Living in Portugal


About Portugal

If a change in circumstances has given you the opportunity of living in portugal, you will be pleasantly surprised. Portugal is a beautiful country to reside in, boasts much natural beauty, has a marvelous coastline, mountain greenery and countryside plains.

Portugal has traditional and modern architecture, boasts much art and history and is accompanied with such delights as her music, (Fado) dance and culinary fayre.

The cost to live in Portugal is still moderate when compared to the rest of western Europe, with the climate and relaxed way of living an added advantage.


Population and Area

The number of people that live in Portugal fluctuates at around eleven and a half million people with the land mass of Portugal covering an area of 35,553 sq miles.

Portugal is crossed by rivers rising in Spain and flowing to the Atlantic which are the Douro, Tagus, Sado, and Guadiana.

The river valleys support agriculture, and vineyards are maintained in the Douro and Tagus valleys. On the lower hillslopes there are olive groves; grains are grown and livestock are raised on the flatter uplands as well as on the plains near the coast.



Portuguese agricultural techniques are less mechanized than those of most of western Europe, and less than 10% of the gross national product can be attributed to agricultural production.

Wheat, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, sugar beets, and olives are the main crops, whilst sheep, cattle, and goats are raised.

The country’s fishing fleets bring in vital cargoes of sardines and tuna; fishing ports extend all the way from Cape St. Vincent in the south to the mouth of the Minho River on the northern Spanish border.

In addition to light industries such as food processing and textile, chemical, and paper and pulp manufacturing, Portugal has a limited variety of heavy industries. Low-grade coal, copper pyrites, iron ore, tungsten, and other minerals are mined.

Most of the mines are in the northern mountains and in Beira. Portugal’s forests provide a major portion of the world’s supply of cork.


Economy and Industry

The country has enjoyed considerable economic progress since it became a member of the European Community (now the European Union) in 1986.

Machinery and motor vehicles, textile fibers, petroleum, and cereals are major imports, and cotton textiles and wine as well as cork, other wood products, and fruit are major exports.

European Union countries are the main trading partners.


Real Estate

Portugal has seen much construction over the last twenty years with many homes for sale in Portugal being bought by the younger generations whom are starting to leave their parents at an earlier age and live in Portugal with their own families.

Property prices have risen steadily with homes sales in Lisbon and Porto seeing the greatest rises due to the influx of the young adults from the countryside seeking work and foreign buyers, many of whom have been taking advantage of the favourable residency and tax regimes.

The property market this year (2020) is continuing to be driven by Brazillians who continue to snap up the available properties in Lisbon and to a lesser degree Porto.

If you would like further advice on how to buy property in Portugal or you wish to sell property in Portugal, simply get in touch and we will do everything necessary to assist you in concluding a smooth transaction.


Remember there are many sources of information for new residents wishing to live in Portugal, with your local Embassy being a good place to start and where you will receive unbiased advice.


If you have made the decision to live in Portugal, let Living Portugal Property take care of your home requirements and free your time to truly LIVE Portugal.


Moving to Portugal

Nationals of a European Economic Area Member State and Families


Registration / Residence Permits

For a period of residence of up to three months there are no conditions and formalities other than the need to hold a valid identity card or passport. Direct family members of a national of an EEA Member State who hold one of these documents enjoy the same rights.

Nationals of EEA Member States who intend to move to Portugal for over three months must register within 30 days of the end of their first three months in the country at the Town Council (Municipality) in which they live.

When they register they are issued with a registration certificate which is valid for five years or for the period of residence, if less than five years.



The issuing of a certificate of registration requires a valid identity card or passport and a sworn declaration that the applicant.

1. Is working under a contract of employment

2. Self-employed in Portugal

3. Have sufficient resources for himself and for his family

4. Is registered in a public or private education establishment and has sufficient resources to maintain themselves and their family



Nationals of an EEA Member State who move to Portugal must ask the Town Council (Municipality) where they live for a registration certificate.

Before these can be issued, a valid identity card or passport, a document proving the family relationship and the registration certificate of the national of the EEA Member State they are accompanying or going to join must be presented.

Family members of nationals of an EEA Member State who are nationals of a third country must apply for a residence card from the Direcção (Central Office) or Delegação Regional [Regional Office] of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras [Immigration Service] in the area where they live within 30 days of the end of their first three months in Portugal.

Before the residence card can be issued, a valid passport, a document confirming the family relationship and the registration certificate of the national of the EEA Member State who they are accompanying or going to join must be presented.


Political, administrative and legal system

Portugal is a parliamentary republic with a president elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term of office.

The Government is formed by the Conselho de Ministros [Council of Ministers/Cabinet], headed by the Prime Minister, who is politically accountable to the President and Parliament. Legislative power is exercised by Parliament, composed of a chamber of deputies with 230 seats.

Members of Parliament are elected by proportional representation for four years, with the following political parties being represented in Parliament:

  1. PS (Socialist Party)
  2. PSD (Social Democrat Party)
  3. PCP (Portuguese Communist Party)
  4. CDS-PP (Social Democratic Centre – People’s Party)
  5. BE (Left Alliance) and the PEV (the ‘Green’ Ecology Party).


