Guidance

Living in Portugal

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

This guide sets out essential information for British citizens about 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 obtain 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. These are indicated with sub-headings.

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

Coronavirus

You should follow the advice of the Portuguese Government and your local authority. You can also read our Portugal travel advice.

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

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Portugal.

Read:

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

If you have lived in Portugal since 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 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 and have an EU residence document

You should apply to exchange your EU residence document for a biometric residence permit. You need to:

  • register on SEF’s Brexit portal
  • download the certificate with the QR code. This is your official proof of residency in Portugal and is valid until your new biometric card is issued
  • wait for SEF to give you an appointment at a town hall designated for biometric data collection

Your valid EU residence document should continue to be accepted until you receive your new biometric residence permit or until your EU residence document expires.

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021 but do not have an EU residence document

You can request a biometric residence permit by emailing 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

If you receive an email from SEF requesting additional documentation, you must respond within 10 working days. If the 10 days have passed, 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 portal
  • download the certificate with the QR code. This is your official proof of residency in Portugal and is valid until your new biometric card is issued
  • wait for SEF to give you an appointment at a town hall designated for biometric data collection

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021: family members joining you

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

See 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

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

Check the travel advice for Portugal for passport validity requirements.

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

If you stay in Portugal with a residence permit or long stay visa, this 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.

You should carry your residence card, as well as your valid passport when you travel. If you have applied but not yet received your card, carry your certificate of application.

If you have not yet applied for a residence card, you should 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 show that you are resident in Portugal, you may be asked additional questions at the border to enter the Schengen area, and your passport may be stamped. This will not affect your rights in Portugal.

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

When you travel, especially within the Schengen area, you should carry with you your residence document 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. Other evidence may be your tenancy agreement or a utility bill in your name, dating from 2020. If you have applied for, but not yet received, your residence document, carry your certificate of registration.

If you cannot prove that you are a 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 a 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 do not need any extra months on your passport to enter or exit EU countries.

Entry requirements

You can travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism.

To stay longer than 90 days in any 180-day period, to work or study, or for business travel, you must meet the entry requirements set out by the country you are travelling to. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit.

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

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

Travel to the UK and Ireland has not changed.

Healthcare

Read our guidance on healthcare in Portugal and make sure you are correctly registered for your circumstances. Private health insurance is available but is not mandatory and should not be a substitute for registering for state healthcare.

Read the Portuguese government guidance on access to healthcare for residents.

Everyone who is registered as a resident can also register to access the Portuguese national health service (SNS) on the same basis as a Portuguese citizen.

You should ensure you are properly registered for healthcare as a resident in Portugal. Private health insurance is available but is not mandatory and should not be a substitute for registering for state healthcare.

Once you are registered as a resident in Portugal, register at your local health centre (centro de saúde) and get a healthcare user number (Número de Utente de Saúde) by showing your residence certificate and your passport.

Read our guidance on how you can register for healthcare in Portugal and how the healthcare system works. Make sure you are correctly registered for your circumstances.

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 Member State (for example if you are not entitled to an S1), but have a healthcare user number (Número de Utente de Saúde)

The Portuguese government has more information on how to apply, including an application form which you should complete and hand in at your nearest Social Security office. Your Portuguese-issued EHIC will be sent to you by post.

An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance.

If you’re leaving the UK with medicine that contains a controlled drug, check with the embassy about the rules for the country you’re going to before you travel and the NaTHNaC guidance on travelling with medicines..

You should also read guidance on:

Send questions about access to healthcare in Portugal to healthcare.portugal@fcdo.gov.uk

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 were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

You have the right to work under the Withdrawal Agreement.

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.

Seek advice from the regulator if needed (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 (in English and Portuguese).

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 guidance on:

Read our guidance on:

If you are moving to Portugal to study, read the guidance on applying for residence as a student.

Moving to Portugal to study

If you are planning to study in Portugal, make sure you 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 guidance on:

If you were living in Portugal before 1 January 2021

The studying in the European Union guidance includes specific information for those who were already living in Portugal before 1 January 2021.

Money, tax and banking

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Portugal to ensure you do not pay tax on the same 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 do not need to appoint a tax representative. If you wish, you can appoint one to act as the point of contact between you and the tax authorities

You must declare your total income to the Portuguese authorities, no matter which country it is sourced from. Ask the relevant tax authority about double taxation relief (in Portuguese) before 30 June 2022. This is a legal requirement.

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

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

If you are resident in the UK, but have property or a business in Portugal, you must appoint a tax representative before 30 June 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

Find out if you need to [pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions] (https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance-if-you-go-abroad) in Portugal.

UK 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 changes for more information on cross-border banking.

Pensions

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

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

Read our 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 changes 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.

Benefits

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

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

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.

You can request proof from HMRC of the time you’ve worked in the UK and of your UK National Insurance record.

To check if you are entitled to Portuguese benefits, contact Segurança Social (in Portuguese).

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, 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 (in Portuguese).

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.

Driving in Portugal

For information on driving in Portugal, read our guidance on:

If you are resident in Portugal, you should exchange your UK driving licence for a Portuguese one by 31 December 2022.

You can exchange or register your driving licence on the Instituto da Mobilidade e de Transportes (IMT) online portal. There is further information on the IMT website (in Portuguese).

If you do not exchange your licence immediately, you must register it with the IMT. You must do this within 60 days from the date you obtained your residence certificate.

If you are resident in Portugal and your UK driving licence is lost, stolen or expires, you will not be able to renew it with the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Portugal

Read our guidance on taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Read our guidance on how to import your vehicle into Portugal.

You can read the European Union´s guidance on car registration rules and taxes in Portugal. You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so, you will need certificates of exemption.

Voting

The UK has signed a bilateral agreement with Portugal on UK nationals’ right to vote in local elections. The agreement guarantees that 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 will be able to vote in local elections after 3 years’ residency. After 5 years’ residency, you will be able to stand and be elected for local office.

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 will need to register the birth abroad.

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 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.

A GB-issued EU pet passport is not valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland. You should speak to your vet before you travel to get the necessary pet travel documents and ensure you’re compliant with the EU Pet Travel Regulations.

Read guidance on:

Check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel.

Emergencies

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

You can dial the EU 116 000 hotline to report a missing child in the EU country where you live or in another EU country. It also provides guidance and support to the families of missing children.

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

For cases of child abduction read:

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.

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test, you’ll be able to access NHS care without charge.

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 19 November 2021 + show all updates
  1. Your UK driving licence will now be recognised until 31 December 2022, if you are resident in Portugal.

  2. 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.

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

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

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

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

  16. 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.

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

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

  19. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  34. 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.

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

  36. Updated May 2018

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

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

  39. Updated December 2017

  40. Update July 2017

  41. Updated May 2017

  42. Information updated 9 March 2017

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

  44. General information amended and property advice added

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

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

  47. First published.