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Home > Start a Business > A Complete Guide to the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa
A Complete Guide to the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa
By Bernardo Barbosa
Published on 9 January 2024
Not everyone was lucky to be born in a country as compelling as sunny Portugal. However, non-EU/EEA citizens can have a say in the matter. Through the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa, they can legally enter the country, obtain a residency visa, and even become Portuguese nationals.
In this complete guide to the D8/Digital Nomad Visa, we will tell you everything you need to do to become a part of Portugal's booming digital nomad scene. Oh, and don't worry: it's all much simpler than you could've expected!
What is the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa?
The Portugal Digital Nomad Visa, also known as the D8 Visa, is a program designed to attract remote workers, freelancers, and digital nomads to live and work in Portugal.
Launched in 2021, the Portuguese Digital Nomad Visa allows non-EU/EEA citizens to reside in Portugal for up to one year, with the possibility of an extension for an additional year.
There are two ways of requesting the Digital Nomad Visa, as Digital Nomad Visa applicants can choose to request either a long-term visa or a temporary stay visa.
Long-Term Visa vs. Temporary Stay Visa
There are two types of Digital Nomad Visas available to applicants from outside of the European Union: the long-term visa or residency visa, and the temporary stay visa.
- The residency visa is initially valid for four months, but it allows the digital nomad to obtain a two-year residency permit to work remotely in Portugal.
- The temporary stay visa, on the other hand, is valid for a whole year, but it does not allow the digital nomad to obtain a residency permit.
The visa application process is similar for both the residency visa and the temporary stay visa. However, getting a long-term residence visa requires two additional steps: being physically interviewed by Portugal's Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) and applying for a residency permit before the visa expires.
Are There Any Other Portugal Digital Nomad Visas?
The D8 Visa is the go-to visa for digital nomads who want to live and work remotely in Portugal. However, there are alternatives to Portugal's Digital Nomad Visa worth considering, such as:
- Tourist Visa: Also known as the short-term Schengen Visa, the Tourist Visa is a temporary stay visa that allows digital nomads to work and live in Portugal for a maximum period of 90 days. The Tourist Visa can be requested online at the E-Visa Portal or in person at your local Portuguese Consulate.
- Passive Income Visa: Perhaps the second-best visa for digital nomads, the Passive Income Visa is most commonly associated with retirees, but can also be of great use to remote workers who have a steady monthly source of passive income equivalent or superior to the Portuguese minimum wage. Contrary to the tourist temporary stay visa, digital nomads can use the Passive Income Visa to apply for a residence permit and, ultimately, Portuguese citizenship.
- Portugal Golden Visa: Even though it was mainly designed for wealthy investors looking to access the European market, the Portugal Golden Visa program can also be useful for digital nomads trying to expand their business portfolio and make a serious investment in Portugal. For example: remote workers can use the Portugal Golden Visa program to create a Portuguese company while qualifying for a residence permit and, ultimately, citizenship.
Advantages of Living in Portugal for Remote Workers
You're a remote worker born outside of the EU/EEA, and you want to get your hands on a European residence permit. There are plenty of options out there, so why Portugal?
Well, Portugal is internationally viewed as an ideal remote worker hub for a few reasons:
1. Cultural Richness and Quality of Life
Portugal is naturally suited for people looking to improve their quality of life due to its pleasant climate, relaxed lifestyle, and gorgeous landscapes. Similarly to other Western European countries, Portugal also has a rich history, best reflected in its vibrant cities and beautiful coastlines.
2. Healthcare and Infrastructure
Once you enter Portugal, you can access state-sponsored benefits all Portuguese taxpayers get to enjoy, such as low-priced health insurance and education services.
Additionally, major cities in Portugal such as Lisbon and Porto offer excellent infrastructure for remote workers, from convenient public transportation to flawless Internet connectivity.
3. Business Community
Partly due to the Portuguese Digital Nomad Visa, the Passive Income Visa, and other legal ways to enter Portugal, remote workers moving into the country will find a vibrant and dynamic expat business community that will make it a whole lot easier for them to adapt.
This thriving business community is perfect for remote workers looking to connect with like-minded individuals, join business incubators, and find co-working spaces.
