Guidance

Living in Portugal

Information for British citizens moving to or living in Portugal, including guidance on residency, healthcare and driving.

This guide sets out essential information for British citizens moving to or living in Portugal. Read about how our embassy in Lisbon and consulate in Portimão can help.

This information is provided as a guide only. You should get definitive information from the Portuguese authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is not liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Read general guidance on moving or retiring abroad.

To stay up to date:

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

Some parts of this guide only apply if you were living in Portugal since before 1 January 2021. You should read these in addition to the rest of the guidance in each section.

You should also read our Living in Europe page for detailed guidance about citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Coronavirus

Follow the advice of the Portuguese government and your local health authority. You should also read the Portugal travel advice.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Portugal, read the coronavirus travel advice.

Visas and residency

You must tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Check the entry requirements for Portugal.

If you plan to live in Portugal, you must meet all visa requirements before you travel.

Read:

Visas and residency if you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021, you and your family members have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

You should exchange your EU residence document (Registration Certificates issued by the town halls or Certificates of Permanent Residence issued by SEF) for a biometric residence permit. This permit will show that you have the rights defined in the Withdrawal Agreement. It also proves your right to enter Portugal, and exempts you from the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and visa requirements.

For more information:

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021 but have not yet registered your intention to obtain the new Withdrawal Agreement residence document with SEF, you should email brexit@sef.pt.

Your email must include:

  • a scanned copy or photo of the details page of your passport
  • proof of your address
  • proof you were living in Portugal before January 2021, which could be your EU residency document or, if you do not have one, rental agreements, utility bills, etc.

If you receive an email from SEF requesting additional documentation, you must respond within 10 working days. After the 10 days, you should still reply, sending the requested additional documentation.

When your request is approved, SEF will email a personalised digital token that will give you access to SEF’s Brexit portal. You must then:

  • register on the SEF Brexit portal
  • download the certificate with the QR code. This is your official proof of residency in Portugal, valid until you receive your new biometric card

Once you have obtained the QR code, you do not need to take further action until you receive an email from SEF asking you to make an appointment for biometric data collection. When you receive your email notification from SEF:

  • go to the Brexit portal and log in with your credentials
  • use the schedule icon to choose a date and time for your appointment.

SEF have announced that you can book an appointment at any centre where there is availability, even if this is outside your local area. If you cannot or do not wish to travel, you do not have to take action within the timeframe given in the email. SEF will send you a new email notification at a later date, offering you another opportunity to book, when there may be more local appointments available.

When you go for your appointment, take:

  • your valid passport
  • proof of address
  • the original of your current EU certificate of residency (if you were registered with the town hall or SEF prior to 1 January 2021). This will be cancelled and returned to you.
  • your fiscal number (NIF)
  • your health number (número de utente de saúde)
  • your social security number (NISS) (if you have one)

If you have not yet registered with the health or tax authorities, or you are still waiting for your health number or fiscal number, you should still make your appointment.

There is a fee for issuing the new residence card, which you must pay after your appointment. You will pay 15 euros for a card with up to 5 years’ validity and 18 euros for a card with more than 5 years’ validity.  To arrange payment, you must first download a payment document (‘Payment Document DUC’) from the Brexit portal.  This form will contain a payment reference number. To download the payment document you should:

  • log on to your account on the Brexit portal
  • click on the payment icon
  • click on your name
  • click on the date of your appointment

The payment document may not be available until 48 hours after your appointment. After downloading the document, you must wait another 48 hours before you can pay at an ATM or via online banking. Your new card will be sent to you by post after you have paid.

If you cannot download the payment document or have problems making the payment, contact SEF using the details on the Brexit portal

Portugal considers dual nationals to be in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement. If you are a dual citizen of the UK and an EU country, you should register your residency with your European nationality. You still have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Family members

Your close family members continue to be able to join you and settle in Portugal at any time in the future. Read more information on who this applies to in the Living in Europe guidance.

Read the Portuguese government’s guidance on how to apply for residence as a family member. Nationals of certain non-EU countries may need a visa before travel.

Passports and travel

Coronavirus travel restrictions may affect travel to and from Portugal.

You can apply for or renew your British passport from Portugal.

Check the Portugal travel advice for passport validity requirements.

Always carry your passport when travelling within the Schengen area. If you have citizenship of an EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) country, in addition to your British citizenship, you should enter and leave Portugal using your EU or EFTA passport.

If you stay in Portugal with a Portuguese residence permit or long stay visa, this time does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit for the Schengen area.

