Greetings to everyone from sunny Portugal! Today’s interview was the most unusual for me in a while. And the reason is not only because of the beautiful guest. The endless ocean around, the soft setting sun, and a pleasant spring breeze – that’s how our team together with Sergei Sokolov – immigration and investment consultant, spent the last weekend of March, where we discussed the questions that you asked under the last article.
How to move, get citizenship and find your first home in Portugal
Alexander: Thanks so much for agreeing to meet. Can you tell me why such an unusual setting?”
Sergei: To be honest, for the past month I could not get away from work, so this weekend I decided to combine business with pleasure. Besides, the coastal city disposes to such sea walks.
Sergei: I have not been able to get away from work for a long time.
A: Let’s start with a few words about what you do now. I heard you started your own business last year?
C: Yeah, decided to finally do something of my own. Business is certainly a big word, more of a small consulting agency, but it’s a huge step forward for me. The main profile – investments and buying real estate.
A: Great. Glad it worked out for you. I suggest we move on to the questions we’ve picked up for today. Let’s start with a generalized, but no less important one: “Why do you recommend Portugal over central European countries for a move?”
C: Well, it’s pretty simple here. Agree, whichever way a person chooses when moving, the goal is always the same – to get citizenship. And, from this point of view, Portugal is ideal. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
- If the budget is limited and the plan is to find a job or finish university and get citizenship while living in the country, Portugal will greet you with a mild climate, low rental prices, and, of course, a huge and growing job market.
- If you choose the path of Portugal’s “golden visa” you get one of the lowest bars on the amount of investment in Europe, preferential tax treatment for the first 10 years, and the need to stay in the country for only two weeks a year.
- For entrepreneurs there are also all the necessary conditions: you can either register your own business or buy an existing one. In addition, this option also includes the possibility of registration of preferential tax treatment.
Why not central European countries? Indeed, in conditional Germany or Austria, the same conditions are relevant. And you are likely to come to the same result. The most important difference is the money spent. And the result, as I said before, is the same, so I just don’t see the point in overpaying.
A: “Do I need to learn Portuguese to move to Portugal and get citizenship?”
C: It is not strictly necessary to begin with. The local population speaks excellent English, so you won’t have any problems at home. I also have great news for those who want to find jobs in IT: local employers most often require only knowledge of English. You will need knowledge of Portuguese in several cases:
- when you apply to an institution of higher learning
The last point applies to anyone and everyone, whatever immigration program you choose. But trust me, having lived among native speakers for five years and, at the very least, having completed small courses, you definitely won’t have any difficulty with that.
A: “Is it expensive to rent in Portugal?”
C: I can make you happy here: Portugal has some of the lowest rental prices in Europe. Rent costs will certainly vary greatly depending on the region in which you’re looking for accommodation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t afford to rent an apartment in Lisbon and Porto. The minimum rent for an apartment you will find in Portugal is in the Guarda area – in the range of 350 euros.
The minimum rent for an apartment you will find in Portugal is in the Guarda area – in the range of 350 euros.
A: “How does a foreigner find an apartment in Portugal? Are there any subtleties to consider when searching?”
C: If you plan to stay in Portugal for more than three months, you will in any case be faced with the issue of long-term rent. In addition, if you plan to apply for residency, you simply need to provide proof of residency. The most common form of proof is a rental agreement. Its most common form is Contratos de arrendamento, a contract of one to six years. At the signing of the lease you must provide:
- A valid identity card.
- Wage slip or tax return.
If you cannot provide a pay stub or tax return, you may be required to have a guarantor. This may be provided by the immigration agency with which you are cooperating on the move.
The best way to search for an apartment to rent is on specialized sites. By the way, note that in Portugal apartments are classified not by the number of rooms, but by the number of bedrooms. For example, T0 is a studio, and T1 is an apartment with two rooms (a hotel and a bedroom) and a kitchen. Most rentals are often already furnished, but I recommend paying attention to whether the listing is marked Apartamento mobile.
Particularly in the case of a furnished apartment.
A: “Are utilities expensive in Portugal?”
C: If you take the total amount per month, the utility bills in Portugal are among the lowest in Europe. At the same time, if we consider only electricity, we see the opposite situation. It is difficult for me to give a specific answer to this question because everything depends directly on your region of residence. But you should not worry. The prices will be minimal if you choose the right supplier.
A: Great. The next question is, “Which immigration program would you recommend and what are the fundamental differences between them?”
C: As I said, either option will lead to the cherished goal. The main difference is the budget you’re counting on. Historically, the most popular and affordable option is labor immigration. If you have the opportunity, it is worth considering the investment programs, starting your own business, or even launching a small startup.
My personal opinion: the best option is “golden visa” of Portugal through investments in real estate.
“Golden Visa” Portugal. How to get Portuguese citizenship for investment?”
A: It’s good that we came to this topic. I just have a couple of questions: “What is a Golden Visa and what options do I have as a potential investor?”
C: The Golden Visa is a program to grant a residence permit for investment in Portugal. It was launched in 2012 and has attracted many foreign investments since its inception. The calling card of this program is a virtually guaranteed residence permit and citizenship in Portugal. And after meeting the basic conditions you are required to stay in the country for only two weeks a year, which is not too difficult.