4. Tax Benefits and Incentives
Portugal has attractive tax benefits for foreign residents such as the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime, which can offer tax exemptions on certain types of active and passive income for a specified period.
Who Can Apply for the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa?
Whether you're looking for a permanent residence permit or just a temporary stay visa, the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa requirements are pretty much the same.
In a nutshell, you can apply for the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa if you're:
1. Over 18 years old.
2. Not an EU/EEA or Swiss national.
3. A digital nomad with an employment contract or working remotely as a freelancer.
Digital nomads applying for Portugal's Digital Nomad Visa also need to fulfill three other key requirements:
1. Have an average monthly income of at least €3,040.
2. Have at least €36,480 in a savings bank account.
3. Have a rental contract of at least one year or other proof of arranged accommodation in Portugal.
Requirements for Family Members
Digital nomads applying for a new Digital Nomad Visa can also get their family members involved as long as they meet certain requirements. The family members covered by the residence visa are:
1. The husband or wife of the applicant.
2. Any dependent child under 18 years old.
3. Any unmarried and financially dependent child between 18 to 35 years old.
4. The applicant's parents, if financially dependent.
Each of the family members included in the Digital Nomad Visa application must fill out an accompanying form and schedule an appointment at the Portuguese Consulate.
Where Can You Request the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa?
To enter Portugal with a Digital Nomad Visa is simpler than ever now, as the Portuguese Government has simplified the visa application process with the 2022 Foreigners Act. Nevertheless, the process of requesting the Digital Nomad Visa usually requires cooperating with the following entities:
- SEF: SEF stands for Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, which translates to the Immigration and Borders Service in Portugal. It's the government agency responsible for managing immigration, asylum, and border control within the country.
- Portuguese Consulate: The Portuguese Consulate is an official diplomatic mission representing Portugal in foreign countries. Consulates are established in various cities around the world to assist Portuguese nationals living abroad and to promote diplomatic, economic, cultural, and consular relations between Portugal and the host country.
- Portuguese Embassy: The Portuguese Embassy is the principal diplomatic mission representing Portugal in a foreign country. It serves as the official channel of communication between the Portuguese government and the government of the host country.
To get your hands on a Digital Nomad long-term or temporary stay visa, contacting SEF is mandatory. The Portuguese Consulate and Embassy in your country of origin should provide you with valuable resources and support to facilitate your Digital Nomad Visa application.
Portugal Digital Nomad Visa: Required Documents
Before taking an in-depth, step-by-step look at the Digital Nomad Visa application process, it's important to have an idea of what all the necessary documents are.
This is all you need to successfully apply for Portugal's Digital Nomad Visa:
1. Proof that you work remotely. This can be an employment contract or partnership agreement, depending on your current job condition.
2. A clean criminal record certificate. The certificate must be translated into Portuguese before being verified by SEF.
3. A valid passport. Issued by your country of origin.
4. Proof of accommodation. This can be a rental contract valid for at least one year or a document showing that you bought real estate in Portugal.
5. Bank statement showing that you meet the minimum monthly income requirement. The applicant's monthly income must be equal to or superior to €3,040.
6. Bank statement showing that you meet the minimum savings requirement. This means that you need to have at least €36,480 in savings in a bank account.
7. Health insurance. The health insurance doesn't need to be issued in Portugal, but it does need to be valid in the country.
8. A letter of intention. The letter should be written in English and explain why the digital nomad wants to move to Portugal.
9. A tax receipt.
10. Two passport photos.
Portugal Digital Nomad Visa Application: Step-by-Step Guide
The process of first applying for the Digital Nomad Visa and ultimately being granted a residence visa usually takes at least six months, but it can be a lot faster if you're just trying to obtain a temporary stay visa.
Nevertheless, the whole application is pretty straightforward (especially when compared to alternatives such as the Portugal Golden Visa program) and can be completed in just three simple steps:
1. Preparing the Required Documents
Make sure that you have a valid passport, valid health insurance, valid tax residency documents, a clean criminal record, and all other necessary documents in order. If you don't have an employment contract, ensure that you can present the SEF with proper evidence that you're an active digital nomad.