If you visit other Schengen area countries outside Portugal, make sure you do not exceed the visa-free 90 days in any 180-day period. You are responsible for counting how long you stay under the Schengen visa waiver, and you must comply with its conditions.

Different rules apply to EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area. Check each country’s travel advice page for information on entry requirements.

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

When you travel, carry your residence card or frontier worker permit issued under the Withdrawal Agreement, in addition to your valid passport.

You must proactively show your residence document, or other evidence of residence status, if you are asked to show your passport at border control. If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021 but have not yet applied for a residence card, carry evidence that you are resident in Portugal. This could include a tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020.

If you cannot prove that you are resident in Portugal, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the EU. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. This will not affect your rights in the country or countries where you live or work. If your passport is stamped, the stamp is considered null and void when you can show evidence of lawful residence.

If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you can enter and exit Portugal with a valid passport. You do not need any additional validity on the passport beyond the dates on which you are travelling.

Healthcare

Read our guidance on healthcare in Portugal and make sure you are correctly registered for your circumstances.

Travel insurance is not intended to cover healthcare costs if you live overseas.

If you are registered as a resident, you should register with the Portuguese national health service (SNS). You will have the same benefits as a Portuguese citizen.

When you are registered as a resident in Portugal, ask for a healthcare user number (Número de Utente de Saúde) at your local health centre (centro de saúde). You will need to show your residence certificate and your passport. Read the Portuguese government guidance on access to healthcare for residents.

Read and download the leaflet from the British Embassy and Portuguese health authorities on how to access healthcare as a resident in Portugal.

You can get private health insurance but you do not need to, and it is not a substitute for registering for state healthcare.

State healthcare: S1

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Portugal and you:

  • are receiving a UK State Pension
  • are receiving some other ‘exportable benefits’
  • are a frontier worker who lives in Portugal and commutes to work in the UK
  • have been sent to Portugal temporarily by your UK employer

Read our guidance on using an S1 form in Portugal to ensure you are correctly registered for healthcare.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

If you are resident in Portugal, you must not use your UK-issued EHIC or GHIC to access healthcare in Portugal, unless you are a student or a detached (posted) worker. Current EHICs will remain valid until the expiry date on the card.

If you are living in Portugal, you may be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC or GHIC if you’re:

  • a UK student in Portugal
  • a UK State Pensioner with a registered S1
  • a frontier worker with a registered S1

The card you receive will depend on when you moved to Portugal.

Apply now for a new UK EHIC or GHIC.

You should apply for a Portuguese-issued EHIC for visits outside of Portugal if you are either:

  • registered with Portuguese Social Security (if you are working or the dependent of someone working in Portugal), or
  • resident in Portugal and do not have healthcare cover from the UK or another EU country (ie, you are not entitled to an S1), but have a healthcare user number (Número de Utente de Saúde)

Read the Portuguese government information on how to apply for a Portuguese-issued EHIC (in Portuguese), includes the application form. Complete this and hand it in at your nearest Social Security office. Your Portuguese-issued EHIC will be sent to you by post.

You should also read guidance on:

Working in Portugal

If you are planning to move to Portugal and work, you may need a visa.

Read the Portuguese Border and Immigration Agency’s guidance on working in Portugal as a foreign national and how to get a visa.

To apply for a job you may need to provide a:

Read our guidance on how to apply for a criminal record certificate in Portugal and in the UK.

Read:

If you work in Portugal, even if you work for a UK-based company, this may affect where you pay National Insurance-type contributions. Read the National insurance and social security contributions section for more information.

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

You have the right to work under the Withdrawal Agreement, if you have a biometric residence permit, or have applied for one.

If you live in Portugal and were regularly commuting to work in another EU or EFTA country before 1 January 2021, read our guidance for frontier workers.

Professional and academic qualifications

You may need to get your professional qualification recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in Portugal.

Read guidance on:

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

If the relevant regulator in Portugal officially recognised your professional qualification before 1 January 2021, or you started the recognition process by this date, make sure you understand the terms of your recognition decision.

If you’re not sure, you should get advice from the relevant regulator (NARIC and/or E-Portugal).

Recognition and legalisation of UK academic documents

If you are studying, you may need to have your UK qualifications recognised in Portugal. You can read our guidance on the recognition of UK educational qualifications.

You will need to contact:

You can get your diploma or school report officially certified by the UK Legalisation Office.

You can get a local notary(in Portuguese) to authenticate the translation of your diploma or school report.

Studying in Portugal

If you plan to study in Portugal, you must meet all visa requirements before you travel.

