Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In
Sao Bento Station in Porto, Portugal

United States Citizens Moving to Portugal: Demystifying the Paper Trail

By Susan Stults Korthase

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Thanks to Susan Stults Korthase for this helpful overview of current requirements to begin the process of obtaining a Residency Visa when moving from the US to Portugal. Note: Information Updated February 2021.

Welcome to the 'do it yourself' guide on how to become a resident in Portugal. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, many changes were underway at the Portuguese offices of SEF (Border Services for Foreigners, often referred to as Immigration and Border Services), which oversees Portuguese immigration matters. A few of these changes are solidly in place while others are still too developmental to be reliable.

We experienced tougher, new application requirements such as a mandatory, funded bank account in Portugal; closed application centers; timelines stretched out three times longer or collapsed to a couple of weeks; the option to mail applications implemented in certain locations, only to be swiftly ended. Sometimes, an aspect of the process or the regulations changed without any notice.

For those who bore down and submitted visa applications and then filed for residence permits, it was a extraordinary and often arduous journey. Yet hundreds of people succeeded by sharing tips, tricks, experiences and referencing the fact-based details in this article. They applied for visas and permits themselves, without hiring Portuguese attorneys or 'immigration facilitators'.

Let's face it: the two-step visa and residency processes can be confusing, contradictory and changeable, not to mention geared toward EU citizens. This article is the only single resource that combines input from the various organizations that regulate this process. Focused on the rules for third country nationals, such as Americans and other non-EU citizens, this article reflects the experiences of thousands of applicants who proceeded you, combined with research, legal review and authoritative input from Consulate and Immigration officials, to provide a detailed, step-by-step guide to the process for a D7/D/Type 1 Visa, sometimes referred to as a 'long stay', 'passive income' or 'resident' visa. I'll walk you through not only the requirements and the process, but also comment on how to navigate the system.

What is a D7/D/Type 1 Visa?

Under the broad umbrella of Portugal D visas, and categorized a Type 1 visa in the US and a D7 visa in Portugal, these labels refer to the same thing: a visa valid for 120 days, allowing entrance to Portugal to apply for residency, in order to live in Portugal for more than one year. The D7 is the most common residency visa for U.S. citizens and other third-country nationals. Often referred to as a long-stay, passive income or resident visa, the D7 visa for those who are retired, not working (financially independent), self-employed (remote/digital nomads), employed/working remotely for a company outside of Portugal, or living on passive income from investments, real estate rentals, social security, pensions, and/or a business.

Alternatives to the D7 Visa

Other popular D visa types include:
  • D2: Entrepreneur, Employed and Self-Employed Program (Article 88/89). This is for people bringing to or newly establishing a business in Portugal and exists to attract and fast-track highly qualified, educated professionals to work and invest in Portugal. Highly skilled professionals currently working in or who retired in the U.S. might follow this approach to start a business or be self-employed in Portugal
  • D4: Student, for students enrolled to study in Portugal
  • D6: Family Reunification, to cover family members of a resident or visa-holder

Golden Visa / ARI: A Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI), commonly called the Portugal Golden Visa, for non-EU residents. The Golden Visa leads to a residence permit with the possibility of receiving Portuguese citizenship. It requires a qualifying investment in Portugal with a high up-front fee but offers a less stringent requirement for the minimum time living in Portugal per year. Investment options include transferring funds in the minimum amount of �350.000* or investing this amount or more toward the arts; creating a minimum of 10 jobs; or acquiring property valued at �500.000+ or rehabbing a qualified, older property that costs a minimum of �350.000 (or as low as �280.000 in less densely populated areas). The Portuguese government aims to improve this program over the next few years by "fast-tracking residence permits with a preference for those buying in low-density regions, investing in job creation and the arts or cultural heritage and those undertaking urban renewal". You'll find many real estate firms and accountancy sites offering all the details on this approach. Because it requires an attorney's assistance, we don't cover that process here.

* Note - Portugal expresses the figure 10,000.00 in this manner and places the denomination at the end: 10.000,00�

Key Benefits of the D7 Visa

The Type 1/Type D/D7 Visa is considerably faster and less costly to obtain than the Golden Visa and entitles you to several benefits of Portugal residency:

  • Permanent free entry and circulation in the Schengen Area, comprising 26 European countries (with certain time restrictions for absences from Portugal and living within other countries).
  • Freedom to live in Portugal and, if you wish, to have a professional activity in this country.
  • Option to become a "non-habitual resident" of Portugal for tax purposes (a beneficial Portuguese tax status that fully or partly exempts certain income from Portuguese tax for a set period).
  • Access to other Portugal residents' rights, such as education, recognition of diplomas and qualifications, healthcare, the law and the courts of law.

Getting residency in Portugal is a two-step process:

  • Step 1, apply for a visa from your current country of residence using the Consulate or VFS Global office that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. This visa lets you enter Portugal for 120 days, from where you pursue step 2.
  • Step 2, apply for a Residence Permit from Portugal at your local or assigned SEF office.

People usually travel to Portugal to conduct a 'reconnaissance' trip, checking out locations and housing options. During that time, it's wise to get a NIF (see Step 1, item 6) and open a bank account. The recon trip hasn't been achievable during COVID, so workarounds for the NIF and bank account are noted under Step 1, Item 6.

STEP 1: Visa Application at the Portuguese Consulate / VFS Global Office

Portuguese consulates in New York City, San Francisco and Washington, DC partnered with VFS Global to handle the initial processing of visa applications. Applicants who live in states that are under the jurisdiction of those consulates (see chart at the end of this article for details) will file online applications at the VFS website and will appear for their personal interviews at the VFS Global office in those cities. However: 1) VFS Global's main page doesn't mention their alliance with New York yet the New York Consul page will direct you to apply via VFS Global and 2) the list of required documents at the VFS site is not yet merged with the actual list of documents required by SEF (Border Services for Foreigners) in Portugal. But don't worry, this article addresses this gap. These and other discrepancies are noted in 'special requirements' in the list of consulates below.

You'll start this two-step process by getting your Portuguese Residence Visa (officially the D7/D/Type 1) from the U.S. or your current country of residence (wherever you currently reside and have resided for 1 year or longer). You will receive a stamp within your passport which is valid for 120 days. This visa entitles you to travel to Portugal to accomplish the second step, getting your Temporary Residence Permit. This permit grants you residency in Portugal for two years from the date your permit is granted and is renewable in subsequent 3-year terms. Portugal requires that you complete the residence visa application process from the United States or, if living in a country other than Portugal, that you complete it with the respective Portuguese consulate in that country. The reasoning is that you must submit your passport for the approved visa and can't be outside the U.S. or your resident country without your passport. Even this detail, however, is undergoing change. For example, the San Francisco VFS office offers a mail-in service to get the visa stamp in your passport and will mail your passport to you if decided to come to Portugal before getting your visa approval.

Required Documentation & Timing

A detailed explanation of each required document follows this list, and each document is required of each applicant. Children younger than 5 forego the visa step and go straight to the residence permit under the Family Unification process with a parent or guardian. (See the Family Reunification insert below). Some documentation is requested by VFS Global offices but not by a consulate; this is indicated by the (VFS GLOBAL) tag in the list below. Do not staple, clip or otherwise bind your documentation. Put the pages in order according to this list:

  1. Application for a National Visa (if submitting by mail, signature notarized).
  2. Passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the expiration of your 120-day visa and two recent passport-size color photos; copy of main passport page (copy of main page notarized)
  3. Proof of legal status in the country from which you're applying
  4. Personal statement declaring the reasons why you are seeking residency in Portugal
  5. Proof of financial means / proof of sufficient funds
  6. Proof of a funded bank account in Portugal & N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal
  7. FBI criminal record certificate if aged 16 or older (or, if you've lived outside the US in the last year, a police record report from that country) (report apostilled or unopened)
  8. Release / request for a Portuguese criminal record check by the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) (VFS Global)
  9. Proof of private health insurance coverage or travel insurance with medical benefits
  10. Proof of accommodation in Portugal (property title deed, rental agreement, letter of invitation / terms of responsibility form or property loan agreement; for VFS Global, hotel and short-term stay (i.e., Airbnb) confirmations are accepted.
  11. Copy of marriage certificate and children's birth certificates when children are also applying (VFS Global) (apostilled if being used in Portugal for Family Reunification or school registrations)

Portugal Residency Advisors

Portugal Residency Advisors is a full-service consulting firm dedicated to providing personalized services to individuals and families seeking to relocate to Portugal. With a team of experienced professionals and strategic partnerships, we are well-positioned to assist clients with all aspects of the relocation process.

Learn MoreConnect

Click connect to have our partner contact you via e-mail and/or phone.

Portugal Residency Advisors

Portugal Residency Advisors is a full-service consulting firm dedicated to providing personalized services to individuals and families seeking to relocate to Portugal. With a team of experienced professionals and strategic partnerships, we are well-positioned to assist clients with all aspects of the relocation process.

Learn MoreConnect

Click connect to have our partner contact you via e-mail and/or phone.

You'll assemble a complete documentation package and submit it to your designated Portuguese consulate or VFS Global office in your current country of residence. See the list of U.S. consulates/offices at the end of this article. Consulates are permitted to impose some of their own conditions; these are noted as special requirements under each consulate. Check your assigned consulate's website to be aware of any newer instructions or rules imposed. Information in this guideline is usually more extensive, however, than the consulate website.

Timing is one of the most stressful aspects of applying for a visa. Consulates or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Portugal might take longer than the allocated two months (60 business days) to process your application. You can apply no earlier than 6 months and no later than 15 days prior to your intended date of arrival in Portugal if your application is submitted to a Portuguese Consulate. If your application is processed through a VFS Global agency, you can only submit your application within three months of the date you'd like to arrive in Portugal.

VFS Global provides this explanation (edited for clarity) about the timing for submitting your visa application package:

"There is in fact a 90-day rule (with VFS Global). We cannot submit your application if you declare an arrival date in Portugal that is more than 90 days out. Factors in play include when your documents were dated. Documents need to be produced within the last 90 days for the visa application and should not be older than 6 months for the SEF appointment. (Note: Financial statements for the SEF (residence permit) appointment can't be older than 3 months except for the FBI report, which can be no older than 6 months). Any document older than six months tends to be rejected and should be considered invalid. Processing time of a completed package, submitted by VFS to the Portuguese inspectors, ranges from 4 to 6 weeks yet often takes longer."

Once your visa is granted, you must arrive in Portugal to convert it into a residence permit within 90 days. Your visa in your passport allows you to travel to Portugal despite existing COVID-19 restrictions. Prior to the COVID-19 restrictions, many people got more control of the timing by conducting a fact-finding trip during which time they select an initial place to live, get their N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal (NIF) and open a bank account. Travel without an EU visa or permit isn't a current option for many non-EU residents, so most applicants are opening bank accounts online. Find details here at Step 2 in the section titled "Getting Your NIF".

1) Application for a Schengen Area / National Visa

You'll see the terms and the application forms for both the Schengen Area visa and the National visa. The National visa application is simply a Schengen visa application that is specifically for Portugal. Portuguese consulates prefer using the National visa application, asking that you complete that form and indicate you want a National visa, which also requires that you enter Portugal directly from your home country. A Schengen visa allows you to enter from another EU country. Both visas are valid for 120 days and both support unlimited travel within the Schengen Area as well as two round-trips between our current residence and Portugal during the 120 days.

Whether you are a couple, parent and child, or a family, each person must provide a full application package. In late 2020, VFS Global directed parents of children aged 5 and younger to use 'Family Reunification' in Portugal. Families with older, dependent children can follow this route, as well.

A Note on Family Reunification ( Visa Type D6):

Family Reunification starts with one family member applying for a visa in their current country followed by the remaining family members applying for a permit at SEF in Portugal. Consider the current COVID-19 related travel restrictions on entry to Portugal when using this option. Portugal's position is to never separate immediate family members, accepting marriage and birth certificates to permit family members to accompany the visa-holder.

1. The following family members, in accordance with Articles 99 and 100 of the Aliens Act, are entitled to family reunification:

  • The spouse
  • Underage or incapable children under guardianship of the couple or of one spouse
  • Minors adopted by an unmarried applicant, by a married applicant or by the spouse, following decision taken by the relevant authority of the Country of origin, provided that legal framework incorporates the same rights and duties of natural affiliation and provided that decision is acknowledged by Portugal
  • Children who are of age, and of whom the couple or one of the spouses is in charge, and study in a Portuguese teaching institution
  • Children who are of age, and of whom the couple or one of the spouses is in charge with, single or studying, whenever the holder of the right of reunification has a residence permit granted under article 90 � A
  • First-degree ascendants in the direct line to the resident or the respective spouse provided they are dependent on either of them
  • Underage siblings under custody of the resident, following decision by a relevant authority in the country of origin, as long as that decision is acknowledged by Portugal

2. The following family members of unaccompanied minors are also entitled to family reunification:

  • First-degree ascendants in the direct line
  • His / her legal guardian or another family member, if the refugee has no direct ascendants or if it proves impossible to trace them

Family Reunification in Portugal requires the same documents as are listed here for the D7 visa and, if relevant, apostilled marriage certificates for parents and apostilled birth certificates for children.

Some consulates require online application requests while others allow you to submit your application and all other documents via mail or at an in-person interview. VFS Global keeps reverting to a paper application yet sometimes offers (and then requires you use) an online form.

  • a) An online / or VFS online application request is submitted to the consulate as a stand-alone document without any of the remaining required documents. When the consulate receives and reviews your application request, a consul employee will contact you via email or phone to schedule your in-person interview and explain the documentation requirements. All documentation must be presented at this in-person interview along with a hard copy or print-out of your application form.
  • b) Other consulates let you submit a paper application with the required documents as a single, complete package at an in-person interview. (Washington D.C. routinely permits mailed application packages for applicants within their jurisdiction living more than 150 miles away. During COVID, New York and San Francisco temporarily accepted mailed applications.) Call the number shown on the respective consulate's listing at the end of this article to schedule your interview. Check your consulate's office schedule online first so that you can accept or request an appointment for a time you know your consulate will be open.
  • c) Although requirements often state that you must complete this application in Portuguese, all Portuguese consulates and VFS Global offices in the U.S. are accepting applications completed in English and the form is available in English.
  • d) Include two passport-style photos taken within the last six months, but do not staple or clip the photos to the application.
  • e) Bring a copy of your visa application and all required documents to Portugal. Some of these could be required again when you convert your visa to a residence permit in Portugal. SEF has streamlined this step by re-using their scanned versions of all documents you submitted during your visa application, yet this is not consistent across SEF offices in Portugal.
2) Passport and Passport Photos

Provide a copy of the photo page (showing personal data and dates of validity) from your passport. This page must be notarized if you aren't submitting your application package to the consulate in person, and all VFS Global offices request that it be notarized or certified.

Passports must be issued within the last 10 years and have at least two blank pages. A passport older than 10 years that has been extended for a period exceeding 10 years from the date it was issued isn't acceptable. If you are issued a visa, your consulate will require your passport to affix the visa to a blank page.

