With its mild maritime climate, beautiful shorelines and mountainous landscapes as well as its lively, culture- and history-rich cities and towns, Portugal attracts a great number of digital nomads, freelancers and expats each year.
Portugal: EU's Digital Nomad Problem Solver
Being a member of the European Union and part of the Schengen Area, other European citizens of those areas can travel and stay in Portugal without a visa. If, however, you are not from one of these areas, a visa will be required in order to stay in the country for an extended period of time. Especially when it comes to working remotely from different countries, tourist visas may not be sufficient. Not only are most of them valid for only 30-90 days, but, technically, they do not allow the holder to work in the issuing country. The answer to this problem - Portugal - as well as an increasing number of countries, offer specific visas, particularly suitable for digital nomads and expats.
Though not specifically called a “digital nomad visa”, Portugal offers two categories of visa programs, that basically work just as that. The first type is the Temporary Stay Visa, the other type is the Residency Visa D2 (Portugal Migrant Entrepreneur or Independent Worker Visa) or D7 (Portugal Passive Income Visa). Both categories enable the visa holder to stay for a certain period of time and work independently from within the countries territories.
The first type of visa, the Temporary Stay Visa, is for anyone looking to stay in Portugal for up to one year without becoming a resident. It will grant you permission to do independent work, scientific research or investigations, internships, study and more. While holding the visa, travels in and out the country are accepted. After one year a renewal of the visa can be requested two more times.
How to apply
Application can be done online. As of the official Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website (www.vistos.mne.gov.pt), following documentations are required for the Temporary Stay (as well as the D2 and D7) Visa application:
- the official form
- a passport with at least 3 month validity
- two identical recent passport photographs
- Return ticket documentation
- valid travel insurance
- form authorizing access to Portuguese criminal record by the Immigration and Boarder Services
- criminal record of country of origin/residency
- document certifiying the third-country citizen is in a regular situation when applicant is from a different nationality than that of the country from which the visa is being requested
- proof of accomodation
- proof of means of subsistence (which can be done through a statement of responsibility, signed by a Portuguese national
For independent workers applying to the Temporary Stay Visa, there is another set of documentations to be produced:
- a corresponding work contract or service agreement,
- if applicable, a statement issued by a responsible institution verifying compliance with necessary professional requisites, when the referred profession is subject to special qualification in Portugal.
The proof of subsistence can be done via the statement of responsibility, signed by a Portuguese national. For that, a minimum monthly wage of € 635 is required.
Long(er)-term dweller options
If a stay longer than one year is desired, the Residency Visa D2 or D7 might be another option. Both aim at people who are looking for more security by achieving resident status. These types of visas are valid for four months after which one is eligible for application for a residency permit with the Immigration and Border Services (SEF). Once the permit is granted it is valid for two years and can be extended for a further three years, totaling a possible stay of five years. During this time, the country can be left and reentered as wished but never for more than six consecutive months.
The D7 visa is for anyone who does not plan to set up a business or carry out investment activities but instead have and live off of a passive income, e.g. retirees. The D2 visa on the other hand is especially fitting for freelancers, independent workers and, first of all, entrepreneurs as it allows you to set up a business presence and/or proprietorship, making it the most ideal type of visa for digital nomads.
Your best shot at the D2 visa
Here is what you will need to know before applying for the D2 visa as a digital nomad or “expatreneur”, wishing to establish and/or settle a business:
Besides all formal documentations (see above: Temporary Stay Visa, ”How to apply”) it is highly advisable to research and connect with the Portuguese business community in advance. At best, present a motivated and reliable business plan, containing a Portuguese company certification along with a memorandum of understanding, Portuguese bank account statements with a beginning balance, the (company) tax number as well as social security number, manager and accountant business contracts and the social contributions receipts for the last three months. It is also beneficial to provide a present business proof of your home country, as well as an educational and professional résumé.
Once all necessary documentations are sent, officials of the SEF will make the decision on your D2 visa, which might take up to 2-3 months. If you were successful in showcasing your legitimacy as well as your potential services to the Portuguese (business) community, chances of getting the D2 visa should be high and soon you’ll be able to enjoy Portugal in all its glory while working and generating income remotely.
Jürgen Pretsch is a professional researcher and consultant, but first and foremost, he is a "serial expat" and contemporary "digital nomad". Having lived in nearly a dozen countries, Jürgen has produced extensive research for major private institutions and governments. At the moment, Jürgen is pioneering work relating to expatpreneurship, and will continue to provide resourceful articles in the global mobility space.