Move to Portugal

Immigration to Portugal – How to Move to Portugal

If you have ever dreamed of living and working abroad, Portugal is an excellent destination, especially for tech talent and startups from across the globe. Lisbon, in particular, is rich with employment opportunities in the tech sector.

Combined with the great year-round weather, stretches of beaches, and the warmth and hospitality of the people, Portugal is a magnet for tech professionals at all levels of their careers.

Read this guide to learn all about life, work, and relocation to Portugal.

Country Overview

Here is some essential information about Portugal

Official name

República Portuguesa

Capital city

Lisbon (Lisboa)

Official language

Portuguese

Regional language

Mirandese

Time zone

UTC+0

GMT+1

Country code

+351

Emergency number

112

Currency

Euro (€, EUR)

Driving

Right-hand side

Climate

Warm, temperate Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters

Administration

18 districts, each with municipalities (municípios or concelhos) and neighborhoods (freguesias)

Before moving to Portugal, start by updating your resumé and LinkedIn profile to help with your job search. Begin your job search as early as possible through international job sites and tech outsourcing companies based in Portugal. Once you make a job offer, you can consider the visa, housing, banking, and tax costs in Portugal. Do consider taking a Portuguese language class to boost your resumé as well.

Life in Portugal

Notable requirement – As a foreigner in Portugal, always carry some formal identification on you. You never know when you might need it. Like if the police stop and ask you to present your documents, they might insist on seeing something with an official seal.

For a better idea of what it’s like to live in Portugal, there are a few essential factors to consider:

  • Cost of living

How much you will spend on housing, food and transport depend on where you choose to live in Portugal. Lisbon, the capital, is more expensive to live in than in smaller towns like Braga and Coimbra. However, the general trend is that rent costs are climbing in Portugal, but food remains relatively affordable.

Items like olive oil and wine are local produce and are therefore cheaper and more accessible in Portugal. Wherever you choose to settle in Portugal, you can live comfortably with no regrets.

  • Healthcare

The healthcare system in Portugal is either private or public. Private health insurance costs between $22 to $55 per month for a basic insurance plan, up to $110 for a comprehensive cover. You will need private health insurance until you get your permanent residence in Portugal. The public healthcare system, Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS), offers medical services at a minimal cost, from $6 to $22 per month, but visitors or tourists can only access the SNS during an emergency.

A combination of private and public health insurance is best to avoid the long wait times for medical procedures. Check with your employer in Portugal before taking out a private healthcare plan, as your contract may already include healthcare benefits.

  • Education

If you’d like to move to Portugal with your family, the education system in Portugal is worth looking at. Lisbon has several international schools offering American and British curriculums and excellent higher education institutions across the country.

The average cost of children’s private education is about €9,500 up to €15,000 per year. Citizens and residents of Portugal can access free education up to the age of 18. In Portugal, the school year comprises three terms beginning in mid-September till June, with holiday breaks in between.

  • Transport

Portugal has an extensive public transport system in the main cities, so you can save on costs if you opt for a monthly pass for buses, metros or trains. For trips outside the main cities, taxis are available for about $3.30 or use ride-sharing apps like Uber or Bolt. You can also choose to drive in Portugal, but be ready to pay for toll charges which can potentially add to your transport budget.

You can exchange your foreign driver’s license with the Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes (IMT). US drivers need additional documents to obtain their Portugal license, such as an Abstract of Driving Record from their state and a notarized Apostille certificate from the Secretary of State’s office.

  • Real Estate

The average rent in Portugal is €1,100 ($1,200) per month, with Lisbon as the most expensive (€1,500) and Guarda as the cheapest (€350). The default rental contract duration is 2 years, renewable for another 3 years. Short-term rentals are available and cost about €25 to €100 per night, targeting tourists.

The average price of houses in Portugal is €250,000 ($275,000), with Lisbon prices hitting €330,000 and Castelo Branco at €125,000. You can buy anything from a studio-sized apartment to condos, semi-detached properties, to rustic farmhouses (Quintas). The down-payment for a house in Portugal is usually €6,000.

Working in Portugal

Whether you choose to work in the major cities or base your remote work in a quaint village, working in Portugal is always more relaxed in terms of pace and overall attitude. Tech talent looking to move to Portugal should consider the job environment, available opportunities, and secure work in Portugal.

  • Job Environment

Big city centers offer greater job opportunities in the tech industry, along with the rich, vibrant culture, cuisine, and beaches within reach. With the right balance between work and free time, tech talent in Portugal can truly enjoy themselves while building their careers.

  • Opportunities In Tech

There is a significant job shortage in the tech industry in Portugal, and several government initiatives aim to attract tech talent into the country. Backend and frontend developers, online gaming support, mobile app engineers, and project managers can all find work opportunities in Portugal or even take advantage of the favorable industry to launch their tech startups.

Multilingual applicants stand a better chance of getting an IT job in Portugal as tech businesses prefer those who speak English and Portuguese and German, French, and Spanish.

