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Are you legal in Portugal? Rules on residency for citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland

portugalFollowing her widely read article, 'Become a Portuguese citizen AND keep your British passport,' Sue Fletcher offers help and advice to those deciding to follow the rules in Portugal and apply for residency, thus avoiding a fine of between €400 and €1,500.

Sue Fletcher writes: "Many of us arrive in Portugal and never bother to take out any form of residency in the firm belief that we aren’t required to do so under the EU freedom of movement rules.

However, under Portuguese law, EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens who remain in Portugal for longer than 3 months, have to formalise their right of residence by registering at their local Camâra (town hall) within the following 30 days. The certificate obtained is valid for five years and the cost is €15.

In light of Brexit, the British Ambassador to Portugal has been attending a series of ‘surgeries’ around the country talking to British overseas residents about the possible outcomes of the UK leaving the EU. Currently little is known, but Kirsty Hayes did stress that all British citizens should make sure that their authorisations for residency, passports and other documentation is up to date and in order.

Thankfully, the regime in Portugal for EU citizens is very straightforward when compared to that of the UK. You need to go to the Camâra in person and take with you the following documents:

Workers, pensioners and students:
⦁    a valid identity document - passport
⦁    a declaration on oath that you are employed or self-employed in Portugal. Take any proof of employment with you.
or
⦁    a declaration on oath that you have sufficient financial resources for yourself and your family members.

Currently, because of the agreement Portugal has with the UK there is no need for UK citizens to have a private health insurance policy but be aware that this may change after Brexit. If you come from an EU country that asks Portuguese migrants to have a health insurance policy, then you too will require this and provide proof.

Students also require an additional declaration on oath that they are registered with an officially accredited public or private educational establishment.

When I registered at my local Camâra no actual wording for the declaration was given on the form and I had to write my own in Portuguese. This may not be the same across the country but if you wish to use this wording please do:

‘Eu declaro que tenho meios suficientes para que eu e a minha família a viver em Portugal sem necessidade de pedir ajuda ao Estado Português.’

Should you fail to register, the law provides for a fine of between €400 and €1,500 (at the time of writing - March 2017), although personally I only know of one person that has had a fine for this and that was several years ago. In addition to the fine he had to register to pay tax in Portugal and back-tax for the years the authorities considered him to be resident here, even though he had paid tax in the UK. He had to get a tax refund from HMRC.

The law also provides for fines should you register or remain registered without meeting the necessary conditions above. This fine can be between €500 and €2,500.

In the event of an abuse of the law, fraud, or false marriage or partnership of convenience, residence rights will be refused and withdrawn.

The Benefits of Residency

With the residency certificate you can import a car. You can also do this without paying the current hefty tax – a useful article covering this can be found here:
http://heyportugal.com/life/travel-transport/1238-importing-a-car-into-portugal-tax-free-option

Currently, with the residency certificate you can register your EU driving licence with IMT, rather than exchange it for a Portuguese driving licence. Again, how Brexit will affect UK driving licences is as yet unclear, but it is expected that the EU aspect of the UK driving licence will be removed when the driving licence is exchanged at renewal. This might also force a swap to a Portuguese licence which will then make it illegal to drive a foreign registered car.

You also can register for discounted healthcare through the Portuguese national health service (SNS) and the following link gives a succinct guide to healthcare for foreigners in Portugal (https://www.angloinfo.com/how-to/portugal/healthcare/health-system/healthcare-for-foreigners).

Another benefit of residency is the right to vote in local and EU elections. This is particularly important as the local Mayors hold a lot of power and more powers are being devolved from central to local government. Local elections will take place this autumn (2017) and registering to vote is carried out at the local Junta de Freguesia up to 70 days before the election. Just take your passport, fiscal number and residency permit with you.

After holding this residency certificate for 5 years you can apply for a Permanent Resident Card.

All international citizens who become official residents or employees in Portugal, however, whether from the EU or outside of Europe, typically gain the same healthcare rights as Portuguese nationals and will be covered by health insurance in Portugal - although not all types of treatment are available for free, with many requiring a patient contribution.

http://www.expatica.com/pt/healthcare/Health-insurance-in-Portugal_105298.html

Permanent Resident Card - for EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens

Once you have been legally resident in Portugal for 5 years you can apply for your Certificate of Permanent Residence. This is valid for 10 years.

You need to either go to your local SEF office in person or you can post your application. The form can be downloaded from the SEF website and comes with three languages, Portuguese, French and English: http://www.sef.pt/documentos/57/Mod0011_v2.7_comunitarios.pdf

The form is relatively straightforward but be sure to tick the correct form of resident’s card you require on the last page. For an individual applying it is option 2.

Documents you will need to provide:

  • Proof of having been legally residing in Portugal for an uninterrupted period of five years.
  • A copy of the Certificate of Residence from the Camâra (see above)
  • Two passport photographs
  • Copies of a valid Passport or Identity Card

In case you have changed your address since applying for your original residency, you will also require documental evidence of change of address – for example, an Attestation of Residence issued by the local parish (Atestado de Residência da Junta de Freguesia), Final Deeds of Purchase (Escritura de Compra e venda), or Property lease contract (Contrato de Arrendamento), and photocopy of the same.

You will be required to wait for 15 working days. The Permanent Residency Card must be collected in person as you are required to give a fingerprint and pay a fee of €15.

Non-Habitual Residency

To attract more foreigners Portugal offers a ‘non-habitual resident’ (NHR) scheme that allows new residents special tax benefits for their first ten years in the country. It offers a low income tax rate if you are employed here and allows you to receive foreign income e.g. pensions – tax-free.

