UPDATE as of 3 May 2020: This moving to Portugal page needs a thorough review and necessary updates. I’ve started the review process, which will take a while, and although some points may be no longer relevant, most still are. As with anything on the internet, do your own due diligence!
If you’ve seen the video on my friend Andrew’s YouTube channel about my move to Portugal, and/or you’ve read my recent post: Portugal? Why Did You Move to Portugal? and you still have questions about how I managed to move to Portugal, then this resource round-up is for you.
It seems many people are looking to leave the U.S., or for a simpler life, or for adventure in a new and welcoming land. So, whatever brought you here—welcome!
Whether you were one of the many people who asked me how much it costs to live in Portugal (umm, that cannot be answered without lots more information) or you wondered about my migration assistant, I aim to give you a starter list of resources so you can get moving on your own research, because that’s what I had to do!
Keep in mind these important details:
- I moved to Portugal from California, USA
- I’m self-employed; there are a variety of visa programs depending upon your situation
- No, I did not come to Portugal looking for a job (see bullet point, above)
- Anything I did with the help of the migration assistant can all be done on your own—I didn’t have the time nor patience and wanted help from a local
- I do not speak Portuguese—yet
- Yes, I plan to make this a permanent move
- I do NOT live in Lisbon (there’s more to Portugal than Lisbon)
- If you’re coming from somewhere other than the U.S., some of this info. may not apply
Now, on to the resources, starting with the most frequently asked questions:
How did you work with a migration assistant?
I researched several firms before deciding on a particular Lisbon-based agency. As a part of my So, You Want to Move to Portugal one-on-one Skype session service that I recently launched, I will provide you with access to my personal migration specialist as a priority client.
Yes, you can do pretty much everything on your own, but if time and accuracy are important to you, as they are to me, then working with someone who knows the ins-and-outs of Portuguese bureaucracy and is a native speaker can give you peace-of-mind and assurance that your documents will be done right the first time.
How can you just “move” to Portugal?
If you are a U.S. citizen you can travel through Europe’s Schengen Zone (26 European member states) for 90 days, then you must leave for another 90 days before you can enter again. No longer can you do a border run to get your passport stamped only to return a few days later.
So, how does a U.S. citizen move to Portugal? Portugal offers several favorable visa schemes that can allow a U.S. citizen to become a resident. Student, retirement, the Golden Visa, etc. I came in on the D-7 Visa.
About the D-7 Visa
3 May 2020 NEW! –> E-Visa. I don’t have enough information on how this works, yet, but the portal is open (I don’t know how they’ll gather the biometric data, but will update when I learn more). SEF offices (immigration) remain closed for visa processing until May 14–and you can be they’ll be backlogged.
D-7 is the visa for those individuals who have their own source of income, whether a pension, income from work (me) or investments, etc. Quoting from the Timely Solutions website, here’s what’s required for the D-7 (this info. can and does change):
The D7 visa enables the respective holder to obtain a residence permit in Portugal for a period of one year, which can then be renewed for successive periods of 2 years and can be converted into a permanent residence permit after 5 years.
To present your application, you will need:
- Application form (available in SEF’s website);
- Passport or other valid travel documents;
- Two identical photos, passport size;
- Valid travel insurance, which can cover the expenses necessary for medical reasons, including urgent medical assistance and possible repatriation;
- Application for Criminal Record consultation by Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF);
- Criminal record certificate from the country of origin or the country where the applicant resided for more than one year;
- Housing conditions;
- Proof of means of subsistence;
- Document proving the amount of the pension;
10. Proof that you have an income that allows you to live in Portugal.
Housing and Real Estate
My migration specialist did preview my apartment, negotiated my rent, and reviewed my rental agreement, but I did the online searching. I used several online platforms to conduct my search. (UPDATE 3 May 2020: I have since purchased an apartment after living in two different rentals)
Important to note: Portugal does not have an MLS like the States, so not all properties are searchable in one place. Portugal is represented by all the major international real estate firms such as Remax, Keller-Williams, etc.