Your passport must also be valid for at least three months after the expiration of the visa for which you are applying (120 days for the Type 1/D/D7). The passport or travel document must be recognized by all parties of the Schengen Agreement. Make sure that your passport is at least 6 months or more away from its expiration date by the expected date of any international travel.

VFS specifically requests two passport-style photos taken within the last six months, on a white background, yet usually only needs one. Include with the application, but DO NOT affix the photograph to any document. The European size for this photo is 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm.

3) Proof of Legal Status in the Country from Which You're Applying

This was introduced by VFS Global and appears on their application form, where you note the country of your birth. It is required only from non-U.S. citizens applying from the U.S. Provide a copy (front and back) of your green card, U.S. visa or other document that shows you are legally residing in the U.S.

4) Personal Statement

This is a short note written, dated and signed by each applicant. When several members of a family are applying, matching or referencing each other's personal statement(s) is helpful. Sometimes, an agent reviewing your application package will say 'explain your situation' or 'explain your ties to Portugal'. They are asking for you to elaborate on your personal statement. The statement includes:

  • a description of yourself, such as education, profession
  • your reason for settling in Portugal
  • your ties to Portugal, such as family or friends residing here, or your owning property, your having a bank account in Portugal and the amount in that account, or the name of your landlord
  • where you intend to reside initially (address or at least the town name)
  • what type of accommodations (rental, home purchase) you'll have initially
  • how you intend to get money for daily living expenses into Portugal

Most important, your personal statement is judged by its likelihood of success. Some applicants submit such detailed statements that they hinder their applications. Superfluous details must be considered by the investigators to determine if an applicant will be able to achieve the stated goals. One family included "so my children can learn a new language," which the investigators felt might or might not happen, and the application was delayed by four months. Therefore, your personal statement can be as simple as:

"I am a retired history teacher. I wish to live in Portugal as a retiree because of the lifestyle and culture. My ties to Portugal (are my landlord) (are people I've met) (friends who have moved there) (friends and family living in X, Y and Z). I will live initially in rented accommodations at Rua Sao Bento, 13, r/c, Lisbon. This rental contract is included in my application and I paid XXX� as a deposit. I will look for an apartment to purchase or rent longer term. I will transfer money for my daily living expenses and any future home purchase from my US bank account and US investments to my Portuguese bank account with Banco BPI through my account with the exchange company TransferWise."

5) Proof of Financial Means /Proof of Sufficient Funds

"Sufficient" means that you have funds�not necessarily income, but access to assets�equal to the annual minimum wage in Portugal. Updated to the 2021 minimum wage, this equals:

  • 1st adult (applicant): 100% of the current minimum wage (665�) = 7980�;
  • 2nd or more adult(s): 50% of the current minimum wage (332,50�) = 3990�;
  • Children and young people under 18 and over-dependent children: 30% of the current minimum wage (199,50�) = 2394�

These assets or funds are per calendar year, so they need to be recurring or should be a higher amount initially; however, there is no data suggesting a firm figure, such as twice as much, if your assets aren't recurring. These funds can be sourced from any combination of investments, income and savings and must be accessible to you from Portugal.

Note that you're not being asked to prove income. What counts toward your proof of financial means / sufficient funds is any combination of the following:

  • Bank statements (summary page only!), which must be for the most recent three months and show the name and address of the account owner(s). Applicants with joint accounts may both use the same account statements but: (a) either each have a statement under their own name or (b) both names must appear on the statement. Copies of online statements are fine.
  • Traveler's checks
  • Cash
  • Letter of employment showing income
  • International credit card showing credit limit
  • Investment statements (summary page only)
  • Income from property or non-property assets or from intellectual property
  • A company pension certificate, pension check statement or notarized letter confirming a pension from the responsible authority
  • A Social Security benefits letter
  • If self-employed, tax returns from the previous fiscal year or proof of previous economic activity and income from the previous fiscal year

Provide only original copies or color printouts of the records you submit. The summary pages showing your balances are enough: you don't need to include the pages showing each transaction in your bank accounts or the 'small print' on investment statements. If you can't provide proof of sufficient financial means, you'll be required to have a "financial guarantor" based in Portugal. A financial guarantor can be your lawyer, a person with power of attorney, landlord, dean of admissions, etc., who is a European Union national or holds permanent residence in Portugal. This person must provide a letter or email stating that s/he will guarantee your accommodations and financial support for a year as well as your return transit to the US. The guarantor's name, financial number and address are required on this letter or email and a copy or scan of the guarantor's national identification must be included.

A guarantor assumes a legal risk so it can be difficult to get one. This difficulty has encouraged a new business in Portugal aimed at selling the financial guaranty letter and visa preparation services. Alleged service providers are trolling posts on Facebook, websites and blogs, then contacting potential visa applicants to handle the guarantor letter and all aspects of applying for a visa, charging anywhere from �450 to �5000 for a bundle of services. Often, these people are not attorneys, not qualified to help and some even abscond with your money. Many of us who've preceded you to Portugal can recommend resources who would charge less than �100 per guarantor letter or you can ask your initial landlord or real estate agent who might be willing to act as guarantor.

6) Proof of a Funded Bank Account in Portugal & NIF

As of November 2020, SEF is rejecting visa applications without a funded bank account IN Portugal. These can be joint accounts. The amount deposited into the account is the same as the minimum amounts listed above under Proof of Financial Means: 1st adult (applicant): 7980�; 2nd or more adult(s): 3990� each; Children and young people under 18 and over-dependent children: 2394� each.

This Proof of Funded Bank Account is a requirement, regardless of the other sources provided as Proof of Financial Means. If you have purchased or are purchasing a home in Portugal, that purchase contract / mortgage approval can be submitted in lieu of the funded bank account.

If you are able to travel to Portugal before applying for a visa, you can obtain a N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal (NIF) and a bank account while in Portugal. If you are fulfilling this requirement from the U.S., a limited number of banks offer remote online account openings and can issue a temporary NIF, which will need to be converted to a permanent NIF once you are in Portugal. Some applicants have successfully applied online at Activo, Abanco Bank, and Atlantico Europa through virtual video assistance. Other banks require a signed Power of Attorney for a legal representative to open an account on your behalf. The high volume of requests to open accounts remotely is resulting in some banks suspending this feature, so check their websites. It can take two weeks to open an online account and another week for the mandatory bank transfer directly from your U.S. bank to your Portuguese account.

Note on Getting a N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal (NIF) when in Portugal

A NIF is issued by any tax office (Finan�as). You don't need to go to the Finan�as near your residence.. Your N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal (NIF) / N�mero de Contribuinte is free, quick, and available to you even if you're not a resident or don't yet have a Visa or Temporary Residence Permit. DURING THE COVID 'STAY AT HOME' RESTRICTIONS, FINAN�AS OFFICES REQUIRE APPOINTMENTS; click this link for their appointment information page.

Required documents and how to navigate your visit are bulleted below. When appointments are not required, you can go to any Finan�as office. An online search will show you their locations.

  • Identification and Address Documentation: Your passport, your EU national identity card or your Temporary Residence Permit qualify as ID. For proof of address: if you are NOT yet residing in Portugal, present a recent utility bill or bank statement showing your home country address (with your name as it appears on your Identification). If you ARE residing in Portugal, present a bank statement, rental or purchase contract with your name and address or your Permit card.
  • Get a Financial Representative: This is a citizen or permanent resident of Portugal who will sign for you. The representative guarantees that, if you default on any payments in Portugal, s/he will accept your liability. The representative must present his/her identify card. Often, landlords, friends or realtors will do this but that's not always an option. Some persons will serve as your representative for a fee, charging from �100-150�these might be attorneys or simply citizens. A growing 'industry' of attorneys and others who will act as a representative has resulted in some unwary people paying a thousand euros for this service and that can be avoided.
  • Go to Finan�as: Arrive about 20 minutes before your office opens. Go to the machine that issues 'senhas' or numbers to customers. The button that you press might show N�mero de Contribuinte rather than NIF. Don't hesitate to ask another person in line. It helps to have the phrase written down to show people if you can't rely on your Portuguese pronunciation. When your number is called / appears on the overhead screen, go to the respective desk or station and explain that you want to obtain your N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal or N�mero de Contribuinte. Most offices have someone who speaks English, but this phrase should be enough to inform the agent of your purpose. Be respectful, be attentive, but don't accept a denial of this service, which sometimes happens. Present your documents and have your guarantor present his/hers.
  • Receive your NIF! It's simply two pieces of paper with your name, address and NIF number on it. Keep this in a safe place as you'll be asked for this document to conduct any of the host of financial transactions noted earlier. Take it with you to SEF for your first appointment and the NIF number will be included on your Temporary Residence Card.

7) FBI Criminal Record Certificate

The FBI criminal record certificate, sometimes called an identification record request, criminal background check or identity history summary, is a national report on any prior criminal activity. The FBI has been processing these requests within three to five business days, charges a prepayment of $18 to $50, and offers an online request option. Start with the FBI Criminal Justice Information System for details on how to complete and file your application. You'll find instructions there for getting a recent, original set of fingerprints from your local police department and how to have your criminal record certificate authenticated with the FBI seal and signature of a division official. There are also numerous, authorized retailers who can obtain and forward your fingerprints electronically to the FBI with online results in sometimes less than an hour.

  • >You'll need this certificate apostilled by the U.S. Department of State Authentication Office, which is taking about two months to process, OR,
  • >Order an email copy and a mailed, hard copy. You can view your report in the email version, but if you DO NOT OPEN the mailed FBI report envelope, you don't need the US Department of State authentication (apostille).

Children under 16 do not need a Criminal Record Certificate.

Note: If you are providing a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) to the U.S. Department of State for the return of your apostilled FBI report, do NOT utilize FedEx, as the Department of State does not work with this carrier, and your document will be delayed.

8) Release / Request for a Portuguese Criminal Record Check

VFS Global offices tend to ask for this as a separate document; most consulates are not requesting it. The form is at the VFS website and also here.

9) Proof of Private Health Insurance

Each applicant must have medical insurance that meets the Schengen Area requirements. Regulations for the Schengen Area Visa state:

"... applicants shall prove that they are in possession of adequate and valid travel (or other) medical insurance to cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death, during their stay(s) on the territory of the Member States. The insurance shall be valid throughout the territory of the Member States and cover the entire period of the person's intended stay or transit. The minimum coverage shall be �30.000" (per applicant)."

VFS Global added this condition in November 2020: '... must not exclude COVID-19'. This hasn't yet appeared in the consulate office requirements. Several travel insurance plans are offering COVID-19 coverage.

When you become a resident in Portugal, you will enroll in the public health system and have access to the state-provided COVID-19 coverage.

If you have existing insurance coverage that includes the features noted above, your proof of medical insurance can be an invoice or your annual statement showing the name of the insurance company, policyholder names, dates of coverage and proof of evacuation coverage. If you don't currently have insurance with these features, investigate a travel insurance plan or an annual plan that covers you in Portugal. Many sources provide travel insurance policies to support Schengen Area Visa applicants. Once you arrive in Portugal, you will find several options for a low-cost, high-quality annual medical insurance plan with broad networks. You will purchase this annual plan for your Temporary Residence Permit appointment at SEF.

Many applicants have had their travel insurance coverage rejected. Avoid this by highlighting "Portugal" on the list of covered countries or having your insurer issue a short letter that states the coverage includes Portugal.

Portugal Residency Advisors

Portugal Residency Advisors is a full-service consulting firm dedicated to providing personalized services to individuals and families seeking to relocate to Portugal. With a team of experienced professionals and strategic partnerships, we are well-positioned to assist clients with all aspects of the relocation process.

Learn MoreConnect

Click connect to have our partner contact you via e-mail and/or phone.

Portugal Residency Advisors

Portugal Residency Advisors is a full-service consulting firm dedicated to providing personalized services to individuals and families seeking to relocate to Portugal. With a team of experienced professionals and strategic partnerships, we are well-positioned to assist clients with all aspects of the relocation process.

Learn MoreConnect

Click connect to have our partner contact you via e-mail and/or phone.

10) Proof of Accommodations

A rental contract, a purchase contract, a short-term-stay confirmation or staying with friends or family�called a Terms of Responsibility form�all qualify as proof of accommodations. Proof of three, four or six months' coverage is requested and differs by consulate/VFS Global. Check the special requirements noted in the list of Consulates near the end of this article.

  • a rental contract in your name exactly as it appears on your visa application and other documents; the property address; property owner's name; and the contract period
  • a paid hotel or short-term-stay {such as Home Away, Airbnb] confirmation stating name, address and telephone number of the hotel, including confirmation number
  • a home purchase agreement
  • a letter from someone with whom you'll stay. Submit an official letter of invitation (Term of Responsibility Form) signed by your host. The host's signature on the form must be notarized in Portugal and a copy of your host's identity card included.

11) Marriage / Birth Certificates

VFS Global requires these only when applicable, such as, when applying for family reunification or if one spouse is depending on the other for financial support. With family reunification, you'll need a marriage certificate, if married, and child's/children's birth certificate(s), if a child/children are included in the application. These don't need to be certified, yet many people get them apostilled 'just in case'. Two adults applying on their own don't usually need marriage or birth certificates.

*Travel Reservations or Tickets

The Schengen Area Visa instructions state that you need proof of prepaid outgoing and return travel with the return travel scheduled prior to the expiration of your one-year residency. Most recently, the consulates and VFS Global offices have only sometimes asked to see outgoing flights. None are requesting proof of a prepaid return flight.

  • You are required to fly into Portugal as your first country in the Schengen Area, however, so if you are talking about your flight plans or presenting your itinerary, ensure that your flight is into Portugal first.
  • Some people fly into another Schengen Area country, regardless of the requirement noted above. If you do enter from with the EU, your passport won't be stamped. SEF wants to see your proof of entry when you attend your first Residence Permit appointment, so either go to Passport control to get your passport stamped or retain your boarding pass and itinerary. It will be requested at your initial SEF appointment.


Often not listing this on their websites, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. sometimes request that you provide a reference in Portugal. These consulates explain that a reference can be your lawyer, a person with power of attorney, landlord, dean of admissions, friend, real estate agent, family member, etc., who is a European Union national or holds permanent residence in Portugal. Submit a note with the rest of your documentation that states the reference's name, address, phone number and citizenship and include a copy of the person's national ID or residence card.

All the above items must be submitted together to the Portuguese consulate / VFS Global office responsible for your state (see list at the end of the article). Consult the current Fees Table regarding the payment to include with your application package if it is being mailed and the amount and payment method requested by the office you're going to in person. The fees are updated on the first of each month to reflect changes in the exchange rate. Payment should be with a cashier's check or money order made out to "Embassy of Portugal". Those using VFS offices will also pay an application processing fee and a passport return-postage fee. These fees - which are posted on the VFS website and vary each month with the prevailing exchange rate - are payable to "VFS Global Services" by cashier's check or money order. Credit cards are sometimes accepted in an in-person appointment, but cash never is.

In 60 to 90 days�sometimes sooner!-- you should receive a letter or email from your respective Portuguese consulate or VFS office approving your visa application and requesting your passport along with an addressed, prepaid, return envelope (USPS, FedEx, UPS). Applicants appearing in person are prompted to leave their passports with the consulate, which can reduce the time consumed by mailing and returning them; an addressed, prepaid envelope will still be required. The consulate will affix a 'VISTO' to your passport and return it to you within two weeks to three months, depending on the volume of requests. This visa expires in four months and allows you two round trips between Portugal and your home country plus unlimited travel in the Schengen Area during the four months.

