Discover how to apply for a visa to Portugal and change your life!

Visto para Portugal - visa to Portugal

There are many citizens from different countries that want to visit or even spend their retirement in Portugal. In this article you’ll find information on how to apply for a visa to Portugal: whether a temporary stay visa or a residence visa.

Apart from the information on these two types of visa available to citizens worldwide, we’ll talk about golden visas in detail, the documents needed for you to visit this wonderful country and useful contacts to clarify some questions you may have.

Before we talk about the visas that you can apply for, know that, if you’re a citizen from the United States of America or United Kingdom, you won’t need a visa if you’re going to visit Portugal on holidays (as long as you don’t stay in the country for more than 90 days).

You should also know that, if you’re applying for a visa to Portugal, you must do it in a Portuguese Embassy or Consulate (whether you’re living in the USA, UK or any other country). If you’re already living in Portugal with a visa but need to renew it, then you should go to SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (the Immigration and Borders Service).

Apply for a visa to Portugal

Temporary Stay Visa

The main goal of the temporary stay visa is to allow the stay of foreign citizens on Portuguese territory, citizens that:

  • Intend to benefit from medical treatment in officially recognized hospitals and clinics or accompany relatives with that purpose (these relatives must already have a temporary stay visa);
  • Want to travel to Portugal in order to provide services or training;
  • Will get a temporary subordinate employment or self-employment, for a period of time lasting less than six months;
  • Will pursue a scientific research activity (in investigation centres), teaching activity (in higher education institutions) or a highly skilled activity, for a maximum period of time of one year;
  • Will pursue an amateur sports activity, certified by the respective federation, as long as the club or sports association ensures health care and housing;
  • Want to enrol in educational institutions study programmes, student exchange programmes, unremunerated professional internships or  volunteer programmes with the maximum duration of one year

Residence Visa

If you want to apply for a visa to Portugal with the intention of getting a residence permit, then read the following information.

Residence visas are similar to temporary stay visas, however they normally have a longer duration, that can be higher than a year.

To apply for a residence permit in Portugal, foreign citizens must first apply for a residence visa and meet one of the following requirements:

  • Work as a subordinate employee;
  • Work as a self-employed person or invest in entrepreneurship activities (for immigrants that already made or intend to make investment operations, read about golden visas below);
  • Work in a researchteaching or highly skilled activity;
  • Work as a subordinate employee in a highly skilled activity (as long as the applicant has a contract of employment with a duration higher than a year and an annual remuneration equal to 1,5 times the Portuguese average gross annual salary);
  • Family reunification;
  • Be part of a studystudent exchange, professional training or volunteer programmes
    • In case of applying to a residence visa to enrol in a high school or university course, the applicant must meet the conditions for admission or already have been accepted in a teaching institution;
    • In case of applying to a residence visa for professional training, the applicant must already have been accepted as a trainee in a company or professional training agency;
    • In case of applying to a residence visa to be part of a volunteer programme, the applicant must already have been accepted by the organization responsible for the programme in Portugal

Golden Visas / ARI

The residence permit for investment activity (ARI), also known as golden visa, is a way for the Portuguese State to attract third country nationals with higher financial means. There are some advantages for those who get this visa:

  • The citizen won’t need a residence visa to enter in Portuguese territory;
  • The citizen will be able to reside and work in Portugal, however he will have to be in the country at least seven days (in the first year) and 14 days in the following years;
  • The citizen may apply for Portuguese nationality through the naturalization process;
  • The citizen may apply for permanent residence;
  • The citizen has visa exemption for travelling within Schengen Area;
  • The citizen can benefit from family reunification

There are, however, some conditions the applicant must meet if he wants to apply for a golden visa to Portugal. These conditions are related to a financial investment by the applicant, which means that whoever wants to apply for a golden visa must meet one of these requirements:

  • The creation of, at least, 10 job positions;
  • The purchase of real estate property with a value equal to or above 500 000€;
  • The purchase of real estate property built, at least, 30 years ago or located in urban regeneration areas and respective refurbishment of value equal to or above 350 000€;
  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 250 000€ for the reconstruction or refurbishment of cultural heritage / support of the arts and artistic output;
  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 350 000€ for the support of research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions;
  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 500 000€ for purchasing shares in investment funds or venture capital for the capitalization of small and medium companies;
  • Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 1 million euros

To apply for a residence permit for investment activity, first you’ll need to do an online pre-registration by yourself or through a legal representative. Afterwards, you’ll have to submit your application in a Regional Directorate or Local Branch of the Immigration and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).

When you submit your application you’ll need to take all the necessary documents related to your investment in Portugal (visit SEF webpage).

Documents needed for the application for a visa to Portugal

Naturally, in order for you to apply for a visa to Portugal, you’ll need to present some common documentation:

  • Application in correct form;
  • Two identical photographs in passport size and with a good quality;
  • Ticket that assures your return (exceptions: residence visas for family reunification, researching or teaching in a higher education institution and highly skilled labour);
  • Documents related to accommodation;
  • Documents proving that the applicant has sufficient income;
  • Travel medical insurance;
  • Valid travel document;
  • Criminal record certificate from the country of origin or from the country where the applicant lives for more than a year;
  • Authorization of access to the Portuguese criminal record by the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF);
  • Minors must present an authorization signed by his/her parents or legal guardian

Apart from common documentation, the applicant must present some specific documentation depending on the visa he wants to get:

Visas for studying purposes

  • Acceptance letter from the educational institute where the student intends to enrol;
  • Signed statement by the student containing information on the educational institute, course and its duration in Portuguese territory;
  • One of the following proofs of housing:
    • On college campus;
    • On house rented by the applicant;
    • Invitation letter written by a citizen living legally in Portugal;
    • Hotel reservation for a minimum period of one week

Visas for scientific research, teaching or highly skilled activities

  • Acceptance letter of the applicant as an investigator in a research centre duly recognized by the Portuguese State. It can be one of the following:
    • Scientific research grant;
    • Promise or contract of employment;
    • Written proposal or contract of provision of services
  • Acceptance letter of the applicant as a teacher in a higher education institute. It can be one of the following:
    • Promise or contract of employment;
    • Written proposal or contract of provision of services
  • Acceptance letter for the applicant to perform a highly skilled activity. It can be one of the following:
    • Promise or contract of employment;
    • Written proposal or contract of provision of services

Useful information

Immigration and Borders Service (SEF)

Portuguese Embassy in the United Kingdom

Portuguese Embassy in the United States of America

Studying in Portugal Official Site

Schengen Area

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Tiago, 30 years old, Parisian since 12, I decided to go on an adventure and make my dream come true: get to know our country from one end to the other. I believe that if we don’t know our origins we don’t truly know ourselves. Read more here