For a more detailed explanation visit this link:
http://www.blevinsfranks.com/news/blevinsfranks/article/non-habitual-resident-portugal-tax-free-opportunities?gclid=CK3Gq8K879ICFSwq0wod3hkCug

Note about Brexit

Currently, we have no idea how Brexit will affect UK citizens with regard to permanent residency. However, what is known is that non-EU citizens need to sit the language test to gain permanent residency, so if you have the five year certificate from the Camâra, then it is probably worth applying for the permanent residency card as soon as possible, before the UK exits the EU. What is also unknown is what happens when we need to renew our permanent residency cards after ten years.

Details of the language test can be found here."
http://algarvedailynews.com/images/features/legal/citizen_port_test.pdf

__________

See also: 'Become a Portuguese citizen AND keep your British passport'

Comments  

0 #14 Joel Rendall 2017-09-10 10:28
Hi Sue, just wanted to say thanks for your kind mention of Practice Portuguese. I stumbled across the PDF file you link to and was pleased to find us mentioned :) Obrigado!
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0 #13 Sue F 2017-08-30 16:47
Quoting Chris Holmes:
I bought a house in Portugal in 1999 although I still live in the U.K. I am thinking of moving there in June 2108 and wondered if having a house makes any difference to the time I have to wait for residency ?

The swift answer is 'no'. You need to apply for residency at the local Camara after 90 days of arriving in Portugal and then after 5 years apply
for permanent residency. Hopefully, the Brexit negotiations will permit anyone already in the residency process system, when Brexit happens, to
continue on for permanent residency without the need to undertake the Portuguese language test. However, this is far from certain. If you come
over to Portugal before June 2018 it might be an idea to try and get the temporary residency permit then to save some valuable time.
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+1 #12 Chris Holmes 2017-08-30 13:37
I bought a house in Portugal in 1999 although I still live in the U.K. I am thinking of moving there in June 2108 and wondered if having a house makes any difference to the time I have to wait for residency ?
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+1 #11 Ed 2017-08-06 11:28
Quoting Buccaneer:
i HAVE LIVED/WORKED HERE FOR 15 YEARS AND NOW PLAN TO APPLY FOR A PERMANENT RESIDENCY CARD.
I INTEND APPLYING BY POST AND JUST NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS REQUIRED BY 'Proof of having been legally residing in Portugal for an uninterrupted period of five years'.
CAN ANYONE CLARIFY THIS PLEASE.

Thanks for your question. There are a couple of questions here for you.
Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen? If so do you have the 5-year temporary residency that you get from your local Câmara?
If you have it then you can apply for permanent residency. If not then go to your Câmara and do this ASAP. Maybe backdate 3-months if you can as every little helps.
If you can send an email to I can send you the appropriate form in PDF with the requirements, which are set out in the article.

If you are sending by post you will also need a short covering letter in Portuguese.

The residency should be ready in 3 weeks but it has to be collected in person as your fingerprint will be required.

BY 'Proof of having been legally residing in Portugal for an uninterrupted period of five years'.

This is the temporary residency mentioned above. If you’re not an EU citizen you will have had some other form of residency to cover this period.
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+2 #10 Ed 2017-08-06 08:01
Quoting john clare:
When I was a teenager I was given a lot of lessons by a friend of the family, Sir John Templeton. He was smart, very successful and very rich. As a teenager I didn’t pay much attention, but I have a good memory. One of the many pieces of advice he gave me about residency in foreign countries was very simple, and I have always followed it. Be resident in one country, work in a second, but live in a third. Easier these days than in former times.
The answer nowadays is to make sure you keep your UK residency, and live in Portugal, but don’t have a Portugal bank account, and don’t under any circumstances buy a house here. Always rent. Renting is much cheaper than owning. Owning foreign property is strictly for the rich. That way you are a permanent tourist, and can move at the drop of a hat, and you are a servant to no-one.


"You could give away too much land and too much money," said Sir John Templeton, "but never enough love, and the real return was immediate: more love."
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+2 #9 john clare 2017-08-06 07:54
When I was a teenager I was given a lot of lessons by a friend of the family, Sir John Templeton. He was smart, very successful and very rich. As a teenager I didn’t pay much attention, but I have a good memory. One of the many pieces of advice he gave me about residency in foreign countries was very simple, and I have always followed it. Be resident in one country, work in a second, but live in a third. Easier these days than in former times.
The answer nowadays is to make sure you keep your UK residency, and live in Portugal, but don’t have a Portugal bank account, and don’t under any circumstances buy a house here. Always rent. Renting is much cheaper than owning. Owning foreign property is strictly for the rich. That way you are a permanent tourist, and can move at the drop of a hat, and you are a servant to no-one.
Quote
+1 #8 Buccaneer 2017-05-11 10:48
i HAVE LIVED/WORKED HERE FOR 15 YEARS AND NOW PLAN TO APPLY FOR A PERMANENT RESIDENCY CARD.
I INTEND APPLYING BY POST AND JUST NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS REQUIRED BY 'Proof of having been legally residing in Portugal for an uninterrupted period of five years'.
CAN ANYONE CLARIFY THIS PLEASE.
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+1 #7 SF 2017-04-23 16:58
Quoting Mary Ashcroft:
Hi Sue. Is it 3 months? Or the 90 days rule? Thanks for your information


3 months - which is pretty well 90 days, but depends on the number of days in a month of course.

Sue

See http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/index_en.htm
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+2 #6 Mary Ashcroft 2017-04-23 16:01
Hi Sue. Is it 3 months? Or the 90 days rule? Thanks for your information
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+3 #5 SueF 2017-03-27 07:33
Hi Anabel
Tax residency doesn't kick in until you have been in the country for more than 183 days continuously..I am not a tax expert and so cannot advise on any tax issue.
Sue
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