Non EU citizens requirements to work in Portugal

Non EU citizens requirements to work in Portugal

Know more about non EU citizens requirements to work in Portugal. Most non-EU nationals will need a Portuguese work permit before they can undertake employment in Portugal. In the majority of cases, a Portuguese work permit is only available to non-EU nationals with a job offer or if the individual is married to a Portuguese citizen. If approved, they can continue the process of obtaining a Portuguese work visa or residence permit.

Non-EU citizens will need to get hired first. Once you have found employment, your employer applies for a Portuguese work permit (Autorização de Trabalho) to the Portuguese Labor Authorities, if the job is longer than three months.

Once a job contract or work permit is approved, non-EU nationals need to apply for:

  • a Portuguese work visa, if their nationality requires a visa to enter Portugal or employment is less than six months.
  • a residence permit, if they plan to work in Portugal for long-term. The type of residence permit you need depends on the basis on your employment.

The following Portuguese work visas are available to non-EU nationals.

Non EU citizens requirements to work in Portugal

Short-term Portuguese work visa

This Portuguese work visa is required for short-term temporary contracts lasting less than six months. It is available to employees and self-employed workers subject to an evaluation by the labor authority (IEFP). The temporary-stay visa can also be extended up to one year if you are engaged in scientific research, academic teaching, or highly qualified professional activities, or certain training and service provisions provided by members of World Trade Organization countries.

If you are visiting Portugal on a short-stay for business purposes, you can apply for a Portuguese business visa.

Long-term Portuguese work visa

This Portuguese work visa is necessary for non-EU nationals who intend to work in Portugal longer than six months. As Portugal is in the Schengen Area, the work visa is in the form of a long-term Schengen Visa (type D), enabling the holder to travel across the 26 Schengen area countries. Even more information on the Schengen area is available in our guide to Portuguese visas.

Due to bilateral agreements, citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Israel can apply for this visa from within Portugal, within 90 days of arrival. All other non-EU nationals will need to apply in advance of traveling to Portugal.

Once the visa is secured, you must apply for a Portuguese residence permit from within the country.

Residence permits to work in Portugal

Which residence permit you can apply for will depend on your employment situation.


This is the standard residence permit for most employees working in Portugal. The permit is valid for one year and can also be renewed for up to five years, after which the holder can apply for permanent Portuguese residence.

Permits for highly-skilled migrants and researchers

This is a residence permit for scientific researchers, academic teachers, and workers in highly qualified professional activities. The permit is valid for one year and can also be renewed up to five years, after which the holder can apply for permanent Portuguese residence.

EU Blue Card

The Blue Card scheme acts as a Portuguese work visa and residency for highly qualified workers from non-EU countries. You can apply for an EU Blue Card if you have a higher qualification, are a paid employee with a work contract or binding job offer in an EU country for at least one year, and have a gross annual salary at least one and a half times the national average of the country.

EU Blue Cards are valid for between one and four years and allow non-EU nationals to work in 24 of 27 EU member states (excluding Denmark and Ireland). A Blue Card holder who has been living in Portugal for 18 months can apply for a residence permit for researchers or highly-skilled migrants.

Golden residence for business investors

This is a special Portuguese visa program that attracts foreign investment into Portugal. The Portuguese golden visa program speeds up the process for investors from non-EU countries to obtain a Portuguese residence permit, based on real estate or investment in starting a business in Portugal.

Read even more in our guide to Portuguese golden visas.

Self-employed workers in Portugal

Non-EU/EFTA residents wanting to set up a small business or pursue freelance work in Portugal go through the same process to get a Portuguese resident visa as employees. However, the residence permit you will be granted is specific to self-employed workers, requiring extra documentation related to your business activities and business or self-employment registration with the tax office.

Self-employed workers can undertake work with a third-party employer, however, they will need to get a residence permit for employees first.

If you want to start up a business in Portugal, Portugal Ventures invests in start-up businesses with entrepreneurial ideas.

Training and volunteer work in Portugal

Third-country nationals undertaking unpaid training placements or volunteer work can apply for a special Portuguese residence permit; see the requirements for trainees and volunteers.

Upon completion of training, students are entitled to work in Portugal on an employment contract, subject to an application for a change in residence permit being authorized by the SEF.

A residence permit for volunteers is valid for one year, except for in circumstances where a volunteering program lasts longer than one year, and is not renewable. Unpaid employment is possible on this permit.

Students working in Portugal

Non-EU nationals generally require a Portuguese student permit but must work in Portugal subject to authorization from the SEF. They can also carry out research work in Portugal, teaching, or highly qualified professional activities if they meet the necessary criteria. Read more about Portuguese student visas.

Applying for a Portuguese work permit

EU/EFTA nationals only need to apply for a Residence Certificate from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF) if they are working in Portugal for longer than three months.

Third-country nationals will need to apply for a Portuguese work visa at the embassy or consulate in their home country, once they have received confirmation that their employer’s application for a Portuguese work permit has been granted.

Along with your Portuguese work visa application form, you will need to provide the following:

  • Passport photo
  • Passport and copies of your previous visas
  • Flight reservation details (although not always)
  • Medical insurance policy covering expenses up to €30,000
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Employment contract between you and your employer

Your Portuguese work visa is valid for the length of time you’re working in Portugal, or long enough to lodge your application for a Portuguese residence visa. Applications can take from two weeks to around two to three months in total.

Once you arrive in Portugal, you must register for social security in Portugal and a Portuguese tax number. You can do this through the Portuguese Social Security Office. Proof of this registration is typically necessary when applying for your Portuguese residence permit.

You have plenty of work offers, please check what is available at jobs in Portugal.

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