Moving to Portugal from the UK
Portugal is currently home to around 20,000 UK nationals, who mostly reside in the capital city, Lisbon, the vibrant city centre of Porto or coastal areas such as the Algarve. Its warm climate, beautiful beaches and scenery, low cost of living and property prices, as well as its friendly communities make it a popular destination for Brits looking to move abroad.
As well as this, English is widely spoken across the region and the process of becoming a citizen is relatively easy when compared to citizenship routes in other countries. So, despite the impacts of leaving the EU, moving to Portugal from the United Kingdom is still possible.
Whether you would like to live, work, study or even invest in property, there are immigration routes for moving to Portugal from the UK.
The Brexit transition period officially ended on the 31st December 2020, alongside this also came the end of free movement between the UK and EU. This has left many UK nationals feeling uncertain about their options for living abroad, but it is still possible to move to Portugal from the United Kingdom.
UK nationals who were already registered as a resident in Portugal before the 1st January 2021 will be relatively unaffected by the UK’s departure from the EU. This is because, under the Withdrawal Agreement, the rights of UK nationals in the country have been protected. This means you can continue to live, work or study there without the need for a visa.
However, if you were a legal resident in Portugal before 1 January 2021, you should make sure that you exchange your EU resident document for a new biometric card that you can use to prove your rights. You can do this using the SEF’s Brexit portal. Once you have registered on the portal you can download your registration confirmation in the form of a digital document and you can use this to prove your status as a resident until you receive your biometric card.
The UK Nationals Support Fund provides help to some UK residents in Portugal that need additional help with completing their residence application and securing their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. This could include pensioners, disabled people and people living in remote areas. If you qualify for this, then the support you could receive includes:
- answering questions about residence applications, such as the documents you need and how the application process works
- guiding you through the process support if you experience language barriers or difficulty accessing online information and services
UK nationals can still visit without a visa, but can only stay for up to 90 days within 180 days. If you’d like to visit for longer than this, then you will need to apply for a visa.
There are two types of Portuguese National Visas that UK citizens can use to move to Portugal, the type you will need will depend on how long you plan to stay for.
Temporary Stay Visa
UK nationals do not need to apply for the short-term visa, but if you plan to visit for more than 90 days then you will need to apply for the Temporary Stay Visa.
This visa is valid for up to a year, during this time you can enter the country as many times as you like. You can use the visa for:
- Study and research
- Professional training,
- internships or volunteer work
- Youth mobility
- Religious purposes
If you plan on moving to Portugal on a more permanent basis, then you will need to apply for a Residency Visa. The Residency Visa is valid for four months and you can enter the country twice during this time.
During these four months, you can get settled in in the country and book an appointment with the Immigration and Border Services to be able to apply for your Residency permit.
To be eligible for this visa you must qualify under one of the following reasonings:
- Study and research
- Professional training, internship or volunteer work
- Family reunification
- Fixed residency
How to apply for the national visas
UK nationals can apply for either of the national visas, which include the temporary stay and Residency Visa, at the Consulate General of Portugal in either Manchester or London.
To apply, you will need to provide a completed application form, which is available on the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign affairs website.
You will also be required to provide several other documents, for the Temporary visa application you must provide:
- Passport or other travel documents, valid for an additional three months following the duration of the intended stay
- Two identical passport photographs
- Transport document, such as a return ticket
- Valid travel insurance covering necessary medical expenses
- A form authorizing access to Portuguese criminal record by the Immigration and Border Services (SEF)
- Criminal record from the UK for over one year
- Proof that you have enough money for your trip, this can also be proven through a statement of responsibility, signed by a Portuguese national or by a foreign national legally living in the region.
For the Residency Visa application, you will need all of the above documents apart from a transport document. For each of the national visas, you will also need to provide specific documents related to the purpose of your stay.
Once you are in the country with your Residency Visa, you will need to book an appointment at your nearest Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) or go to your local town hall to apply for your Residency Permit and obtain a registration certificate.
The Residency Permit is usually valid for one year and can be extended twice for two years. After living in the country for five years on this permit you can apply for a Permanent Residency Permit or even citizenship. When applying for your Residency Permit, you will need to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds and accommodation.