Portugal’s 22 electoral districts

18 in Continental Portugal, 1 in Madeira and 3 in the Azores.

Each district has a Government-appointed Civil Governor.

The Azores and Madeira are Autonomous Regions with directly elected Regional Parliaments with legislative power which appoint Regional Governments with substantial executive powers.


Portuguese Legal System

The Portuguese legal system is comparable to the German and French systems, for example, but not to the Anglo-American system. The principal source of law is the Constitution.

There are three levels of courts in Portugal:

  1. District courts or courts of first instance
  2. Appeal courts or courts of second instance
  3. Supreme Court

Each district has a court of first instance. In some cases the appeal courts may also act as courts of first instance.

The Supreme Court in Lisbon has one presiding judge and 22 judges.

Any lawyer is allowed to act in any court and has the title of Advogado [lawyer].


Portuguese law applies in Portugal

The police may arrest someone if:

  1. here is reasonable suspicion that he is about to commit a criminal offence
  2. To prevent future criminal action
  3. To remove him from the presence of other people

Detained suspects must be brought before a judge within 48 hours.

All nationals over 17 years of age must register with the Junta de Freguesia [parish council] (small administrative unit) in the area where they live, in order to obtain an Electoral Card which allows them to vote in the next elections. Registration becomes permanent at 18 years of age.

Such registration is voluntary for European citizens who live in Portugal, and allows them to vote in local authority elections and elections to the European Parliament.

August 2010 European Union: © 1995-2010 Reproduction authorised



Making your Home in Portugal

Closing your real estate transaction and holding the key to your new home in Portugal is a fantastic feeling, however a wonderful part of this procedure can be found when it comes to moving into your new home.

Drawing from personal experience, I know there are lots of ways to help make your household move easier and smoother.


Make a list

Before you pack even one box, set up a simple record keeping system. Then place a number on each and every box you pack and include its contents on your list beside the appropriate number.

Make sure to be specific when describing the boxes contents. “X-Z files” is better than “files”, and “Plastic ware” is better than “misc. kitchen” Packing time can be a great incentive to cut down on your belongings.

Separate items you aren’t sure about into three groups; throw away, keep, give to charity (or sell, if you’re into garage sales).


Obtain plenty of supplies.

When you think you have enough, get more, as you will need more supplies and boxes than you think you, and you can always return unused supplies once the truck is loaded up.

Don’t forget the plastic packing tape and either newsprint, packing paper or bubble wrap.


Use wardrobe boxes.

Not only are these boxes great for clothes that need to remain hanging, but they are ideal for bulky, lightweight items (comforters, pillows, blankets, etc.).

Just remember to keep these boxes light enough to carry.


Colour Coordinate.

Designate a colour for each room in the new home. Then put coloured stickers on the box that belongs in the appropriately coloured room. Don’t forget to put a matching sticker on the door of each room as well.


Pack ahead

Pack up anything you don’t need for the last few days/weeks you are in your house. Pare everything down to “must-haves,” which will save you valuable time on moving day.


Use your luggage

Clothing, sheets, towels and paper goods are just the thing to pack into your duffle bags and luggage.


Don’t forget

Keep the items you will need for your first day/night once you have moved. Include bedding, shower curtain and other things you will need before you can get unpacked.

Moving is certainly not the most fun you can have, but good planning definitely helps make the process bearable.



Working in Portugal

The minimum working age for employees is generally 16. However, a young person can only enter into a contract of employment if they have completed compulsory schooling.


Kinds of employment

From 18 years of age upwards, a contract of employment may be entered into without completing compulsory schooling.


Types of employment contracts

Contract of employment of indefinite duration: no time limit.


Fixed-term contract of employment

Duration limited in time, normally for six months, though they may be shorter (in situations provided for by law) or longer, up to a maximum of three years (including renewals).


Contract of employment for an unspecified duration

Lasts as long as necessary to replace an absent employee or to complete an activity, project, work or task to which the contract relates. This contract cannot last for more than six years with renewals.


Very short duration contract of employment

Up to a maximum of 60 days. This is only allowed in special cases such as seasonal agricultural work or tourist events lasting no more than one week (brought in with the new Labour Code of 2009).


Intermittent contract of employment

Used by companies performing an activity that is either intermittent or varies in intensity, where the employee’s activity is interrupted by one or more periods of downtime. Such contracts must indicate the annual number of full-time working hours or days.

The employee must be employed full-time for at least six months in each calendar year, with four months’ consecutive employment (brought in with the new Labour Code of 2009).


Part-time contract of employment

Corresponds to normal weekly working hours less than those worked on a full-time basis in comparable circumstances, if the period is not the same in each week, and having regard to the average for the relevant reference period.