VFS Global offers a specific process called "PASSPORT COLLECTION." A quote from their description of the service follows:

"When submitting a visa application in our VFS Schengen Visa Application Centre, you may choose to purchase the UPS Next Day air Courier service or Collect the passport in person at the end of the visa application process from your applying application Centre once it's ready."

If you collect your passport in person, you need to bring your receipt along with a photo ID.

If you are unable to collect in person, you may authorize a family member to collect the passport on your behalf. The nominated person will need to bring an authorization letter signed by you, the passport photocopy, the receipt for the fees you paid and proof of their Identity with photo.

When the passport is collected, the passport photocopy with the receipt will be stamped for collection and the authorization letter, if any, will remain with VFS Global. When collecting passports, applicants are advised to check that the visa granted meets with their travel schedule. At the end of the passport collection process VFS Global requests that every person sign the Passport Collection Register."

STEP 2: Residence Permit Application in Portugal

You'll travel to Portugal on your visa and apply for your first Temporary Residence Permit. The Servi�o de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) issues residence permits, called a T�tulo de Resid�ncia. Your first Residence Permit is valid for two years from the date it is issued and can be renewed for successive periods of three years. These renewals are followed by the option to apply for Permanent Residence at the 6th year if you have a certificate of A2 level language proficiency.

Scheduling Your Appointment

As of mid-2019, visa applicants in the U.S. who inform SEF of their travel date have their initial SEF appointment set for them. This appears on the visa sticker in your passport as a URL. Enter the entire URL into your computer browser to access your appointment details. The appointment URL is found here:

Portugal Appointment

Making an Appointment

If you don't have a pre-set appointment noted on your visa, make an appointment at your local Servi�o de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) office to complete the process.

SEF wants you to use the 'Personal Area' on their website to access the online scheduler. Anyone who holds a valid residence permit, residence card, short stay visa or temporary stay visa, should use the online scheduler to do any of the following:

  • Renew your Residence Permit
  • Renew your Residence Card (applicable to EU citizens)
  • Extend your period of permanence (applicable to holders of short stay visa or temporary stay visa), named "prorrogac�o perman�ncia"

At the SEF website's personal area, you may manage your booking and schedule and reschedule or cancel a meeting with SEF. Also be certain to keep your phone number and email address current with SEF as this is how they reach you should a scheduling issue arise. Email SEF at [email protected] to provide a new phone or email contact.

If you can't use the online scheduler, call SEF. This is explained at the SEF page https://imigrante.sef.pt/en/deslocacao-sef/. Call center hours are Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The numbers are 808 202 653 (fixed network) or 808 962 690 (mobile network). These numbers can only be called from within Portugal. Calls made at about 8-9 a.m. usually get through while at other times you get a busy signal.

The automated message is in Portuguese so either wait until the end of the message, when an English-speaking person will come on the line, or hand your phone to a Portuguese friend to navigate the menu for you.

Your appointment should be at the SEF bureau closest to your residence. Don't be alarmed if your appointment is set in a different city from where you're residing, as SEF is trying to level out the volume of appointments across offices. SEF is also allowing you to select the location of your appointment. Some applicants specifically choose other SEF bureaus to get their appointment sooner. A list of all SEF bureaus is here: https://imigrante.sef.pt/en/balcoes-atendimento/

The appointments that are requested personally (not the ones pre-set by SEF) are often set well past the date your temporary visa expires. Always request an appointment confirmation email from SEF. This confirmation email essentially extends your visa to the date of your appointment, so print it out and keep it with your passport to prove your visa didn't expire. Your travel allowances remain in effect until the date of your SEF appointment. The appointment itself takes about 20 minutes due to them re-using your scanned visa application documents, and your appointment start time is rigid, due to COVID safety conditions.

If you're at a smaller town SEF office or working with a less experienced agent, this is when all your extra copies and application forms will be required. Be overly prepared and do not paperclip, staple or otherwise attach documents together.

What to Bring with You

SEF's website lists documents to bring to your SEF appointment. That list is copied below, in the left-hand column, along with "notes" in the right-hand column, if further explanation is helpful. Bring originals with you to your appointment. SEF agents scan these documents into their system and return all documents except your application.

ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE:SEF streamlined the Temporary Residence Permit process by re-using documentation you submitted with your visa application, as all those documents were scanned into SEF's main computer system. As a result, some SEF locations and some SEF agents might not ask for your proof of accommodations, of financial means or of medical coverage. I mention this to reassure you that if this happens, all is well, but we can't rely on this as an across-the-board change in the process. Be prepared; have these documents.

SEF's List of Documents Explanation / Notes

Application delivered personally (on a standard form) signed by the applicant (where the applicant is either a minor or legally disabled person the form shall be signed by his/her legal representative)

The application is here. For your first Residence Permit, select the box for "Concess�o de A.R. TEMPOR�RIA / PERMANENTE nos termos do art. � 77 da Lei 23/2007, de 4 de julho, na sua atual vers�o" For Renewals, select the box for "Renova��o de A.R. TEMPOR�RIA / PERMANENTE nos termos do art. � 78 da Lei 23/2007, de 4 de julho, na sua atual vers�o" Note that you will insert the number "77" or "78" in the blank

Two recent, identical photographs, in color with blank background and easily identifiable, except in SIGAP Service Bureaus

Most of the SEF bureaus are SIGAP, meaning they have photographing facilities and won't accept nor need your photo. Photos are needed only for appointments at Odivelas, Aveiro or Braga SEF bureau

Passport or any other valid travel document

Bring your passport

Valid residence visa

If you are applying for your first permit, this is the visa ('visto') that was inserted into your passport. For a renewal, it is T�tulo de Resid�ncia card and must be no more than 6 months past the date of expiration.

Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence, as per the provisions of Order number 1563/2007, of 11/12.

"Sufficient" means that you have funds equaling about: 1st adult (applicant): 7980�; 2nd or more adults: 3990� each; children and young people under 18 and over-dependent children: 2394� each.

SEF wants the most recent 3 months of bank statements and prefers these to be from your Portuguese bank account, especially if this is a renewal appointment. If you are a couple applying together, the bank statements can be for a shared account but must show both of your names. If the statements don't show both names, the person whose name is on the account will need to provide a Terms of Responsibility letter for the legal partner/spouse or the legal partner/spouse can request a bank statement in his/her name. If using pension or social security income, the pension / social security income letters should be dated for the current year.

Evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation

For your first residence permit, provide your rental contract, hotel booking, letter of invitation (if you are staying with someone) or home purchase contract. It doesn't matter if you have moved from your initial place of residence in Portugal.

For renewals, SEF requests one of the following: declaration of residence issued by the Parish Council (Junta da Freguesia) of the area of residence; or a lease contract registered at the Tax Authority and the last receipt for rent payment; or a contract of purchase and sale or the title deed of the estate.

  • The contract, rental agreement, or letter of invitation must be in Portuguese. Often, these contracts are in both English and Portuguese.
  • The duration of a lease or hotel stay needs to be 6 months or longer.
  • The address on the document used to prove accommodations at this appointment will be the address used on your Permit.
  • If/when you move again, you'll need to update your address at your local Junta da Freguesia (essentially a parish or city town hall) for a fee, taking their validation letter within 30 days to your SEF and paying a fee for a new permit card.
  • If you fail to update your address at SEF within 60 days of a change you will be charged a late fee.
  • If your move occurred close to the date of a renewal, SEF usually asks you to simply wait until that renewal appointment and change your address then.

Permission for checking criminal records (see standard form)- (except people under 16 years old)

Your signature on the Application form is permission for checking with the Portuguese Police to ensure your criminal record is clean since arriving in Portugal. There is no separate form for this and it does not refer to any US records, such as the FBI report.

A document attesting to the existence of a family relationship, where applicable

This is only applicable for persons moving Portugal under a "Family Reunification" visa. Birth and/or marriage certificates are required.

Document proving the applicant's tax situation, where applicable [often appears as "Supporting evidence of registration within Tax Authority" on newer lists]

This has nothing to do with your home country's tax authority�it's your N�mero de Identifica��o Fiscal (NIF) to prove you're registered with Finan�as. SEF enters your NIF into the system to detect any fines or unpaid fees.

Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security

If you are not working in nor earning income from Portugal, you do not and will not register with the Portuguese Social Security.

Health insurance or supporting evidence he/she is covered by the National Health Service

Third country nationals are required under Schengen Area regulations to always have private health insurance coverage. SEF doesn't consistently recognize this and will accept your registration with the national service, called SNS. Registration is documented in a one-page N�mero do Utente, obtained at your nearest Centre de Saude. If you have private coverage, provide coverage and payment. This is usually a one-page document with your name, dates the policy is effective and policy coverage amounts or proof of your paid invoice with names and dates of coverage.

Sticky Points

Be prepared for someone to ask you for more documentation than are officially required. Respectfully providing what you can, respectfully declining what isn't necessary--so therefore you don't have it--are appropriate responses. I recommend taking a print-out of the SEF Required Documentation from their website to indicate that you've come prepared according to their specific requirements.

  • Some first-time applicants have been told by other applicants or even by their SEF official that a new FBI report is required. It isn't. Perhaps the applicants misunderstand what is meant by 'permission for checking criminal records'. At this stage, the FBI report has done what it needed to do, which is get you your Schengen Area / National Visa. You can bring a copy of that original FBI report with you as a pre-emptive measure but don't let this false request or the date your FBI report was issued derail your success at this appointment. If you are undergoing Family Reunification, the FBI report is required.
  • Some applicants have been asked for birth certificates, marriage certificates and/or IRS reports. You can have your birth and marriage certificates with you. However, "IRS" doesn't mean the United States' 1040 filing. This is never necessary with the SEF. "IRS" refers to the Portuguese Finan�as agency and means your NIF number. If you are undergoing Family Reunification, the FBI report is required.

You should be able to complete the process and be told you are approved at this appointment. If you fail to bring any required documentation, you will have to make another appointment and return. This rarely happens, usually only to applicants who aren't clear, firm and convinced of what they are doing or who don't bring all the required documents.

You can pay your fees in cash or with a Portuguese bank card (Multibanco) but not with a credit card.

Your Titulo de Resid�ncia card is sent to your address, or your post office might send you a notice to come pick it up, and it arrives within a couple of weeks.

Further Renewals

You will renew your T�tulo de Resid�ncia 30 days prior to each expiration. The first T�tulo de Resid�ncia expires after two years, followed by a three-year renewal and a final renewal that can be a Permanent Residence card if you meet the language requirements. Otherwise, you continue to renew the Temporary Residence for three-year periods.

In-country Requirements

You are limited as to how much time you can be away from Portugal during your temporary residence cycles. You must reside in Portugal for 16 of the first 24-month residency period, with no absence greater than 6 months, and not to exceed 8 months combined in any validity period. Specific exceptions are provided for by national law (i.e. military service, secondment authorizations for work purposes, serious illness, maternity, research or studies) and will be regarded as not interrupting the period of residence.

Consulates in the U.S, areas of jurisdiction, and special requirements


Chancery: 31 St. James Ave., 3rd Floor - Suite 350 Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Phone: 617 536 8740
Website: www.cgportugalboston.com
E-mail: [email protected]
Consul General: Jos� Rui Velez Caro�o
Chancellor: Ivona Moreira

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Maine, Massachusetts (except the area covered by New Bedford), New Hampshire and Vermont


  • Using Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for applications and information (https://www.vistos.mne.pt/pt/)
  • Requires documentation in duplicate (highly subject to change)
  • Requires all applicants appear in person; during COVID, requires application package to be mailed in followed by the personal appointment
  • Requires applications submitted no earlier than 6 months and no later than 15 days from intended arrival in Portugal
  • Requires proof of travel to Portugal (entering Portugal as your first Schengen Area country)


Chancery: 628 Pleasant Street, Room 204 New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740
Phone (1): 508 993 5741 / Phone(2): 508 997 6151
Website: www.consulateportugalnewbedford.org
E-mail: [email protected]
Consul: Shelley Pires
Chancellor: Teresa Borges

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: Counties of: Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket and Plymouth

Cities of: Acushnet, Dartmouth, New Bedford and Fall River


  • Using Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for applications and information (https://www.vistos.mne.pt/pt/)
  • Requires that all applicants appear in person
  • Requires applications submitted no earlier than 6 months and no later than 15 days of intended arrival in Portugal


Now using VFS Global for Visa Applications:

Interview Location:

Schengen Visa Application Center
145 W 45th Street, 4th FL
New York, NY 10036

Chancery: 866 Second Avenue, 8th Floor New York - NY 10017
Phone:646 845 0042
E-mail: [email protected]
Consul General: Maria de F�tima Mendes
Executive Assistant: Teresa Costa

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Connecticut, Michigan and New York; Territories of American Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Puerto Rico


  • Requires use of online application using VFS Global. Inconsistent regarding filling out the application first, to trigger an appointment, versus selecting an appointment and then completing the application.
  • Requires that all applicants appear in person
  • Permission for Portuguese Criminal Records Check
  • Requests marriage and birth certificates 50% of the time
  • Proof of 4 months' accommodations
  • Correct Consular fee must be paid via Money Order/Banker/Postal/Cashier check payable to "VFS Services USA Inc."Check the website as these details and the fees are updated monthly.


Chancery: The Legal Center at One Riverfront Plaza, Suite 40, Newark, New Jersey 07102
Phone (1): 973 643 4200 / Phone(2): 973 643 2156/58
E-mail: [email protected]
Consul General: Pedro Soares de Oliveira

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania


  • Using Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for applications and information (https://www.vistos.mne.pt/pt/)
  • Online scheduling of appointment at www.consuladoportugalnewark.org
  • Requires that all applicants appear in person


Chancery: 56 Pine Street, Hanley Building, 6th floor Providence, Rhode Island 02903
Phone: 401 272 2003/4
E-mail: [email protected]
Conselheiro de Embaixada: Jos� Macedo Le�o

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: State of: Rhode Island


  • >Requires that all applicants appear in person
  • >Requires documentation in duplicate (highly subject to change)


Now using VFS Global for Visa Applications:

Interview Location:

Schengen Visa Application Center
110 Sutter Street, Floor 05
San Francisco, CA 94104

Chancery: 3298 Washington Street San Francisco, California 94115
Phone: 415 346 3400/1 / Fax: 415 346 1400
E-mail: [email protected]
Consul General: Maria Jo�o Lopes Cardoso

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming


  • Requires printing out and bringing their visa application form
  • Requires printing out and bringing the appointment verification
  • Requires that all applicants appear in person no more than 15 minutes prior to the appointment
  • Visa application form brought to the in-person interview must have your signature notarized unless you sign it in front of the agent
  • Passport pages copies not required due to in-person interview
  • Reference in Portugal
  • Requests you complete a Release of Liability for Passport Mailing that they provide at the appointment. It specifies where you want your passport and visa sent, unless you wish to pick it up or aren't leaving your passport
  • Requesting and sometimes requiring that you leave your passport with them until it is stamped
  • The full application package cannot exceed 50 pages
  • Often pressures couples to have one person apply, the other follow Family Reunification in Portugal, to reduce their workload. Family reunification is a slightly more complicated process due to expiration of the FBI report and reprinting financial statements.
  • Correct Consular fee must be paid via Money Order/Banker/Postal/Cashier check. Applications submitted to the VFS Center in San Francisco need these check payable to "Consulate General of Portugal" or "Embassy of Portugal". Check the website as these details and the fees are updated monthly.


