Relocating to Portugal: Different Types of Visas

As a foreigner, you can legally stay in Portugal if you have relatives there, if you have entered an educational institution, if you have found a job in the country or you are going to look for a job, if you register a company, and so on. There are multiple legal ways of establishing residency in Portugal, as a matter of fact.

Immigrants are attracted to the country by its warm climate, proximity to the ocean, and an affordable cost of living. Prices in stores and restaurants are lower in Portugal than they are in France or Germany, for instance, but the quality of the products is as good. Portugal is also praised for its interesting national cuisine and good inexpensive wine!

Below we discuss two types of visas that you can apply for to legalize your stay in Portugal.

E-Type and D-Type visas to Portugal

If you come from a country outside the EU, you have to acquire a visa to enter Portugal. A Schengen visa is a C-Type visa for tourists and if you want to stay in Portugal for some purpose other than tourism, you have to apply for a national visa of Type E or Type D. There are 21 subtypes of national visas in total in Portugal. They are marked E-1, E-2, E-3, and so on or D-1, D-2, D-3, and so on.  

National visas of Type E

E-Type visas to Portugal can be divided in two classes: Temporary Stay National Visas, and Job Seeker Visas.

Temporary Stay National Visas are multiple entry visas. Foreigners apply for this type of visas for the following purposes:

1. To work in Portugal especially as volunteers or seasonal workers.

2. To study in Portugal.

3. To participate in student exchange programs.

4. To undergo an internship.

5. To conduct scientific research.

6. To undergo medical treatment or examination.

For other purposes (the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website has the full list).

This sort of E-Type visa is a short-term visa. You can stay in Portugal on it for not more than a year. However, this visa can be extended if there are good reasons for that. Besides, you have 30 days after the date when your Temporary Stay National Visa expires to extend it. On the other hand, this visa cannot lead to a residence permit or citizenship of Portugal.

A Job Seeker Visa is valid for 180 days. If you fail to find a job in Portugal within this period, you will have to leave the country. If you do find a job in the country, you can count on obtaining a residence permit after some time.

D-Type visas to obtain legal residence in Portugal

D-Type visas are usually referred to as Long Stay National Visas or Residency Visas. Obtaining such a visa will make you eligible to apply for a legal residence permit in Portugal. A Portuguese D2 visa in particular allows registering a sole proprietorship in the country. We discuss its properties in some detail below.

A D-Type visa is valid for 4 months and you can enter Portugal twice on it. The following categories of foreigners may be eligible for visas of this type: 

1. Foreigners who have signed a job contract with a Portuguese employer.

2. Remote workers, also referred to as digital nomads.

3. Entrepreneurs who plan to register a sole proprietorship in Portugal and engage in business operations.

4. Foreigners who would like to conduct scientific research in the country.

5. Relatives of citizens or legal residents of Portugal.

Other categories of foreigners (the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website has the full list).

Please note that if you have a valid Schengen visa, it is going to be annulled when you get a D-Type visa to Portugal. Moreover, you will have to file an official request to annul your Schengen visa.

A D-Type visa holder is eligible to apply to Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF to become a legal resident of Portugal. The set of the application documents is very much the same. A personal interview is going to be required.

How to open a sole proprietorship in Portugal and get a D-2 visa

You can achieve this goal in two different ways:

1. Register a sole proprietorship in Portugal from your home country (this is possible) and then apply for a D-2 visa on these grounds, and then apply for a residence permit.

2. Enter Portugal on a Schengen visa, register a sole proprietorship in the country, and then apply for a residence permit. An important note: you cannot leave Portugal while your application for legal residence in Portugal is processed. It will be annulled if you do.

According to some immigrants, applications for legal residence are processed for two years in Portugal or even more. This does not happen because of the heavy bureaucracy in the country. Rather, the Portuguese immigration authorities want to make sure that your sole proprietorship is working and you are paying taxes in Portugal.

Specifics of relocating to Portugal on a D-2 visa 

What you will find in this section of the article is not official information. Rather, the recommendations are based on personal experience of immigrants to Portugal. The key facts about acquiring a D-2 visa:

You have to open a sole proprietorship in Portugal and make a few contracts with Portuguese companies before applying for a D-2 visa.

A sole proprietorship can be opened fast and you don’t have to go anywhere because it can be done online at You have to have a Portuguese taxpayer number (NIF) to be able to register at the web portal, however. You should be capable of registering a sole proprietorship on your own. If not, help is always available.

You would also be better off bringing receipts from the tax authorities to serve as a confirmation that your company is active and it is earning money. Hiring Portuguese residents is not necessary.

Your residence permit will have a term of validity and it is going to expire one day. The good news, however, is that it can be extended if there are good reasons for that. In other words, if your sole proprietorship keeps working and keeps making contracts with Portuguese-based companies.

How to apply for visas of Types E and D

File an application for a visa to the Portuguese consulate in your home country and pay the visa fee. Some categories of people are eligible for free visas. These include the following ones:

1. Researchers and university instructors – E-3 and D-3 visas correspondingly.

2. Academic scholarship winners to study in Portugal – a D-4 visa.

3. Patients and their attendants – E-1 and E-7 visas.

4. Foreigners reunifying with their families in Portugal – a D-6 visa.

The lists of application documents are almost identical no matter if you are applying for an E-Type or a D-Type visa to Portugal.

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