How to move to Portugal from the US

Move to Portugal as American

Moving

Are you dreaming of a new life abroad with a low cost of living? Portugal might be your ideal destination, offering a climate similar to California that is perfect for Americans.


What you must know


  • Did you know an American needs a visa to live in Portugal? You can apply for these options at a Portuguese Embassy or Consulate or a VFS Global office, catering to different conditions such as students, entrepreneurs, investors, remote workers, and retirees.
  • Even if, as an American citizen, you have dual citizenship from any EU country, you have the right to live in Portugal without a visa. Your EU citizenship will grant you the right to live and work here, and you'll only need to request a simple document at the local townhall you intend to establish, stating that you are now a resident of that area and, therefore, Portugal.
  • An American citizen doesn't need a visa to visit Portugal as a tourist for up to 90 days.


Your Life in Portugal as an American


Portugal, a charming and small country, is roughly the size of Florida, providing a familiar sense of scale for those considering relocation. It ensures a high quality of life with a wide range of activities available, making it a wonderful place to explore and enjoy your time abroad.


Geographic and Demographic Overview


The Atlantic Ocean borders Portugal to the south and west, while Spain borders it to the north and east. Despite its size, it has a population of about 10 million.


Cultural and natural attractions


Portugal is world-renowned for its rich cuisine and stunning locations, including diverse beaches, mountains, and national parks.


Language and communication


While the official language is Portuguese—a Latin language similar to Spanish or Italian—it is common to find English-speaking inhabitants, especially given the country’s high tourist rate.


Portuguese Quality of life


Portugal's quality of life is renowned for its tranquility, even in urban areas. A low cost of living, affordable or free healthcare, accessible services, and a premium geographic location support the high quality of life.


Portugal Benefits for US citizens


There are several compelling reasons for US citizens to consider moving to Portugal, from the welcoming culture to the economic advantages and international community.


Your visa process as American


Check each type of visa and see where your situation fits.


List of the Portuguese Visas

D1

D2

D3

D4D5

D6

D7

D8

D9

📝 Visa Name: D8

🏢 Visa Category: Digital Nomad / Remote Worker Visa

🎓 Qualification: Income from remote or freelance work

🔍 Pros:

  • 🌐 Contracts or clients outside Portugal

🚫 Cons:

  • 📈 Proof of monthly income of approximately €3400

Still unsure about what visa will be your best fit? We are here for you! Schedule a free consultation with one of our experts and clear up any doubts.


In which Portuguese Embassy should I apply for my Portuguese Visa from America?


It depends on your location; some consulates delegate this service to VFS Global offices. You must find the one closest to you that will suit your state. You can find out where to apply for a Portuguese visa in the United States below.


Important notice: VFS Global is a company that specializes in visa processing. The Portuguese government uses it as the official office for visa procedures in the USA, and it is a primary choice for designated consulates.

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🏢 VFS Global (Directed from Portuguese Embassy at Washington, DC)

📍 Visa Application Centre

📌 1025 Vermont Ave NW, St# 200, Washington DC, 20005

🇺🇸 States Covered:

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

---

🏢 Portuguese Consulate in Boston

📍 31 St. James Avenue, Suite 350, Boston, MA, 02116

📞 +1 617 536 8740

✉️ [email protected]

🇺🇸 States Covered:

Massachusetts (Except covered by New Bedford), Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont.

---

🏢 Portuguese Consulate in Newark

📍 The Legal Center At One Riverfront Plaza, Suite 40, Newark, NJ, 07102

📞 +1 973 643 4200 | +1 973 643 2158

✉️ [email protected]

🇺🇸 States Covered:

Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania.

---

🏢 VFS Global (Directed from Portuguese Consulate in New York)

📍 Visa Application Centre

📌 128E 32nd Street, 3rd Floor, New York, 10016

🇺🇸 States Covered:

Connecticut, Michigan, New York.

🌎 Territories Covered:

American Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas.