Now using VFS Global for Visa Applications:

Interview Location:

Schengen Visa Application Centre
1025 Vermont Ave NW, St# 200
Washington DC 20005
[email protected]
+1 305 704 2172

April 2019: If you are a resident of the State of Illinois and need a Schengen Visa to Portugal, you can apply with the Consulate-General of Lithuania in Chicago: https://chicago.mfa.lt/cikaga/en/travel-and-residence/coming-to-lithuania/visas/schengen-visas DC.

Chancery: 2012 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036 (ENTRANCE FROM "P" STREET); This is the address where you would mail your passport, if sending by mail
Phone: 202 332 3007 / Fax: 202 223 3926 / Emergency line: (+351) 96 170 64 72
E-mail: [email protected]
Head of Consular Section: Hugo Palma

AREAS OF JURISDICTION: States of: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, District of Columbia.


  • Requires use of VFS online application that triggers their scheduling your appointment
  • People living 150 miles (sometimes stated as 200 miles, sometimes 2-hour drive) from the Consulate may mail their full Application Package in lieu of an in-person interview. Send 1 email that lists the following info for each person in the family who is applying: Full name, date of birth, address with zip code, phone number and type of visa requested: email to: [email protected]. They will send you (1 or 1 per person) pre-addressed envelope(s) to mail in the application and documentation.
  • Mailed application packages require notarization of your signature on your visa application form
  • Requests 6 months' proof of paid accommodations
  • Correct Consular fee must be paid via Money Order/Banker/Cashier check. For applications submitted to the VFS Center in Washington DC, the Money order/Banker or Cashier check must be payable to "Embassy of Portugal"

Reference Section

This document contains links to informational websites. They are repeated here in the event that a link is broken.

Hyperlinks in order of use in the article:

Regulations cited in this article:

Thanks, Tellie and Scott!

The intensive, ongoing research that forms the foundation of this article is given a personal touch by Americans & Friends in Portugal Facebook Group members who share their experiences and offer suggestions. My deepest appreciation to Scott Hubli for ferreting out (in)consistencies and disorder, and Tellie Seford, editor extraordinaire, who patiently and earnestly improved the content and format for 2021.

About the Author

Susan moved to Portugal in 2010 following a career in international human resources and consulting. As CEO of Communications Matters, Susan has completed many writing, project management and website optimization projects from the sunny home in Cascais that she shares with freelance photographer husband Craig. Her articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, International Living and on several blogs.

William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell


Sep 19, 2013 05:39

I should add that Health requirements include a physician's note that you've tested negatively for HIV, with your full name, test date and physician's contact data. Some SEF agents have requested a letter from our physician explaining our general state of health, date of last physical and noting medications taken and existing health issues. Agents can and do expand requirements at their own discretion, so these health statements should be addressed.

May 6, 2014 15:15

Is all this information still accurate for upcoming 2015?

May 7, 2014 12:01

The details in this article regarding residency visas remain as in effect for 2014 applications. Changes for the 2015 application year have not been communicated, nor has anything suggesting that changes are under way surfaced.

Oct 3, 2014 17:27

I am a US citizen and I have noticed that there is a problem these days with the Criminal Record Certification process via the FBI. Many people report that their fingerprints are rejected multiple times, or never accepted, due to the new scanning process (your prints have to be scanned into their database). So, is there any way US citizens could submit a State Criminal Record Check (i.e. New York State CRC) which is done through your name and social security number, rather than a federal FBI one. If you had a record federally, it should come up with your SS number anyway, so I don't see the problem submitting your state CRC. Any idea about this?

Oct 4, 2014 06:41

To Felix Krull's comment identifying issues with FBI fingerprint scans: Suggest you and others who have had your fingerprint records rejected deal directly with the FBI, the source of the problem, and ask if they will accept your state CRC fingerprint file as input to their process. A state-level record check doesn't uncover Federal issues, so the FBI is still required to do a full, federal criminal record check.

Jan 28, 2015 13:51

I have duel citizenship US & Australia. Is one citizenship more favoritable than the other?

Jan 29, 2015 06:23

In response to beeg1234: The requirements are the same for Australian and US Citizens, but the process would change slightly if you were in Australia when you applied because the criminal background check and embassy offices are particular, then, to Australia. The idea of which of your dual citizenships is better than the other is totally subjective and will not affect the Portuguese personnel processing your applications. Good luck! Susan

Feb 25, 2015 06:31

Author's Update: 1. The "Temporary Resident Visa" expires in 4 months. 2. Your consul might ask you to complete and submit a Portuguese Criminal Record Check, a form they will provide you 3. The FBI is currently taking 16 weeks processing time with many rejected applications. The channelers are becoming the better option.

Mar 18, 2015 09:47

Thank you for such an informative article. My husband and I are planning to move to Portugal later this year, so the information is very timely for us. I have a question--in your update in the comments (Feb 25, 2015) you say, in reference to the FBI, "The channelers are becoming the better option." What do you mean by that? I didn't notice a reference to "channelers" in the article--I guess I'm just not seeing it. The FBI seems to be the real stumbling block in this whole process, so I'm a little worried about it.

Mar 22, 2015 22:50

On the proof of financial means requirement for the Type I Visa it says "proof that such funds are transferable to Portugal." Does that mean that I would need to open a Portuguese bank account and have my retirement income sent directly to it instead of my US credit union account? Or just that my US bank account can be accessed by ATM in Portugal? I have had no problems using the ATM abroad to access my US account. Thanks, Mike

Mar 23, 2015 11:57

Reply to sasha7/Mike: No, you are not required to move these monies to Portugal; having assets that you can access from Portugal in case you need money is meant to protect the State from having financial responsibility for you. Your current arrangement with social security deposits and accessing the cash you need via ATM are fine. As to a bank account here, however, you would find that having one brings advantages, including being able to use your Portuguese bank debit card at restaurants and shops. For economical reasons, a growing number of places no longer accept credit cards but they will accept "multibanco" --Portuguese-bank-issued-- cards.

Mar 26, 2015 21:52

That is good to know I can use my ATM to satisfy that requirement. Sorry for all the questions but I am getting close to setting up my embassy appointment and have another. How long after getting my visa approved and stamped with "temporary resident visa" do I have before I must go to Portugal to see the SEF? In other words after getting my passport stamped with the visa from the embassy can I wait a few months before I get on the plane to Portugal or do I have to go right away? Thanks again for all your help!

Mar 30, 2015 04:17

Great article Susan! Once we get the residence permit, how long do you have to actually reside/rent in Portugal? Can it be less than a total of 6 months? We want to travel throughout Europe & use Portugal as our base. And spend close to 6 months in the US & potentially Canada.

Mar 31, 2015 08:28

To the Question about how much time can be spent outside Portugal under a Resident Permit, dated 30 March 2015: Travel in the EU is rarely tracked as you are rarely asked to produce your passport, so how much time you're in Portugal versus the EU will be difficult to determine. However, the Resident Permit rules refer to conflicting and complex minimum stays: one rule says you can't return to the US for more than 60 days at a time; another says you should stay for 6 months before returning to the US. As the reasoning is all dependent on personal circumstances, I suggest you research under the SEF website as you know why and when you'd be moving about. Yet, if you want to be here for only 6 months a year, don't bother to pay for a Resident Visa and Resident Permit; simply get a 180 day tourist visa.

Apr 6, 2015 10:29

Susan, I have a question on the Schengen Visa application. On the question about intended date of departure from the Schengen area should that be exactly 4 months from the intended date of arrival since the Temporary Resident Visa is only good for 4 months? I don't know how strict they will be on the exact dates or if they allow for some leeway. It is really hard to know when you will need to leave if you haven't got the actual visa yet. Thanks, Mike

Apr 12, 2015 12:31

Susan, Do I need to have any of the documents translated and certified into Portuguese when submitting to the Consulate? Thanks, Mike

Apr 13, 2015 15:27

To Mike's question of April 12, 2015: Your US consul won't ask for any documents to be translated into Portuguese with the possible exception of the Application for Schengen Visa form....some have requested this in Portuguese but they will tell you that, and the consuls that request it in Portuguese are getting fewer. If by 'certified' you mean notarized, only your passport pages (as noted in the article) require notarization UNLESS you are submitting your paperwork via the mail rather than in-person; in this case, you would need to have your signature on the Schengen application notarized as well. Susan

Apr 15, 2015 13:01

Susan, my wife and I just sent our fingerprints and Criminal Records request to the FBI yesterday, so it appears we have up to a 16 week wait before submitting our online Schengen Visa application. We live in Bellingham, WA and will apply online to the Portuguese Consulate General in San Francisco with the intent to retire to the Algarve. The bulk of our assets is in my IRA and is subject to early withdrawal penalties. Should we withdraw a portion of the IRA to meet the €50,000 per person (is €50,000 per married couple acceptable?) requirement without hassle, vs. demonstrating ownership of the IRA Certificate of Deposit which can be accessed via written application to the bank and delaying our application if such non-immediate access is inadequate. What would be the consequence if the CD is considered not accessible enough? Would we then simply make the withdrawal, deposit into savings, and send the new bank statement resulting in minimal delay? Or is it better not to leave any room for bureaucratic bumps?

Apr 15, 2015 16:14

To Family Travelers' question of 15 April: DO NOT touch your IRA! It sounds like you have an IRA that exceeds $5Ok and a checking or savings account...so you easily qualify for the financial means requirement. Your IRA is considered 'readily accessible' from Portugal because you could convert it to cash or take a loan if needed.

Apr 16, 2015 15:15

Hi Susan, I was reading your recent response to FamilyTravelers, and have a couple of questions of my own: My husband and I also have an IRA. Because it's an IRA, it's only in my name, but will the consulate consider it "our" money, because we're married, thereby satisfying both of our financial means requirements at once? My other question -- is the financial requirement 50,000E per person or per couple? Thanks once again for your invaluable help!

May 2, 2015 20:56

Dear Susan, Thanks very much for the great article - this is exactly the information I've been searching for! Several follow-up questions regarding the visa application requirements: 1. I understand that I must show sufficient 'financial means' for the period of the temporary residence permit (in this case, is that four months? six months? one year?) 2. As I hope to 'really' live in Portugal, I would hope to extend my 4-month/6-month/1-year residence permit at its expiration. You wrote that this is possible, first for one year, two years, two years, and then five years periods. Can you describe, roughly at least, the process for securing those extensions (basically, is it more or less a repeat of this process?)? Is it possible to process the extension from within Portugal? Importantly, regarding the 'financial means' requirement for each of those extensions, must this be shown (only) for the period in question (ie, the one-year, two-year, two-year, and five-year periods respectively)? 3. Finally - last one, thank you very much for your helpfulness! - I see that, for the initial visa application, I must show travel reservations or tickets for a *return* trip (ie, leaving Portugal at the end of the initial visa period). As I hope to establish a home in Portugal and extend my residence permit at the end of the initial period (as I was asking about above), I would hope to not need or have use of a return / leaving-Portugal ticket. Is there a way to ask the Consulate for 'permission' to do this? Or must I really buy a ticket, and then simply not use it? Thank you very much - this is extremely helpful! Best wishes. Leah

May 3, 2015 01:37

Thank you for such a detailed & thorough article! Just want to add a few things: 1) Even if you are eligible for a Golden Visa, be warned that there is an application fee (per person) of >500 € and an issuance fee of >5000 €. Never mind renewal fees. We decided to go the Pensioner visa route - it was a little over 300$ for our whole family of three. Much less expensive. 2) You can easily bypass the FBI wait by using one of its approved vendors (channelers). We went that route and got a printable copy of the report within 24h and an official copy in under a week. For the DC consulate, kids under 15 aren't required to have their fingerprints done. 3) Our attorney in Lisbon will be helping with SEF. They say that it would be prudent to show up with the FBI report, marriage license & child's birth certificate Hague apostilled. Has anyone been asked to do the same? The last two are giving me a collossal headache. Thx!

May 3, 2015 08:55

Response to NokNok: Another couple was told by their Portuguese attorney recently to have a copy of the FBI criminal background report with them for the SEF...then, on further research, the attorney said it was not, in fact, necessary. The SEF agrees! "It was scanned into your files by the Portuguese consul in the US...we have it on file", SEF explained. About apostilles...they have never been requested by nor listed on the SEF document requirements for anything. Yes, do have birth and marriage certificates in case you're asked because some SEF agents want to see them, but they don't need to be apostilled (by the Hague?!).

May 3, 2015 16:42

Thx, CraigandMicki. I had a feeling it was overkill. BTW, Hague Apostille is just a reference to the convention where they dreamed up this insanity. Basically, you obtain official doc, have it notarized by court clerk, then have it signed off again by a State or Federal clerk, saying that the notary is valid to notarize. Generally, the doc has to be apostilled by the state that issued it, and in some places, like NYC, you can't do it by mail! You've officially saved me from going insane :)

May 5, 2015 19:03

Does anyone have information related to American citizens looking to relocate to Portugal, whose spouse is an EU citizen (Bulgaria)? Apparently, EU citizens and their families can reside anywhere within the EU, so I assume that the requirements, financial and otherwise, would be a little different. My wife and I have spent months traveling through the southwest and southeast of Europe. We are seriously considering relocation to southern Portugal due to climate, cost/quality of living and our fondness for the country... plus it appears to be a great place to raise a family. BTW, thanks to Susan for posting this information. This is very helpful.

May 14, 2015 04:48

Susan, as we now start to zero in on the process, you mentioned a 180 day tourist visa in your reply to "guest". What is that visa? Is that the normal US passport with 90 days here, 90 days away, then back? Is that the Schengen visa? Where to get it? We want to stay here close to 6 months, but travel the EU & return to the U.S. At least once during that period!

May 14, 2015 15:56

Hello there, we are planning to retire in Portugal in the Caiscais area. The only thing I'm worry about it is the health insurance issue, I would like to know how much aprox will it be the monthly cost for a family of 3, we are all under 65. I have read that insurance can be more expensive than in the USA so is a big concern for me. If anybody can give me some information about who to call to get a quote. Also, how can I show proof of health insurance in the application process if I'm not living in Portugal yet? Thanks,

May 18, 2015 11:15

To jesslinger's 14 May question about health insurance: Most find insurance to be less expensive in Portugal...some under-65s are paying 50 euros/month per person for a bare-bones plan, others 300 euros/month for an over-60s couple with full medical, vision and dental coverage. Sources for coverage range from major providers, such as Bupa, Cigna, AXA or ING, to providers who are associated with Portuguese banks and provide low cost plans to the bank's customers, from Medis to Allianz. Americans usually buy these private, bank-sponsored plans after they have moved to Portugal and received their Residence Permit and open a bank account here. For your initial Residence Visa application, you can: buy travel insurance; use your existing US coverage; buy a plan from a global insurer. Just be certain that the medical coverage you use or buy for this interim period complies with Schengen requirements, which state that you must have "adequate and valid medical insurance to cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death, during their stay(s) on the territory of the Member States. The insurance shall be valid throughout the territory of the Member States and cover the entire period of the person’s intended stay or transit. The minimum coverage shall be EUR 30,000”. You could ask your current insurer if your coverage complies with the Schengen requirements or can be converted to one that does; if not, perhaps you can cancel your current insurance and buy travel or private coverage that does comply.

