Short Stay Visa

The short-term visa applies to foreign nationals if the purpose of the stay does not fall under any other visa category. For example, business visitors who will engage in non-work business visits, meetings or negotiations fall under this category.

This visa is granted for a period up to one year. It is renewable for up to 180 days, although the duration of a single uninterrupted stay must not exceed 90 days.

Temporary Visa               

The short-term visa is intended to permit entry into Portugal for a limited time relating to activities like provision of services, professional training, independent activity or medical treatment.

Depending on the activity, the temporary visa may be granted for up to 6 months or one year for scientific or highly qualified research. It is normally valid for 4 months and may be renewed up to 2 years for multiple entries to Portugal, unless it is a professional activity in which case it extends up to the duration of the contract.

The approval of the SEF is required for this visa to be granted.

The processing time or decision time limit is a maximum of 30 days from application.

Residence Visa

The residence visa is granted to non-EU nationals who are intending to engage in employment in Portugal or to provide a professional service in Portugal. The purpose of the residence visa is so that the holder may apply for a residence permit for extended work greater than 6 months.

There are several categories of residence visas depending on the type of contractual work, which includes the subordinate professional activity residence visa, exercise of an independent professional activity residence visa and the research or highly-qualified activity residence visa. The first type of residence visa has a quota imposed by the Portuguese Government, limiting the granting of the residence visa to foreign nationals who have employment contracts with Portuguese companies.

The residence visa is valid for two entries up to a period of 4 months stay in Portugal. It is renewable for up to 90 days. During the validity period, the holder must submit a request for a temporary residence permit. The applicant may also apply for family reunion for any dependants.

The approval of the SEF is required for this visa to be granted.

The processing time or decision time limit is a maximum of 60 days from application.

Entry without Visa          

If the foreign national holds a residence permit or identity card, or is an EU national who has a residence card, a visa is not required to enter Portugal.

Golden Visa       

The Golden Visa Programme is a method for foreign investors from non-EU countries to obtain a fully valid residency permit in Portugal. The purpose of the Golden Visa program provides the national with full EU residency status for individuals as long as certain investment requirements are met. Investments must be made after 8th October 2012.

Some examples of qualifying investments in Portugal are:

  • Transferring more than €1,000,000 in funds to Portugal
  • Acquisition of property above €500,000
  • Creation of at least 10 jobs

The Golden Visa application has a processing fee of €514.80, a cost of €5,147.80 for the visa itself, and €2,573.90 for the renewal of the visa.

Once the application has been submitted to SEF, it may be processed within a few months.


Foreign workers are required to have the proper visas and work permits in Portugal, as established by immigration laws. Work permits must be secured for employees, and sponsored by a locally licensed and incorporated entity, which can be a problem for companies just entering the Portuguese market.

The process of hiring a foreign national in Portugal involves obtaining both a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho) and an entry visa for Non EU citizens, while Nationals of an EU country simply require a Residence Permit (Cartão de Residência). Portugal is also part of the Schengen Area, which allows free transit between Schengen countries with a Schengen visa.

For a foreign company to begin hiring employees, the company is not required to have a local entity incorporated to employ local workers in Portugal, although certain registration duties must be adhered.

The process is as follows:

1. Registration of the foreign entity with the relevant authorities

The foreign entity must obtain a Portuguese tax number within the National Registry of Collective Bodies (Registo Nacional de Pessoas Colectivas, “RNPC”). Supporting documents must be submitted to prove its legal existence in the home country of the foreign entity.

The company must register with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority (Autoridade Tributária e Aduaneira). A tax representative must be appointed for the foreign company who must be a Portuguese resident.

The company must register with Social Security (Segurança Social). If no local entity has been incorporated for the foreign company, the employee must act as the company’s representative for their social security. It is common for foreign companies to hire accounting services and payroll firms to comply with tax and social security duties.

Incorporation of the company is not a required step, although it does require the above steps to be carried out, in addition to obtaining a Validation Certificate (Certificado de Admissibilidade) issued by RNPC, registering a company name at the Commercial Registry and submitting a Start of Activity Declaration to the Tax Office among other mandatory formalities. The process of incorporation is designed to be streamlined as one stop shops, with the Create a Company in an Hour scheme (Empresa na Hora) administered by Centro de Formalidades das Empresas (CFE) who will facilitate the process.

2. Obtaining a visa

For foreign nationals who are not from EU/EEA Member States or from the Schengen area requires a visa, which can be a Short Stay Visa, Temporary Stay Visa or a Residence Visa/Blue Card. The employment of foreign nationals is governed by Law no. 223/2007 and Decree no. 84/2007 which provide the legal framework for the hiring of foreign nationals.

The process for obtaining a visa is as follows:

The foreign national submits an application for a visa to the Portuguese Consulate of the employee’s country of residence, or at Portuguese Immigration Services (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, “SEF”) if they are in Portugal.

The relevant documents must be submitted with the application, including:

  • Valid passport with at least 2 blank pages
  • One coloured passport photo
  • Document for purpose of trip, e.g. letter of invitation from employer
  • Flight reservation documents or itinerary for multi-area visits
  • Health and accident insurance
  • Bank statements as proof of sufficient funds (Minimum is €40 plus €75 per country visited)
  • Proof of accommodation, E.g., hotel reservation or address of residence
  • Biometric data, E.g. fingerprints and digital photos

The employee is provided the visa to Portugal who is then legally allowed to enter the country.

Time: 2 – 3 months depending on visa

Cost: €25 – €200

3. Obtaining a work permit (Autorização de residência)

For workers who are intending to stay in Portugal for longer than six months, the residence card or work permit must be obtained for employees who are not from the EU/EEA region. A temporary permit is valid for 1 year and renewable for an additional 2 years. The permanent residence permit is indefinitely valid as long as it is renewed every 5 years.

It is more difficult to secure a work permit if the employee is from a non-EU/EEA country, unless they possess specialized skills or if there are no qualified Portuguese workers who may fill the position.

There are several types of residence permits, although most are functionally similar to regular work permit. They include:

  • Residence permits for professional activities
  • Residence permits for research
  • Residence permits for investment business
  • EU Blue Card residence permits (Highly qualified activities)

The process for obtaining a work permit is as follows:

An application is submitted by the employee or by the employer on behalf of the employee at the regional directorate or the Delegation of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, “SEF”).

The necessary documents must be submitted with the permit application, including:

  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Valid residence visa
  • Two coloured passport photo
  • Bank statements as proof of sufficient funds
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Criminal record checks
  • Proof of Portuguese proficiency (Only in some cases)
  • The employment contract with the employer
  • Any relevant tax documents
  • Registration of the employee with Social Security

The employee is provided the residency permit which allows him/her to work under the foreign employer in Portugal legally.

Processing time: Up to 60 days

Processing fee: Variable depending on type of visa, nationality of applicant, country of application and other circumstances.

4. Arrival procedures

Once the employee has been invited to work for an employer in Portugal and the visa and work permit has been obtained, the employee may travel to Portugal. Upon arrival, the employee must:

The Social Security and Tax departments will require:

  • Valid passport
  • Authorized photocopies of the employee’s tax returns from the previous three years in their country of residence
  • National Insurance Number

Once the steps above have been adhered to and successfully completed, the employee may commence employment.