“If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won’t.” - Hyman G. Rickover
Moving abroad is a big decision and certainly not one to be taken lightly. That said, a lot of Brits have already decided to move to Portugal. 60,000 British expats are living in the country and with this many Brits, there are many good reasons to do it. However, you’ll have to go through the administrative steps before you can go.
Do you know what these are?
In this article, we’ll look at the administrative steps you’ll have to go through when becoming a resident of Portugal. Let’s go!
Once You Arrive in Portugal
Moving to Portugal requires more than just a plane ticket and getting a place. There are a few things you have to do to live there legally. To get a flat and be able to work, there are a few things you’ll have to do like citizens of any other country.
For example, you’ll need to register with the proper tax authorities as there’s the potential of paying less tax. This might seem bizarre to those still living in the UK, but this system has benefited a lot of expats in Portugal.
Some agencies and services can help you with all the admin and paperwork before you move to Portugal. However, there are some things that you can do yourself quite easily such as getting your Fiscal Identification Number (NIF) and Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) status.
Portuguese Fiscal Identification Number (NIF)
The NIF is essential if you want to move to Portugal and every business in the country is required to have it. Whether you’re renting a flat or opening a bank account, you’re going to need this number.
So how can you get it?
You have to go to the Loja do citadão with the required documents, which are:
- Proof of residence, even abroad.
You can also use a lawyer to do this for you.
This is a scheme that allows you to benefit from certain tax breaks while living in Portugal. To get NHR, you can also get in touch with lawyers to help you out. There are certain requirements for this:
- Not have lived in Portugal in the last 5 years.
- Be retired or doing a “value-added” job.
Not meet the criteria?
No problem! There are other options available such as The Golden Visa, the D7 Visa, or the D2 Visa. These visas are valid for different amounts of time depending on which one you go for. In most cases, you’ll need to have a means of supporting yourself and be free of criminal convictions that carry a jail sentence in Portugal.
After 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency.
Opening a Bank Account in Portugal
Having a bank account is an essential part of moving to a foreign country as you’ll need it to pay bills as well as manage your money. There are several different banks to choose from, too.
Some banks allow you to open accounts from the UK or online but you can always open one once you get there and have your NIF. The Portuguese national bank is the Caixa Geral de Depósitos.
Opening a bank account in Portugal is pretty simple, but you’ll need a NIF to do it.
Have you got yours yet?
Perfect! Generally, you’ll also need:
- Proof of address
- Residence certificate (attestado de residência)
- Proof of earnings/income
These are pretty basic things to have and you should be able to get them.
Registering Your Vehicle in Portugal
While having a car is quite useful, owning one in Portugal can sometimes be a bit of an ordeal as there are a lot of steps to registering your vehicle. Firstly, if you’re a resident of Portugal but have a UK license, you’ll be expected to change it within 2 years.
Your car also needs to be registered in Portugal within the year of obtaining your residence certificate.
So how do you do all that?
To register your vehicle in Portugal, you’ll need:
- The car’s registration documents, proof of purchase, and MOT.
- The Modelo 9 IMTT form, which you can get from the instituto de mobilidade e dos transportes (IMTT)
- The Modelo 112 form (available from an inspection centre)
- Fill out these forms and declare your vehicle at customs
- A registration certificate from the IMTT
- You’ll need to register your vehicle at the Conservatoria do Registo Automovel
- And you’re finally done...
As you’ll have understood, it’s probably better to just get a car in Portugal. Some things are more complicated than others in Portugal.
Finding a Flat in Portugal
Unlike what you may think after seeing what it’s like registering a vehicle, renting a property in Portugal is rather simple. Short-term and holiday rents don’t require that much paperwork.
Renting beyond 90 days, however, will require a visa or residency permit.
The cost of renting in Portugal has increased in recent years but it’s still cheaper than in a lot of places in the UK. Like everywhere else, however, it tends to be more expensive in larger cities like Lisbon.
If you want to rent in Portugal, owners are usually reticent to sign leases for less than a year as they’ll have to pay the agency fees in this case. In Portugal, you’re required to stay in your rent for at least a third of the lease and give between 2 and 4 months notice.
Whether you’re renting or buying, you’ll need most of the same paperwork as you would in the UK.
Healthcare in Portugal
Like everywhere else, healthcare is a priority for expats. Make sure that you’re covered by your insurance.
You’ll need to register with the Portuguese National Health Service. Your local clinic or Centro de Saude will usually be the place to do this. To register:
- Go to the clinic for your local area.
- Provide ID, residency certificate, and your Portuguese social security card.
- You’ll then be allocated a doctor and a card.
Keep in mind that seeing your GP in Portugal can cost around €4.50.
Moving with Children
In most cases, children have to go through the same administrative procedures as adults. However, they also need to attend school.
Where can you enrol your child? A British school? A Portuguese school? An international school?
From the age of 6, schooling is obligatory in Portugal and expats have a few options:
- Portuguese schools
- British schools (private)
- International schools (private)
Portuguese schools are free but the books cost €250 after year 5 and lunch costs €1.50 a day. Private schools ask for upwards of €400 a month and this doesn’t include inscription fees.
The British schools tend to be more expensive than the Portuguese private schools. In some cases, you’ll be looking at several thousand each month. The British School in Lisbon, for example, charges upwards of €10,000 per academic year.
Finally, international schools tend to be a little cheaper than the British schools but you’ll still be paying between €500 and €1,000 a month.
Some of the most famous include CLIP – Colégio Luso Internacional do Porto, Carlucci American International School of Lisbon, Vale Verde International School.
Enrolling your child in a school will probably be one of the easiest parts of the admin.
One more tip for the road?
If you have a pet that you want to bring to Portugal, you’ll need to get them chipped at the Portuguese Consulate. They’ll also need a vaccination record and a pet passport. Even your furry friends have paperwork to do.
It’ll all be worth it once you’re settled in Portugal where the cost of living is cheaper and the weather is nicer.
Are you ready to start the process?
It’s over to you.
If you've decided that you'd like to learn some Portuguese before you move or once you get there, you can search for Portuguese tutors on the Superprof website.
You can learn Portuguese face-to-face with a tutor, online, or with a tutor in groups. Each type of tutoring comes with pros and cons in terms of the teaching approach and the cost so think carefully about which will work best for you.
A lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first hour or session for free. Use these sessions to try out a few potential tutors and discuss the finer details of the tuition before settling on the right tutor for you and your family.