Jul 28, 2015 10:12

Great article. How do you transition as a US citizen from a yearly temporary to a permanent residency? From what I understand that is a type that without investment you can still get 10 years of no taxes paid in Portugal so that you aren't taxed on ss or 401ks form the US. Is this true? Are you taxed on your Ss or 401Ks with the temp residency?

Jul 29, 2015 05:00

Response to boomerexpat's question: After 5 years as a temporary resident, you can apply for 'Permanent Residency'. This 'permanent' residency is renewed every 5 years. Currently, to qualify, one must prove the A2 level of Portuguese language proficiency in addition to the health coverage, financial means, clean Portuguese crime record and other items listed in this article. If you don't have language certification, you can continue residing here with your temporary permit and maintain the 2-year renewal cycle. Portugal is required by the US to tax your US-earned capital gains, interest and dividend income but not social security; and then the US credits your payments to the Portuguese tax system against any monies you'd owe in the US. This tax status applies whether you're a temporary or permanent resident because it is imposed by the US. There is a 'non-habitual resident' status that protects some taxation, so please research that to see if it applies to you. The only program that links residency to an investment is the 'Golden Visa', so you are correct that the Type 1 Visa doesn't require any direct investment in the Portugal.

Jul 30, 2015 08:49

Thank you for the feedback on my question. Is the US, retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401ks are treated as regular income and not capital gains. So, in Portugal they are taxed as capital gains? In the US you generally don't pay taxes on the first 10K of income but it looks like you pay 14.5% in Portugal. Correct? Thanks again.

Jul 30, 2015 16:37

I'm sure this is a stupid question on my part but can anyone recommend a US based attorney to help me & my husband with our Portugal Visa application? If not, can anyone from the US recommend an attorney in Portugal that will help US citizen with their visa application? Typically how much does it cost for the entire process? Thank you in advance.

Aug 24, 2015 12:18

I hope to move to Portugal in 2016 probably the last half of year. If I order a back ground check now how long is it good for? I currently live and am a resident of Ecuador (US citizen), so I will use the consulate here. should I start now or wait?

Aug 24, 2015 12:19

oh, one question at this time. do you also apply for the Schengen visa as well?

Oct 21, 2015 10:40

Hi. We are an American family living in Istanbul, Turkey, planning on relocating to Lisbon in the summer. We have a business and are all in good health and can show ample financial means to get our residency. However, when we went to the Portugese consulate here we were told that we just need to go to Portugal and apply for residency and that we do not need a Type 1 visa. Can anyone help us understand? I asked if I could just apply and they said that we werent eligible because we were not going to work, study or have an operation. Any insights would be appreciated. We do need to get the Temporary Residency Visa prior to arriving, correct?

Oct 21, 2015 14:20

Response to "madeleinemoira"s Post: / Americans Moving from Turkey: The most basic requirement you face as USA citizens is having the Schengen Visa. Turkey isn't part of the Schengen agreement so you likely don't have that Visa right now. Follow the steps in the article to get your Schengen Visa.. To confirm: USA Citizens not starting a business in Portugal, nor seeking work in Portugal, not joining family here nor enrolling as a student, or coming here to volunteer with a charitable cause, MUST have a Type 1 Visa. The Schengen Visa leads to the Portuguese Residency Visa that is converted in Portugal to the Portuguese Temporary Residency Permit. The Portuguese Consuls are wrong more than 80% of the time, and that could be what occurred when you asked.

Nov 9, 2015 14:14

A Schengen visa is mentioned. Does this mean that it is good for any Schengen country?

Nov 28, 2015 23:33

Thanks for your help. Question: We are coming from the USA. My husband is a US citizen, age 69, on Medicare, so he will take out a travel insurance policy just for emergencies. I am age 56 and will need a private health care policy in Portugal. I have dual citizenship, both US and British, which means as an EU citizen I might be able to find a cheaper policy---maybe. I cannot keep my American health insurance pokicy as it is almost $900 USD a month, and I am in very goid health! So, what would be the benefit of me using my UK passport instead of my US one? Thanks.

Nov 29, 2015 08:39

To the question from Elizadoo on 29 Nov: A British citizen follows a different process, much easier, so you should apply under YOUR citizenship and wrap your husband's application under yours. Alternatively, separate your applications and you'll sail through yours. You can apply for the UK National Health Services coverage, avoiding costly private health insurance here, if you have paid into UK SS. Your husband, as an American citizen, will have to get Schengen-approved insurance--Medicare doesn't count-- and few providers accept applicants over age 70 so you should pursue that now.

Nov 30, 2015 10:31

Thanks for the info. I have not paid into UK SS so I will need to buy private coverage, which is what I expected. However, if my husband--who was intending to pay out-of-pocket for routine medical care, and utilise trip insurance to fly back to the USA for major care--must also have a health insurance policy, that negates the whole idea of retiring abroad, at least to Europe. We are trying to reduce our health care expenses, not increase them. Looks like I will be posting on the Mexico boards.

Nov 30, 2015 14:22

To Elizadoo, we are here as US citizens (mid 40's + 1 kid) - originally came in with a crummy Obamacare $5500 pp deductible policy that was approx $860 per month for a family of three. We've just dropped that coverage and are going with private coverage that is 250€ for the three of us, with zero deductible. We are using Multicare - haven't actually put it to use yet, so I can't speak to how easily or not they process claims. Branded meds are a whisper of the cost we used to spend in the states. In terms of cost, it is no comparison.

Nov 30, 2015 16:24

If Health care costs are an issue, try Ecuador. I live there now and am very happy with the quality and costs of my healthcare.

Dec 22, 2015 22:08

We are an American male citizen married to a dual citizen Swiss/American female. We wish to relocate to Portugal currently living in Hawaii. What are the requirements for our initial visit and for residency? Thank you.

Jan 26, 2016 04:51

Hi. My husband and I just received our FBI fingerprint reports. On my husbands report, an arrest from when he was 17 showed up for doing some graffiti. He was not convicted, thrown out in trial but it still shows on his FBI report. Is this going to be an issue? He hasnt had any issue in the past 20 years and even this one was found non-guilty. We spoke to a lawyer who said he would get us a copy of the court report showing that he was found non-guilty but getting it removed from his FBI report could take 6 months, and we dont have that much time. Mine was thankfully clean! Thanks in advance for anyone who might have had this issue. Madeleine

Mar 7, 2016 03:48

Thank you for a step by step article on what needs to be done. My husband is about to retire and we are looking for a place where we could spend maybe 3 years outside of the US. You included valuable information. Thank you!

Mar 8, 2016 10:56

AUTHOR'S NOTE: A few new comments/changes for 2016: 1. Applicants who live two hours or more from their respective consul may MAIL their application and documents rather than schedule an in-person meeting. 2. As the FBI continues to take 3-4 months to process the criminal background check, using a third-party CHANNELER is faster (perhaps 10-14 days). Some channelers' info is posted on the FBI site. 3. Previously, you were expected to go to the SEF in person to schedule your appointment to apply for your Residence Permit. IN-PERSON APPOINTMENTS ARE NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTED. The system is so backlogged that the SEF asks that you call (+351) 808 202 653 or (+351) 808 202 653. The Call Center is open from 09:00am to 05:30pm. When you call, expect a recorded menu spoken in Portuguese. If you wait until the end of the recording a person who speaks English will come on the line. Recent volume has pushed the Residence Permit appointments out beyond 120 days, past the date your Temporary Visa expires. If this happens to you, SEF will automatically extend your visa and email you a notice of your appointment that you can print and keep with your passport to prove your Visa didn’t expire.

Mar 28, 2016 17:57

Questions regarding FBI report: 1. For how long is the FBI report good? If I get it now and wait 6 months to make application for a temporary residence visa for Portugal, is that ok? 9 months? a year? 2. You indicate one must have a "clean criminal record". Does a recent DUI (driving under the influence) result in denial of a visa? Thank you!

Mar 29, 2016 06:15

Reply to Guest's question (28 March '16) about the FBI Criminal Record Check: The report is good for one year. Give yourself time to get fingerprinted and work with a channeler (faster) or the FBI (14 weeks). The In their National Crime Information Center the FBI maintains records of arrests from state and local agencies. Most of the records are linked by fingerprints as every individual who is arrested is fingerprinted as part of the booking process. An FBI background check typically shows all of the arrests for the individual in question. The data includes the date when the individual was arrested and provides a detail of the charges. Both felonies and more serious misdemeanors may be in the report. However, it is unusual to see moving violations or fines included. These offenses are typically not reported to the FBI because they are so minor. Nonetheless, a handful of agencies do report these matters at a federal level.,,,si it can depend on your state. How about asking the authorities at the place where the DUI was granted to see if this is reported to the FBI? Law Dictionary: What Does An Fbi Background Check Show?

Mar 29, 2016 15:36

Thank you for the great response regarding the issue of a DUI. But an important questions remains: Assuming the DUI is reported to the FBI and is shown in the report provided with my visa application (and my research indicates that it will be), will that be cause for Portugal to deny my visa? I am told a DUI is a "gross misdemeanor". It will be the only mar on our record, but it occurred less than 2 years ago. Will Portugal allow that? Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this!

May 18, 2016 08:35

Hi. Once again, I am coming to this wonderful forum for advice - you are the best in this murky world! My family has been living in Istanbul, Turkey for 10+ years, both kids born here, all American citizens. We meet ALL requirements for this process. My husband went to the embassy in Turkey last week and the lady wouldn't accept our application because 1. We didn't have a full year lease (we will next week) 2. Our FBI reports were 5 months old 3. Our residency permits here expire in less than 3 months (we plan to move to Portugal in 2 months). The lady was rude and not helpful to say the least. It seems that she is assigned to us and we can't really find someone else to help us there and we just have a bad feeling about it (this started last summer when she INSISTED that as Americans we didn't need this visa - we had to convince her that we do). So now, we are, reluctantly considering changing all of our summer plans and going to the US to apply (not so easy with 2 little ones for a month when we just want to get settled in our new home). My question is does anyone know how long it takes in the US? Best place to apply? Do we have to go in person or can we just send our applications? What about our passports? Do we all need to go or can just one of us go? We waited until 2 months out so we would have maximum time in Portugal since we understand that residency permits are taking a long time there, but now are panicking as we have movers, kids enrolled in school, finalizing a year lease etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Madeleine

May 23, 2016 03:02

Hi, Just to share a bit about my experience. We are americans living abroad and deciding if we want to apply from Turkey (where we live) or from Washington DC. We got the following answers from both consulates: 1. FBI reports - they like to see no more than 6 months old, not 1 year. 2. Letter from doctor. not needed, just showing health insurance. 3. Biometrics - not needed - no need to come in person. 4. Financial means - show as much supporting evidence as possible they both said. 5. Place to live - a lease in best. We are now in Portugal looking for a house to rent prior to submitting application. We are also hoping to get the NIF and Atestado de Residência while in town. Ill let you know how it all works out! Best,

May 23, 2016 12:34

Anyone have experience importing personal goods (like a container) to Portugal prior to getting residency. The person I'm in touch with says you might have to pay duty if you don't get your SEF card within 1 month of moving here - but its unclear if she means visa or residency.

May 30, 2016 17:57

We also were planning on traveling the EU during the 6 months we needed to be residing in Portugal. I had originally thought as long as we could show we had a rental for the 6 months in Portugal that would suffice. You had replied on 31 March 2015 that travel in the EU is rarely tracked. But as americans, that is not the case. Every Airbnb, or hotel we check into ask for our passport. So I would assume it would be easy to see the days we are outside of Portugal during those 6 months. Do you think that would have an issue renewing the residency permit if they see travel in the EU during the 6 months we are "residing" in Portugal? I assume that the hotels and Airbnb are registering it on some central database that all the EU uses? Also another question that ties into that, how does my 90 day visa reset if its been stamped when i came into the EU from a country that wasnt Portugal? The stamped it in Spain, then i drove to Portugal. So with the residency permit i can stay all year in Portugal, but how does the 90 day clock reset on my passport visa stamp since I am not really leaving the schegen area?

Jun 2, 2016 17:36

I am so confused! I have been trying to contact my consulate to find out what I need to get married to a Portuguese man that lives in Portugal. I will move to Portugal either before or after the wedding....whichever way I can move there without being illegal. All they said that I needed was my birth certificate (authenticated and translated) and a certificate of no-impediment. Now, I see this daunting list and feel like I will never get there to be with my boyfriend. I have already been working on this for a year and am extremely frustrated. Which comes first, marriage or moving? Does anyone know?

Jun 3, 2016 10:43

Answer to jvenckus's post of 2 June '16: (Aren't you Jennifer Venckus who recently posed the same question on the FB site "Americans in Portugal"?) You will have an entirely different and easier approach if you are married to/going to marry a Portuguese citizen. Please search the Schengen Community Visa site and www.sef.pt for the process related to 'family reunification' or follow Kevin Raub and Alice Piontek's advise, which is current.

Jun 17, 2016 12:58

I just finished with my 1 year residency approval today at the Portugal IRS. You must be very determined to move to Portugal to deal with all of the problems and conflicting answers. At first, SEF did not want to talk to me on 6/16 because I did not speak Portuguese and they did not have anyone who spoke English. They are in the EU and are supposed to have a translator. Fortunately, my good Portuguese friend is well educated and persistent and we succeeded with SEF. The IRS was fine except for a 2 hour wait which is probably shorter than the US.

Jun 30, 2016 19:11

I am in the process of filling out all the forms for the residency visa, but I am very confused as to amount of money to send. For example, it says that it costs $42.40/page for translation, am I suppose to count every single piece of paper? Application only? Letter of intent? What is the approximate amount of money is required per visa application?

Jul 1, 2016 05:35

To 'medsuar', about translation fees: It is not likely you will need to translate your Application to Portuguese; please check with the consul you will use to confirm they will accept your documents in English and to confirm how much to send in with your application. The Embassy site is no longer showing the fees table.

Jul 2, 2016 02:24

Thanks for the very detailed and useful info. I have already been in contact with the Portuguese consulate in San Fran about getting the proper visas for myself and my husband to retire there in early 2018. Here is the reply I received: "The soonest you can apply is 90 days before your actual travel date yet allowing some 3-4 weeks to process one application. One member of a married couple files, the other will affect their petition for residence permit direct to Portugal when the other member is in possession of the permit or at the very least the visa obtained from the Consulate. Documents like those from the FBI should not be dated older than 90 days when submitted to us. Personal appearance is technically required but waived when the applicant has had the application form notarized. The complete packet can and should be mailed per current procedure." This makes it sound as if only one of us has to submit an application and required paperwork, including FBI report. I'm not understanding this at all. Also, are there different applications for a Portuguese visa and a Schengen visa? Any help is very much appreciated!

Jul 3, 2016 07:16

To Terrig123's post of 2 July: You are working with the San Fran consul, which operates differently than other consuls. We don't know why...applicants going thru SF have had more problems than any others. It is the SF consul approach to have ONE person per family/couple apply and then have the other/rest of the family apply from Portugal under 'family reunification'. You end up having to provide the same documents; you get the same Visa, the same Residence Permit. You can ask SF why they are taking this approach; advise that you BOTH want to apply; ask why their instructions differ completely from written laws and all other consuls, or proceed as they require. Yes, there are two 'applications' that share some of the same requirements. The Schengen Visa is the first layer of permission to live in a Schengen Country and when you're applying to Portugal you must meet all Schengen requirements and all additional Portuguese requirements; then Portugal approves your entry, generating a Temporary Visa. In Portugal, you turn the temp visa into a Temporary Residence Permit for Portugal.

Jul 3, 2016 07:24

Terrig123: You want to move to Portugal in 2018...you can't apply two years in advance. Your documents have expiration dates: FBI report 90 days; initial Visa 120 days; bank records 3 months, etc. You should get current documentation in hand and apply 4 weeks before you want to come to Portugal. To buy tickets and rent temporary housing here, plan your travel window to begin 6 weeks after you mail your application up to no more than 3 months after you mail your application. Make sense?

Jul 4, 2016 11:19

Thanks for your replies. I contacted the consulate in SF to ask questions about the process not to apply. I realize it's way to early for that. Am I correct in understanding that the form to use to apply for a visa to stay in Portugal is the Schengen application? Also, by what the consulate replied it sounds like one of us applies for a visa here and the other applies for a residency permit (?) once we arrive in Portugal. Since it sounds like it could take over three months to see a consulate in Portugal, do I wait until we get there to order my FBI check? Gah this is all so confusing! Terri

Jul 8, 2016 15:07

I am american citizen who bought a house in Portugal.. Right now I am using only tourist visa. Any problem with that (I am retired so not earning any money in Portugal). If I want to bring over used furniture, will I face any problem? THanks

Jul 9, 2016 06:55

@ E025403, as a US citizen on a tourist visa, you are restricted to no more than 90 days in the Schengen zone within *any* 180 day period. That period doesn't reset when you leave Schengen; its cumulative, meaning that you can't just pop over to Morocco for a day and start your 180 day clock over. As I understand, you could face being permanently barred from Schengen for overstaying a tourist visa. For this reason, we did the Type I visa & obtained residency here. We didn't bother bringing stuff in. It didn't seem worth the customs fees, time or hassle. Just bought everything new for our apt once we arrived.

Jul 9, 2016 17:40

To craigandmicki : We were in denial about the status of our stay till I got you informative answer to my question. It got us in very high gear to start the process to get the temporary stay visa. Thank you very much. One more question: we want to go back to Portugal in 3 months. If the application process is not done by then, will we be able to go without it and wait for it in Portugal?

Jul 10, 2016 03:08

@ E025403, this isn't craignandmicki, but rather noknok again. We did the visa through the DC consulate. They were very willing to work with us on timing. In our case, for example, they actually issued the visa within 1 month of applying (in March - and way faster than we expected), but since we were not going to be leaving as a family to PT until our child got out of school for the summer, they forward-dated the visas by 5 months. By having the Type I visa initiate in late summer, it ensured that the visa would not run out before we made it into SEF to convert them to residency permits. Meanwhile, we were able to travel for a short visit to Lisbon just as tourists for a week without 'activating' the type I visa. In your case, once you make the visa application (which you must do from the US), you should be able to travel to PT for up to 90 days as a normal tourist while you wait for the Schengen visa to be issued. In order to actually get your Schengen visa, you would have to return to the US for them to paste it into your passports. Of course, if they were to have already issued the Schengen visa before you leave for PT, there is no need to return to the US. You would just proceed to the SEF office for conversion.

Jul 12, 2016 14:51

Thank you so much for posting this detailed article to process the residency permit. I am a US citizen currently living in London and would like to apply for the Type 1 visa to start the temporary residency process and move indefinitely to Portugal. I would like to apply for the visa in London and not sure if I can do so through the Portuguese consulate here in the UK (London), or if I have to travel to the US and apply through the Portuguese consulate in New York (where I was resident before). Thanks in advance for your guidance Susan. If anyone else has a similar experience I would also be grateful for additional guidance on the question.

Jul 17, 2016 16:43

Susan, Thank you for writing this informative article. My question is about the National Insurance Healthcare System in Portugal. I am a retired citizen aged 69 living in the USA but originally from the UK. I have dual citizenship. If I move to Portugal to retire, can I get access to the National Healthcare system (mostly free as I understand it) once I have my temporary resident permit, or do I have to buy private health insurance which is very expensive. This is a deal breaker for me regarding moving to Portugal. I would be so grateful for any response addressing this issue. Thank you Christine

Jul 18, 2016 01:16

@guest Are you currently buying private health insurance in the US or collecting medicare? I ask because based on my research, I don't think you can get access to any national health insurance in Europe without having paid into it by working. Can someone confirm this? If you are getting medicare here in the US, buying private insurance abroad will be more expensive. But you need to factor in the overall cost of living which is what me and my husband are doing now. If I retire before age 65, the cost of private health insurance here in the US is so high that even paying for insurance overseas is less costly. Hope this helps.

Aug 21, 2016 14:03

Hi there! This is a great post (and great blog). I just wanted to ask about my situation re: applying for residency. I am an American citizen living in Portugal now. I recently paid for my residence visa and was given a receipt, a provisional visa on A4 paper with my picture on it, and a special letter saying it would be finalized after I sent SEF a translation of my FBI criminal history report from English to Portuguese. So now I'm swimming through all the info on the web and calling this and that translator. The two questions in my mind now are 1) Will SEF also want me to provide notarization of the translation? and 2) How much or in what range of cost should I expect to pay? It's been a long and mostly random process where I get different information when I call SEF, email SEF, print out SEF's own PDF guidelines from the internet, and go to the SEF office in person. I will be so glad when I finally get out of this papework jungle!

Aug 22, 2016 06:18

Response to Guest question 21 August about translating the FBI report for SEF: SEF doesn't need your FBI report--it is for the Schengen part of the application process only. Now that they think they want it, you're rather stuck with providing it. You would be smart to have it translated and notarized thru a Portuguese attorney near you. The cost is generally 45 to 60 euros, depending on the attorney.

Sep 5, 2016 14:04

Hello, I am reading the article and I am in need of help. . Very informative article, I don't find the way to write any question to the author though unless I am confused and hopefully she will read this post and answer to me. It sounds like the type 1 visa she explain here is not the one I will need, I would assume I will need the Golden visa since I am a US physician wanting to move to Portugal and pursuing to work as a medical doctor there. I will post a little bit about myself in case anyone has some thoughts ? Hello : My name is Alina, I am us citizen and Licensed physician Board Certified in Family Medicine, currently living in St Petersburg, Florida and looking into Portugal, specifically Algarve for moving temporary to permanent with my family. I am reaching out for help since I encounter very difficult finding information of medical doctors like me that have moved to Portugal, I found a website sent to me by an expat, with information for medical doctors ( foreign ) and as I understand, It appear that my US medical license is not valid in Portugal, Does any one happen to know of any case like mine? and if you do, could you please give me references so I can contact them for more information. Me and my family are looking forward to move to a safe country with a low score crime and a weather similar to Florida ( warm ), and Portugal seem to be perfect in that regard, I have found searching the web that Algarve is like so, but as far as my profession and all I need to know in order for me to move there, it is a different story and I start thinking that contrary to what I would love to do, there are no chances for me and I will probably have to change my mind moving to Portugal. It is sad though. Any idea in how I can obtain information? It will be great and deeply appreciate it! Thank you...:)

Sep 6, 2016 09:04

For Dr. Alina's question of September 5: although not identical, this may help. I know a medical doctor who received his degree in Cuba. He moved to the USA but was unable to become a doctor here (USA) without 3-4 more years of work. But his wife wanted to live here so he worked in a doctor's office as a nursing assistant.! After a short time of nursing assistant he decided to move to SPAIN and worked in SPAIN for a year as a doctor. I believe Spain accepted his Cuban credientials and medical license, so he was able to practice meidicine.. When he was in Spain, he took exams that gave him a Spanish medical license. The exams were not difficult for him to pass the exams because they were in Spanish :). After he finished all that, he applied for positions in Portugal. Because both Spain and Portugal are members of the EU, it ws easy for his Spanish medical license to be accepted in Portugal. [I will tell you that after a few years he returned to the USA to practice medicine here].

Sep 17, 2016 09:06

Thanks! So useful and precious to help me plan. What has been your impression of the quality of healthcare in Portugal (and in lisbon more specifically)? Thanks!

Sep 20, 2016 10:22

Hi everyone! We are an American family who relocated here from Istanbul, Turkey in July. We applied for the residence visa in Turkey and received it. The entire application and supporting documentation was in English. We received the visas on June 15th (dated that day) that are good until november 11th 2016 at the Benfica SEF office. We called the SEF upon arrival and received an appointment on November 9th (no email confirmation, but have appointments). My question is: 1. Do we need any documentation in addition to what we brought for the visas? Updated bank records? 2. What of the documentation needs to be translated to Portuguese. now everything is in English except our lease. 3. We did not bring letters from doctors as the consulate said it was not necessary. We did bring health insurance. Should we get doctor letters before the SEF appointment? 4. None of us speak Portuguese really. Should we bring someone with us to translate or can we manage in English? 5. Should we hire a lawyer to help us at the appointment or can we manage on our own? We managed the visas on our own. Thanks so much for everyones help! On a side note --- we were able to import our stuff free of any tax without the SEF cards to Portugal. If anyone wants to know this process, please let me know and I will update you!

Sep 21, 2016 08:01

To madeleinemoira's post of 20 Sept 2016: YOU MADE IT! So happy to hear all your work was successful. Welcome. Your SEF appointments fall before your Visas expire, so that's why you don't have email confirmations and all is good there. Now, to your questions: [1.] Do we need any documentation in addition to what we brought for the visas? YES. The list of what you need at your Visa / Permit appointment is posted on this site at: http://www.expatexchange.com/ctryguide/4776/92/Portugal/Portugal-Residence-Permit-How-to-Get-Your-First-Residence-Permit-in-Portugal. Yes, you need updated bank records, as explained on the list. [2.] What of the documentation needs to be translated to Portuguese. now everything is in English except our lease. NOTHING needs to be translated. You will fill out an application and the questions are in Portuguese, but you can answer them in English. [3.] We did not bring letters from doctors as the consulate said it was not necessary. We did bring health insurance. Should we get doctor letters before the SEF appointment? PROBABLY NOT. This is one of those things that come on and off the list of 'whims' and is not strictly a requirement. [4]. None of us speak Portuguese really. Should we bring someone with us to translate or can we manage in English? YOU CAN MANAGE. Many of us have managed in English. If you want an attorney, we can refer one to you. 5. Should we hire a lawyer to help us at the appointment or can we manage on our own? ABOVE. Best wishes! Susan Korthase

Sep 26, 2016 08:26

craigandmicki Susan! Thank you! Do you know where we get the application from? Is it the same as the visa? Id like to fill them out in advance. You said we need a document saying that we are registered with social security here in Portugal. How do we do that? Is private health insurance not enough? And you have found some people that speak English. I have no issue hiring a lawyer if there is some value to it but if we don't need it, happy to take care of it on my own too. Thanks so much for all of your help!! madeleine

Sep 27, 2016 20:59

Hello, We are planning to move to Portugal. We just sent off our FBI background checks and we are getting our other documents ready. If we apply online, how will we send those documents to the consulate? Do we wait for the appointment and bring them with us? Also, do we need to apostille any documents?

Oct 17, 2016 06:50

Hi everyone! A couple of more questions from SEF checklist. - -- Document proving the applicant’s tax situation, where applicable. What kind of document do we need to show? --- Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security , where applicable. Can we just show private health insurance or is this our NIF? Thank you!!! Madeleine

Oct 17, 2016 07:40

To Madeliene's question of 16 Outubro 2016: Your questions regarding the SEF documents required for the initial Temporary Resident Permit: Item 9.Document proving the applicant’s tax situation, where applicable [Note: This has nothing to do with the US IRS…it’s your NIF number if you have already received one] Item 10. Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security [Note: This refers to the national health plan. You will provide your proof of health insurance and receipt of payment. Proof of insurance is a one page document with your name, dates effective and policy coverage] This information is detailed in full in the article on this site titled: "Obtaining Your Initial Temporary Residence Permit", dated July 2016.

Oct 31, 2016 03:49

Hi, Doés anyone here have experience moving to Portugal as an American military retiree? (I don't want to bore everyone else with my questions!) Thank you!

Nov 10, 2016 08:50

Hi! We did IT! Thank you SUSAN! I just want to say if you follow the steps outlined here EXACTLY, its really quite straight forward. You do not need a lawyer. You probably don't even need a translator or translation fees. From the horror stories Ive heard, the key is starting off right - getting the visa abroad. Anyone who has specific questions, I am happy to answer, send me a PM. This was great. Now its time to begin applying for NHR status. Anyone have experience? Ate Ja!

Nov 10, 2016 09:52

@Madelinemoira: I agree! Susan's article worked like a charm for us. Re NHR status, we finally did this too. Initially, we worked with an accountant to file with the IRS in Lisbon, but after months, it turned out that we were missing a checkmark on our form .. and went to the back of the line. After six more months of waiting with no word, we found you can do this online easily and quickly. 1) I assume you have your NIF. you will need an online password from portaldasfinances.com. Make the request and they should post it to you through regular mail within a few days. 2)once you have the password, at portaldasfinancas.com, go to "cidadãos" -> "consultar" -> "pedido" -> "Inscrição de Residente Não Habitual". They granted ours two days after making the online request.

Nov 10, 2016 10:05

To "We did IT" - Parabens! Must feel great. I remember that moment when I got the residency card in the mail. But I must add for the benefit of others: Cuidado! The idea that your experience represents all possible experiences has been proven wrong by many immigrants to Portugal. Each application is individual because the system is unprofessional and the workers are unaccountable and arbitrary. Susan's guide is an excellent starting point but even she will warn that neither these guidelines nor even the official ones on the SEF site are absolute forecasts of what will really happen to an individual applicant. Again, congratulations and enjoy your new status- but try not to over-draw it, which can mislead others.

Dec 2, 2016 19:04

Does anyone here know what is the minimum required residence for the 5 years before applying for permanent residency. For example, could I spent 7-8 months in Portugal and 4 months summer in the states on the temporary resident permit? Will that qualify as uninterrupted residence for 5 year period?

