If you are looking for a place to retire, Portugal is a beautiful country to live with a large expat community in several coastal cities particularly around the Algarve and Lisbon.
The Portuguese Golden Visa program gives non-EU citizens the opportunity to legally buy real estate in Portugal. You can apply for residency and enjoy living there under a retirement visa.
I would like to start off by saying that I am not a lawyer and that the following is based on my own experiences with retiring to Portugal. I’m writing it for people who know a little about how this process works, and would like to learn what steps are involved when applying for a permanent residence card.
If you are lucky enough to reach the ripe age of 60 and are thinking of retiring, Portugal could be the best place for you. There are many reasons why Portugal can be the perfect country to move to when retiring abroad which we will touch on in this guide. Also, there is no better time than right now to consider a move to Portugal so let’s not waste any more time and find out if Portugal is the right country for your retirement.
Due to the relatively low cost of living, high quality of healthcare, sunny weather, and recent tax law changes, Portugal is a popular destination for retirement. But if you want to retire in Portugal (and do not have an EU passport) you will likely need to apply for a retirement visa.
Retirement Visa In Portugal
Luckily, Portugal has some of the most lenient visa requirements out of EU countries and is often referred to as the gateway to Europe.
How to Retire in Portugal?
If you are not an EU citizen, then you will have to apply for a visa to retire in Portugal. Two of the most popular visa routes which allow you to live in Portugal as a retiree are:
- The Retirement Visa. This is a national (residency) visa, issued to non-EU citizens who want to live in Portugal without working, but who have a steady income from pensions, savings, etc.
- The Golden Visa. You can apply for this type of visa if you purchase a property in Portugal worth at least €500,000. The residency rules for the Golden Visa are usually much less strict than for a regular retirement visa.
Portugal Retirement Visa Requirements
To apply for a retirement visa for Portugal you must have the following documents:
- Your passport. It has to be valid for at least another six months.
- Two recent, passport-size pictures of yourself, which are in line with Schengen requirements.
- Application form for Portugal national (residence) visa. You can download the application form from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
- Proof of income. You have to prove that you can sustain yourself financially for the time you intend to live in Portugal, either through a pension, savings, or other legitimate sources of income.
- Proof of accommodation. You have to show that you will have a place to live in once you move to Portugal, such as an apartment rental, purchased property, etc.
- Health insurance. You need to get a travel health insurance or international health insurance plan before you move to Portugal. Then, once you settle in you can either continue with an international insurance policy or subscribe to health insurance from a local company.
- Birth certificate, marriage certificate, as required.
- Criminal background clearance. You must not have been charged with a crime which is punishable with at least one year of deprivation of freedom (imprisonment).
- Any additional documentation, as required by the Embassy or the SEF.
All the documents you submit have to be in English or Portuguese. If they are not, you should have them translated by a certified translator and notarized.
Some documents, such as civil documents, may need to be legalized as well, either through an Apostille Stamp or by the Portuguese Embassy.
Applying for a Portugal Retirement Visa
The process for applying for a Portugal retirement visa is as follows:
- Contact the Portugal Embassy or Consulate responsible for your area. See where you have to submit the application for a visa, based on where you live.
- Make an appointment to submit your application.
- Collect the required documents.
- Pay the visa application fee. In some instances, you may pay the application fee on the date of application, not before.
- On the date of the appointment, submit the documents. If the Embassy/Consulate is in another country from which you live, you may be allowed to apply via mail. The relevant visa officials will inform you.
- Wait for the application to be processed.
- If the outcome is positive: You will receive a retirement visa, which the Embassy/Consulate staff will attach to your passport. You can use the visa to travel to Portugal.
- When you arrive in Portugal: Make an appointment with the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) to apply for your residence permit.
- Sometimes the Embassy/Consulate will automatically make an appointment for you when you receive the visa which means they will ask you when you intend to travel to Portugal.
Portugal Retirement Visa Fee
When applying for a retirement visa for Portugal, you will have to pay several different fees.
