The Step-by-Step Guide to Moving to Portugal (2023) | Baseflow

Thinking of moving to Portugal? This guide will take you through everything you need to know, from visas and healthcare to taxes and language barriers.

10 min read
October 24, 2022
The Baseflow Team

In the next decade, Portugal is expected to be one of the most popular destinations for remote workers, digital nomads, and expats. So if you're thinking about moving to Portugal in 2023, you're making a great decision! With its affordable cost of living, beautiful scenery, and relaxed lifestyle, it's no wonder so many people are already moving there. But before you make the big move, there are a few things you should know. In this guide, we'll share all the essential tips, tricks, and strategies that will help make your move to Portugal smoother and easier. From finding the best places to live and work to adjusting to the Portuguese language and culture, we've got you covered! So read on, and happy moving!​

The Portuguese Immigration System: Work Visas and Residence Permits Requirements 🪪

Portugal is one of the few countries in Europe to have a simplified immigration system. Portugal is part of the Schengen area, making it easy for citizens of any Schengen country to enter Portugal visa-free and explore the rich culture, fascinating history, and beautiful landscapes that Portugal offers. Also, Portugal has one of the most attractive immigration systems in Europe, with clear and straightforward requirements, making it easier for non-Schengen citizens to move to Portugal with a wide range of options to reside and work. Let's explore how to get a visa to live in Portugal!

How to get a residence visa in Portugal? 3 ways to become a Portuguese resident

The generic process starts with obtaining a Portuguese visa from the nearest Portuguese consulate or embassy in your country of origin. Obtaining a visa can take several weeks or even months, depending on your type and purpose of travel. This time can be significantly longer if you do the process on your own, as you will have to ask the nearest embassy what documents you need to provide. After receiving a visa, you can then apply for a residence permit at the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras), which allows foreign citizens to live and work in Portugal. Finally, after fulfilling the necessary requirements, you can generally apply for a permanent residence permit which allows you to reside in Portugal without any time constraints, and later obtain a passport and become a Portuguese citizen.

Tourist Visas

Portugal offers Schengen visas which grant access to 26 countries within the EU and can last up to 90 days within a 180-day rolling window period.

Golden Visa 👑

The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most globally famous Portuguese Visa programs, as many rich people have used it during the last years to gain citizenship and residency in Portugal. This scheme involves the purchase of real estate in the country, which gives you the right to live in Portugal.

D7 Visa 💸

Portugal’s D7 residency visa is one of the easiest ways to get residency in Portugal and enjoy the benefits of living there. The application process for the Portuguese residency visa is straightforward, with applicants required to prove that they are employed or self-employed; have sufficient financial means to support themselves (and their family members in some cases) while living in Portugal; are enrolled in a Portuguese health system, and submit several other documents.

Once accepted, applicants will be issued an “Authorization for Residence” letter that grants residency within 90 days of entry into Portugal. This residency visa allows individuals from certain countries to stay in Portugal for up to 5 years, with an option to get permanent residency and gain citizenship afterward. Many people find the D7 residency visa extremely advantageous, as it provides a number of benefits, including access to healthcare services, tax benefits, and even indefinite residency if certain conditions are met.

Digital Nomad Visa 🛬

Portugal has recently become a new frontrunner in the global digital nomad community. With their new Digital Nomad Visa, Portugal is creating new opportunities for individuals to immigrate temporarily and live as digital nomads. This visa allows individuals to stay in Portugal for up to one year and work remotely without having to worry about having a specific employer or any other restrictions that come with traditional visas. By allowing workers flexibility and mobility, Portugal joins a number of countries pioneering new policies designed to accommodate the growing remote workforce while recognizing the important contributions they make to the country's economy. Undoubtedly, the new Digital Nomad Visa will open even more doors for working professionals around the world who are ready to spend part of their year abroad.

With Portugal’s favorable working climate as part of the European Union and a full range of visa options, there is no better time than now to explore your possibilities with Portugal’s immigration system. If you're interested in this type of visa, check out our Guide to the New Portugal Digital Nomad Visa.

