Investor's Guide - Labour System - Visas and Residence Permits for Foreigners

Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal


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7.2. Residence Permit


7.2. Residence Permit

There are two types of residence permit:

a)   Temporary residence permit;

b)   Permanent residence permit.


A foreign citizen authorized to reside in Portugal is issued a residence permit.

7.2.1. Temporary Residence Permit

In this case, a residence permit is issued to foreign citizens, valid for a period of 1 year from the date of its issuance, renewable for successive periods of two years.


Renewal of the residence permit must be requested at least 30 days before it expires, and it requires verification of several requirements, namely, the existence of means of subsistence, accommodation, good standing with the Finance and Social Security departments, and not having been sentenced for a term of more than one year in prison.

Without limitation to the special conditions for granting a residence permit, the applicant must meet the following cumulative conditions as well:

a)   Possession of a valid residence visa, granted for the purposes set forth by law to grant a residence permit;

b)   Absence of any fact which, if known by the competent authorities, should preclude granting the visa;

c)   Physical presence in Portuguese territory;

d)   Possession of means of subsistence;

e)   Housing;

f)    Enrollment in Social Security, where applicable;

g)   No criminal conviction punishable in Portugal by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;

h)   Not being prohibited from re-entering Portugal, after being removed from the country;

i)    No marks in the Schengen Information System;

j)    No marks in the Integrated Information System of the SEF for the purpose of refusing entry.

7.2.2. Permanent Residence Permit

In this case the law does not establish a term of validity. A permanent residence permit should, however, be renewed every 5 years or whenever changes occur to the identification information recorded therein.

A permanent residence permit, to be presented to the SEF, is contingent upon verification of the following cumulative requirements: foreign nationals must have had a temporary residence permit for at least 5 years; during this period, they cannot have been sentenced to more than one year in prison; they must have means of subsistence and accommodation; and they must prove to have basic knowledge of the Portuguese language.

For all legal intents and purposes, a residence permit replaces an identification document.

The application for a permanent residence permit and a permit renewal must be decided within 60 and 30 days, respectively. If a decision isn’t made by the specified time, it is considered tacitly granted, and the residence permit is issued immediately.

A residence permit holder has the right to education and instruction, to work as an employee or independently, professional training, access to health care, and access to the law and courts. Residence permits also ensure equal treatment in matters of social security, tax benefits, union membership, recognition of diplomas, certificates and other professional qualifications, or access to goods and services available to the public, as well as the application of provisions granting special rights.

7.2.3. Residence Permit to Work as an Employee

Residence Permit to Work as an Employee

In addition to the general requirements established in 7.2.1 above, residence permits to work as an employee are only granted to foreign nationals who have employment contracts that abide by the law and are enrolled in Social Security.


In exceptional cases, the requirement of having a valid residence visa may be waived, provided that foreign nationals not only meet the general conditions in this item, but also the following ones:

a)   they have an employment contract or employment relationship confirmed by a union, association with a seat on the Advisory Council or the General Inspectorate of Labor;

b)   they have entered the country legally and remain there legally;

c)   they are enrolled in and are in good standing with Social Security.

Residence Permit to Work Independently

In addition to the general requirements set out in section 7.2.1, a residence permit to work independently is only granted to foreign nationals who meet the following requirements:

a)   they have formed lawful companies, declared the start of business with the tax administration and Social Security as an individual, or executed a service agreement to work as an independent contractor;
b) they are qualified to work as an independent contractor, as applicable;

b)   they are able to sustain themselves;

c)   they are registered with Social Security;

d)   when required, they have a statement from their professional body confirming that they have met the enrollment requirements.


A residence permit holder who works independently may work as an employee, with the provisions stipulated further above applying, along with the appropriate adaptations, upon replacement of the residence permit.

Residence Permit for Research or other Highly Qualified Activity


A residence permit is granted to foreign nationals to pursue research, to teach at an institution of higher learning, or other highly qualified activity, who, in addition to the conditions set out for granting temporary residency (see 7.2.1), must also meet the following requirements:

a)   they have been hired to work in an officially recognized research center, especially by means of an employment contract, a service agreement, or a grant for scientific research, or

b)   they have an employment contract or service agreement compatible with teaching at an institution of higher learning or performing another highly qualified activity;

c)   they are enrolled in Social Security.

Additional information relating to other types of visas, residence permits, and ways of extending these visas may be found on the website of the Bureau of Immigration and Borders.


Golden Residence Permit Programme


New legal provisions open up the possibility of applying for a residence permit for pursuing investment activities to those who have entered the country regularly (v.g. holders of valid Schengen Visas, or beneficiaries of Visa exemption), by transferring capital, creating jobs or acquiring real estate, with advantageous periods of stay in Portugal. +...




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