2. Waiting for SEF
SEF is in charge of processing all Digital Nomad Visas applications, and applicants must wait up to four months to obtain their residence visa. With so many digital nomads trying to enter Portugal, it's no surprise that the waiting time can sometimes be frustratingly high.
3. Applying for a Residency Permit
Before being granted full tax residency status in Portugal, digital nomads need to travel to Portugal and apply for permanent residence.
Applicants are usually expected to wait up to 12 weeks for their residency card. The Digital Nomad Visa fee for this operation is €170.
Notes on Getting a Portuguese Tax Number and Portuguese Bank Account
Similarly to the Passive Income Visa and Golden Visa program, the Digital Nomad Visa program may require digital nomads to get a Portuguese Tax Number (NIF) and open a Portuguese bank account.
If you're planning on establishing permanent residence in Portugal, getting a Portuguese NIF and local bank account is crucial for several reasons:
- You get to pay taxes and apply to Government-sponsored programs.
- You get to manage your finances more effectively while residing in Portugal.
- You're more integrated into the local culture.
- You're allowed to perform key business operations such as starting a business in Portugal as a foreigner.
How Much Does the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa Cost?
Apart from the minimum savings and monthly income requirement presented above, getting a Digital Nomad Visa isn't as expensive as it may seem at first. In sum, this is what you need to account for:
- Nomad Visa application cost: €170
- Permanent residency or temporary residency permit: €320
- Legal fees (for expenses with lawyers, consultants, and services for digital nomads): €1,000-€2,000 (optional)
The Nomad Visa application is a bit more expensive than the Passive Income Visa application, but much cheaper than getting a Golden Visa, to which a permanent residency permit has the generous cost of €5,391.
The Pros and Cons of the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa
There's no doubt that the Digital Nomad Visa program can be extremely helpful for people looking to work remotely and obtain residency in Portugal. But what are its main advantages? And what's not so good about it?
Pros of the Digital Nomad Visa
- Living in Portugal: The Digital Nomad Visa grants you the right to reside in Portugal and access the country's many social and professional benefits.
- Visa-free travel: When issued a temporary stay visa in Portugal, you get to travel visa-free all over the Schengen area, which covers most European countries.
- Tax benefits: Through the NHR status (more on that below), digital nomads can reduce their tax burden significantly.
- Flexibility: The Digital Nomad Visa offers flexibility to applicants by allowing them to choose between a long-term and a temporary stay visa.
- Citizenship prospect: After maintaining a Portugal tax residency for up to five years, digital nomads have the option to apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Cons of the Digital Nomad Visa
- Long waiting time: Despite ongoing efforts to tackle excessive bureaucracy and red tape, Portugal is still one of the European countries in which administrative processes take longest and are particularly hard to navigate.
- Work restrictions: The digital nomad isn't allowed to use income coming from a Portuguese company in his or her application. This means that, if you work remotely for a Portuguese company before moving to Portugal, the money you make will not count for the Digital Nomad income requirement.
Applying for Non-Habitual Resident Status (NHR)
To apply for NHR status, a digital nomad must qualify as a Portugal tax resident. To be a Portugal tax resident, an individual needs to spend at least 183 days per year living in the country.
With the NHR, digital nomads pay taxes only on income sourced in Portugal (including passive income and rental income) and at a reduced flat rate of 20%. The NHR status is valid for the first 10 years the digital nomad spends living in Portugal.
Applying for Portuguese Citizenship
Not even the fiercest digital nomad wants to be a nomad forever. If you work remotely in Portugal thanks to the Digital Nomad Visa, you may be happy to know that you can apply to become a Portuguese national after living up to five years in the country.
Portugal Digital Nomad Visa: The Bottom Line
Whereas the Golden Visa favors wealthy foreign investors and the Passive Income Visa favors people with a steady pension or rental income, the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa is the perfect Portugal entry card for young freelance workers, remote-work geniuses, and tireless nomads.
If you can work from anywhere and wish to live in Portugal, the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa may well be the game-changing program that will help you make your dreams come true.
Written by Bernardo Barbosa
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