Tele-working contract

Provision of legally dependent labour, usually not on the employer’s premises, by means of information and communication technologies. This type of contract may not last more than three years which would provide sufficient time to buy a new home in Portugal

A number of different contracts are commonly used for temporary work:

  1. Temporary contract of employment
  2. Fixed-term contract
  3. Indeterminate contract (which cannot last for more than two years)
  4. Contract of unspecified duration for temporary provision of service.

August 2010: European Union: ©1995-2010 Reproduction authorised



Shipping Information

Portugal is the perfect destination, offering history, culture, affordability, long sunny days and sunsets to remember and some of the finest fish and shellfish you will ever taste.

Therefore, if you are moving to this beautiful country it is important to know how to ship your household goods, vehicles, the regulations and tips for a better shipping process.

The name Portugal comes from the ancient name of Oporto, from Latin “Portus-Galliae” Port of Gallia, due to the ships that frequently used this port and is known as the country of ports.

The port of Lisbon is the main maritime terminal of Portugal on the Atlantic ocean whilst 32,000 hectares of basin makes it perfect for any size of ocean bound transportation.


Shipping Personal Goods or Cars:

You will require the following documentation:

  1. Commercial invoice
  2. Bill of lading
  3. Certificate of origin

For personal goods under 1000 kg or up to EUR 1000, you will need a verbal declaration and invoice presented to customs. For higher value items, you will need the following:


Declaration of the goods

A common law declaration (SAD, single administrative document), as well as the accompanying documents to allow their clearance. The SAD form can be obtained from Chambers of Commerce or an approved printer.

A computerised Customs clearance platform (SOFI: International freight computer system) can be accessed in Customs offices or in some Chambers of Commerce.

Duties on imports from non-EU countries, including the United States, are taxed on an ad valorem basis. Most raw materials enter duty-free or at low rates, most manufactured goods are subject to rates between 3.5 and 18%.

The minimum tariff schedule is applied to goods originating in countries entitled to the benefits of most-favored nation treatment (members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and countries with which the EU has signed trade agreements).

Special tariffs exist for tobacco, alcoholic beverages, petroleum and automotive vehicles.

Also, note that importers in Europe must pay the value-added tax (VAT) in full at the time of importation from a non-EU country, in Portugal VAT/IVA is currently 23%. Imports from EU countries only pay the IVA when a product is sold.


Bringing a car into the country

  1. A certificate of compliance or Form 1402 issued by the Direcção-Geral de Viação (Portuguese DVLA) confirming that the vehicle has undergone an inspection.
  2. Your driver’s licence.
  3. Evidence that you have applied for a residence permit.
  4. Your taxpayer’s identification card, together with 3-years’ original tax returns or a declaration from the tax office in your area of residence attesting to the amount of income earned in Portugal over the previous three years
  5. A certificate of cancellation of residence issued by the competent authority in your former country of residence. (If, as in Britain, there is no such authority, the Consulate will issue a certificate on production of evidence that an application has been made for a residence permit).


The authorities may ask for further documentation, as necessary, so it is advisable to contact them in the first instance for an application form, a list of the supporting documents required and the applicable fees.

Once your application has been formally submitted, the customs authorities may issue a limited-validity authorisation (guia de circulação) which will enable you to use your vehicle while the application is under consideration.

A motor vehicle that has been imported in this way may not be sold, loaned, pledged or hired for a period of 12 months following importation. In addition, it may only be driven by its registered owners or keepers and their immediate family.

Only one vehicle may be imported tax-free per person once every five years.


For Residence in Portugal, tax free

  1. The vehicle is for private use only
  2. The registered owner of the vehicle is transferring his residence from another EU member state where he has been resident for at least 185 days
  3. The vehicle was purchased fully tax-paid in its registered owner’s former country of residence
  4. The vehicle has been used by its registered owner in his former country of residence for at least six months


Cost of Shipment

The costs will vary depending on which country you are shipping from. For example, if you are shipping from the USA, A-1 Auto Transport states that the costs will range from $2500 to $4200.


Importation Procedure

In order to import a vehicle, you should submit an application within a maximum of 12 months of arrival, to the customs office with jurisdiction over your area of residence. You will need the following:


MOT Testing and Certificates

An MOT testing is obligatory in Portugal for all vehicles over four years old. Cars aged 4-7 years must be tested every two years and thereafter every year.

The test (Inspecção Periódica Obrigatória – IPO) must be carried out at an approved garage. The garage is required to request the vehicle’s ownership document (Titulo de Registo de Propriedade), its logbook (Livrete) and the owner’s taxpayer’s identification card before carrying out the test.

A stamp confirming that the vehicle has endured (and passed) the test will subsequently be issued. This should be displayed below the insurance stamp, in the upper right-hand corner of the vehicle’s windscreen.

Make sure you choose a company that is reliable, choose a transport system that works better for you, when choosing from maritime, air transport or land. Keep in mind all the countries regulation so that you have no delays. Finally, don´t forget to ship your sunglasses!

This “Shipping Information” article was written by Melissa Villalobos.



When moving to another country one should consider consulting a competent lawyer and tax advisor.

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