Contact the relevant higher education provider in Portugal to check what fees you may have to pay.

Read our guidance on:

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

The studying in the European Union guidance includes information if you were already living in Portugal before 1 January 2021.

Tax

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Portugal so that you do not pay tax on certain income in both countries.

If you are liable to pay tax in Portugal, you should apply for a tax number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF). You will also need a NIF if you intend to buy or sell property, open a bank account or sign long-term rental agreements.

You should get professional advice on paying tax in Portugal. Find a financial advisor or an English-speaking lawyer in Portugal.

The British Embassy in Portugal does not provide advice on tax issues. You should contact the Fiscal Authority (Autoridade Tributária) if you have questions on tax in Portugal (in Portuguese).

If you live in Portugal

If you live in Portugal, you must declare your total income to the Portuguese authorities, no matter which country it comes from. Ask the relevant tax authority about double taxation relief (in Portuguese) before 30 June 2022. You can appoint a tax representative, but this is not mandatory.

If you are resident in the UK but have property or business in Portugal

You must take at least one of the following actions by 31 December 2022:

This is a legal requirement.

If you are not resident in Portugal, you only pay tax on income made in Portugal.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Portugal. You can find a financial advisor or find an English-speaking lawyer in Portugal.

Read guidance about:

National insurance and social security contributions

National Insurance-type contributions (NIC) are called ‘social security contributions’ (contribuições para a Segurança Social) (SSC) in Portugal. Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Portugal.

If you plan to move to Portugal and work, even if you continue working for a UK-based company, you and your employer may need to pay social security contributions in Portugal. These social security contributions would entitle you to certain benefits, such as healthcare, in Portugal.

Read guidance on National Insurance for workers from the UK working in the EEA or Switzerland.

You can also check your UK National Insurance record.

Benefits

UK benefits

Read guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Portugal.

Check which UK benefits you can claim while abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

Portuguese benefits

To check if you are entitled to Portuguese benefits, contact Segurança Social (the public social security system) (in Portuguese).

Pensions

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions while you are living in Portugal.

Read State Pension guidance if you have lived in Australia, Canada or New Zealand and you are claiming or waiting to claim your UK State Pension.

If you retire in Portugal, you can claim:

Read the Money and Pension Service’s MoneyHelper guidance on pension and retirement for more information on cross-border pensions.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you must respond as soon as possible. Your payments may be suspended if you do not.

Money and banking

Whether UK banks can provide services to customers living in the EEA depends on local laws and regulation.

Read the Money and Pension Service’s MoneyHelper guidance on banking, insurance and financial services for more information on cross-border banking.

Accommodation and buying property

Read guidance on how to buy a property abroad.

If you are buying property in Portugal, you should ask a lawyer who is experienced in land law and property transactions. Make sure that they are registered with the law society, Ordem dos Advogados (in Portuguese).

Some notaries (in Portuguese), who are trained lawyers in Portugal, offer an independent property purchasing service known as Casa Simples, Casa Segura (in Portuguese).

If you are thinking of buying a coastal, river or lakeside property, ensure it’s not affected by the 2005 water resources law (in Portuguese).

If you buy rural property, make sure you comply with the law on preventing forest fires

Importing personal belongings to Portugal

If you want to bring personal belongings and used household goods to Portugal, you need a baggage certificate from the Portuguese Consulate in your current country of residence. You only need to do this if you have lived outside the EU for more than 12 consecutive months.

For information on how to apply for a baggage certificate from the UK, see the Portuguese Consulate-General’s website under “Certificado de bagagem (in Portuguese ).

Driving in Portugal

Until 31 December 2022

Rules applied to EU driving licences continue to apply to UK driving licences in Portugal until 31 December 2022. This means that until this date, it is possible to drive in Portugal on a UK driving licence issued by the DVLA (in England, Scotland and Wales) or DVA (in Northern Ireland).

To continue driving in Portugal as a resident, you must register your driving licence with the IMT. You must do this within 60 days of the issue date on your residence certificate, or immediately if you have already been in Portugal for more than 60 days.

Alternatively, you can exchange your UK driving licence for a Portuguese one now.

These arrangements will change on 1 January 2023. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to exchange your licence.

From 1 January 2023

The Portuguese Government recently introduced new legislation regarding driving licences issued by OECD countries. This means that you can continue using a UK driving licence as a resident in Portugal from 1 January 2023, if you meet all these requirements:

  • you are under the age of 60
  • your driving licence photocard has not expired
  • your licence was issued or renewed within the last 15 years
  • you are only using your licence to drive vehicle categories A and B
  • you are not disqualified from driving in Portugal or the UK.