Legal and Fiscal Guide: Portuguese Taxes and NHR

If you’re a digital nomad or remote worker from overseas looking to get residency in Portugal to take advantage of the Portuguese Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program, it’s important to understand the nuances of local taxation requirements. In this section, we’ll explain the general requirements and how Portugal taxes income for NHR residents under various circumstances and provide useful advice for anyone living in – or considering moving to – Portugal but wanting to minimize their tax burden as much as possible.

The Portuguese Tax Number

Obtaining a Portuguese Tax ID Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF) is completely mandatory if you want to become a Portuguese resident. You'll need to provide some information, such as your full name, address, and date of birth, in order to fill out the paperwork with the Portuguese tax authorities. After the form has been filled out, it's sent off to the Ministry of Finance, and a tax office will then contact you with further instructions on how to complete the application process.

If you're not a resident of Portugal yet, there may be additional requirements that you'll need to meet before being able to obtain a NIF. It's important that you research these requirements thoroughly before beginning the application process. Getting a Portuguese Tax ID Number is essential for any dealings that involve money, so make sure you follow all of the steps necessary in order to have it successfully issued!

We have a complete guide with everything you need to know about the Portuguese NIF.

The Tax System

Portugal has a progressive income tax system that taxes income at different rates based on the income bracket it falls into. The Portuguese income tax rate for those earning less than €7,000 per annum is 11%, while income earned between €7,000 and €20,000 is taxed at 14.5%. Taxable income up to €100,00 is taxed at 28.5%, and income over this amount is taxed at 34%. Self-employed individuals pay a minimum 25% income tax rate and must file their returns within 6 months of the end of each financial year. Portugal also levies additional taxes such as VAT (23%), real estate property tax (0.3-0.8%), and stamp duty (0.5%).

The Portuguese government's generous investment incentives program encourages entrepreneurs and international businesses to invest in its economy with lower corporate tax rates when certain criteria are met. Let's explore those programs!

The NHR (Non-Habitual Resident) program 🌎

Portugal's Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program is a government program aimed at stimulating the Portuguese economy by offering foreign individuals and families an attractive tax environment after relocating. The NHR program allows individuals to become tax residents in Portugal while only paying taxes on their freelancing income at a flat rate of 20%. In addition, individuals living in Portugal under the NHR are exempt from double taxation and qualify for the country’s generous pension system. This makes it an ideal option for anyone looking to reduce their overall tax burden while enjoying all that Portugal has to offer. Whether you're considering emigrating there or simply conducting business overseas, exploring the NHR could save you money in the long run.

If you want to know all the benefits that the NHR program provides, check our Guide to the Non-Habitual Resident Tax Regime.

Social Security

When living or working in Portugal, it's important to understand the Portuguese Social Security system. Every legal worker must have an SSN (Social Security Number) in order to contribute to their Social Security and reap the benefits, such as support upon unemployment, retirement, and health coverage. Obtaining an SSN usually requires submitting proof of income or job status along with other required forms, including those obtained from your employer. In addition to providing the necessary paperwork, tax payments must be made on a regular basis according to certain criteria determined by Portuguese authorities. Understanding the Portuguese Social Security system is essential for living and working legally in Portugal – being prepared with both the proper documentation and knowledge of SS regulations can make things like paying taxes and eventually collecting benefits much easier.

Double Taxation Agreements

Portugal has double taxation agreements with a large number of countries around the world, providing incentives for investors and allowing the country to benefit from increased levels of inward foreign investment. This serves to encourage foreign businesses and individuals who may be considering settling in Portugal, reducing their potential tax burden considerably. Benefiting both investors and governments alike, these agreements facilitate smooth business relations between Portugal and other nations. By making cross-border transactions easier and providing benefits for investments, these treaties stimulate international trade and commerce between Portugal and its trading partners.