- National visa fee at the Embassy/Consulate – €90
- To process the residence permit application at the SEF – € €83
- Residence permit cost – €72
Portugal Golden Visa for Retirement
The Golden Visa is a quicker and easier way to retire and live in Portugal, but also a more expensive one. To get a Golden Visa, you’d have to make one of the following investments:
- Purchase property worth at least €500,000
- Invest at least €350,000 in a property in a Portuguese urban regeneration area, as part of a project qualified by the SEF.
- Make a capital transfer of at least €1 million
- Invest or purchase shares amounting to at least €1 million in a Portuguese company
- Create at least ten new jobs
- Donate at least €350,000 for research activities in science or technology in Portuguese research institutions
- Donate at least €250,000 to support the reconstruction of national heritage or arts
The application process for a Golden Visa for Portugal is different from that for a regular retirement visa, as there is a separate application portal set by the SEF.
Duration of a Portugal Retirement Visa
When you receive your residence permit for retirement in Portugal, it is initially valid for one year. You can renew it twice, each time for two years, adding up to a maximum of five years. After five years, and if you meet all other requirements, you can apply for permanent residency in Portugal.
Can I Get Permanent Residency in Portugal With a Retirement Visa?
Yes, if you live in Portugal for at least five years on a temporary residence permit, pay income tax, and do not have a criminal background, then you can apply for a permanent residence permit. You must have spent at least six months out of every year to get a permanent residence permit.
If you have a Golden Visa, you do not need to actually live in Portugal to qualify for permanent residency – you only have to be in the country for about seven days a year.
Can My Family Members Come With Me?
If you want to retire in Portugal along with your spouse, then you can both apply for retirement visas together if you meet the requirements. You can also bring your dependent minor (unmarried) children with you or even your spouse/registered partner who does not qualify for a retirement visa (i.e. does not have income from pensions or savings).
To bring your family members to Portugal with you, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have suitable housing in Portugal to accommodate them.
- You must have enough income to provide for them.
- You must be able to prove familial relations via documentation.
- They must meet the visa requirements for Portugal.
How Much Money Do You Need to Retire in Portugal?
If you will settle in a smaller town or on the outskirts, you can comfortably live in Portugal with €1,500 per month; you would have a little more luxury and freedom if your income is at €2,000 or more. Naturally, busy cities such as Lisbon, Cascais, or Porto come with a higher cost of living but you’d still be quite comfortable with a budget of €2,000 – €2,500 per month. Maybe even less than that if you don’t mind cutting some corners and luxuries.
Portugal is known as one of the least expensive countries to retire in Europe. However, the amount of money you need to live there depends on where you plan to settle as well as your preferred lifestyle.
Health Insurance When Retiring in Portugal
Portugal has a public health insurance system known as the Servicio Nacional de Saude (SNS), which provides free healthcare to Portuguese citizens and permanent residents. However, you can subscribe to the SNS only when you become a permanent resident. When you first arrive in Portugal, you must get private healthcare instead.
Portugal has a very high standard of healthcare, with specialized medical staff and well-equipped and modern hospitals. When you subscribe to the SNS, most of your medical bills are covered, although some fees may still apply.
You can also choose to get supplemental expat health insurance to cover you abroad, as you are travelling, and even evacuation/repatriation costs, should the need arise.
Can I Travel to Other EU Countries If I Retire in Portugal?
Yes, if you get a retirement visa from Portugal, you also enjoy the freedom of movement in 26 other EU countries included in the Schengen Area, such as Spain, France, Germany, etc. You can spend a maximum of 90 days in a 180-day period in the Schengen Area for leisure and tourism purposes, but you are not allowed to live, work, or study in these other countries.
Retiring in Portugal as an EU National
If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, then you do not have to apply for a visa or residence permit to retire in Portugal. But if you plan to live there for more than three months, you will have to get a Registration Certificate from the Local Council of your place of residence.