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How to Move to Portugal from the USA

So you’ve decided that you want to move to Portugal. That’s a great choice! Portugal is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history.

But before you can start packing your bags, there are some things you need to do first. This guide has everything you need to know to prepare to move to Portugal as an American!

Are you interested in testing out life in a few cities in Portugal for free? Trusted Housesitters is a site where you can stay at someone’s house while they are away in exchange for watching their house or sometimes their pet.

It’s a great way to travel Portugal and test out life there without the commitment of moving!

The Best Visa Options to Move to Portugal from the USA

There are a few different visa options available to Americans who want to move to Portugal. The visas listed below are for people who plan to stay in Portugal for longer than 90 days and gain residency in Portugal.

Some of the options below would probably not be feasible without professional help, so I’ve contacted an experienced visa professional who has agreed to give Wander Onwards readers a discount on their services!

Pares Advogados has helped a lot of Americans move to Portugal, if you contact them for help, make sure to let them know I sent you there by mentioning “Wander Onwards” and get your discount!!

Although hiring help might seem expensive at first, if you’ve ever applied for a visa, you know what an insane headache it can be.

I’m definitely a frugal person, but I know when money is well spent, and this would definitely be one of those cases.

Just think that those costs are going directly towards you fulfilling your dream of living in Portugal!

Don’t feel like reading? Watch this video instead that I made with the same information:

The D2 Portugal Visa

The D2 Business Visa is for those who plan to have a company in Portugal. There are two separate steps in this visa process: the formation of a company in Portugal and the residency application process.

Requirements for the D2 Portuguese Visa

The list below includes the main requirements for the D2 visa. However, as with all visa processes, you need to double-check with your local consulate to make sure you have everything you need before applying.

The requirements for the D2 Portugal Business Visa are:

  • A copy of the applicant’s passport
  • Criminal record certificate of the applicant (FBI report) translated into Portuguese and duly apostilled by the USA Authorities
  • Proof of accommodation in Portugal (lease agreement or title of ownership of the property)
  • Proof that the applicant is earning at least €665.00 per month (evidenced by submitting a certified copy of a general shareholders’ resolution on this matter).

The D7 Portugal Visa

The D7 visa is intended for people who earn a sufficient and regular amount of passive income, such as a pension, rental, interest, dividends, or intellectual property income. You then are expected to support yourself and any family you bring with you to Portugal on this income.

The process begins with opening a bank account in Portugal and transferring a specific amount of money, as well as acquiring a Portuguese tax number.

After setting up a Portuguese bank account and transferring money to that account (the current amount required is €7,980), you can then start your visa application and submit it to your local Portuguese consulate.

Remember that you need to apply at the consulate in your area of residence, so you can’t apply once you are in Portugal.

Requirements for the D7 Portugal Visa

The requirements of the D7 Portugal visa are:

  • Copy of your passport;
  • Criminal record certificate of the applicant (FBI report) translated into Portuguese and duly apostilled by the USA Authorities
  • Proof of accommodation in Portugal (lease agreement or title of ownership of the property)
  • Health insurance policy valid in Portugal
  • Proof of means of living in Portugal (usually the € 7,980.00 in your Portuguese bank account) You may need to show more if you are applying for a family reunion application.
  • Proof of having a net regular passive income of at least € 9,000.00 per year. You may need to show more if you are applying for a family reunion application.

Even though those amounts are given by the Portuguese consulates, they may ask for more or deny your application even if you have the exact amounts above.

The success of your application depends on the consulate you apply to.

For example, an application that would have been accepted in Miami might not have the exact requirements that the San Francisco consulate requires.

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learn how to find work abroad, process visas, & more!

How Long Does it Take to Get the D7 Visa?

It takes about 3 months to hear back from the consulate and receive your visa.

The Length of the D7 Portugal Visa

After you obtain your visa, you still have a bit to go. You must apply for residency in Portugal once you arrive there.

Once your residency is approved, you get 2 years in Portugal. Yay!

Things to Consider When Applying for the D7 Portugal Visa

You must be in Portugal for more than 8 months combined or 6 consecutive months each calendar year to maintain this visa or renew it.

Golden Visa

The last visa we are going to go over in this guide for Americans to Move to Portugal is the Golden Visa. This visa requires you to invest a certain amount in Portugal in exchange for a visa.

The 3 ways to Invest for a Golden Visa in Portugal

There are 3 different ways that you can invest in order to get the Golden Visa in Portugal: Capital Investment, Property Investment, and Funds Investment.

Each of these requires a different amount and have slightly different requirements. Unfortunately, all of these amounts were raised recently.

Here are the current requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa:

  • Capital investment: The minimum investment is €1,500,000.00.
  • Property investment: The main change in this type of investment is that the residential real estate investments, either in the category of €500,000 or €350,000, will be restricted to the islands (Madeira and Azores) and to the areas specified in Regulation no. 208/2017 of July 13th.
  • Funds investment: The minimum investment is €500,000.00.

Digital Nomad Visa

There are actually two different types of Portuguese digital nomad visas – a temporary stay visa which lasts up to a year and a residency visa which you can keep renewing for up to five years. For the temporary stay visa, the minimum requirement for eligibility is an income of €2,800 per month.

To apply for your digital nomad temporary stay visa, you’ll need the following documentation:

  • Temporary Stay Visa Application form
  • Cover letter explaining the purpose of your visa application
  • Valid Passport (with at least six months of validity)
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Proof of regular income that meets the minimum requirements
  • Proof of accommodation in Portugal for at least a year
  • Certificate of criminal record (certified by Apostille)
  • Proof of valid health insurance (for the first four months of your stay)
  • Proof of visa fee payment

The cover letter is an interesting addition and you have to explain why you want to move to Portugal, how you’re supporting yourself while you’re there, any connections you have to Portugal, and where you plan on living.

If you want help applying for any of the visas above, contact Pares Advogados and tell them “Wander Onwards” sent you for a discount.

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How Much Does it Cost to Move to Portugal as an American?

So, how much money will you need to move to Portugal as an American? Unfortunately, the answer is that it depends on a variety of factors.

In general, it’s not worth the time and money to transport your belongings all the way from the United States to Portugal.

It’s usually better to sell whatever you have in the United States before moving, or store it in a storage unit and replace all of your possessions with new items once you arrive.

Plus, if you end up selling a lot of your things, you’ll have the money to buy new things abroad!

Here are the things to factor into the cost of moving to Portugal from the USA:

  • Cost of Flight to Portugal & Extra Suitcases
  • Cost of Bringing Pets
  • Cost of Hiring Help to Get a Visa
  • Cost of Paying Visa Fees & Visa Taxes
  • Cost of Renting an Apartment, Apartment Deposit, and Possibly an Agency Fee
  • Cost of Utilities, Wifi, & Phones

If you sell everything, don’t have any pets, then move to a cheaper city in Portgual, the cost of moving would be under $10,000. That would not include the amount of money you need to have in your Portuguese bank account.

So if you’re getting the D7 visa (the most common one) and you need about 8,000 euros in your bank account, then you would need about $19,000 total to move to Portugal.

This would give you enough for the visa process and buy new possessions (like furnishing an apartment) and have a bit of a safety net once you get there.

Over time, you could be saving money if you move to a city that is cheaper than your American city.

Cost of Living in Portugal for Americans

The cost of living in Portugal varies depending on the city you choose to live in.

Some cities, like Lisbon and Porto, are more expensive than others.

Although there is a lot to consider while calculating the expense of relocating to Portugal, it’s very likely that the cost of living will be far lower than where you came from in the United States.

The best way to compare the cost of living in Portugal to the cost of living in your city in the USA is to use Numbeo.

Using Numbeo, you can compare any two cities in the world and what the cost of living would be in each city.

numbeo comparing cost of living in LA to Porto, Portugal
Click on the “change the amount in this calculation” to your cost of living in your current city.

Since you already know how much your cost of living is in the city you currently live in, you can use the re-calculate feature to more accurately estimate how much it will cost to live in your new Portuguese city.