---

🏢 VFS Global (Directed from Portuguese Consulate in San Francisco)

📍 Visa Application Centre

📌 642 Harrison Street, Suite 200, San Francisco, CA, 94107

✉️ [email protected]

📞 +1 305 704 2172

🇺🇸 States Covered:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington State, Wyoming.

---

🏢 Portuguese Consulate in New Bedford

📍 628 Pleasant St., Room 204, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 02740

📞 +1 508 997 6151 | +1 508 993 5741

✉️ [email protected]

🇺🇸 Counties Covered:

Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Plymouth.

State Covered:

Rhode Island

---

Make sure you try to visit the office assigned to your location.


The San Francisco VFS office is currently overflowing with applications. As a result, the consulate recommends that you book your appointment three months before your intended travel date. We recommend you be a bit more cautious and start your procedure about 6 months before, as there are unofficial reports of delays up to 5 months! For all the other offices we recommend starting your application up to 4 to 12 weeks before your intended travel date.


Also, be aware of the fact that "honorary" consulates CAN'T process a visa application. Focus on the list above.


What should I know before preparing my documents?


Your first steps will be to search and gather your documents to start your visa application.


Take a look at this list we made to help you timeline your Portuguese visa application as an American:

  • Make sure your passport is valid and up-to-date. It must be valid for at least three months after entering Portugal.
  • If your documents are not in english, they will need to be translated and notarized according to the Hague Apostille.
  • Request your criminal record. The FBI must receive your request for a certificate of criminal record, which has a 90-day validity. Be aware of that. You'll need to head to your local police station to retrieve your fingerprints, a process that can take up to a week, and they will request a fee.


What should I know about my appointment?


  • Embassies may request different documents. Be ready to provide extra documents, if requested.
  • Visas can be granted according to your arrival date in Portugal. Have a ticket booked before your appointment.


Make sure you follow our tips, and your visa process will be ready for submission! Visa processes can be long, but your main focus should be in making sure everything is prepared for your case.


What about visa fees?


Brace ourselves for a not-so-simple answer! The exchange rate, among other things, influences the monthly updates of visa fees.

Right now, in the second semester of 2024, national visa fees are 90 euros, which can be around $96. Children under 6 are free of charge.

When scheduling your appointment, pay close attention to the payment methods accepted at each location. Some locations may only accept cash for processing fees.


Are there any extra fees?


If you are applying through VFS Global, you'll also need to pay their processing fee for each visa. Right now, it ranges from $41 to $45, depending on local taxes.

Some offices may request payment for postal services to deliver your passport. Be ready for that!

Get a free visa consultation

After receiving your Portuguese visa, what should you do?


1 - Initial contact with the AIMA


Upon receiving your visa and arriving in Portugal, your first step should be to contact an AIMA office. AIMA (Authority for Immigration and Asylum Matters) is the official government agency responsible for managing foreign nationals, similar to ICE and US Border Control in the United States.


2 - Scheduling an appointment at AIMA


All long-term visa holders have 120 days to establish residency in Portugal. It is critical to schedule an appointment with AIMA as soon as possible upon arrival due to the high demand and busy schedule of the agency.


3- Requesting an EU Residence Permit at AIMA


During your AIMA appointment, you will request your EU residence permit. This permit functions similarly to a green card in the US, allowing you to live and travel freely outside Portugal and granting unlimited entries into the country.


4- What documents will be required for my AIMA appointment?


For the appointment, you will need to provide:

  • The same documentation required for your visa application;
  • Provide proof of your current residence in Portugal, even if it differs from the address you used for your visa application;
  • Your NIF number and Portuguese bank account that shows sufficient funds;
  • Health Insurance in Portugal.

5 - Path to Portuguese Citizenship


After holding your initial permit for five years, you are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.


How is the Healthcare in Portugal as an American


Portuguese healthcare is extremely affordable, even in private facilities, and accessible to everyone, unlike in the United States.

Residents have the advantage of lower or free rates. To use it you must request your Utente (User number) free of charge.


How can I request an Utente number?


Head to the nearest public healthcare facility from your home with the following documents:

  • ID;
  • NISS;
  • Proof of Address;
  • Evidence of Portuguese legal status

How is Portuguese public healthcare?