I searched daily, multiple times a day, for an apartment, and had several almost-rentals. This process is exhausting, even more so if you want to live in Lisbon. The market in Lisbon is hyper-inflated, and competition is fierce. You have been warned.
Real Estate Sites I Used:
Expatica.com has a helpful article: Guide to Renting in Portugal and Your Tenant Rights
What About my Pets?
Bringing your pets in from the U.S. is a dance of timing and following the rules to the letter. Bringing your pet to Portugal is fairly easy as there is no quarantine period and the particulars are pretty straightforward. Portugal does have breed restriction legislation on these dogs:
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino
- Tosa Inu
- Pit Bull
From what I understand (don’t quote me, do your own research), these breeds are allowed but must be muzzled in public, registered, and sterilized.
The USDA/Aphis issues the paperwork that allows you to enter the country with your dog or cat (or other pet? Not sure on this.). This is the place to get the information you need.
Blanca Valbuena has a comprehensive post specifically for Lisbon called Guide to Having a Dog in Lisbon, Portugal.
Check out these articles and blogs for more information:
- United States Citizens Moving to Portugal: Demystifying the Paper Trail
- Thinking of Moving to Portugal? The complete guide to getting started
No Particular Place to Go blog has a great series on Moving to Portugal.
Be Portugal has a section called Life in Portugal. There they deal with everything from opening a bank account and registering as a freelancer, to Living in Lisbon, a Comprehensive Guide to the Basic Necessities. They do a decent roundup on Being Vegan in Lisbon.
Online Language Learning
Many language apps like Duolingo offer Portuguese, but beware—it’s Brazilian Portuguese, which is not the same as European Portuguese. And if you are brand new to the language, it makes sense to start with European Portuguese (if you know Brazilian Portuguese, good for you–you’ll be 90% there). Here are three of my favorite online resources for learning the language:
James at The Portugalist.com has a round-up of free European Portuguese language resources and other info. there, as well.
Oh, and don’t miss out on the generally excellent Atlas Lisboa. Ellis Dixon and her team do a great job of capturing the not-too-touristy side of Lisbon–they even have an app. Learn Some Portuguese is a great place to start.
Read about Portugal
Here are a few book recommendations (yes, affiliate links, see below) if you plan to visit or move to Portugal. Get to know the history, the people, and why I think Fernando Pessoa is one of the finest writers of the last century. I will add to this list over time.
- The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition by Fernando Pessoa. The Portuguese modernist master, this work can be read starting from any place in the book. It’s a spectacular literary achievement—a surreal waking dreamscape narrated by Pessoa’s many heteronyms.
- The First Global Village by Martin Page. Learn how this tiny country had a huge influence on the entire world
- The Portuguese: A Modern History by Barry Hatton. A portrait of the country and its people.
- The Last Day: Wrath, Ruin, and Reason in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 by Nicholas Shrady. The Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, which sparked a devastating fire and tsunami, changed the Portuguese capital and its people—even to this day.
- The Lusiads by Luís de Camões. Written in 1572 by Portugal’s national treasure, this epic of the Renaissance period tells of Portugal’s voyages of discovery. Camões was the first major European artist to cross the equator.
- Unknown Seas: How Vasco da Gama Opened the East by Ronald Watkins. Reconstructing journeys from contemporary logs and papers, this vivid account tells the story of the expansion of Portuguese trade routes in the 15th century
(I am/shannatrenholm.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.)
The information in this article reflects my experience of moving to Portugal—I’m not sharing it to be debated or to be told I did it wrong, etc. I’m sharing in the hope that it will help someone who’s curious about how to get started.
I’m not claiming the information here is 100% accurate. Things change; Portuguese bureaucracy has its own quirks. Don’t take my word for it—do your own research or hire an assistant, as I did.
Lastly, I will add to this post over time, so check back regularly for updates!