If you do not meet all of these requirements, you will need to start the process to exchange your licence by the end of March 2023 to continue driving. Read more about the Portuguese legislation passed in August 2022 about licences issued by OECD countries.

The British and Portuguese governments continue to negotiate a joint agreement, separate to this legislation, for the recognition and exchange of UK driving licences. If you are resident in Portugal and need to drive, we advise that you exchange your valid UK licence now, do not wait for negotiations to conclude.

Exchanging your UK driving licence

To exchange your UK driving licence for a Portuguese one:

  • Go to the IMT portal
  • Select the second option: “Driving licences issued by countries: that Portugal has a bilateral agreement or a reciprocity recognition for the recognition and Exchange of driving licences contracting parts of international traffic conventions”
  • Fill out the form and submit with the necessary documents

Ask for a certificate of authenticity from the DVLA or get a check code and share this with IMT. For licences issued by Northern Ireland, use the NI Direct website.

You do not need to take a test.

When you exchange your driving licence, you will be issued with a ‘guia’ (temporary driver’s permit) which you can use to drive until your new licence arrives. You can only drive in Portugal with this permit.

Exchanging your Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence

If you have a licence from Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, you must exchange it within 90 days of the issue date on your residence certificate. You can exchange categories AM, A1, A2, B1, B and BE without having to take a test.

Renewing or replacing a UK driving licence

You cannot renew or replace your UK driving licence if are resident in Portugal. You must instead exchange your licence for a Portuguese one.

You cannot use an International Driving Permit (IDP) instead of exchanging your licence.

Disabled drivers

If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Portugal, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Portuguese disabled parking card (in Portuguese)

Read the EU guidance on the EU parking card for people with disabilities

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Portugal

Read guidance on:

Driving outside Portugal with a Portuguese licence

You can use your Portuguese licence when visiting the UK. Keep up-to-date with the UK Highway Code

If you go to live in the UK, you can exchange your Portuguese licence for a UK one without taking a test.

To drive in another country, in addition to your Portuguese licence, you may need to apply for an IDP (in Portuguese). You cannot apply for an IDP with your ‘guia’ (temporary driver’s permit).

Read the EU guidance on:

Voting

If you were living in Portugal on or before 31 January 2020, you maintain the right to vote and stand in local elections.

If you moved to Portugal after 31 January 2020, you can register to vote in local elections after 3 years of residence. After 5 years of residence you will be able to stand and be elected for local office. To register as a voter, go to your local parish council (Junta de Freguesia).

You cannot vote in European Parliament elections.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Births, deaths, marriage and civil partnerships

If your child is born in Portugal, you must register their birth with the local authorities. You can also register the birth with the UK authorities but this is not mandatory. If your child has British nationality, you do not need to register the birth with the UK authorities to apply for a British passport.

If someone dies in Portugal read our guidance on:

Find out how you can get married or get a civil partnership abroad.

You may also need:

Pets

If you’re moving to Portugal with your pet, read the guidance and ensure you comply with the regulations:

A GB-issued EU pet passport is not valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland.

To visit other countries with your pet, check the rules for the country you’re travelling to. Contact your vet to get the travel documents your pet needs. If you have a pet passport issued by Portugal or another EU member state, you can use it to travel with your pet to Great Britain and elsewhere in the EU.

Read guidance on:

Emergencies

Dial the European emergency number 112 in Portugal for the police, ambulance and fire brigade. This is the only emergency number in Portugal.

Dial the EU 116 000 hotline to report a missing child in the EU country where you live or in another EU country.

If your child is at risk of being, or has been, abducted, read the guidance on international parental child abduction; the EU guidance on child abduction and EU guidance on child abduction to another EU country.

Read our information if you are a victim of rape or sexual assault in Portugal.

If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis, contact the British Embassy Lisbon.

Returning to the UK

Check the COVID-19 travel guidance for entering the UK.

Tell the Portuguese and UK authorities if you are returning to the UK permanently.

If you get healthcare in Portugal through the S1 form, you must contact the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 (0)191 218 1999 and your local social insurance organisation to make sure your S1 is cancelled at the right time.

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, bringing family members, tax and access to services.