Overview of Public Healthcare


Portugal offers public healthcare at extremely low rates, often free, making it highly accessible. However, the low costs lead to heavy utilization of the service, resulting in crowded facilities and long waiting times.


How accessible is public healthcare in Portugal?


Despite the crowds, public healthcare remains accessible to everyone, regardless of their situation. For emergency services, the phone number to dial is 112, which is available free of charge.


Recommendation for Insurance Holders


Even for those with private insurance (which is mandatory for visa holders), it is advisable to register for a Portuguese healthcare user number (utente). This ensures access to public healthcare services when needed.


What are the difficulties in the Portuguese public healthcare system?


The difficulty of assigning a general practitioner (GP) is a significant current issue within the public system.

  • GPs are critical because they direct patients to additional consultations, exams, and specialist doctors.
  • Even though more than 60% of Portugal speaks English, there is no assurance your GP will be an English speaker.
  • Many residents are being forced to use emergency rooms for non-emergency health issues or rely on the SNS 24 hotline, which is far from ideal as it consists of a telephone consultation.

How is private healthcare?


Private healthcare options in Portugal: Insurance or Plan


In Portugal's private healthcare sector, you have the choice between purchasing health insurance or a health plan. Both options provide access to private healthcare services at reduced rates.


Cost of healthcare coverage in Portugal


Monthly rates for private health insurance or plans are very affordable, ranging from 10 euros to 60 euros, and you can find an ideal option at SafetyWing. These rates help to lower the cost of accessing private healthcare services.


Cost of medical appointments in Portugal


Private healthcare specialists offer consultations at reasonable prices.

  • An appointment with a specialist typically costs between 50 and 100 euros.
  • The cost varies depending on the specialist’s expertise and availability.

Requirements for obtaining private healthcare in Portugal


To acquire either health insurance or a health plan, you will need a Portuguese tax number (NIF).


The advantages of private healthcare in Portugal


Private healthcare in Portugal offers several benefits:

  • Shorter waiting times for appointments.
  • Generally lower congestion in facilities compared to public options.
  • There is an availability of English-speaking staff in designated private hospitals and clinics.
Get a free visa consultation

How can I drive in Portugal as an American?


Can I use my American license in Portugal?


If your driver's license was issued less than 15 years ago and you are younger than 60 years old, you can use your American driver's license to drive in Portugal without needing any additional permits.

What about those who do not meet the specified criteria?

If you do not meet the above criteria, you will need to:

  1. Access the IMT portal (Instituto da Mobilidade e dos Transportes), which functions similarly to the DMV in the United States, and check where your license fits.
  2. Request a transfer of your driver's license via the online form after acquiring the requested documents on the portal. This process depends on several factors:
  • The category of your license;
  • The issue date of your license;
  • Your age when you submitted the transfer request.


And what are my responsibilities if I purchase a car in Portugal?


All cars circulating in Portugal must have third-party protection insurance. This is the minimum insurance requirement that is in place.


What taxes do I have to pay for my car in Portugal?


You'll need to pay the yearly IUC (Imposto Único de Circulação). We calculate the prices for these taxes based on the motor, gas, and car fabrication years, and they generally range from 30 to 50 euros (and they can go higher!).

Besides that, you'll also need to do an early inspection in designated workshops, which will provide the car with a green seal to circulate.


How can an American do Taxes in Portugal?


Should I file my taxes in the US and Portugal?


It's important to remember that as an American, you need to file tax returns in both your home country and Portugal. This ensures compliance with local and international tax laws.


Using the Portuguese 'Finanças' Portal


In Portugal, you can file your taxes online via the 'Finanças' Portal. This platform is designed to facilitate the tax filing process.


Looking for an Accountant in Portugal


To effectively manage your assets and tax obligations, consider hiring a professional accounting service. An accountant who understands both local and expatriate tax laws can be invaluable.


Practical tips for daily expenses in Portugal


  • Receipt Management: Try to ask for a receipt for every transaction and make sure your NIF is recorded on it. Categorizing these receipts correctly can help lower your overall tax burden.
  • Tax Deductions and Refunds: You can categorize expenses such as entertainment, healthcare, and education, and be eligible for tax deductions or refunds. The design of this system encourages residents to maintain accurate records and comply with tax laws.


