tejo (Almada, Bairro, etc.) you have the option of using trains, buses or the ferry. Trains from Lisbon even run to Sintra every hour and enable you to commute easily. Fares by public transport in Portugal are comparatively cheap, and the option of a monthly pass makes it very easy for commuters. The price of the monthly ticket depends on the distance to the city center or your workplace. But it also includes all means of transport from the metro, bus to the train, and ferry.
Incidental costs always depend on personal consumption but are also comparatively cheap in Portugal. The difference with other countries is that you do not pay a monthly flat rate for your electricity and water, but send your meter readings online to your provider every month. Every three months, someone comes to professionally read the meter readings so that everything is in order. Therefore, you only pay for what you consume every month. Since many apartments and houses in Portugal have no central heating, many use electric heaters. Some models are very energy efficient, but the electricity bill in many households is accordingly higher than in summer. You can expect additional costs (electricity, heating, air conditioning, water, garbage) of around 95,95 € for a rental apartment with two bedrooms.
If you want to join a gym in your spare time, there are numerous options and offers, as well as sports clubs and groups, to practice all kinds of activities such as ballet, dance, running, basketball, volleyball, handball, tennis, and paddle. Other leisure activities such as cinema, opera, or theater are relatively inexpensive but always depend on the production or length of the movie.
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