Useful information

Support for British nationals abroad: a guide sets out how to stay safe abroad, and explains how the FCDO can support you if you get into difficulty.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 8 November 2022 + show all updates
  1. Update to 'visas and residency' section - added more detail on booking an appointment and paying for Withdrawal Agreement residence cards

  2. updated the 'Driving in Portugal' section with new information on driving licence rules

  3. The Healthcare in Portugal email inbox closes on 1 July 2022. Page updated to remove email address.

  4. Update to 'Tax' section: UK residents who own property or businesses in Portugal have a legal requirement to register with Portuguese tax authority by 31 December 2022

  5. Driving: steps on how to exchange your UK licence for a Portuguese one

  6. Important information in the Working in Portugal, and National insurance sections if you work in Portugal, even it if it is for an employer based in the UK.

  7. Updated 'Visas and residency if you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021’ section: information added about which documents you need to take to your appointment with SEF when applying for your residence card, and how much it costs

  8. Updated 'Visas and residency if you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021' section, including how to register on the Brexit portal and schedule appointments in Madeira and the Azores

  9. Guidance reviewed and updated with new information, including in the visas and residency, and driving sections.

  10. Your UK driving licence will now be recognised until 31 December 2022, if you are resident in Portugal.

  11. Visas and residency section updated: If you need support with your residency application, contact the relevant UK Nationals Support Fund organisation before 26 November 2021.

  12. Visas and residency section updated with new guidance for people living in Portugal before 1 January 2021 about requesting biometric residence documents.

  13. Guidance reviewed for Money, tax and banking, Benefits, Births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships, and Useful information sections.

  14. Guidance reviewed for Passports and travel, Healthcare, Working in Portugal, Professional and academic qualifications, Studying in Portugal, Emergencies, and Returning to the UK sections.

  15. Professional qualifications section updated for British citizens who are moving or moved to Portugal after 1 January 2021 and those living there since before 1 January 2021.

  16. Working in Portugal section updated: new guidance for frontier workers

  17. Money and Tax section updated with information on new legal requirement to appoint a tax representative for non-residents with property or a business in Portugal; Accommodation section updated with new information on importing personal belongings to Portugal

  18. Visas and residency section updated on how to register if you have been living in Portugal since before 1 January 2021 and have not yet registered

  19. Additional support section updated with link to guidance on UK Nationals Support Fund, healthcare section updated including guidance on the S1 form and applying for EHIC and GHIC cards; working in Portugal section updated with links to Department for International Trade (DIT) guidance on working or providing services and DIT guidance on recognition of professional qualifications.

  20. Driving section updated: exchange your UK licence by 31 December 2021

  21. Coronavirus section updated with a link to guidance on vaccines

  22. Visas and residency section updated with latest guidance on registration.

  23. Updated as the transition period ends with new information on residency, pet travel and moving to Portugal

  24. Passports and travel section updated on carrying proof of residence when travelling.

  25. Healthcare section updated on how to apply for a new UK EHIC as a student or S1 holder. Working section updated with information on frontier workers.

  26. Passports and travel section updated to include information on passport validity and entry requirements when travelling to other European countries from January 2021

  27. Visas and residency section updated to include detailed information on how to apply for residency

  28. Visas and residency section updated to include information about how to access the UK National Support Fund for those who may find it harder to complete their residency applications

  29. Brexit update: includes further details on passport validity, healthcare rights and State Pension uprating if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  30. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement

  31. Brexit Update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.

  32. EU Exit update: updated information about voting rights added to the ´Voting after the UK leaves the EU´ section.

  33. EU Exit update: announcing our new healthcare email contact

  34. We've updated the section on driving in Portugal.

  35. EU Exit update: new information about validity added to passports section

  36. EU Exit update: added in EU Exit information in healthcare, visas and residency, driving and working sections

  37. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.

  38. Updated information on passports: you must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip

  39. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare

  40. EU exit update - updated information on pensions and driving

  41. EU Exit Update; The Portuguese government has produced a leaflet with more information on your residency rights after the UK leaves the EU.

  42. EU Exit update: Added in link to information about upcoming outreach meetings in Portugal.

  43. EU Exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in Pets section. In addition: Updated information on subject access request - amended website links.

  44. Added important specific information on certifying UK educational documents and on Subject Access Request.

  45. Updated May 2018

  46. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  47. Attached updated Driving Licences leaflet and added updated Car Importation Leaflet.

  48. Updated December 2017

  49. Update July 2017

  50. Updated May 2017

  51. Information updated 9 March 2017

  52. We are currently updating our information on driving licences in Portugal. Revised information will be available shortly.

  53. General information amended and property advice added

  54. Information added on changes to rules for EHIC and early retirees from July 1 2014.

  55. Instructions for signing life certificates for UK state pensions updated

  56. First published.