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How Can I Move to Portugal to Start a Business?

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 9 January 2024

5mins read

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Portugal is known for its welcoming people, beautiful cities, and paradisiac beaches. But while Portugal is the perfect place to relax and have some fun, it's also great to get some work done!

If you're considering moving to Portugal to start a business, this article should provide you with all the information you need to make a name for yourself in this beautiful country:

Why consider moving to Portugal?

Portugal offers numerous benefits for individuals looking to start a business. The country has a favorable tax system, with lower corporate tax rates compared to other European countries. Additionally, Portugal has a strategic location, providing easy access to both European and international markets.
The cost of living is also relatively affordable, allowing entrepreneurs to make the most of their resources. Moreover, Portugal has a thriving startup ecosystem ranking 26th globally, with a supportive community and access to resources and funding opportunities.
All things considered, there's no doubt that Portugal is ideally suited for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a business.

Key factors to consider before moving to Portugal

When considering a move to Portugal to start a business, there are several key factors to keep in mind:

  • Research and understand the local business environment. This includes familiarizing yourself with the laws, regulations, and cultural norms that may impact your business operations.
  • Consider the different cities and regions in Portugal and their suitability for your specific industry. Access to infrastructure and resources, such as transportation networks and skilled labor, should also be taken into account.

By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for success in your new business venture. Below, we will be taking a closer look at the legal requirements in Portugal.

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Legal requirements for foreign business owners in Portugal include visa and residency permits, business registrations and licensing, and tax obligations:

Visa and residency permits

When moving to Portugal to start a business, it is important to understand the visa and residency permit requirements

Obtaining the correct visa and residency permit is essential for legally residing and conducting business in the country. There are different types of visas available, depending on the purpose of your stay (such as the Entrepreneur Visa, for those planning to establish a business). 

It is advisable to consult with the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country to gather all the necessary information and requirements for obtaining the appropriate visa and residency permit.

Business registration and licensing

Business registration and licensing are key steps in establishing your business and operating legally in the country. To register your business, you will need to provide the necessary documentation and complete the registration process with the relevant authorities. For start, you absolutely want to get yourself a Portuguese NIF.

Additionally, you may need to obtain specific licenses or permits depending on the nature of your business. It is advisable to seek professional guidance or consult with a local lawyer to ensure that you meet all the legal obligations and requirements for your business in Portugal.

Tax obligations for businesses in Portugal

Portugal has a competitive tax system that offers several benefits for businesses. The corporate tax rate is 21%, which is relatively low compared to other European countries. 

Portugal has a territorial tax system, meaning that only income generated within the country is subject to taxation. This can be advantageous for businesses that operate internationally. However, it is crucial to comply with all tax requirements and deadlines to avoid any penalties or legal issues.

Finding the Right Location

Despite being a small country, Portugal is very heterogeneous. Different taxes may apply, for example, to Mainland Portugal, Madeira, and Azores, and access to infrastructure varies immensely if you're, for example, establishing a business in metropolitan Lisbon or remote Alentejo.

Finding the right location for your business in Portugal is certainly a challenge, but we can help:

Researching different cities and regions

When researching different cities and regions in Portugal for your business, it's important to consider the following few key factors: 

  • Evaluate the local business environment to determine if it aligns with your industry and target audience
  • Assess the access to infrastructure and resources that each location offers, such as transportation networks, technology hubs, and business support services. 
  • Consider the quality of life in each city or region, including factors like cost of living, healthcare, and education options.

Understanding the local business environment

Portugal offers a favorable business climate with various incentives and support for entrepreneurs. The country has a growing economy and a strong focus on innovation and technology. 

Networking is highly valued in the Portuguese business culture, so building relationships with local professionals and organizations can greatly benefit your business. Additionally, it is important to familiarize yourself with the legal and regulatory framework in Portugal to ensure compliance with all requirements.

Access to infrastructure and resources

Look for areas that have well-developed transportation networks, including airports and ports, which can facilitate the movement of goods and services. Consider the availability of business support services, such as co-working spaces, incubators, and accelerators, which can provide valuable resources and networking opportunities for your startup. Finally, research the local business ecosystem to determine if there are industry-specific clusters or innovation hubs that align with your business goals.

Final thoughts on moving to Portugal for business

Moving to Portugal to start a business can be an exciting and rewarding venture. With its favorable business environment, access to infrastructure and resources, and a range of benefits for entrepreneurs, Portugal offers great opportunities. However, before making the move, it is important to consider key factors such as visa and residency permits, business registration and licensing, and tax obligations. Researching different cities and regions, understanding the local business environment, and finding the right location are also crucial.

To wrap things up, here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition when moving to Portugal for business:

  • Research the local market: Understand the demand for your product or service in Portugal and identify any potential competitors.
  • Network and build connections: Attend industry events, join business organizations, and connect with local professionals to expand your network and gain valuable insights.
  • Learn the language: While many Portuguese people speak English, learning the local language will help you navigate daily life and build stronger relationships with customers and partners.
  • Understand the cultural norms: Familiarize yourself with the local customs and business etiquette to avoid any cultural misunderstandings.
  • Consult with professionals: Seek guidance from lawyers, accountants, and business consultants who are familiar with the Portuguese business landscape to ensure compliance with legal and tax requirements.
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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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