Home Portugal Forum Portugal Guide Portugal Resources Real Estate Healthcare in Portugal
Portugal
Resources
City Guides
AGS Worldwide Movers
Join Sign In
AGS Worldwide Movers

How to Get Your First Residence Permit in Portugal

By Susan Stults Korthase

Summary: Wondering how to obtain your first residency permmit in Portugal? Susan Stults Korthase provides the information that you'll need to make it happen.

Portugal Residence Permit - How to Get Your First Residence Permit in Portugal

You've arrived in Portugal, ready to turn your Type 1 Visa (also called Type D in Portugal) into a Temporary Residence Permit or Titulo de Residencia. This article outlines the steps, timing and required documentation along with links to the official government sites and forms. Remember that the Type 1/D Visa allows unlimited travel in the Schengen zone and two trips to/back from the US during the 120 days for which it is valid. You can travel to non-Schengen countries as well; you simply must comply with the respective countries rules for entry. NOTE: This is the process you will follow for each renewal, until the 5th year application for a Permanent Residence Permit when you must also prove A2 level language skills.

Scheduling Your Appointment

Apply for your Temporary Residence Permit at the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) bureau that covers the area where you reside. The full list of bureaus is at the SEF Portal (see link in References at the end of this article). Due to the high volume of Residence Permit applications, the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) offices are currently (since mid-2015) asking that you book your initial appointment by calling their main customer service number. Call center hours are Monday-Friday from 09:00 a.m. to 05:30 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.

  • 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 date might exceed the viability of your 120-day Visa. When this happens, the SEF sends you an email confirming the appointment (be certain to ask them to do that!). You are expected to print out that email and carry it with you, as it officially extends the duration of your 120-day Visa until that appointment.
  • When you go to SEF for your appointment, you will get a number and wait.... while the appointment itself takes less than an hour you might spend the entire day waiting, as many SEF offices give you an appointed time to get an appointment, not to meet with the official.

What to Bring with You

At the SEF website you will find a list of 10 documents to bring to your SEF appointment. That list is copied below along with "notes" if further explanation is helpful. At the end of this section are important links, in blue.

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT (GENERAL REGIME, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES OF APPLICANTS: RETIRED / WITH OWN FINANCIAL INCOME /RELIGIOUS) (ARTICLE 77, PARAGRAPH 1 OF THE REPSAE (LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON THE ENTRY, PERMANENCE, EXIT AND REMOVAL OF FOREIGNERS FROM NATIONAL TERRITORY), IN CONJUNCTION WITH ARTICLES 51 AND 53 OF THE REGULATORY DECREE NUMBER 2/2013)

1. 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):

2. Two recent, identical photographs, in color with blank background and easily identifiable, except in SIGAP Service Bureaus. NOTE: At the SEF site, the SIGAP Service Bureaus are noted as such. These bureaus take your photo there.

3. Passport or any other valid travel document

4. Valid residence visa NOTE: This is the Visa that was inserted into your passport

5. Evidence of sufficient means of subsistence, as per the provisions of Order number 1563/2007, of 11/12. NOTE: This is the same evidence you provided for your Visa, however account statements should be no more than 3 months old and pension / social security income letters should be dated for the current year.

6. Evidence that the applicant has adequate accommodation NOTE: Provide your rental contract, hotel booking or home purchase contract. The address on the document you provide will be the address used on your Permit. If/when you move, 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 new cards. When you are close to the date of a renewal, SEF usually asks you to simply wait until that renewal appointment and change your address then because they are currently too busy to accept simple address changes. If you fail to update your address within 60 days of a change you will be charged a late fee.

7. Permission for checking criminal records (see standard form)- (except people under 16 years old) NOTE: Your signature on the Application form, number 1 above, 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.

