Portugal Residence Visa For Us Citizens

Whether you have retired abroad or have a high demand job that requires moving locations throughout the year, obtaining Portugal residence visa is crucial to your long term plans. It’s not just an advantage to obtain Portugal Residence Visa but it is also an advantage when it comes to purchasing your own property in many European countries.

Are you a US citizen or permanent resident and want to legally retire or relocate to Portugal? If so, this guide is for you. The process of obtaining a residence visa for Portugal may be costly, but the benefits are priceless.

If you’re ready to be finished filling out paperwork and have someone else do it for you, a Portuguese Residence visa could be the solution for you. Portugal offers residence visas to foreigners all over the world who are looking for a secondary home within its borders. These residencies will give you the opportunity to get a job and enjoy your new Portuguese life. You’ll find there’s no better way to live your life than in Portugal.

You may have heard that, as of 1 January 2013, non-European Union citizens who wish to purchase property in Portugal will require a specific Portuguese Residence Visa . This new visa will allow you and your family (spouse and children) the ability to buy a house in Portugal, but there are some drawbacks.

Portugal Residence Visa For Us Citizens

I’m sure a lot of you are considering getting a Portuguese residence permit in the near future. And I’m sure you’re also aware of all the internet scammers out there trying to take your money for a quick fix. One way to tell if an offer is real is by asking yourself this question: “If [X] was so easy or cheap, why wouldn’t every other expat already have done it?”

When you mix the flaming spirit of the Mediterranean and the astounding development of western Europe, you get Portugal. Lisbon’s ever-growing economy draws many foreign investors, and new tech companies and start-ups have flooded Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods.

When US citizens think to move or retire, Portugal is usually on the top of the list. Americans choose to move to Portugal from the United States to have a high-quality life in a European country. Recent studies show that over 60,000 expats have decided to live in Portugal, with 11 percent of them being US citizens.

In this guide for Americans, you’ll find everything you need to know before moving to Portugal as an American. We’ll cover the documents you’ll need, visa application, cost of living in Portugal, healthcare, education, retirement, and more. Enjoy the read!

In this article, you’ll learn:

Moving to Portugal From the USA

The Portuguese government welcomes expats from the US and the move is generally straightforward. Before getting into details on a visa, there are a few things you need to know about Portuguese law when it comes to foreigners entering the country.


Getting through customs in Portugal is easy if you follow a few simple rules. Before you move to Portugal, you need to go to your local Portuguese consulate, or diplomatic mission, and ask for a Certificado de Bagagem (Luggage Certificate). You can obtain this by giving a complete inventory of your possessions and household goods, which you’re planning to take with you to Portugal.

Remember that your items on your Certificado de Bagagem will arrive within 90 days of your arrival in the country.

Shipping and Flying Goods

Luckily, you’ll find that shipping your belongings to Portugal is easy. Because the country has a very advantageous geographical position, you have a wide variety of options, such as air freight and sea freight. Road freight is not an option from the US, but sea freight is an affordable alternative to air freight, although slightly slower.

Below is a table according to World Freight Rates and  SeaRates, to give you the average cost of sea freight for a 20ft container of furniture.

New York City, USALisbon, Portugal$1,229.1114 days
New York City, USAFigueira Da Foz, Portugal$1,297.9814 days
Los Angeles, USALisbon, Portugal$2,993.4127 days
Los Angeles, USAFigueira Da Foz, Portugal$3,161.2128 days

If you’re in a hurry, you can choose to ship your belongings by air freight. It typically takes about two-four business days with express shipping and five-eight days with standard shipping. Keep in mind that for large quantities, sea freight is easier.

In the table below, you’ll find the average prices for shipping a single m3 250KG container of household items. Landing anywhere in Portugal costs about the same as landing in Lisbon.

New York, USALisbon, Portugal$2,705.42
Los Angeles, USALisbon, Portugal$3,205.42


Storage in Portugal requires some preparation in advance. A quick online visit to storage companies near where you’re planning to move will be enough. Most storage companies work 24 hours a day and are very helpful to expats. Keep in mind that exact pricing is hard to find online and you might need to do that via email or a phone call.


Over 64 percent of all US households own pets. If you have pets, then rest assured that your four-legged family members are more than welcome in the eyes of Portuguese customs.

All you need for your pet is a rabies vaccination, which also means they must be older than three months. For some breeds that may be considered “dangerous”, you might need to sign a liability term and have a local vet examine them to get a special permit.


There are no official Portuguese laws for vaccinations, though it’s always recommended to make an appointment with your local doctor before visiting anywhere new. Better safe than sorry.

How To Move to Portugal From the USA

Technically, Americans don’t need to get a visa to enter Portugal. Anyone with an American passport can enter the country for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes. Nevertheless, if your plan is moving to Portugal from the US, then you’ll need to get an appropriate residence permit.

The Portuguese government offers different kinds of visas, such as a residence visa, a work visa, and a family reunification visa.

As an American, you need to get a Portuguese residence permit if you’re planning to stay there for longer than three months. If you reside in Portugal with a proper residence permit for five years, you can then apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship.

The Visa Process

As an American, you have a couple of options to acquire the necessary visa or residence permit moving to Portugal for the long term. Here are some of your options:

  • Portugal Golden Visa
  • D7 Visa
  • Student Visa
  • Tech Visa
  • Startup Visa
  • D2

The most common two options to acquire your initial temporary residence permit are the Portugal Golden Visa and the D7 Visa.

The immigration and border service, referred to as Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) in Portugal, carries out the visa application process. The Portuguese government allows online applications via this platform. As of 2020, residence permits can be automatically renewed, which is very convenient.

Portugal Golden Visa

The Golden Visa program in Portugal allows applicants to invest in the country and obtain Portuguese resident cards.  The Golden Visa residence permit allows you to live, work, and study in Portugal and travel freely across the Schengen Area. 

In order to learn more about the process and its requirements, check out our article on Portugal Golden Visa program.

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