Dec 4, 2016 13:31

Susan Korthase answering meufado's question of Dec 2, 2016 about minimum stay requirements and permanent residency: According to the EU Immigration Portal [http://ec.europa.eu/immigration/tab1.do?subSec=30{]: You can NOT spend 4 months each year in the US and still apply for permanent residency at your 5th year anniversary because you can not exceed a total of 10 months outside of Portugal within that 5 year period . You can, however, spend time outside Portugal in any EU country, as they don't track travel within the EU. Also, you CAN live in the US for up to 5 months each year and 7 months in Portugal, keeping your Temporary Residence intact and simply keep applying for 2 year extensions / renewals rather than applying for permanent residency. Without permanent residency, you simply have to extend / renew your permit every 2 years and pay every two years rather than every 5 years. Splitting your time between PT and the US as you discussed is a great way to keep family and friends close yet have the pleasure of being in Portugal a good part of the year.

Dec 6, 2016 16:13

@missyeq I have a question regarding the NHR application. I followed your instructions to apply online. I understood I should submit some kind of statement but all it asked was for me to check a couple of boxes and submit? is that it? Will I be informed if it was accepted? Thanks so much!

Dec 14, 2016 15:22

We are planning to start the paperwork to move to Portugal. We are going to live with my husband's pension but in the proof of financial means only his name will show on the statement. Will that be fine without my name?...We have a joint bank account but only has a normal balance for everyday use. I have a toddler that wont go to school for another 4 years but if I am not a resident can I enroll her in a private school?

Dec 14, 2016 17:35

Does anyone have a good insurance recommendation? My first two quotes were very expensive even before raising the coverage to €30,000. Thanks!

Dec 15, 2016 05:32

to Lu36's questions about documents supporting financial means: documentation that you will use for your application must include your name. Please note other comments, above, which indicate that the €50k min is loosening up. Your ability to show the legal minimum of about 12-15k might suffice. Ask your consul official.

Dec 15, 2016 12:18

Is it true that the health care has decline a lot in Portugal. My husband has been reading about it and we are a little worry about that. Is private healthcare expensive?? Can u recomend the best company to have a policy with. Thx

Jan 9, 2017 19:57

One glaring issue the article doesn't mention and that we've run into is a demand for a guarantor!! We don't have one! Desperately searching!! If anyone can help, please email me at [email protected].

Jan 12, 2017 18:52

I had understood that a Type 1 Visa required demonstration of proven lifetime income of somewhere around $2000/mo (can't find that reference and don't remember exact amount right now). Your article seems to say that all we need is 50K EU in a savings account, but no proof of continued income. Am I reading that correctly, or did I miss something? (Saving account is easy, but we have zero income other than savings and investments...) Second question -- how new must the apostiles be? We are currently resident visa expats in Ecuador, and when we came here in 2013, the marriage certificate, criminal background, etc had to be no more than 90 days old. You don't state a duration, so is it possible we could use the same docs we generated back in 2013??

Jan 12, 2017 18:55

@savage44 Actually the article _does_ discuss the need for a guarantor. The article states: "If you fail to provide proof of sufficient financial means, you'll be required to have a guarantor in Portugal. A guarantor is a Portuguese citizen or permanent resident who will guarantee your accommodations and financial support for a year as well as your return transit to the US. As the guarantor's name, financial number and address are required and it carries legal risk, a guarantor is difficult to obtain."

Jan 14, 2017 13:41

We are an American family of four relocating to Portugal in June. I was really worried about the FBI background check so we went to a channeler that uses the computer scans this morning. Our appointment was at 11am and our completed FBI background check letters were emailed to us 1pm! I don't want to put a company name in comments but you can message me if you are looking for a quick channeler. Heather

Jan 16, 2017 13:49

Heather I would like the name but I don't see a way to send you a pm. Thanks, Terri

Jan 19, 2017 15:21

To Mindstorm's 12 Jan 2017 question about financial means...you don't need to prove or have INCOME, only that you can ACCESS sufficient money to sustain you. This can be in investments, 401(k), savings accounts, social security, pensions, just as the article states. For a couple of years, a 50,000 euro minimum was expressed; however, in the last year, the 50K is no longer stated in the regulations so we are deferring to the lower amount expressed in the article. Only the passport signature page needs notarization, nothing needs an apostille if you're working the process within the US. Refer back to the article, please, to see how recent each document must be.

Jan 19, 2017 20:36

Susan - thank you for the breakdown and great information. I am beginning the process of compiling docs and will be applying for the Portuguese Visa within 2-3 weeks. I have a couple of questions and was wondering if you could answer (I knowingly risk repeating bits of previous questions - apologies in advance): 1. The San Francisco Consulate requests that you apply using the online form BEFORE sending your hard copy docs - does this mean you can print out a completed application once submitted online, or do you take this to mean that you should apply online, and then also apply using the downloadable form - also assuming that the correct form is still the Schengen Visa application? 2. Do you know the latest on income requirements and necessary documentation? The current wording on the website is: "Copy of document authorizing the transfer of private capitals (at least, $3,000 per person) to Portuguese banks, issued by the Portuguese central bank OR evidence of how the funds will be transferred to Portugal;" - In your view, are bank statements indicating liquidity and ability to access via ATM still sufficient, and what is the current amount being used as a minimum per person? Thank you very much in advance for any info you can provide.

Jan 20, 2017 11:52

To Brianscottpatterson's post of 19 Jan 2017: Kudos to you in advance for braving the SF consul's annoying and unnecessary process! 1) The application--Yes, the form you're accessing online is the Schengen Application Form. You shouldn't have to print the online application but I encourage that you do so, printing it before you submit it, and include this hardcopy with your mailed documents. Just to be over-cautious. 2.) Financial Means: the latest official requirement equates to about 14,600 euros per year for the first person applying and 7,300 for each additional applicant. However, it appears that you are citing a new comment/requirement by the San Francisco's consul and its wording suggests that the SF office wants to know you can move $3k per person to a Portuguese bank. Were I you, I'd attach a note to bank statements that show there is at least $3k per person in the account(s) and state something like "We can transfer the required monies to a Portuguese bank immediately on obtaining our Permit and a Portuguese bank account. Until then, we have daily access to these monies while in Portugal". I suggest this because I have never known of a form or document that the US banks issue that proves it's transferrable. Please let me know what you learn on this matter.

Jan 20, 2017 12:52

Hi Susan - thank you very much for your reply. I am going to come at this once more, and hope you can help. (I didn't mention, but I work in the wine business, so once I'm there, I can tip you in wine for your help, if you like!) In any case, here goes: 1. I find the Schengen application to have several questions that are either ambiguous, or do not seem to pertain to the visa pathway I am trying to take. Can you comment on the application, perhaps in a PM, or refer me to someone who is an expert in filling out the form correctly? 2. The authorization to check criminal records in Portugal, required by the SF Consulate, asks what visa you are applying for - is the correct answer "Residency/Type 1"? 3. I booked an Airbnb for 5 months in Lisbon as proof of residency. Should I go back and re-book for only 4 months so that the rental matches the visa length of 120 days? 4. SF Consul requires a reference. I have a very good Portuguese friend who would be mine. Do you know if there is a specific form she needs to fill out? Is there a specific form in Portugal for assigning power of attorney? Here is the verbiage from the SF Consulate site: "REFERENCE IN PORTUGAL, PREFERABLY THOSE WHO WOULD STAND AS GUARANTORS We only need one reference who can be your lawyer, power of attorney, landlord, Dean of Admissions etc. who are Nationals of the European Union or hold Permanent Residence in Portugal. Have them indicate their name, address, phone number and citizenship – include Copy of National ID or Residence." 5. Lastly, concerning travel arrangements, even though the intent is to remain in Portugal, does the consulate want you to have a round trip air ticket as proof of travel, so that they register your intent to depart if you do not get the visa, or is a one-way ticket to PT sufficient? Also, I have read in other forums that what they really want to see is a reservation for travel (6 weeks post application and within 90-days after that), but not an actual ticket. In today's automated world of internet ticketing, and travel sites, I wouldn't have the faintest idea on how to reserve a ticket, but not actually purchase. OK - that's it. For real! Help will be rewarded with delicious fermented grape juice upon successful arrival, if you wish! Thank you so much again in advance!

Jan 23, 2017 17:05

My wife and I currently live in San Diego, California and are planning to move to Lisbon to live around Oct-Nov of 2017. We have pension income that clearly meets the minimum requirements. According to your article a Schengen Visa application is required. I thought this was just for EU residents and not third countries - am I wrong about this? Also do I need to apply for the residence visa at the sam time? Also, we have planned a exploration trip of 10 days in June in order to determine what area of Lisbon we want to live in. We do have hotel reservations for that 10 day stay. I would like to make my application and go to the Portuguese consulate in San Francisco before our trip in June. According to your article, we will have to show the consulate where we will be staying. If we present them with the hotel reservations for the 10 day trip we are taking in June will that be sufficient? Any additional info would be welcomed. Your site is great BTW!!

Feb 17, 2017 09:17

My husband and I are in Lisbon now trying to start the process and it has been completely unsuccessful. We just left our appointment to declare our entry at SEF and get our passport stamp and SEF said since we entered the Schengen on our previous visa(on December 30th, 2016) and never re-exited upon expiration(January 7th, 2017 our first Schengen 180 days ended), we have not officially entered on our new(2nd) Schengen visa(90 days). Therefore, we have to declare our entry and get our stamps on our April 20th appointment along with applying for the 2 extensions that only lasts until July 6th, 2017. They also said we might have to pay a penalty if we try and leave Portugal and we have no Schengen visa days anywhere else in the Schengen area at the moment because we came back into the EU on our first Schengen. We made the mistake of thinking since we had 10 days left on our 90 day 1st Schengen visa that we could come back into the country early and use up those days. Apparently we were mistaken and are hoping we can find some information to prove the opposite. Apparently we are only legally in Portugal right now because we have an appointment April 20th with SEF to apply for 2 tourist extensions. That being said, our Portuguese consulate is in DC and we are planning on coming home March 15th to start the process of applying for residency. Does anyone see our unresolved issues in Portugal being an issue for applying for residency? We are independent workers as web developers. We do not have enough money for the golden visa but have more than enough to prove sufficient funds during our stay. Once granted a residence permit/card for the first year. How many months out of the year do you have to be present in Portugal? I have heard 10 months total within the 6 years and then I've heard you only have to be in Portugal 6 months out of the year. Any help would be extremely appreciated. If anyone has applied through the DC embassy and would love to share the process please contact me asap :) Best, Julia

Feb 17, 2017 10:09

My husband and I are in Lisbon now trying to start the process and it has been completely unsuccessful. We just left our appointment to declare our entry at SEF and get our passport stamp and SEF said since we entered the Schengen on our previous visa(on December 30th, 2016) and never re-exited upon expiration(January 7th, 2017 our first Schengen 180 days ended), we have not officially entered on our new(2nd) Schengen visa(90 days). Therefore, we have to declare our entry and get our stamps on our April 20th appointment along with applying for the 2 extensions that only lasts until July 6th, 2017. They also said we might have to pay a penalty if we try and leave Portugal and we have no Schengen visa days anywhere else in the Schengen area at the moment because we came back into the EU on our first Schengen. We made the mistake of thinking since we had 10 days left on our 90 day 1st Schengen visa that we could come back into the country early and use up those days. Apparently we were mistaken and are hoping we can find some information to prove the opposite. Apparently we are only legally in Portugal right now because we have an appointment April 20th with SEF to apply for 2 tourist extensions. That being said, our Portuguese consulate is in DC and we are planning on coming home March 15th to start the process of applying for residency. Does anyone see our unresolved issues in Portugal being an issue for applying for residency? We are independent workers as web developers. We do not have enough money for the golden visa but have more than enough to prove sufficient funds during our stay. Once granted a residence permit/card for the first year. How many months out of the year do you have to be present in Portugal? I have heard 10 months total within the 6 years and then I've heard you only have to be in Portugal 6 months out of the year. Any help would be extremely appreciated. If anyone has applied through the DC embassy and would love to share the process please contact me asap :) Best, Julia

Feb 22, 2017 11:44

Quick follow up: I just completed the process of obtaining my residency visa in Portugal. It was issued on February 9th, 2017. I submitted my "dossier" on February 1st. Had my passport in hand, with visa, on February 13th. I did everything through the San Francisco consulate. The process was fairly straightforward, provided you check every box on the consulate's document request list. The visa officer in SF is very helpful and responsive. I expedited the process by sending both payments (processing and visa) ahead, and sending my passport in advance with an SASE. I used an expediter for my FBI background check - took 48 hours to get my report. I have a very close friend in Portugal who was willing to stand as my guarantor and reference. Otherwise, my only other recommendation would be to send more financial documentation than what they ask for (if you are going on income status) - make it 110% obvious what your financial status is. If you have any specific questions about my experience, you can PM me, but I can only speak to San Francisco. Now on to traveling to Portugal and getting my actual permit...

Mar 16, 2017 09:29

My husband and I want to keep traveling nomadically through Europe while we are obtaining residency in Portugal. Does anyone know once you have the first year temporary residence permit, and the following 5 years towards citizenship, how many days out of the year we need to be physically present in Portugal?

Mar 20, 2017 19:33

Susan and others who have contributed: I have been researching these questions for months and this is the BEST information I have seen in one place. I'm sure I'll have more questions to come, but THANK YOU for this informative post!

Mar 22, 2017 13:15

Hi Susan, Thank you for the interesting information. As a US citizen, legal resident of France (with 10 year residency card), would I need a shengen visa? My husband is French but would stay in France for his job for another couple of years and come on weekends and holidays. I would first move alone to Portugal, scout around for a place to buy and then wait for him to retire and join me. My son, a Franco- US citizen married with a portuguese citizen already lives there. Any recommendations on how to proceed?

Apr 2, 2017 16:20

hello I have gotten a visa from the us and have to apply for temporary residency by June 2017- my question is after arriving in Portugal and getting a date for the SEC would I have to stay in Portugal until that date should it be months away- I have many things to attend to in the US including taking care of 2cats- So I need to find out if it is a requirement to stay in Portugal until the SEC appointment- I cannot find this information anywhere- Thank you

Jun 4, 2017 20:15

I am interested in moving to and retiring in Portugal in the future so I appreciated the article. Question to anyone. I went on the website of SEF however they do not say that retirement w/o work is an acceptable reason for a long term residence visa. Have they changed the law? Can anyone point me to an official statement saying the contrary? Thanks in advance.

Jul 10, 2017 13:11

To the question from "guest' posted Mar 22, 2017 13:15: Because you've been in France so long (5+ years), you have what is called EU-Long Term Residency. This is a directive for all EU states to respect the residency permits of fellow member states and to improve mobility within the EU. On your French permit, you can come to Portugal for as long as you wish. You can enter and leave as often as you wish. You can buy or rent property here. You can find more about this by researching the EU Long Term Residency program. Congrats to you!

Jul 10, 2017 13:17

To back2eu's question about 'retirement' visas and permits: There is no 'retirement visa;' that's a colloquialism. A person moving to Portugal as a 'retiree' is applying for the Type 2/ Type D visa. You simply follow the steps outlined in this article.

Jul 30, 2017 17:09

Have recently read that a long-term stay in a hotel or airbnb will no be accepted - only a rented or purchased apartment. Is that correct?

