Portugal expats: Major new visa rules for moving abroad post-Brexit

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Portugal has previously been cited by experts as a better alternative to Spain for those eyeing a move abroad post-Brexit thanks to its simpler visa requirements. However, there are still plenty of rules which expats will need to meet in order to be granted long-term entry to the country.

In order to help Britons better understand what is required of them, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice page for the nation.

Prior to Brexit, Britons could enjoy freedom of movement in the European Union (EU).

However, since the UK’s departure from the bloc, this has changed, and now Britons must go through a series of steps in order to obtain a visa.

This often includes handing over vast sums of cash or proving employment income.

“You should be aware that the rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on January 1, 2021,” explains the FCDO.

“You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa.

“This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

“If you are travelling to Portugal and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit.

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“Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

“To stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Portuguese government’s entry requirements.”

According to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), expats can attempt to gain residency via a work visa, a study visa or pursuing an application for a residence title.

In order to gain residence without an offer of employment, Britons will need to prove an annual income amount or “evidence of sufficient means of subsistence”.

However, this amount is significantly lower than the sum asked for by Spain, something which the ExpatNetwork says makes Portugal a favourable alternative.

A spokesperson for the ExpatNetwork explained: “Portugal has a similar visa to Spain’s NLV, the Passive Income Visa, which has a significantly lower annual income requirement – €11,970 (approximately £10,379) for a couple and €16,658 (approximately £14,444) for a family of four).

“The visa also does not restrict you from working or setting up a business as the Spanish NLV does.”

There are also a number of documents to be submitted, and subsequent checks will be carried out by authorities.

For those travelling to Portugal who already have residency, they must be able to prove this to border controls.

“There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Portugal,” states the FCDO.

“If you are resident in Portugal, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel.”

For those who were already living in Portugal before Brexit came into force on January 1, their EU resident document must be exchanged for a new “biometric card”.

The FCDO explains: “Your EU residence document will continue to be accepted until the new one arrives or until the end of its validity.”

Those who have not yet registered for residency, but have been living in Portugal for some years must do so as soon as possible.

“If you have been living in Portugal before 1 January 2021 and have not yet registered, email brexit@sef.pt, to request registration,” continues the FCDO.

“You must include a scanned copy or photo of your passport, proof of address and proof you were living in Portugal before January 2021.”

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