Portugal continues to be one of the best countries in the world for foreigners to live in. But long gone are the days when it was only seen as a place for retirees to enjoy sunny beaches or play golf.
More and more people of all nationalities, ages and lifestyles are relocating to Portugal to live permanently. From digital nomads to families with children, the attractive conditions available to foreigners and the excellent quality of life make Portugal one of the best places to live abroad.
Citizens from the following countries do not a visa to enter or live in Portugal:
EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The European Economic Area (EEA) includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Switzerland is not an EU or EEA member but is part of the single market. This means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in Portugal as other EU or EEA nationals.
However, if you are a non-EU (European Union), EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss national, and are considering Portugal as a place to relocate, one of the most popular (and affordable!) options to obtain residency is to apply for a D7 visa.
What is a D7 visa?
The D7 visa, also known as the ‘Retirement Visa’ or ‘Passive Income Visa’, is the most common residency visa in Portugal for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who relocate to Portugal and eventually obtain permanent residency in Portugal or Portuguese citizenship.
This visa is aimed at people who are financially independent, such as:
Anyone living on passive sources of income, such as income from real estate rentals, intellectual property, financial investments, (…);
Anyone self-employed (digital nomads) or remote workers employed for a company outside of Portugal.
In addition to allowing legal residency in Portugal, the D7 visa grants the same rights that all Portuguese residents are entitled to, such as:
Access to the national public healthcare service (SNS - Serviço Nacional de Saúde);
Access to the Portuguese public education system, schools and vocational training;
The right to exercise any work activity as an independent professional;
Access and protection from the Portuguese legal system;
D7 Visa cardholders are also entitled to freely enter any of the 26 European countries belonging to the Schengen Area (for stays up to 90 days out of every 180 days).
Family members of a D7 Visa are also entitled to a residency permit, based on “family reunification” laws.
With the D7 visa, foreign residents in Portugal can also benefit from the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime...
How to apply for Portugal D7 Visa
There are two steps in applying for a Portugal D7 Visa, which are the same regardless of your country of origin:
First, you must apply for a D7 visa from your home country. This visa is valid for two entries in Portuguese territory and allows you to stay in Portugal for a maximum period of four months.
After obtaining the D7 visa, you may then travel to Portugal to exchange it for a temporary residency permit.
The initial application to obtain a D7 Visa must be made from your country of residency at any Portuguese consular post or at the Embassy/Consulate with jurisdiction in your country of residence.
Prior to applying for the D7 Visa, you may need to visit Portugal to obtain the documents required for your application (for example, for opening a Portuguese bank account, obtaining a NIF - Portuguese tax number or signing a property lease, although in some cases you can do this remotely or through a power of attorney in Portugal).
The documents required in an application for a D7 Visa include:
D7 Application Form (available on SEF’s website);
Two recent, identical passport-type photos;
Proof of health insurance that meets the Schengen Area requirements, with full coverage for any necessary medical expenses that may occur during your stay (including urgent medical assistance and possible repatriation);
Request for a criminal record check by the Portuguese foreigners and borders service (SEF - Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras);
Criminal record certificate from your country of origin or from the country where you have been residing for more than one year (you must have a clean criminal record for the application to be approved!);
Proof that you have adequate long-term accommodation in Portugal, such as a property title deed or a long-term rental contract/property loan agreement (minimum 12 months);
Document proving the amount of your pension - Or - Proof that you have a regular source of income that guarantees adequate means of livelihood in Portugal. Portuguese immigration authorities will request that you provide relevant documents as proof of recurring income or significant savings (or a combination of the two). The minimum value required is calculated based on Portugal's national minimum wage at the time of application, with a minimum reference value per adult and dependent children).
Applicants for a Portugal D7 visa must also have a funded bank account in Portugal and a Portuguese NIF (tax number).
And finally, you'll need to submit a letter that specifies the reason for your application.
Other documents may be necessary depending on your family's situation (such as a marriage certificate or your child's birth certificate) and some must be notarized beforehand, so make sure to check which before submitting your application.
It's also important to verify all documents’ validation dates as some must have a specific time period in which they are valid to be considered for this application.
You should also visit the website page of the consulate office where you will submit your application to check any new rules or specific instructions imposed (for example, some consulates require online application requests while others allow you to submit documents by mail or in-person).
After the application is submitted, the Portuguese consular services with legal power for granting your visa will inform you of their decision normally within 60-90 days.
Requesting a temporary residency permit in Portugal
After obtaining your D7 visa, a visa stamp will be placed on your passport. You can then travel to Portugal and apply for a temporary residency permit. To do so, you must schedule an appointment at SEF.
This temporary residency permit in Portugal is valid for a period of 2 years, which can be renewed for successive periods of 3 years. To keep your residency status, during this period you'll need to meet the minimum stay requirements.
At the end of 5 years, you may apply for permanent residency in Portugal or Portuguese citizenship (subject to passing a basic Portuguese language test).
Although the steps necessary to apply for a D7 Visa require time and careful planning to submit all the necessary documents correctly, there are several resources available to help you with your journey towards a simpler life in Portugal.
One resource that is particularly helpful for anyone starting this process is Facebook groups, where foreigners from all over the world share their experiences of relocating to Portugal. Some groups even have a “documents” or “files” section with loads of information regarding their country of origin’s requirements for obtaining specific documents, timelines, insider tips, etc. For example, if you are a US citizen, Facebook groups moderated by Americans in Portugal are a great place to start your search.
There is also a lot of information available online. However, because the visa and residency process can change from time to time, and there are numerous details to consider, it is important to ensure you are consulting updated and trustworthy information regarding each step. Mistakes will cost you time and money, and may even put your application at risk.
If you prefer not to do this on your own, companies specialising in Portugal residency can also help you. Just make sure to have references beforehand, as some may have more experience assisting certain nationalities than others!
If you are a UK national moving to Portugal after Brexit, you will also need a visa to live in the country. Contact the Portuguese consular services in the UK to discuss your residency in Portugal or visit the website Living in Portugal - GOV.UK.
Official Portuguese websites, such as Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Visa Diplomatic Portal also provide up-to-date information.
Whether you are just at the beginning of this process or are already organizing all the paperwork and searching for a home in Portugal, take this time to enjoy the world of possibilities that await you... Moving to Portugal is worth it!