Residency Permits

Information about the permits (Autorização de Residência) required for residency in Portugal...

The Portuguese Immigration Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF) is the administrative body responsible for issuing residence permits (Autorização de Residência).

Authorisation for Residence and Residence Permits

The residence card (Autorização de Residência) is necessary for anyone who moves to Portugal, or for anyone who is planning to stay for longer than three months. This includes those who work, the self-employed, students, those intending to live off savings, retired people, and family members of any of the above. Applications for a residency permit should be made at the regional directorate or the Delegation of the SEF in the area of residence.

More information on residency permits from the SEF website

Necessary documents

When applying for a residency permit the following documents must be supplied:
  • Application Form
  • Valid passport plus one photocopy
  • Two identical recent, colour passport photos
  • Proof of income / financial independence
  • Proof of accommodation
  • valid health insurance
  • A small fee
Other documents may be necessary depending on the person's particular situation, for example, a student will need proof of registration at a Portuguese institution and some people may be asked to provide a consular certificate. The residence permit takes a few weeks to process and once issued bears the person's photograph and signature. Once the residency card has been issued it must be carried at all times for possible inspection. Note that previously holders of a residency permit could apply for an identity card (Bilhete de Identidad) however the Citizen's Card (Cartão de Cidadão) has replaced the identity card and is not available to foreigners holding a residency permit.

Types of authorisation of residence

Residence permits can be temporary or permanent.
  • Temporary permits are valid for one year and are renewable for two-year periods. Applications to renew a permit must be sent 30 days before the expiry date
  • Permanent residence is available to EU nationals and nationals from countries where Portuguese is the official language who have lived legally in Portugal for five years. Permanent residence permits should be renewed every five years or whenever the person's personal information changes.

Leaving Portugal

If the holder of a residency card decides to leave Portugal permanently, then the residence card (Autorização de Residência) should be handed in at the local SEF office or a police station.