Foreigners can find tech industry jobs in Portugal from LinkedIn, Indeed, Hays, EURES, and KWAN. An outsourcing company can provide job matching service and, in some cases, immigration and relocation assistance to help you transition into Portugal as a tech worker.

You can also seek out tech communities online to interact with people who have moved to Portugal. These free online resources can provide priceless leads to great tech jobs in Portugal.

  • Banking And Tax Information

Ex-pats can open a bank account in Portugal using their passport, proof of address, employment, and Portuguese tax number, the Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF). Apply for your NIF as soon as you arrive in Portugal, as it is a necessity for utilities and getting a phone number.

You can open an account with a local bank such as Novo Banco or Banco BPI, or international banks like Barclays or Deutsche Bank, or opt for a purely online account or a no-fee account. If possible, open an account before your trip and visit the branch in person once you arrive in Portugal.

A resident in Portugal is anyone who lives in the country for 183 days a year, and all residents and citizens are subject to taxation. Income tax rates range according to your salary and number of dependents.

Income in Portugal includes employment wages, business and professional service wages, investment, capital gains, pension, and rental income.

Only income above €654 is taxable, with numerous tax brackets up to 45.3%. Other taxes in Portugal include social security, corporate tax, and value-added tax. Tax deduction from your income is routinely every month by your employer. The total is forwarded to the state through a scheme.

If you are a freelancer or running a startup, the annual tax returns filing period is between April 1 and June 30 of the following year. Corporate tax, the Imposto Sobre Pessoas Coletivas (IRC), is 21%.

Getting a Portugal visa

  • Startup Visa

Since 2017, Portugal has welcomed tech innovators from around the world through the startup visa program. To qualify, you must demonstrate a solid business and financial plan that can potentially create jobs in Portugal and make a turnover of €325,000 and above after five years.

You can apply for the startup visa all year round, and the startups with the highest level of innovation, job creation, and market potential have great success in Portugal. A startup visa is a great way for a tech business to move into Portugal and potentially grow into the rest of Europe.

  • Tech Visa

The tech visa has been in Portugal since 2019. It helps tech companies hire foreign talent and facilitate their travel and career advancement in Portugal. This visa involves government entities that regulate and process residency visas for tech professionals on the condition of a minimum 2-year contract.

Applicants need to have a Bachelor’s Degree with 5 years of specialized tech experience and proficiency in English, Portuguese, French or Spanish, and no criminal record or pending tax obligations.

  • Golden Visa

You can obtain a golden visa or investor’s visa by buying a property in Portugal. If the property’s value is over €500,000, and you spend at least two weeks a year in Portugal for five years, you can earn your citizenship.

  • Other Visa Options

There are also self-employment visas and family reunification visas to get moving to Portugal. Typically, a Portugal work visa lasts for four months and allows two entries into Portugal within that time frame. Once you arrive, apply for a temporary residence permit with the Portugal immigration and border service, Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), and permanent residency after 5 years.

As Portuguese is the official language, you should present your application documents with notarized Portuguese copies too. Visas and residence permits typically cost about €80 ($88) each and are only available at the Embassy of Portugal in your home country. You can apply for visas and residence permits online via https://www.sef.pt/en/.

Best Cities for Ex-Pats in Portugal

Lisbon

Housing is more expensive in Lisbon than in other cities in Portugal, but most tech companies operate from here, and your ex-pat salary should be more than enough to live well in Lisbon. There are also international schools, banks, and conveniences for an easier transition.

Algarve

This is the perfect location for tech workers who prefer to work remotely. Algarve’s beautiful beaches are a dream come true for many ex-pats in Portugal.

Cascais

If you’re looking for village charm, Cascais is the place to be. It is only 30 minutes away from the Lisbon Airport and has its share of golden beaches too.

Porto

This is an old fishing town with a mix of rural and urban characters. Porto is popular with tourists and American ex-pats in particular.

  • Moving to Portugal: Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Fantastic weather all year round
  • Friendly, welcoming people
  • Excellent cuisine
  • Lower cost of living on average than most other European countries

Cons:

  • Permanent residency is manadatory to access healthcare
  • Smaller towns and villages have limited access to some goods and services
  • Portuguese bureaucracy may be challenging to understand

Potential Challenges

Relocating to any country is often wrought with challenges, even if it’s the best move for your career. First, being away from your family and friends can be difficult because you can only get permanent residency after living in Portugal for 5 years. Then you can invite your family to join you.

At the same time, the more relaxed working atmosphere and endless leisure opportunities might cut into your work time unless managed correctly. Ultimately, you can enjoy tremendous benefits when you take the chance to venture into Portugal for your career and wellbeing.

Conclusion

Moving to Portugal is a great career move for tech professionals around the world. Once you secure a job offer, begin the paperwork, get your visa, and head out to this dream tech industry destination. Enjoy a diverse work environment, friendly culture, and numerous opportunities to boost your tech career in Portugal.

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