Portugal immigration guide: Portuguese visas and residency permits
Who needs a Portuguese visa? This Portuguese immigration guide covers types of visa in Portugal, Portuguese visa requirements, the Portuguese visa application process and other conditions for arranging a visa for Portugal and immigration to Portugal.
Before coming to Portugal, you need to find out which Portuguese visa or residence permit you require to legally enter and stay in the country. Portuguese immigration differs depending on your nationality, the purpose of your stay and your intended length of time in Portugal.
This guide explains who needs a Portuguese visa or residence permit, the different types of visa for Portugal and Portuguese residence permits, Portuguese visa requirements and Portuguese visa fees. It also details the process for your Portuguese visa application and documents required for arranging your immigration to Portugal.
Portuguese immigration: Who needs a Portuguese visa to enter?
Whether you need a visa for Portugal depends on your nationality and purpose of stay. Under Portuguese immigration policy, Nationals from the EU/EEA and Switzerland can typically enter using their identity cards. All other foreign visitors will need a passport that is valid for at least six months, plus a Portuguese visa if required. On entry, Portuguese immigration may check that you have enough finances for the duration of your stay or a return ticket (or proof you can afford one).
Portuguese visas are typically processed by the Portuguese embassy in your country of residence, while the Portuguese Immigration Office (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF) is responsible for issuing Portuguese resident permits (Autorização de Residência).
EU/EEA/Swiss and Schengen Area citizens
Portugal is an European Union member state and grants visa-free entry to all EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, as well as certain family members and relatives even if the are not from the EU themselves. EU nationals are allowed to enter the country for three months with the aim of finding a job or setting up a business. Once hired, EU nationals have the same rights as Portuguese workers.
Portugal is also part of the Schengen Area which is made up of 26 European countries that have removed border controls between them. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel freely between one country and another without a passport. They only need an identification document to enter Portugal.
The Schengen Area countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Four of these countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) are not members of the EU but enjoy similar rights under the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
While EU/EFTA citizens have the right to freely move to Portugal, they must request a registration certificate if they stay for longer than three months. EU citizens can also request a permanent residence certificate after five years. More information is provided in our guide to Portuguese immigration policy for EU citizens.
Portuguese immigration policy also includes several international agreements with non-EU countries, for example, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which allows such nationals to enter and stay in Portugal for 90 days within a six-month period (180 days) without needing any visa for Portugal. A list of countries that require a Portuguese visa to enter Portugal can be found here.
Non-EU/EFTA nationals who wish to stay longer than three months, however, will need to apply for a long-term visa or Portuguese residency visa before arriving, which allows them to apply for a Portuguese residence permit after arrival. Those who fit into this category include those who work, the self-employed, students, those intending to live off savings, retired people and family members.
Portuguese visa requirements: Which Portuguese visa?
Portuguese visa requirements depend on the purpose of your visit and how long you intend to stay. If your nationality requires an entry visa or long-term residence permit for Portugal, you will need to apply for the relevant Portuguese visa applicable to your situation, explained below.
Schengen short-stay visa
If you are visiting Portugal as a tourist or intend to stay for less than three months, you can apply for a Portuguese Schengen visa. The Schengen short-stay visa allows you to stay in Portugal, or any where in the Schengen area, for a total of 90 days out of an 180-day period.
There are different types of Portuguese Schengen visa:
- Airport transit visa (Visa A) – allows transit within the international area of an airport, from one flight to another, without entering the Schengen area. This visa is mandatory for all passengers that change flights in a Schengen country airport, unless they are exempt from requiring an entry Portuguese visa.
- Transit and short-term stay visa (visa C) – issued for transit and short-term stays in the Schengen area. These visas are valid for a total of 90 days within a six month period, allowing one, two or multiple entries. The most common types of short-stay visas issued are the Portuguese tourist visa and the business visa.
- Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visas – a special visa that allows travel to only one Schengen state, or to certain other Schengen states if specified when applying for the visa. This type of visa may be required in emergency situations where the traveller doesn't possess a valid travel document.
Long-stay Portuguese visas: Temporary stay visas
This is a Portuguese visa that allows a temporary stay for a four-month period with multiple entries. Long-stay Portuguese visas can be granted on any of the following conditions:
- medical treatment in a health facility
- transfer of workers between countries within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to provide services or training
- temporary employment or self-employment
- to conduct scientific research or teaching in a higher education establishment
- to pursue an amateur sports activity
- implementation of international commitments
- to accompany a family member for medical treatment
Portuguese residence visa
This is a Portuguese visa for a four-month period in order to request a residence permit after arrival. This can be granted for any of the following reasons:
- employed work
- self-employment or entrepreneurial activities
- scientific research or teaching
- study, student exchange, internship or voluntary service
- higher education mobility programmes (for students already residing in Portugal who want to further their studies)
- family reunion
- pensioners and people with income.
The Portuguese residence visa can be obtained as a Schengen National 'Long-stay' visa (type D) granted to individuals who will be working, studying or permanently residing in a Schengen area country for a set time. This can be issued as a multi-entry visa that allows travel to other Schengen countries, provided the holder meets certain criteria. The Working (Employment) Schengen Visa is the most common type of long-stay visa.
If you obtain any type of Portuguese residence visa, you are requiresd to apply for a residence permit upon entering Portugal.
Portuguese visa fees
If you require a Portuguese visa, you will need to pay a non-refundable fee.
Portuguese visa fees are as follows:
- Airport Transit Visa – EUR 60
- Schengen Short Stay Visa (less than 90 days) – EUR 60
- Temporary Stay Visa (less than 120 days) – EUR 75
- Long Stay Visa (more than 90 days) – EUR 99
The Portuguese visa fee is reduced to EUR 35 for children aged 6 to 11 years and for nationals from Georgia, Kosovo, Russia and Ukraine.