8. A document attesting to the existence of a family relationship, where applicable NOTE: applicable when moving to Portugal to reunite with family and includes birth and/or marriage certificates as applicable

9. Document proving the applicant's tax situation, where applicable. NOTE: This has nothing to do with the US IRS... it's just your NIF number if you have already received one. SEF enters your NIF into the system to detect any fines or unpaid fees.

10. Document proving that the applicant is registered with the Social Security. NOTE: The phrase ‘social security’ refers to the national health plan. As a Type 1/D Visa holder, you must have private health insurance. You need to provide your proof of private health insurance and proof of payment. This is usually a one-page document with your name, dates the policy is effective and policy coverage amounts.

Sticky Points

Be prepared for someone to ask you for more documentation than is 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 with you to indicate that you've come prepared according to their specific requirements.

  • Some applicants have been told by other applicants or even by their SEF official that a new FBI report is required. That isn't correct. Perhaps the applicants misunderstand what is asked for in point 7, above. At this stage, the FBI report has done what it needed to do, which is get you your Schengen Visa. You can bring a copy of that original FBI report with you as a pre-emptive measure but don't let that derail your appointment.
  • Some applicants have been asked for Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and/or IRS reports. You can have your birth and marriage certificates with you, and in fact I've always recommended that applicants bring a copy of all of their original Visa application documents with them. However, "IRS" doesn't mean the United States 1040 filing. This is never necessary with the SEF. "IRS" means the Portuguese IRS; at this point, you won't have filed taxes with the IRS and might not yet have your NIF number. [If you do have your NIF, provide that so it's included on your Residence Permit card. Note that the SEF can enter your NIF number into their system and determine your status with the Financas office.]

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

The Titulo 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. It has photo, name and address.

Further Renewals

You will renew your Titulo de Residencia 30 days prior to each expiration...or you will try to, yet back logs are pushing out the renewals depending on how busy your SEF office is. The first Titulo de Residencia expires after one year, followed by two, two-year renewals and a final renewal at 5 years that can be a Permanent Residence card if you meet the language requirements. Otherwise, you continue to renew for two-year periods. You are limited as to how much time you can be away from Portugal during your temporary residence cycles. Absences from Portugal for periods of less than six consecutive months during the validity period of any residence permit (and not exceeding ten months in total within the five-year period) or for specific reasons provided for by national law (e.g. military service, secondment for work purposes, serious illness, maternity, research or studies) will be regarded as not interrupting the period of residence.

References:

Join our Portugal Expat Forum

Visit our Portugal Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Portugal.

Read Next

10 Tips for Living in Portugal

Expats in Portugal enjoy the Portuguese lifestyle, the beautiful landscapes, and the variety of places to visit and live. Find information about where to live, health care, residency visas and more as you delve into how to live well in Portugal.

5 Great Places to Retire in Western Europe

We asked expats about great places to retire in Western Europe. While many Western European countries have prohibitively high living costs, there are a few areas that fit the retirement bill. These are some of the recommendations!

5 Best Places to Retire in Portugal

Expat retirees love Portugal for its welcoming people, gorgeous beaches, quaint towns and wonderful restaurants. In this article, we cover 5 great places to retire in Portugal.

5 Tips for Living in Cascais, Portugal

Expats in the beautiful seaside city of Cascais, Portugal discuss how they chose to move to Cascais. They share information about expat life in Cascais - cost of living, international schools, housing and more.

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.

AGS Worldwide Movers

Write a Comment about this Article

Sign In to post a comment.

Comments about this Article

KevinfromKinsaleviaNYC
Jul 6, 2016 11:19

Susan, thanks for your helpful article. I am thinking of purchasing a house in Portugal in order to qualify for a "golden visa". A new policy lowers the required purchase price to €350,000 if the house is more than 30 years old or located in "urban regeneration areas". Do you happen to know where to find such investments and whether they are popular? Also, can you tell me if I can qualify for a Schengen Visa without qualifying for a Portuguese passport? I desire to move to Europe with the full freedom to move freely throughout. Thanks in advance. Kevin

enuzzijr1
Jul 29, 2016 04:52

BE PATIENT! Bring someone that speaks LOCAL Portuguese to help you. I used the professional translation services from a Brazilian born person and we were faced with a barrage of PREJUDICIAL REMARKS! Interesting to say the least ):

bcartmill
Nov 22, 2016 12:47

Does anyone know of a attorney in Portugal that can help us through the process of getting our Temporary Residence Permit or Titulo de Residencia. Thank you

RobertEaston
Mar 3, 2017 10:53

My wife is Canadian, I have British and Canadian citizenship. How would this affect a residency application? Does one us being British (and consequently have, at the moment, free access to the EU) have any effect? Thank you

Fortune80
Jan 24, 2018 09:04

Thank you for this article. I have made it to Part 2, and I have an appointment confirmation email from SEF in Lisbon. I went to SEF to make the appointment in October, and the appointment date is for July. My US visitor visa expires in February, and with a 5-month span of time between the expiration and the appointment, I am concerned about staying here based on an email print-out. Can I leave Portugal and regain entry? Do I need to go somewhere for 3 month? Or can I just sit-tight here in Lisbon? I would prefer not to leave, because that would be another expense I did not plan for in the time this process has taken. Thank you in advance for any opinion you might have.

Updated On: Jun 06, 2018

First Published: Jun 29, 2016

Expatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in Portugal from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Culture-Shock-in-PenicheAn Expat Talks about Culture Shock & Living in Peniche, Portugal

An expat in Peniche, Portugal talks about moving to Peniche and the culture shock he experienced. He never experienced "shock" as such. However, little things, experienced over months and months, seeped in and made him realized the cultural differences.

An expat in Peniche, Portugal talks about moving to Peniche and the culture shock he experienced. He never experienced "shock" as such. However, little things, experienced over months and months, see...

Living-in-LisbonAn Expat Discusses Living in Lisbon, Portugal

An expat living in Lisbon offers advice to others moving to Portugal about learning Portuguese, meeting people and enjoying expat life in Lisbon.

An expat living in Lisbon offers advice to others moving to Portugal about learning Portuguese, meeting people and enjoying expat life in Lisbon....

10 Tips for Living in Portugal

Expats in Portugal enjoy the Portuguese lifestyle, the beautiful landscapes, and the variety of places to visit and live. Find information about where to live, health care, residency visas and more as you delve into how to live well in Portugal.

Expats in Portugal enjoy the Portuguese lifestyle, the beautiful landscapes, and the variety of places to visit and live. Find information about where to live, health care, residency visas and more a...

5 Great Places to Retire in Western Europe

We asked expats about great places to retire in Western Europe. While many Western European countries have prohibitively high living costs, there are a few areas that fit the retirement bill. These are some of the recommendations!

We asked expats about great places to retire in Western Europe. While many Western European countries have prohibitively high living costs, there are a few areas that fit the retirement bill. These ...

5 Best Places to Retire in Portugal

Expat retirees love Portugal for its welcoming people, gorgeous beaches, quaint towns and wonderful restaurants. In this article, we cover 5 great places to retire in Portugal.

Expat retirees love Portugal for its welcoming people, gorgeous beaches, quaint towns and wonderful restaurants. In this article, we cover 5 great places to retire in Portugal. ...

9 Expats Talk About What It's Really Like Living in Portugal

With it's beautiful beaches, historic cities, lower cost of living and welcoming Portuguese people, Portugal continues to be a popular expat destination. 9 expats talk about what it's really like living in Portugal.
With it's beautiful beaches, historic cities, lower cost of living and welcoming Portuguese people, Portugal continues to be a popular expat destination. 9 expats talk about what it's really like liv...

Portugal Guide
Other Links
Our Story Our Team Contact Us Submit an Article Advertising Travel Warnings

Copyright 1997-2019 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal