I was recently interviewed by Bridge TEFL about living and teaching as a digital nomad here in Portugal. I’ve received a lot of messages asking about the visa process, so this week, I am going to break down my experience applying for the Type 1 Visa- also known as the D-7 visa.
The Type 1/D-7 visa allows you to live and work in Portugal. You’re not required to leave the Schengen Zone after 90 days, but permitted to stay here continuously. You’re also entitled to apply for Portuguese healthcare (after receiving your Residence Permit) and apply for non-habitual residency (which may entitle you to live tax-free in Portugal or be taxed at a reduced rate for a period of up to ten years*).
There are two parts to the application process.
- Apply to the Portuguese consulate for a Residence Visa, which allows travel to Portugal for a period of 120 days.
- During the first 120, one must successfully complete an interview at SEF (the Portuguese immigration authority), after which the Temporary Residence Permit will be granted.
Your journey begins with your application to the Portuguese consulate. As an American applying from my home country, I made my application in Washington DC. Listed below are the items your will need to complete your application:
- Application Form for Schengen Visa
This form must be signed in the presence of a notary.
- Statement of Purpose
Here you need to list three reasons why you are interested in relocating to Portugal. This doesn’t have to be especially detailed. Acceptable reasons include: 1) an interest in learning the language 2) exploring the beautiful countryside 3) the safety and low cost of living that Portugal offers.
- Proof of Income
Here is where you need to show that you earn enough to support yourself in Portugal. Your online teaching income should be sufficient. The minimum wage in Portugal (700 Euros/month) is quite low relative to many other Western countries. You will need to submit a copy of your most recent tax return with your application.
- Proof of Funds
You will need to submit your last three months of bank statements. I was told that $15,000 USD is sufficient. This doesn’t have to be in a bank account. You can also submit brokerage account statements in lieu of bank statements.
- FBI Background Check
You can get more info on completing your FBI check here. You will need to be fingerprinted at a local police station, and submit $18 to the FBI. Your results will be submitted to you digitally. You can print these and forward them with your application.
- A Copy of Tax ID Number (NIF)
You can obtain a NIF by having a financial representative go to the Finance office for you. I used Bruno Alexander and found him to be fast and efficient. His fee was 110 Euros. You will need a NIF to enter into rental or purchase contracts. He is a moderator of the Facebook group Americans Living in Portugal.
- Proof of Accommodation
This was rather easy for me because I had purchased a home in Portugal prior to applying. I simply needed to submit the purchase contract with my application. If you plan to rent, you need to submit a copy of your lease with your contract. This means coming to Portugal and securing a place to live. Another option may be to use AirBnB and show that you have accommodation for the six-month period. This will afford you time to look around and find an area you really like.
- Proof of Insurance
With a NIF, you can apply for Portuguese health insurance, which is incredibly affordable. I submitted a copy of travel insurance that was valid for 120 days. I used Squaremouth which was incredibly affordable. World Nomads is another option that offers a bit more coverage. If you get travel insurance, you may be required to submit a statement promising to get Portuguese coverage after you arrive.
- Declaration of Portuguese Criminal Record Check
You will need to sign a paper authorizing the Portuguese police to perform a background check on you within Portugal and submit this with your application.
- A Copy of Your Passport and 3 Passport-Sized Photos
You will keep your passport until your visa is approved.
You will also need to include a self-addressed, stamped express mail envelope and a check for the visa processing fees (varies depending on USD/EUR exchange rate). When I applied, my fees were approximately $105 USD.
From receipt of your application, it takes approximately 60 days to process your visa. I received an email saying my visa had been approved. I posted my passport to Washington DC and the passport (with my new visa) was returned in the self-addressed envelope that I’d sent previously. Once you have the passport with the visa, go ahead and purchase your tickets and head off to Portugal!
Once you arrive in Portugal, you will have to set up a Portuguese bank account (if you haven’t already done so). I like Activo Bank because they have no fees and the are open late. They have limited locations, but you can do some of your banking at Millennium Bank (which is more easily found in Portugal). I also have an account with Novo Bank, which offers more services. However, they still charge me a 5 Euro/month fee. You will also have to set-up an appointment for your immigration interview with SEF.
For the SEF interview, you will need to show your Portuguese bank statements as well as proof of your Portuguese health insurance. I was also asked to provide a deed indicating that I owned my own home here in Portugal. I have heard stories of people enduring quite a grilling during their SEF interview. I am using an agent who will accompany me to my interview. Of course, there are costs involved with obtaining the services of an agent. I used Paula Santos at Timely Solutions in Lisbon and found her to be professional and attentive. Her fee was 650 Euros and includes obtaining your NIF. NOTE: This is in addition to the processing fee at the Portuguese consulate.
Length of Stay
Once granted, your Temporary Residence Permit allows you to stay into the country up to one year from the time that your visa was granted by the consulate. After such time, you may apply to renew your permit for a period of two additional years (bringing your total time in Portugal to three years). After three years, you can renew your permit once more (bringing your total time in Portugal to five years. After five years, you can apply for permanent residency. After living for a year in Portugal as a permanent resident, you are eligible to apply for citizenship (and the EU passport that comes with it). There is a language requirement for obtaining this.
I’m still in the early stages of living and teaching in Portugal. It is an amazing spot to be a digital nomad ESL teacher. I’m happy to share my experiences and answer any questions about how I’ve handled the process. Shoot an email, join our FB group, or follow us on FB.
Enjoy the ride-