Moving to Portugal


Move to Portugal

Moving to Portugal for 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. There 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


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