There is no Portuguese visa fee for:
- Children aged under six
- Students, postgraduates and teachers who are travelling for educational or training purposes
- Researchers of developing countries travelling for the purpose of scientific research
- Representatives of non-profit organisations aged under 25 participating in events organised by non-profit organisations.
Portuguese visa fees are typically paid in the designated consulate/embassy via cash or debit/credit card.
Portuguese visa application
Regardless of whether you are applying for a short-stay or long-stay visa, you will need to fill in a Portuguese visa application form and submit it to the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country. The government provides tools to help you find the closest Portuguese embassy worldwide here and here.
You will need to download a Portuguese visa application form for the Schengen Area, which is available here in several languages.
You will also need to provide the following documentation along with your Portuguese visa application:
- Two passport photos
- Your passport and copies of your previous visas
- A copy of your return ticket reservation (although not always required)
- Travel insurance to cover you for the Schengen area
- Cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and itinerary
- Flight dates and times
- Accommodation plans for the duration of your stay (eg. hotel reservation)
- Proof of sufficient funds to last the duration of your stay
- Proof of civil status (married, children, etc.)
- Proof of economic status (employed, self-employed, student, retired, etc.)
You may also be asked to present additional documentation related to the nature of your visit. For example, if you are applying for a tourist visa you may need a copy of your schedule and proof of departure, while a student will require proof of enrolment at a Portuguese institution. If you apply for a business visa you will probably need a letter from your employer, or if you are self-employed a letter from your solicitor, accountant, bank manger or local chamber of commerce. You may also need references.
Portuguese visa processing time varies depending on the purpose of your visit. It can take anywhere from two weeks up to two to three months, so it is advisable to start the Portuguese visa application process with time.
Applying for a Portuguese residence permit or certificate
Portuguese residence certificate: EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
If you are moving to Portugal with the intention to stay longer than three months, you will need to apply for a Portuguese residence permit or certificate.
Citizens of EU/EEA/Swiss countries don't need a permit but will need to request a Registration Certificate (Certificado de Registo) from the city council hall in their area of residence; this is primarily for the population register. This is valid for five years, after which EU/EFTA nationals can request a permanent residence certificate (Certificado de Residencia Permanente) from the Portuguese immigration service (SEF). More information on EU/EFTA nationals moving to Portugal in our article here.
Portuguese residence permit: non-EU
Non-EU/EFTA nationals moving to Portugal for more than three months will first need a long-term Portuguese residence visa to allow them to later apply for a Portuguese residence permit from the SEF in your area (find your closest office). Usually a permit (Autorização de Residência) is granted to allow Portuguese residency for one year. This can be renewed every two years for a total of five years, after which the holder can apply for a permanent residence permit.
All non-EU citizens applying for a Portuguese residence permit will need to demonstrate evidence of sufficient funds and accommodation. There are additional documents and requirements, depending on the reason given for requesting a Portuguese residence permit; find details here, along with details of fees payable. Information on renewing your Portuguese residence permit is available here.
The Portuguese Immigration Service (SEF) deals with all issues relating to residence permits for non-EU/EFTA nationals. Details on how to contact SEF can be found on the Portuguese Immigration's official website.
Work in Portugal
Citizens from the EU/EFTA do not need any official work permit in Portugal but they are required to find a job if they don't have sufficient funds to support themselves, besides the compulsory residence/registration certificate detailed above.
Non-EU who are entering for work purposes for less than three months will require a short-term Portuguese Schengen Visa for business purposes. If employment will last longer than three months, then a Portuguese Residence Visa (type D, long-term Portuguese Schengen Visa) for employment purposes is needed, after which you will need to apply for a Portuguese residence permit upon arrival for work purposes.
See our guide to Portuguese work visas and permits for more information.
Study in Portugal
If you are moving to Portugal to study longer than three months, you will need a Portuguese residence permit or certificate depending on your nationality. Those requiring a visa to enter Portugal will need to first apply for a Schengen Visa for students, and later collect a residence permit to extend their stay in Portugal. See our guide to Portuguese student visas and requirements.
Joining a relative or partner in Portugal
Spouses, partners and certain relatives can apply to join foreigners who are living in Portugal. Who can apply and the processes depend on the residency status of the person who has moved to Portugal, the type of family relation and the nationality of the applicant.
Read more in our guide on applying for a family visa or Portuguese spouse visa.
Portuguese citizenship or permanent residence
Both EU/EFTA and non-EU residents are eligible to apply for permanent residence in Portugal after five years. Foreign residents can apply for full Portuguese citizenship after six years of residents, although exceptions apply; for example, it's only three years for spouses of Portuguese citizens.
See our guide to Portuguese citizenship and permanent residence for more information.
Portugual's Golden Visa scheme
This is a special Portuguese visa programme designed to attract foreign investment into Portugal. The Portuguese golden visa scheme speeds up the process for foreign investors from non-EU countries if they buy Portuguese real estate or invest up to a certain value. Provided they meet the conditions, under this scheme non-EU citizens will receive a Portuguese residence permit and can later apply for full Portuguese citizenship.
Read more in our guide to golden visas in Portugal.
Useful contacts and links
- SEF – Portuguese Immigration official website
- www.secomunidades.pt – government information on different types of Portuguese visas and requirements.
- UK government guide on taking up residence in Portugal.
- Find your local Portuguese immigration (SEF) office.
- Find the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your country.
- Schengen visa application form
- Visa application forms in various languages
Click to the top of our guide to Portuguese visas.
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