Portugal is one of the more affordable countries in Western Europe, but even then, there are cities that are more expensive than others.

If you are on a higher budget, try one of these cities:

  • Lisbon
  • Porto
  • Lagos

For a cheaper cost of living, try living on the outskirts of one of the cities listed above. You can save a lot of money by living just 30 minutes outside of the main city.

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The Best Places to Live in Portugal as an American

Another great way to compare places to live is by using Nomadlist.com. If you’ve ever been a nomad, you may have heard of this site before, but basically, it rates cities based on their quality of living, cost of living, and the community and acceptance in that city.

Currently, Lisbon and Porto are both ranking in the top 5 cities in the world to live as a nomad, which is great news for Americans who are choosing Portugal as their new home!

Although I would still recommend using Numbeo for a more accurate look at the cost of living, this site can help you get an idea of the best cities in Portugal from a different perspective.

Nomadlist.com list of best cities including Lisbon and Porto

If you want to narrow down your search to just cities in Portugal, type “Portugal” into the search bar and choose the “Portugal” filter.

1. Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and therefore, one of the most expensive cities in Portugal. But it’s also one of the most beautiful and has a lot to offer expats.

girl standing in Lisbon, Portugal

The city is located on the coast, so there are plenty of beaches and ocean views nearby. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants, and cultural events to enjoy.

If you’re looking for a large expat community, Lisbon is going to be your best bet.

2. Porto

Porto is located in Northeastern Portugal and is the second-largest city in the country. It is also a popular tourist destination, known for its wine and bridges.

It’s less expensive than Lisbon, but still has a great community for expats.

Porto, Portugal

3. Madeira Island

Madeira Island is a beautiful volcanic island located in the Atlantic Ocean. It is known for its lush vegetation, stunning coastal views, and relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle. It’s basically the Hawaii of Portugal!

Madeira Island, Portugal

If you’re into hiking and finding insane viewpoints, you may want to look into living on Madeira Island. It’s a bit more off the beaten path, meaning that there would be fewer expats and maybe a smaller community.

However, it’s still cheap to fly to the mainland and it’s one of the only mountainous areas in Portugal.

4. Lagos, Algarve

Lagos is located in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. If you’re a fan of amazing cliff-sides and beaches with gorgeous clear water, the Algarve region is perfect for you.

Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

5. Azores Islands

Another great option for adventurers, the Azores Islands are nine islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The most populated island is São Miguel, also named “The Green Island.”

Azores Island in Portugal

4 Essential Tips for How to Move to Portugal from the US

1. Understand Your Tax Burden

Portugal is one of the best countries in Europe for Americans to get tax breaks. However, they don’t just happen automatically when you move there.

Make sure you are aware of what you qualify for and what the deadlines and application processes look like before you move to Portugal.

Read my guide on expat taxes to help you get started on your research.

2. Have a Cushion of Savings Prepared

There will almost certainly be a lot of unanticipated costs associated with relocating, so make sure you have a decent buffer in your savings account just in case!

3. Visit Portugal & Your Dream City BEFORE Moving There

If you plan to stay in Portugal long-term, you definitely need to visit and stay as long as you can in the city you plan to move to in order to make sure it’s right for you.

Make sure to try a couple of different cities before deciding on one. Sometimes it really helps to know what you DON’T want to find out what you really do want.

Even just switching up the neighborhood could make the world of a difference.

Also, don’t be afraid to be wrong. Maybe you dreamed of a life in Lisbon, but once you got there it just didn’t feel right.

That’s totally normal, and there will be a city that is a good fit for you, you just have to keep looking!

Taking the time to research and learn all you can about your city in Portugal may even help you save money in the end. Moving again would be a huge hassle.

4. Be Patient & Prepare for a Lot of Paperwork

Finally, be patient throughout the process. Things in Portugal are done differently than they are in the United States, and you will undoubtedly get frustrated.

There’s a steep learning curve ahead of you, so be prepared for things to go differently than you anticipated. Don’t say I didn’t give you a head’s up!

Have you moved to Portugal as an American or are you planning the big move? Did I miss your favorite expat city in Portugal? Let me know in the comments!

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