How to Open a Bank account

Opening a Portuguese bank account is an important step for expats in Portugal, giving you easier access to paying taxes and getting paid by local companies. Depending on your situation ─ resident or non-resident─ you must provide specific documents when opening the account, such as valid photo ID (passport), proof of address(a utility bill), proof of employment (payslip/work contract), and NIF number. Non-residents will additionally need proof from their home country’s address too! Prepare ahead with various forms of documentation like multiple bills to ensure everything goes smoothly when setting up your new financial base abroad.

Find a place to live: Portuguese Real Estate

If you’re new to the Portuguese real estate market and are looking for a new home, you’ll want to become familiar with the process of buying property in Portugal. It can be a complicated and lengthy process, but one that is well worth it in the end if you find just the right house or apartment that fits your needs. Every area has its own unique features, so do your research on housing availability and prices in each region. Take special note of popular neighborhoods, new or existing construction options, transportation links to city centers, and school districts. By making sure you know all the pros and cons of each location before diving in, you’ll have a successful home-buying experience that you won’t regret.

The Portuguese Healthcare system ⛑️

The Portuguese healthcare system is one of the best in Europe and has long been praised for its robustness and quality. Portugal boasts a public health benchmark that far outstrips those of many U.S. states. In 2003, it was the first country to adopt universal coverage and continues to provide free or highly subsidized healthcare for nearly all of its citizens, even those who move around or work abroad for short periods of time. Portugal's policymakers have also taken strides to ensure that primary care and preventive services are easily accessible by expanding its network to include more rural areas as well as urban cities across the nation. There are currently numerous non-governmental organizations focused on improving healthcare outcomes within the boundaries of the country, furthering this mission of care everywhere it is needed most.

Public healthcare

Portugal boasts an excellent public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens for free. From basic medical consultations to more complex medical procedures and operations, Portugal's public health system is known for its quality and affordability. The national health service covers medical check-ups and treatments, dental care, optometry, vaccinations, and mental health services in local medical centers, which are available in even the smallest of towns. Furthermore, medical supplies such as medication provided by pharmacists in Portugal are very inexpensive when compared globally. With the recent rise in medical technology, the Portuguese Public Healthcare System is at the forefront of providing its citizens with the best medical care possible.

How to get a private health insurance

Getting private health insurance in Portugal is an important step for anyone spending an extended amount of time in the country – especially as some types of Visas make it mandatory. One way to get travel insurance that is especially suitable for digital nomads and remote workers is through a company like Safetywing. The plans are fully comprehensive and can provide coverage for medical expenses, travel delays, lost bags, and more. You can also choose from plans that offer travel extensions and additional benefits.

Education in Portugal 👩🏼‍🏫

Portugal is a country known for its deep commitment to giving each person access to quality education - regardless of their socio-economic background. The government provides impressive education options and resources, ranging from elementary school to university level. International schools are widely available as well, providing excellent education in English alongside the local curriculum. Additionally, foreign students studying in Portugal find themselves surrounded by an enriching cultural environment while being able to take advantage of low living costs. With such high quality at such low prices, it’s no wonder that more and more people look to Portugal for their educational needs.

How much money do you need to move to Portugal? The Cost of Living in Portugal

Before taking the leap, it is important to consider the costs associated with moving to Portugal. While Portugal does offer a lower cost of living than some other European countries, prospective expats should do their research on what kind of budget they need for their new life in Portugal.

Accommodation can vary from relatively inexpensive - around €500 per month for a one or two-bedroom apartment - to luxury apartments costing much more, as well as purchasing or renting properties in cities such as Lisbon or Porto. Utilities such as water, electricity, and heating are considerably cheaper than in larger northern European countries. An average monthly grocery bill for two people comes in at around €250-€300, and the cost of transportation tickets and petrol is also very reasonable.

All factors taken into consideration, a reliable and comfortable amount of money needed per month is between €1000-€1500, excluding rent which will give you enough money throughout your stay without worrying about breaking the bank. So if you're a start-up founder, this means you'll have significantly more runway than in other places like the US!

What you should know about the Portuguese Job Market ⚒️

If you're looking to take your remote working career abroad, Portugal should definitely be on your radar. Not only is it home to some of the most stunning beaches and historical sites in Europe, but its job market is quickly becoming a prime destination for workers seeking an international career change.

Whether you’re interested in exploring opportunities with technology companies or are hoping to land an expat contract as a freelancer or digital nomad, there is no better place than Portugal when it comes to finding rewarding work.

In this section, we’ll provide you with all the information you need about navigating the Portuguese job market—from understanding local labor regulations and applying for jobs online to familiarizing yourself with cultural expectations and learning some basic language skills—so that you can jump-start your journey towards success!

What Is the Minimum Wage?

Portugal is a European nation that's committed to ensuring workers receive fair wages. Employers must legally pay their employees the government-mandated minimum wage of 822 EUR per month—ensuring individuals are financially secure in taking up jobs and honorable employers respect this commitment with justice for all sides.

What Is the Average Salary?

Portugal may be a small country, but it's an amazing place to work from. Contrary to what one might think given its size and location in Europe, the average monthly salary there is actually quite low at 2750 EUR or 2676 USD—lower than even United States wages of 7892 USD per month! So if you're looking for somewhere with great opportunities that won't break the bank, why not consider Portugal?

The Most Common Jobs in Portugal

With the thriving tourism industry, Portugal serves up a wealth of opportunities in hospitality and retail. For those with tech skills, IT jobs are also on offer - while digital natives might find their heart is set on call center work! Beyond that, there are all sorts of other roles to explore throughout multiple industries.

Getting hired in Portugal by a foreign company

Portugal is rapidly becoming an attractive destination for foreign companies looking to hire new talent! Portugal has many advantages that make it an ideal place to do business. From its highly-skilled, diverse population with a wide range of language proficiency to its friendly and welcoming culture, the country offers many benefits for any potential employer. Not only are wages in Portugal lower than those of Western European countries, but its incentives for foreign investments offer further savings and opportunities.

Additionally, the government is making great strides forward in creating a more open and flexible working environment by cutting bureaucratic red tape and introducing supportive policies that encourage startups.

Companies like Deel make it super easy for companies from anywhere in the world to hire you in Portugal.

Quick Guide to Freelancing in Portugal 💸

Portugal is one of the most attractive places in Europe for freelancers. The country offers an advantageous tax environment with its NHR system and access to various financial incentives for freelancers – such as a 20% flat income tax rate and an exemption on Social Security contributions during the first year.

But before you start freelancing in Portugal, it's important to understand the specifics of how to do business there. For example, you'll need to register with the Portuguese authorities by getting your NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal). You must also get a Social Security Number (SNS).

You can access the full Guide to Freelancing in Portugal in our knowledge base – yes, for free.

Can you live in Portugal as a retiree?

Portugal is a sunny paradise renowned for its incredible beaches, vivid culture, and scrumptious cuisine. It's no wonder that retirees flock to the country; the mild Mediterranean climate enables them to make the most of their newfound freedom by connecting with nature and enjoying outdoor activities like sailing, diving, and golf. Those who settle in Portugal will find themselves surrounded by modern amenities and facilities while being able to experience traditional Portuguese living in amazing cities such as Lisbon and Porto. Furthermore, with its generous, flexible tax system, Portugal is an ideal place to retire - allowing you to work (if you want), enjoy low-cost healthcare, and benefit from discounted products or services for seniors.

What are the pros of living in Portugal?

Portugal offers a high quality of life that is often overlooked by travelers. Ranked high on the Global Peace Index and known for its culinary delights and wine production, Portugal also has a low cost of living compared to most other Western European countries. Many well-stocked libraries provide a hub of knowledge, while numerous local music festivals add to its cultural offerings.

In addition, you'll find spectacular beaches with crystal clear waters, rolling hills, and dozens of small towns where you can explore the fascinating country without feeling overwhelmed by tourists. All in all, Portugal offers everything needed to lead an enriching lifestyle with exceptional value for money.

What are the cons of living in Portugal?

Portugal can be a great place to live and visit, but it also has some cons. Portugal may not be the most affordable country in Europe or the world – especially Lisbon and other popular tourist vacation spots. The cost of living can be quite high, with rents that exceed expectations from some people’s perception. Portugal also has certain environmental concerns due to its proximity to the ocean and exposure to the sun, which can cause heat waves, frequent droughts, and erosions. Portugal also gets storms almost every Spring; some storms are heavy rainstorms, while others bring hail, thunder, and flash flooding.

Although Portugal is a beautiful country with plenty of attractions, residents should know the cons as they plan to move there – but if these are not deal breakers and you still want to move, keep reading!

7 Best locations for expats in Portugal 📍

Portugal is becoming increasingly popular with expats due to its affordable cost of living, beautiful landscapes, and welcoming locals. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the five best locations for expats in Portugal.

Lisbon – The Capital City

Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and is one of the most popular destinations for expats. It’s known for its vibrant nightlife, delicious cuisine, stunning architecture, and friendly locals. The city is also very affordable when compared to other European capitals. Additionally, Lisbon boasts a thriving tech scene which makes it an attractive destination for digital nomads and remote workers. Don't forget to check its surroundings, like Cascais or Costa da Caparica!

Porto – Historic Charm

Porto is located in northern Portugal on the Douro river estuary near the Atlantic Ocean. This historic city dates back to Roman times and has a lot to offer visitors, including cobblestone streets lined with cafes, shops selling local handicrafts, medieval churches, and more! Additionally, Porto is home to some of the most delicious wines in Europe, so be sure to sample some while you’re there!

Algarve – Beach Heaven

The Algarve region has become increasingly popular among tourists and expats alike in recent years. It’s known for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and vibrant cities such as Faro and Portimão. There are plenty of activities nearby, such as kayaking, surfing, mountain biking, and hiking. Plus, it’s very affordable compared to other beach destinations in Europe!

Coimbra – Culture & Education Hub

Coimbra is located about an hour from both Porto and Lisbon by car or train. This university town was once the capital of Portugal during the Middle Ages, so it has plenty of history to explore! Coimbra also offers plenty of cultural experiences, such as traditional festivals like Queima das Fitas (April) and Feast Day (August). Plus, it’s home to one of Europe's oldest universities - Universidade de Coimbra - so there are plenty of student-run bars & clubs around town if you're looking for a good time!  

Aveiro – For Nature Lovers

Aveiro is located about an hour south of Porto by car or train. This lesser-known destination offers visitors stunning natural beauty, including canals lined with colorful boats called moliceiros which were once used by fishermen but are now used mainly as tourist attractions. Aveiro also has plenty of green spaces perfect for hikes or simply taking in nature!

Madeira – For Island Lovers

Madeira is, without a doubt, one of the top destinations for expats planning to move to Portugal. Madeira offers a unique mix of stunning countryside and incredible coastline views, as well as a rich culture and history. Madeira also boasts fantastic weather all year round, with warm sunshine in the summer and mild temperatures in the winter – making it perfect for outdoor activities regardless of the season. Madeira has excellent infrastructure and transport links to other Portuguese cities, giving you easy access to explore all areas of the country. It's clear that Madeira ticks all the boxes for an idyllic living destination for expats looking for their perfect home away from home in Portugal!

Azores Islands – The Hawaii of Europe

Finally, we have the Azores Islands; these nine volcanic islands lie off the western coast of Portugal and offer visitors a unique experience unlike any other in Europe. Here you'll find lush green landscapes dotted by black sand beaches surrounded by crystal clear waters where dolphins often swim alongside surfers catching waves in paradise-like settings. And although quiet compared to mainland Portugal's bustling cities like Lisbon or Porto, there are still plenty of opportunities here for remote workers who want some peace and quiet during their stay abroad!

As you can see, there are lots of options when it comes to choosing a location for your expat adventure in Portugal! From bustling cities like Lisbon & Porto to smaller towns like Aveiro & Coimbra, each offering its own unique charm - you won't be disappointed no matter where you decide to go! So pack your bags & get ready for an unforgettable experience exploring all that Portugal has to offer!

Custom Advice based on Where You Want to Move From 🌎

For digital nomads who are looking for a change of scenery and planning to move from their home country to Portugal, this section will provide you with custom guides & advice on what to expect and how you can maximize success when relocating. As someone who has lived and worked as a remote worker in Portugal from the US, I know firsthand the potential pitfalls of relocating abroad and areas for growth. Let's help you make your transition smoother!

Moving to Portugal as an American 🇺🇸

If you're an American considering crossing the Atlantic Ocean to move from the USA to Portugal, one of the things you'd be happy about is that almost everybody in Portugal speaks English really well – especially in the big cities like Lisbon and Porto. Also, with a strong USD, you might benefit from living in euros and exercising some good ol’ geo-arbitrage!

If you want specific tips, tricks, and strategies for US citizens, go read our Guide to Moving to Portugal as an American.

Moving to Portugal from Canada 🇨🇦

Moving to Portugal from Canada can be an exciting and life-changing experience. There are many benefits of living in Portugal compared to Canada, such as better weather, a relaxing and laid-back culture, delicious cuisine, and much more! Additionally, the cost of living is just a fraction of that in Canada, making a move to Portugal much more affordable.

The process for you as a Canadian citizen will be very similar to those from the USA. However, we still created a custom Guide to Moving to Portugal from Canada.

Moving to Portugal from the UK 🇬🇧

If you're moving to Portugal as a UK citizen, the process for you will now be very similar to the one for Americans. After Brexit, as a non-EU citizen, you'll need to apply for a visa. Luckily, we got you covered with our Guide to Moving to Portugal from the UK.

Moving to Portugal as an EU citizen 🇪🇺

Portugal is one of the most beautiful European countries, making it an ideal relocation destination for EU citizens. The fact that Portugal has been part of the European Union since 1986 means that citizens can move to the country with ease – as you won't need a visa, making the process much faster.

It also helps that Portuguese people are incredibly welcoming, often describing themselves as "citizens of the world". Living costs can be truly affordable, with rents and groceries costing significantly less than in places like Germany or Italy. Also, Portugal is already one of the preferred countries by people from western Europe!

For a step-by-step plan specifically for European Union citizens, check our Guide to Moving to Portugal from the EU.

Moving to Portugal from Ireland 🇮🇪

If you're from Ireland and are thinking of making a move abroad, Portugal can be an ideal place to start. It's one of the most popular destinations in Europe for Irish citizens, offering a unique blend of culture, gorgeous beaches, and stunning historical cities. The Portuguese tend to speak English pretty well, so you won't have to worry too much about learning a new language. With temperatures all year round that are milder than what you're used to in Ireland and plenty of activities in the great outdoors on offer, it can make for an excellent transition from Irish life to a life spent living outside the country.

Personal recommendation: you should check The Corner Irish Pub in Bairro Alto 😉🍻

Moving to Portugal from Spain 🇪🇸

Moving to Portugal from Spain is an attractive option for many who seek a change of environment. The easy transitions between the countries make it ideal for frequent visits, especially if you have family on either side. Plus, Portugal is a more cost-effective place to live than Spain, with (way) lower taxes and living expenses in general. It's no wonder why more and more people are moving cross-border over the last few years!

The cultural scene in Portugal keeps thriving with vibrant nightlife, delicious food, and spectacular festivals that happen all year round. You'll quickly learn to appreciate all the beauty this country offers while feeling secure in its economic stability and international appeal.

Check out our founder's blog post on why he chose to live in Portugal instead of Spain 👀

How difficult is it to move to Portugal? Just Baseflow there, do it the easy way 🏴🌊

As you have seen, moving to Portugal on your own is possible thanks to its straightforward immigration and fiscal system—but it’s a pain to do, not as safe, and will cost you more and take longer than if you just use Baseflow.

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