Oct 7, 2017 06:03

Updates to this article that reflect critical changes is soon to be posted. Updates include the new regulations with the San Francisco consulate regarding the accommodations contract and financial guarantor, and the changes by Financias requiring a guarantor for all NIF applications.

Oct 7, 2017 06:07

To JOHN98103'S question of Jul 30, 2017 about accommodations proof: It is the San Fran Consul that simply demands that any rental contract be for more than three months and that it is registered by the landlord with Financias. They have also been turning down hotel and Airbnb contracts as they are too easily canceled. This may spread to other Consuls but SF is always more complex.

Jan 27, 2018 05:43

Recently, consulates in California and Boston have been asking applicants for the names of persons they know in Portugal and calling those persons . This seems to be happening regardless of the applicant meeting all requirements. Many of us don't have friends in Portugal but using the person who is to be our landlord has worked.

Jan 27, 2018 05:47

The trend of requiring your Proof of Accommodations to have been registered with the Financias (Finances) department in Portugal is growing....so be prepared to request that your landlord has submitted your rental contract to Financias. This is proven by a stamp affixed to the contract. This is being requested to force landlords to pay taxes on their rental income.

Jan 31, 2018 16:11

Has anyone used the proof of accommodations option of staying with a friend at the SF consulate recently? Is there an actual "Term of Responsibility Form" that needs to be filled out, or is it just a letter? I spoke with an attorney and they called it a "Contrato Comodato". That seems like a much easier option than signing a 6 mos lease sight unseen.

Mar 3, 2018 06:26

Another New Twist! While you won't see this listed on any of the Portuguese Consulate websites about applying for your Visa, a recent trend is to request names and contact information of persons you know in Portugal. This can be as simple as the name and email of your landlord, anyone you've "met" through social media....and yes, the inspectors in Portugal will reach the contact to confirm they know you. You might want to add a piece of paper to your application and documents that says "Contacts in Portugal: This person knows us (name) (email or phone)".

Mar 3, 2018 06:46

Terms of Responsibility Letter: If your accommodations are with a friend or relative, your Proof of Accommodations is achieved by having the friend/relative complete this form and emailing it to you to include in your application package: http://www.sef.pt/documentos/57/TERMODERESPONSABILIDADEFronteiras.pdf

Mar 7, 2018 14:03

Hello all, Am new here. I'm way ahead of my process by asking these questions, but the answers will serve to help me get organized. First: Are the Portuguese authorities requiring the FBI Background report to have an Apostile? Second: Under the heading for Health Ins. it says this: "If you don't currently have insurance with these features, look into a travel insurance plan or an annual plan that covers you in Portugal. Many sources provide travel insurance policies to support Schengen Visa applicants. Once you arrive in Portugal, you will find several options for a low-cost, high-quality medical insurance plan with networks covering where you live. " The question is - does that mean once I'm approved and living in Portugal I can cancel the first insurance plan and get one offered in Portugal? Thank you much!

Mar 7, 2018 14:03

Hello all, Am new here. I'm way ahead of my process by asking these questions, but the answers will serve to help me get organized. First: Are the Portuguese authorities requiring the FBI Background report to have an Apostile? Second: Under the heading for Health Ins. it says this: "If you don't currently have insurance with these features, look into a travel insurance plan or an annual plan that covers you in Portugal. Many sources provide travel insurance policies to support Schengen Visa applicants. Once you arrive in Portugal, you will find several options for a low-cost, high-quality medical insurance plan with networks covering where you live. " The question is - does that mean once I'm approved and living in Portugal I can cancel the first insurance plan and get one offered in Portugal? Thank you much!

Mar 31, 2018 06:55

To Jetranger206: 1. You don't usually need an apostile on your FBI report, yet a number of people using the San Francisco consul have recently been asked to get that. It is done by the US Department of State, I checked with the FBI, who explained: "The FBI does apply the authenticity stamp and official signature to every request that is processed. It then needs to be sent to the Department of State (DOS) in Washington DC, if you require it to be apostilized. You can obtain instructions on that process by contacting the DOS at 202-485-8000 or by going to www.state.gov" 2. Health insurance: Yes, whatever policy you use for your initial Visa can be canceled when replaced by a policy you purchase in Portugal. A Schengen Travel Policy addresses all requirements for your Visa application. You'll see advertisements from insurance providers at the Schengen Visa site as well as here, at Expat Exchange. : Are the Portuguese authorities requiring the FBI Background report to have an Apostile? Second: Under the heading for Health Ins. it says this: "If you don't currently have insurance with these features, look into a travel insurance plan or an annual plan that covers you in Portugal. Many sources provide travel insurance policies to support Schengen Visa applicants. Once you arrive in Portugal, you will find several options for a low-cost, high-quality medical insurance plan with networks covering where you live. " The question is - does that mean once I'm approved and living in Portugal I can cancel the first insurance plan and get one offered in Portugal? Thank you much!

Jun 28, 2018 11:45

The law about how long one may be absent from Portugal changed in 2017. They'll cancel your temporary residence permit if you're absent "six consecutive months or eight months interpolated, within the total period of validity of the authorization." Something to consider is found in the substantial notes for the law. SEF states "These long absences indicate that the holder of the authorization no longer resides in the country, maintaining for reasons of convenience the title of resident, for the facilities that he gives him, namely for entry and movement within the European Union" How would they know? You don't go through immigration when crossing EU borders, They can track those with biometric passports, You could walk by readers and never know it. https://sites.google.com/site/leximigratoria/artigo-85-o-cancelamento-da-autorizacao-de-residencia

Jun 28, 2018 13:07

To 'dancebert's' comment about tracking absences from Portugal....are you asking a question or answering your question by saying that biometric readers track the passport holder?

Jun 28, 2018 13:09

Great news....persons over age 70 will be able to get private health insurance coverage as of August 2018 thru the broker Medal,. Coverage is from Allianz.

Jun 28, 2018 22:03

>To 'dancebert's' comment about tracking absences from Portugal....are you asking a question or answering your question by saying that biometric readers track the passport holder? I used a rhetorical question. The one I expect most readers would be asking themselves after reading the preceding quote. about living in Portugal mainly for access to the EU. Then I answered the question. I said readers could track a passport. Actually, readers can collect data from nearby passports, You can do it with an Android app. Whomever installed the readers could then track the passport.

Jul 8, 2018 18:39

Hi. Could you provide someone who could be my financial guarantor? Neither my current attorney not my real estate agent is willing to sign up for the job.

Oct 27, 2018 08:26

To nikkimsiebel: Sorry that I'm seeing your question MONTHS after you posted it. Yes, if you still need a guarantor, there are several resources to recommend. Please send me a private message at 'craigandmicki' withe reasons why you need the guarantor, such as applying thru San Fran or insufficient financial means, and I can direct you to a resource. If I'm too late to help you, please accept my apologies.

Nov 26, 2018 21:03

hi just have a short question where do you locate a channeler and can they help you with the complete process of moving to portugal

Nov 27, 2018 07:00

To 'pipefitter's' question about a channeler: You no longer need a channeler to assist with your FBI Background Check/Identity Report. The FBI's technology issues have been resolved so they respond in a very timely manner. The channelers never assisted with the entire process but there are firms that can. Before I recommend a resource I'd like to encourage you to pursue the process on your own as it teaches you vital skills you'll need in assimilating to Portugal. And it's easy. But if you seek help, please do not fall prey to the many firms that are pursuing American clients and charging extortionist rates. I would recommend you reach Sonia Ribiero of Expat Solutions (https://www.facebook.com/Expat.Solutions.by.Sonia/) for quality service at the best rates.

Nov 28, 2018 21:50

susan thanks for your help one more question the schengen visa do you apply for that at your consulate thank pipefitter

Nov 29, 2018 06:25

To "pipefitter", question about where to apply for the Schengen visa...Yes, you will apply at the Portuguese consulate that represents your state. The list of consulates is at the end of the article. If you are applying to the San Fran consulate, let me know because there are changes that are reflected in the 2019 version of this article but not showing here yet.

Nov 30, 2018 20:55

hi hve aquestion about health insurance will a healthy 73 year old male be able to find an insurance carrier that will sell him health insurance ? any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks Fred

Dec 1, 2018 06:23

To 'pipefitter/Fred' comment: No. You can not get full health insurance coverage in Portugal after the age of 70. A plan is being developed by Allianz but is not yet on the market. You can obtain partial coverage, buying a policy through your bank in Portugal, after age 70. You should check with international brokers (just google "international health insurance brokers"), then reach a few to see what they can do for you. You must have a Schengen Area qualifying policy to apply for your visa to Portugal. (The brokers and insurers know what Schengen entails)

Dec 31, 2018 10:56

Thank you so much! This was super helpful to me in my process. I would add that at least at the Viana do Castelo office, if you don't make your appointment for your residence permit within three days of arriving in Portugal, you will be charged an additional 30 euros. My lawyer was surprised and a bit miffed as she had never encountered that in Porto or Lisbon.

Feb 3, 2019 18:26

I am trying to apply for the residence visa in SF consulate, but all important links on their website are broken. The main link I cannot to find is the online application, which I have to submit even before I schedule an appointment (as I understand I must include the application submission confirmation number into my appointment scheduling form.) I found the application form at https://www.vistos.mne.pt/en/visa-application/apply-for-a-visa, but it seems to be only for short-stay Schengen visas - it has no mention of temporary/residence visa type and it does not allow to enter stay time more than 90 days.. Has anyone gone through this process in SF consulate recently? Any hints?

Feb 4, 2019 06:54

To "ALEO's" question on 3 Feb 2019: The SF online application is unique; it is only on their website. It appears as a series of screens with data fields you can only fill out online. You must wait until the system is up again. You can email the consulate and advise them the application isn't accessible, ask them to let you know when it is. They are trying to be more responsive and additional staff might mean you'll get personal help relatively quickly.

Feb 10, 2019 00:50

Thank you, craigandmicki. Actually, the consulate replied to my email within a day and explained many things that are not clear on their web site (for example, that if both my wife and I want to relocate, only one of us needs to apply and the other one will need to use the family reunification path). They also confirmed that I need to show a rental agreement for at least 6 months, which means that I have to fly to Portugal and find a long term rental... Three questions for this forum: 1. I don't know anyone in Portugal and it looks like I'll need a local reference twice - to be listed on my visa application, and to go with me to a local Financas to get my NIF (which I'll need to rent a flat). Any advice where I can find someone who would be willing to do it? Of course I can hire a lawyer, but I don't want to pay hundreds or thousands of euros for such a trivial purpose. 2. I can't read Portuguese except for very basic sentences, and I assume all rental contracts will be in Portuguese. As I understand that the real estate agents are not on my side, so I cannot rely on them to explain all the contract details. Is there a concept of a rental broker - i.e. someone local who knows the rental process/rules/market and can help me to ask the right questions and sign a contract that I would not regret later? It sounds like an hour of work for such person or so... 3. Regarding NHR... I am a little confused by the statement that I will be considered a tax resident after 183 days. I am planning the following timing: * May - obtain a NIF and sign a rental contract from September/October to March, and go back to the US. * by September - hopefully get a visa and move to Portugal * November/December (or however long it takes): get the temporary resident status from SEF Then I'll need to apply to NHR, but should I apply before March 2020 (for the year 2019?) Or should I wait one more year and apply for 2020? I would only be a resident for a very short time in 2019... Also I am not sure if me getting a NIF earlier that year has any impact of me becoing a tax resident. Any thoughts? Thank you very much!

Feb 27, 2019 01:37

Hello! We are SF residents and wondering if it makes sense for us to apply for a temporary resident visa. Do you happen to know if having about $25000 cash in a US bank that is accessible to us in Portugal would be enough to prove financial capacity for a temporary residency visa? This amount would be aside from our retirement accounts that we won't be able to access yet. (we are in our late 30s). Thank you!

Mar 12, 2019 06:29

My husband and I are US Citizens, currently living in Italy. We are preparing the documentation for the Portuguese Visa, to move there in September. The Portuguese Embassy in Rome sent us the list of requirements, and there is one that I can't figure out how to get. They need a: Request for criminal record by the Immigration and Border Services (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF); Does anyone know how we can get this? They also need a Criminal record certificate from the country of origin, which I already know how to get, but the one from SEF is not so clear. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Jan 8, 2020 22:22

We am hoping for some guidance for preparing to retire in the Lisbon area. My wife has dual citizenship with the UK and US. I am a US citizen. We are not sure if visas are required or what the process would be for our plan to relocate in July/Aug 2020 time frame. Will my wife be able to establish residence with her UK passport after Brexit date of 31/1/2020 with me being able to accompany her as a family member? Do we need to get any visas from the Portuguese consulate in the US before we leave? I have not seen any other posts similar to our unique situation and any advice would be greatly appreciated. My wife has lived in the US for the past 40 years, but she has a current UK/EU passport.

Mar 31, 2021 09:24

Under the section: STEP 1: Visa Application at the Portuguese Consulate / VFS Global Office I am trying to understand what this means: "For example, the San Francisco VFS office offers a mail-in service to get the visa stamp in your passport and will mail your passport to you if decided to come to Portugal before getting your visa approval." How could anyone "come to Portugal"... before getting your visa approval" if the SF office "will mail your passport to you..." How is one able to travel to/ enter Portugal without the passport?

Apr 2, 2021 04:32

> before getting your visa approval " if the SF office "will mail your passport to you..." How is one able to travel to/ enter Portugal without the passport? Prior to COVID travel restrictions, someone with an American passport could enter Portugal (or any other Schengen Zone country) without a visa. Then some who'd applied for a visa would mail their passport to the Consulate where they applied.

Jun 25, 2021 00:20

Wow, we are half way through the process (June 2021, D7 and D6) and this is the most accurate and by far the most helpful description I've found, great research. We gave up (and we speak Portuguese) and hired an immigration lawyer who is fantastic and very reasonably priced.

Aug 20, 2021 15:17

This article is so helpful. My wife and I are planning to move to Portugal late this year and since I have learned so much from this page, I thought I contribute a few pieces of information I've learned. First, I've been in contact with our consulate in Newark, NJ and they tell me that (if you are renting a residence), that a lease for one year is required to be submitted. Second, the article does say you need and NIF, though I've read in other places that you could acquire your NIF during the 'residency permit' phase, The consulate, however, does confirm that it needs to be submitted with your paperwork. I'll pass along anything else I find out as we go through the process.

Nov 21, 2021 13:08

hello, this article really helped me a lot and i already obtained my Temporary residence permit based on D7 route. Now moving forward, as a requirement for permanent residence application, SEF asking for 'Supporting evidence of compliance of tax obligations and to social security', what is this? is this applicable for D7 residence holders? how to get this? please can you guide so that i can keep up this and at the time of PR application, i will be ready with this if applicable to me. Thank you so much

Sao Bento Station in Porto, Portugal

Portugal Residency Advisors
Portugal Residency Advisors

Let Portugal Residency Advisors help you with your move.
Learn More

Portugal Residency AdvisorsPortugal Residency Advisors

Let Portugal Residency Advisors help you with your move.
Learn More

Contribute to Portugal Network Contribute
Help others in Portugal by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Portugal.

William Russell
William Russell

Copyright 1997-2024 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal