Before expats make their move to Portugal, it is important to make sure they have the correct paperwork in order and have obtained the correct visa, if necessary.

As Portugal is an EU-member state, citizens of other EU states can travel to the country with nothing but their passport.

Non-EU citizens travelling to Portugal for a short stay or holiday may need to apply for a Schengen visa. If non-EU citizens plan on settling down or working in Portugal, they will need to take the necessary steps to obtain either a business, work or residency permit before their arrival.

Portugal is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. Nationals of countries which are also signatory to the agreement do not need to apply for a tourist visa prior to arrival. Citizens of some countries such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand are also entitled to stay in Portugal for 90 days or less without a visa.

Visitors from other countries will be required to apply for a tourist visa before arriving in Portugal. It is best to apply well ahead of the intended travel date to account for any delays in processing the visa. 


EU nationals can live and work in Portugal without a residence permit. They are granted a 90-day period to live in the country and find work without any restrictions. Once this period is up, they have a further 30 days to register with local authorities to obtain a Registration Certificate (Certificado de Registo). The certificate is valid for five years.

Non-EU nationals will need to make an application from within Portugal for a residence permit (Autorização de Residência). The resident permit is renewable and valid for a year.

Both EU and non-EU nationals are eligible to apply for permanent residence after living in Portugal continuously for five years.

Work permits for Portugal are granted differently according to an expat's country of origin.

Expats who are nationals of an EU-member state do not need a work permit for Portugal. However, those moving to Portugal from outside the EU will need to have a secure job offer in order to apply for a work permit.

Non-EU nationals can usually only obtain a work permit for Portugal if offered a secure job contract by a formal employer. As there are regulations in place that encourage companies to hire either locals or citizens of other EU countries before looking for foreigners, it can be difficult to solidify a job offer and get the ball rolling.

If an expat does manage to find a job offer, the hiring company starts the process in Portugal by applying to the local authorities for the work permit. The permit is generally valid for the length of the contract.