The documents you will require will depend on the reason for your stay but you will usually need your passport or ID card, tax number, proof of address and social security number as well as the completed application form. You can find out more about what you will need on the SEF website.
Golden Residence Permit
The Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, also known as the Golden Visa Program is a residency by investment program for nationals of non-European countries who are considering investing in or buying a property in Portugal. Before Brexit, people from the UK were not eligible for this program, but now that the UK is no longer a member state of the EU, Brits can apply for the Golden Residence Program.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Golden Residence Permit to UK nationals is that it will give you freedom of movement across Europe’s Schengen Area, something that Brexit took away for UK nationals. As well as this, the Golden Visa allows investors and their family members to live, work and study in the country.
The Golden Residence Program can also lead to citizenship, you can apply for citizenship after five years as long as you have no unpaid Portuguese taxes, have no criminal record and can pass a basic Portuguese language test.
To be eligible for this program you must:
- Make a minimum investment of €250,000. There is a range of investment routes, depending on the route you choose the qualifying investment may be up to €1 million.
- Have no criminal record
- Meet the stay requirement, this means you will need to spend at least 7 days in Portugal for the first year of the visa, and then no less than 14 days each year for the following two years.
The family members that you can bring with you include your:
- Spouse or legal partner
- Children under 18 years of age
- Dependent children under 26 as long as they are single and enrolled as full-time students
- Parents of either spouse if over 66 years old (or 55 and dependent)
- Siblings under the age of 18 years from either spouse or partner if legally responsible
The D7 visa is another type of non-EU visa that has recently become available to UK nationals due to Brexit. The D7 Visa allows non-EU nationals to relocate to Portugal if they have the funds to support themselves whilst there.
This visa, which is also known as the Passive Income Visa, is often used by retirees or entrepreneurs. Unlike the Golden Residence Visa, you are not required to invest.
To apply for this visa, you will need to make an initial D7 Visa application at the Portuguese embassy in the UK. This is valid for up to 4 months; in this time, you will need to book an appointment with the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) who can then approve your application for a D7 Residence Permit.
As well as being a non-EU citizen and having no criminal record, you must also meet the financial requirements to be eligible for this visa. This means that you must show that you have a specific amount of income of pensions available for yourself and any dependents you intend to bring with you. This consists of:
- €7.200 for the first adult
- €3.600 for second or more adults
- €2.160 per child
Once you have obtained your residence permit on this visa, it will be valid for 1 year and can be renewed twice, for two-year periods. Once you have spent 5 years in the country on this visa, you can apply for a permanent residence permit or citizenship.
Much like the Golden Residence Visa, this visa will also give you the right to move freely across the EU. It will allow you to live in Portugal and you can also access healthcare and education services. You can work remotely for other EU countries on this visa and once you have residency you can apply for a job in Portugal.
Conducting business in Portugal
If you are considering starting a business in Portugal, then you could be eligible for the Startup Visa. This visa is for non-EU nationals who plan to launch a startup company in Portugal.
To be eligible for this visa, your business must:
- Have its economic potential approved by IAPMEI
- Be innovative
- Create qualified job positions
- Have the potential to attain a turnover of €325,000 within 5 years
The Tech Visa is a relatively new type of visa that was introduced in 2019. It complements the Start-Up Visa by allowing companies in the tech and innovation businesses to hire qualified non-EU tech professionals, allowing them to live and work in Portugal.
Companies can hire up to 50% of their workers using this program, which increases to 80% of their workers if their activities are mostly within Portugal.
Another type of business visa is the D2 Visa. You could be eligible for this if you are an entrepreneur who intends to conduct business and reside in Portugal.
This visa can be used by those or already have a business, intent to start a new small business or startup in Portugal as well as for other projects.
As well as the documents normally required when applying for a Residency Visa, for the D2 Visa you will also need to provide documents to prove that you meet one of the following requirements:
- That you have already invested in Portugal
- That you have the required financial means in Portugal
- That you intend to invest in Portugal
Healthcare in Portugal
One of the most important things to consider when moving to Portugal from the UK is healthcare. Everyone who is registered as living in Portugal is also able to register to access the Portuguese national health service (SNS) and will be entitled to the same healthcare as a Portuguese citizen.
