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Work Permits for Portugal

Portugal’s economy has slowly been recovering from the financial crisis, but it is still fairly vulnerable compared to other European economies. There are, however, lots of growing sectors that make working in Portugal a feasible option. Our guide has details.
Portugal is among the world leaders in green technologies.

Want to Work? Plan Ahead

As is the case in many other nations around the world, Portuguese work permits are closely linked to entry and residence visas. This means that everyone who wishes to take up employment in Portugal has to apply for a visa type that facilitates this. Visas can only be applied for from within your country of residence, well before you actually come to work in Portugal. Expats from within the EEA enjoy freedom of movement and are thus exempt from visa and work permit regulations.

The two main categories of visas that cater to expats’ needs are the Temporary Stay Visa and the Residence Visa. Both allow the holder to work in the country, the former having the obvious limitation of being rather short-term.

Third-Country Nationals: Quota and Application

Both visas are based on similar principles and have similar requirements. Not every job offer in Portugal is open to third-country nationals (i.e. countries outside the EEA and countries with which there is no agreement on the free movement of persons). The Portuguese government has set up an annual quota of job opportunities that are available to people who are not residents of an EEA country. If employers want or need to extend their job offers to include third-country nationals, for example because there were no suitable applicants to be found locally or nationally, they can apply for evaluation of the job offer at the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP). In case everything works out as desired, the IEFP advertises the available job offers on their website. The offers are also passed on to Portuguese embassies and consular posts.

If you have found a job offer that speaks to you, simply send the employer your application. If everything goes well, you should receive either a work contract or a promise thereof, accompanied by a statement by the IEFP that the position was included in the quota and could not be filled by a candidate with preferential status. This includes Portuguese citizens, EEA citizens, and third-country nationals who are already residents of Portugal.

What Else You Should Know

The Temporary Stay Visa and the Residence Visa share a number of other requirements as well. To apply for either one, you must supply:

  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence
  • proof of travel insurance
  • a valid travel document
  • a ticket that ensures your return travel
  • the abovementioned actual or promised work contract

Please note that the temporary stay visa is issued for the duration of three months, or the period of your work contract. Portugal also has a visa for temporary intra-company transfers, for example for expats who need to carry out a short-term project in Portugal. The requirements remain very much the same as with the Temporary Stay Visa for employees. However, this type of visa is only open to executives or management level employees, as well as those with special technical knowledge.

The Residence Visa, on the other hand, is not much more than a stepping stone on the way to the actual goal: a residence permit. With the visa, you can stay in Portugal for four months, in which time you should apply for a residence permit with the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF). The usual waiting time for the decision from the SEF is 60 days. Note that the visa itself does not yet make you a resident. For further information, please see the SEF website.


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