How To Become a Legal Resident in Portugal

The road to residency is a long and bumpy one laid out by the most inept of urban planners, fraught with unmarked turns and oncoming traffic, the occasional busted tire and stranded motorist, out-of-service filling stations and a radio that only plays the ambient iterations of Abba, but it’s not impossible to navigate through it.

If I had started out knowing exactly what lay ahead of me, I probably never would have started the process in the first place, so there’s absolutely something to be said for entering the arena blind to the big picture. It would have been nice, however, to have had a general idea of what was to come as a motivation to continue collecting endless stacks of paper. That’s why I decided to catalog my process in an e-book format, from temporary to permanent residency status. By focusing on each small step in the series, gaining residency is totally doable.

The best way to eat a whale, after all, is bite by blubbery bite.

Here are two little snippets of what you can expect to find inside the 24-page guide.

Getting a Portuguese Lease or Deed:

This is pretty self-explanatory, but don’t think it’s all that easy. Short-term rentals will work for the beginning of your bureaucratic process here, as long as the landlord is comfortable giving you a short-term lease that specifically says it is month-to-month and specifies the amount of time needed for your notice about moving out. Always have a lawyer look over your rental lease to be sure it is acceptable, especially now that Lisbon is overrun with Alojamento Locals, borderline legal short-term rentals, etc.

If you’re staying with good friends or family and you want to use their apartment as home base, that’s fine, but you will need them to write a letter (in Portuguese) that says specifically that you are staying there. This isn’t difficult to do, but you’ll need your lawyer to be sure it is written correctly. NOTE: Make sure you trust these people as all your legal documents will be mailed to them going forward until you change your address with the government, the bank, etc. Good luck with that!

Opening a Portuguese Bank Account:

Opening a Portuguese bank account is fairly simple, and there are many banks to choose from like Novo Banco, Santander, Millennium BCP, Caixa Geral Depósitos, and others, so shop around and compare annual fees and rates. My advice is to choose a bank with someone on staff that speaks your language.

To open an account, you’ll need your passport, proof of address, proof of employment (even if it’s a freelance client from back home), and of course, cash. Waiting for cards to come in the mail can often be a problem, so ask if you can pick your cards up at the branch to be sure you receive everything fast. And here’s some good news— Multibancos don’t charge local cards withdrawal fees and you can pretty much do everything on them, from paying your taxes, utility bills, and rent to charging your phone and metro card and even buying train tickets.


On Key

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