After your move to Portugal, you should make sure that you are properly registered for healthcare. You can register at your local health centre (Centro de saúde) to register you will need your:
- Residence certificate
- Tax identification number, you can get this from your local tax office (finanças) If you are employed then you will also need your social security number, you can get this from your employer.
After you have registered you will receive your health number, or número de utente de saúde, you should show this whenever you visit a doctor.
Unlike in the UK, the healthcare system in Portugal is not free. Instead, there are standard user fees called ‘taxas moderadoras’. These fees are relatively low and vary depending on the service. For example, you can expect to pay:
- 5 euros for a GP appointment
- 15 euros to go to A&E
You will also need to pay for prescriptions. If you are pregnant or unemployed then you could be exempt from these fees.
Private health insurance is available but is not mandatory.
If you moving to Portugal as a posted worker, meaning a UK employer has sent you to work in Portugal, then you may need to register for healthcare using a UK-issued S1 form instead. UK nationals can still use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) up until it’s expiry date but you should not use your EHIC card to access healthcare in Portugal if you are a resident, unless you are a student.
The UK has a double taxation agreement with Portugal that means you will not have to pay tax on the same income in both the UK and Portugal whilst you are living in Portugal. If you are registered as a resident in Portugal then you will need to declare your global income to the Portuguese authorities, irrelevant of where it came from. Non-residents will only pay tax on income from Portugal.
If you are liable to pay tax in Portugal, you should apply for a tax number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF). You will also need a NIF if you intend to buy or sell property, open a bank account or sign long-term rental agreements.
As well as the double taxation agreement, UK nationals could also be eligible for the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) tax scheme. The Portugal NHR tax regime is a scheme that offers tax breaks to foreign residents, it has been very successful and there are now over 10,000 residents in Portugal that benefit from the scheme.
Usually, the scheme is only available to EU nationals residing in Portugal but UK citizens can become eligible for the NHR regime if they have acquired residency through the Golden Visa. To qualify applicants also must not have been a Portuguese tax resident in the previous 5 years before becoming a resident.
If your application for NHS status is successful then the following benefits will apply to you:
- A special personal income tax treatment over 10 years
- Enjoy tax exemption on almost all foreign source income
- 20% flat rate for certain Portuguese source incomes (from specific professions and self-employment), as opposed to normal Portuguese income tax rates of up to 48%
- No minimum stay requirement
- Become part of a white-listed tax environment within the EU
- A tax exemption for gifts or inheritance to direct family members
- No wealth tax
- Free remittance of funds to Portugal
How can IAS help?
Here at IAS, our highly-trained lawyers offer an emigration package to assist their clients who wish to move abroad. Our lawyers can give you information about your options for emigration and can assist you with your application.
Brexit has impacted immigration all over Europe and has made moving to Portugal more complex. Luckily, our lawyers are trained in all the latest immigration changes and have plenty of experience with successfully helping their clients to move abroad, this means that they are in the best position to ensure that Brexit doesn’t hold you back.
If you are considering moving to Portugal, don’t hesitate to book an advice session with our excellent immigration lawyers. We have offices located across the UK, including in London, Manchester, or Birmingham. You can also use the office finder to find the closest branch to you. They will do everything in their power to make sure that your move to Portugal goes smoothly. Get in touch now on 0333 305 9375.
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There are a lot of reasons that Brits choose to make the move to Portugal, some of the most appealing reasons to move include:
- the low cost of living
- vibrant cities like Lisbon and Porto
- stunning coastlines such as the Algarve
- a job market that is accommodating to expats
- relatively simple visa requirements
- low purchase costs of a house
- The friendly community spirit that is part of the way of life there
Another big draw for Brits is that a vast majority of the population speak English, making it easier to settle in.
Moving abroad can be complicated, there are many things that you will need to do but these are the key things that you should remember when you make the move:
- Apply for the correct visa
- Register as a resident when you arrive
- Register for state healthcare
- If you plan to drive, you must exchange your UK driving licence for a Portuguese one
- If you plan on bringing any pets, check the requirements and make sure that you have the right type of passport for your pets.
Yes, you do not need a job to move to Portugal. There are many other routes that you can use to be eligible for a Residency Visa, these include:
- Study and research purposes
- Professional training, internships or volunteer work
- Family reunification
- Retirement purposes
- Religious purposes
You can also live in Portugal without a job if you can live off of individual revenue.