The investment options for obtaining a residence permit are many. Among the most popular are:
- investing in real estate;
- purchasing shares in local companies
- investing in investment and venture capital funds
- investing in scientific activities.
A: “Is there a difference between the different investment options under Portugal’s golden visa program?”
C: It’s important to understand the side of the question we’re looking at here. If we talk only about obtaining citizenship for investment, there is no difference. An investment in the economy would be just as effective as an investment in science. But take a different position. After all, in addition to coveted citizenship, investments can bring an impressive passive income.
A: Can you name the best cities in Portugal to buy real estate?
C: It all depends on your preferences and future plan for the property you purchase. My personal choice:
- Lisbon. Traditionally the most popular option among investors. And no wonder. The rents here are at a very high level compared to other cities, but, at the same time, willing to rent a residence is extremely high.
- Port. The city with the highest ratio of gross return on invested capital. The cost of the objects themselves is markedly lower than in the capital.
- Faru. The best option if you’re aiming for short-term rental income.
- Cascais. By right the best place to buy luxury real estate in Portugal. If you’re looking for the long term, I highly recommend it.
A: “Can I open a mortgage in Portugal?”
C: Yes, it is possible to open a mortgage in Portugal. And you don’t have to be a resident to do so. But I must disappoint you: having taken a mortgage you can not take part in an investment program to obtain a residence permit. And this is quite reasonable since the meaning of such programs is exclusively in attracting foreign capital investment in the economy.
Mortgage suits you if you do not claim to be a resident. In this case, it becomes an excellent option for purchasing real estate in the country.
Job Search in Portugal and EU Blue Card.
A: Let’s talk about the job search: “What are the most popular jobs in Portugal?”
C: You will find the most jobs in the tourism, hotel, and restaurant business. In addition, the field of information technology has been actively developing in Portugal in recent years.
A: “What’s the best way to find a job in Portugal.”
C: The most common way is to search for jobs on specialized websites. But to increase your chances of getting a good offer, I recommend contacting a recruiting agency. The main reasons why this would be the right decision:
- The chance of being offered a savvy position is greatly increased. And that’s because agencies work with companies that recruit responsibly and are willing to pay for good talent.
- You may be offered several vacancies from different companies at the same time. That’s a great way to improve your employment prospects.
- In the case of successful employment, the employer has no right to provide conditions of employment worse than those stipulated in the application for the specialist. This is also monitored very closely.
- Even if you are unsuccessful, the recruiter will always give you feedback and tell you what the employer is not satisfied with.
A: “What is the fundamental difference between a D1 and D3 work visa?”
C: The D1 is an ordinary work visa. It does not require the special qualifications of the applicant and does not impose wage restrictions. The main thing is that you have an employment contract on hand. And here the D3 visa is designed for “highly qualified specialists. This means that special requirements will be imposed on the applicant, namely:
- You must have an employment contract, valid for at least one year, as with the D1 visa.
- Your salary must be at least 1.5 times the Portuguese minimum wage
- You must have professional qualifications related to the activities that are listed in your employment contract. In some exceptional cases, you may need confirmation from the Foundation of Science and Technology of Portugal, which will assess your qualifications.
A: Can you elaborate on who needs a D3 visa and what’s the advantage of it?
C: Sure. The main idea of this program is the possibility of getting an EU Blue Card instead of the standard resident status. And this is already a serious advantage. The main reasons for applying for the Blue Card:
- You are entitled to the same working conditions and wages as EU citizens.
- If your work contract has expired, you will have 3 months to find a new job. And you can look for it not only in Portugal, but also throughout the EU.
- The Blue Card also simplifies the immigration process for your spouse: he/she will be immediately granted residency, even without a work contract.
- And, of course, the best part. The period after which you can apply for citizenship is significantly reduced for you. Instead of the standard 5 years, you can apply after 21 months.
A: “Is it possible for a freelancer to get a residence permit in Portugal”
C: It is possible. While in the country you have to issue an Atividade – the local equivalent of our usual self-employment. For registration you will need:
- Provide a tax identification number – NIF. You can apply for it at any office of the tax office.
- Submit the certificate of bank account.
- Foreign a power of attorney for the tax representative.
Next, you need to get a social security number and declare your income. The amount of your income must exceed the minimum wage in the country at the time of application. Next, you must submit all the documents you have collected to the portal sapa.sef.pt marked “for Manifestação dos Interesses”. Their list looks like this:
- Tax number.
- A certificate confirming the absence of criminal record.
- Confirmation of registration with the Segurança Social.
- Information on the actual address.
- Payroll (strictly for the last month).
- Document of incorporation (Inicio de actividade).
If all this is done, then all that remains is to wait for the interview. And this is where the first problems may arise. First, even if your documents are accepted it does not mean that you are guaranteed to get a residency card. Secondly, the average waiting period for an interview is six to nine months. Can I get a residence permit in Portugal as a freelancer? Yes, absolutely. Can I recommend this option? Definitely not. I’ve listed above the more reliable options that are better to give preference to.
A: Sergey, thank you so much for such a wonderful conversation! I’m sure your advice will help our readers on their journey to this beautiful country.
C: Thank you for your visit as well. Good luck with your hard work.
Thank you for being with us all this time. Your feedback is always welcome, so feel free to ask your questions on our social media channels. Or just fill out the form on M.consult. We’ll be sure to get back to you and tell you everything you need to know to move into your new dream life!”