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Moving to Portugal: A Comprehensive Checklist

Portugal, with its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and welcoming atmosphere, has become an increasingly popular destination for expatriates seeking a change in scenery. Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of Lisbon, the picturesque beaches of the Algarve, or the tranquil beauty of Porto, this checklist will guide you through the essential steps to ensure a smooth relocation to Portugal.

Find Your Perfect Spot

Before you start packing, dive into Portugal’s awesome mix of places to find the ideal home sweet home. Think about things like weather, lifestyle, and how close you want to be to amenities when making your decision.

Portugal offers a variety of attractive locations for expats, each with its unique charm and advantages. Lisbon is a buzzing city with rich history, cultural events, and diverse culinary scene. The Algarve region, with its stunning beaches and warm climate, is perfect for those seeking a relaxed coastal lifestyle. Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is known for its picturesque riverfront, historic architecture, and thriving arts scene. For a more tranquil and rural setting, consider the Douro Valley, famous for its terraced vineyards and wine production. And if you want the best of both worlds, the Silver Coast, between Lisbon and Porto, is a sweet spot.

Before you commit, consider going on a scouting trip to soak up the local scene, check out different neighbourhoods, and see if the lifestyle matches your vibe. Spend time in each potential spot, chat with the locals, and hit up important spots like hospitals, schools, and grocery stores. This hands-on experience helps you figure out the day-to-day life in each area.

Find Somewhere to Stay

Once you’ve found your perfect place to live in Portugal, arrange short-term accommodation for your first few weeks. It’s not just about comfort; having a confirmed booking is a must when you’re applying for your visa. So, check out hotels, hostels, or serviced apartments – whatever floats your boat. Think of it as your home base, allowing you to get familiar with different neighbourhoods and make a smart decision on where to settle down for the long haul.

Pick Your Visa

Portugal offers a range of visa categories to suit different purposes of stay. The D6 visa, for example, is designed for family reunification, allowing family members to join a resident in Portugal. If you have a steady cash flow from investments or, say, rental properties, you can opt for the D7 visa, which is intended for retirees and people with passive income.

Thinking about starting a business or freelancing in Portugal? Then the D2 visa designed for entrepreneurs is your go-to choice. This type of visa requires serious paperwork and an impressive amount of money in your bank account in Europe. If you’re planning to set up an innovative business, go for the Startup Visa. There’s also the Golden Visa (ARI – Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento), a programme for investors contributing to the country’s economy through real estate, capital transfer, or job creation.

If you want to work or study in Portugal, the D1, D3 (for highly qualified professionals) or D4 visa is your option. The first two require a job offer or a work contract with a Portuguese employer, while the D4 visa is for students enrolled in Portuguese universities, interns, and volunteers.

Get Your Documents Ready

Before you apply for your chosen Portuguese visa, make sure all your paperwork is sorted out. Here’s a checklist of the documents you’ll need no matter which type of visa you want to get:

  • Filled SEF Form: SEF stands for Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (Immigration and Borders Service). The specific form may vary depending on the type of visa, so double-check which one you need.
  • Copy of your Passport: Check that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your stay in Portugal. If not, don’t forget to renew it.
  • Proof of Means of Subsistence: Provide proof that you’ve got enough funds to cover yourself during your time in Portugal. This could be bank statements, proof of regular income, or a support letter from someone willing to sponsor you, depending on the visa.
  • Proof of Accommodation: Let them know where you’ll stay in Portugal. It could be a rental agreement, a hotel booking, or a friendly invitation letter from your host – just something that proves you won’t be sleeping on the streets.
  • International Travel Insurance: Don’t forget to get travel insurance. Make sure it covers medical expenses and repatriation and spans the entire duration of your stay. Check that it meets the minimum requirements set by the Portuguese authorities.
  • Criminal Background Certificate: Provide a criminal background check from your home country or any other place you’ve lived in for a while.

Take a moment to ensure all your documents are current and meet the specific needs of the Portuguese authorities for your chosen visa. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check for any additional requirements tied to your specific visa type – it could save you from some unnecessary delays.

Once they are ready, translate all your documents into European Portuguese and get them apostilled. This ensures your paperwork is recognized and accepted by Portuguese authorities. Plus, it might be wise to prepare other personal documents you might need in Portugal, such as a second life birth certificate, marriage certificate, international driving permit, and diploma.

Apply and Get Your Visa

Dive into the visa application process with diligence. Head over to the VFS Global website and file your application online. Don’t forget to book an appointment and pay the visa application fee. Then, show up in person at a Visa Application Center with all the necessary documents in hand.

During your appointment, submit the required documents, undergo interviews if needed, and then wait for the verdict. The waiting period can span several months, but fear not; you can stay in the loop by tracking the progress of your application online. Keep an eye out for updates, and rest assured that you’ll be notified via email or SMS as soon as your visa application gets the green light. Once accepted, your passport will be sent back to you, marking the final step in this process.

Move Your Belongings

Now that you’ve handled paperwork and bureaucracy, it’s time to consider your belongings. Expats often pack their essentials in full bags, ensuring they’re within the airline’s hold limits. Remember that while you can bring sentimental items and personal belongings, there’s no need to go overboard – Portugal has a vibrant array of furniture stores, bookshops, and art galleries, allowing you to easily furnish your new space.

But if you’re attached to your favourite couch or have other bulky items, opt for a reliable moving service with expertise in international moves and a solid understanding of customs regulations. When searching for a suitable relocation company, consider checking out Expat Focus. They provide recommendations, reviews, and insights from fellow expats who have shared their experiences with moving services.

Arrange Your Pet’s Relocation

Portugal is not just a beautiful European destination; it’s a haven for pet owners. The pet-friendly atmosphere and accessible veterinary care make it a seamless experience. If you’re bringing a furry friend, research and follow the necessary steps to relocate your pet. This includes obtaining required vaccinations, microchipping, and arranging transportation. The process may take a while, especially for non-EU citizens, so start the preparation early to get it sorted out in time. And if you don’t fancy doing the paperwork and arranging your pet’s journey all by yourself, consider hiring a relocation company like PetRelocation that will relieve you of the burden.

Start Learning Portuguese

Consider picking up Portuguese – it’s not a must, especially if you plan to work in an international company and mostly hang out with expats. However, knowing Portuguese can be super handy when dealing with banks, healthcare, and government offices where English might not always be the go-to language. While having a Portuguese friend tag along as your interpreter is an option, it’s not something you’d want to rely on too much. Learning the language has its perks, though; it not only helps in essential situations but also lets you blend in and feel comfortable when chatting with colleagues or navigating the local market.

The good news is that there are numerous ways to learn Portuguese. You can opt for user-friendly apps like Duolingo or Tandem for a convenient learning experience. Alternatively, enrolling in a language school provides an opportunity to practise speaking skills with a teacher and interact with fellow students.

Set Up Your Finances

Setting up finances in Portugal as an expat can be a bit tricky due to language differences and unfamiliar banking processes. Opening a local bank account might feel like a puzzle. But we’re here to help – CFPS lets you open an IBAN account online with just two documents – super easy! Plus, you’ll get a free virtual card, so you can pay for things in Portugal hassle-free, like a local.

Traditional banks often hit you with high fees for international transfers. But with CFPS, money moves quickly, securely, and with low costs. Sending money back home or transferring savings to Portugal won’t burn a hole in your pocket – we charge fair fixed fees for transfers out of your account, while all incoming transfers are free. Handling your finances during relocation is crucial, and CFPS helps you do it with ease.

With this comprehensive checklist in hand, your move to Portugal will be a well-organised and exciting adventure. Embrace the charm and beauty of this European gem as you embark on your new chapter in Portugal. Safe travels!

Posted on January 16, 2024