International Schools in Portugal


How is the Portuguese educational system?


Portugal's comprehensive public education system places children in schools according to their location and age group. The curriculum is extensive, with students typically graduating fluent in at least one foreign language, despite the primary language of instruction being Portuguese.


Where can I find International Schools in Portugal?


Numerous international schools across Portugal can easily accommodate American families, catering to a diverse international student body. These schools frequently focus on preparing students for universities, primarily in Europe. Some of the most renowned include:


In Braga:

  • CLIB Braga International School

In Porto:

  • Oporto British School

In Leiria:

  • Leiria International School

In Lisbon:

  • Prime School
  • The British School in Lisbon
  • Astoria International School
  • St. Dominic's International School
  • United Lisbon International School
  • International Christian School
  • The Carlucci American International School of Lisbon

In Loulé:

  • Nobel Algarve International School
  • Aspire International School
  • Vilamoura International School


What about higher education?


Colleges in Portugal offer lower tuition rates compared to many other countries. For those applying through the Portuguese National Exam, the annual tuition for most universities does not exceed 800 euros, making higher education more accessible.


Finding your Home in Portugal


Where can you find your long-term accommodation in Portugal?


  • Secured Services: As you prepare your move, consider using secure and inclusive housing services like Spot-a-Home and Flatio. These platforms act as mediators with landlords and ensure the quality of listings through physical inspections, though they may be more expensive.
  • Direct Listings: If you're having trouble settling on your initial rental, check out properties on websites like Idealista and Imovirtual. These platforms allow direct interactions with landlords or real estate agencies, giving you the opportunity to visit and assess properties personally.
  • Caution Against Scams: During your house hunt, be vigilant to avoid scams. Common scams include requests for down payments before property viewings. Make sure to make any payments only after securing a rental contract.

AnchorLess offers the discount code ANCHOR20 at Spot-a-Home for those looking for housing in Portugal.


How to purchase a home in Portugal?


What are the advantages of buying a home in Portugal?


Buying a home in Portugal can be significantly more affordable than in many parts of the United States. Owning property not only provides stability but also serves as proof of accommodation when dealing with Portuguese authorities.

What are the options to purchase a house in Portugal?


  • Realtor: For those unfamiliar with the local real estate market and practices, it's advisable to purchase through a realtor. This guarantees accurate handling of all legalities and provides you with expert guidance throughout the process.
  • Privately: If you prefer to handle the purchase yourself, ensure you're familiar with all the necessary legal and procedural details to avoid common pitfalls.


How can an American finance a house in Portugal?

There are several possible ways, but here is the one we often recommend to our customers :

  • Mortgage with Millennium Bank: As one of the largest private banks in Portugal, Millennium Bank offers competitive mortgage rates and terms, making it a solid option for financing your home purchase.
  • Cafimo for Brokerage: services include finding suitable properties, negotiating deals, handling legal paperwork, and providing after-sale support. They specialize in catering to the specific needs of international buyers, ensuring a smooth transition to property ownership in Portugal. Cafimo also facilitates mortgage arrangements by comparing different lenders and finding the best rates and conditions for their clients. Their broker service takes care of all the intricacies involved in property investment, from initial search to final purchase.


What you should know about house conditions in Portugal?


Be aware that due to laws only recently implemented in the last decade, issues with humidity and heating can be common. Ensure any property you consider has adequate insulation.


How to make your move to Portugal as an US Citizen


We've been in your shoes and understand that such a move requires careful planning.

Therefore, if your move exceeds luggage availability from travel companies, we recommend checking rates at Sirelo.

This is a database with several movers and rates that may give you a range for this expense.

However, keep in mind a few things as you consider your move:

  • The pattern of the electric outlet is different in Europe and, therefore, in Portugal. Your American appliances will need adapters.
  • Portuguese homes come in a wide range of sizes and buildings. New developments are available, just like older buildings with renovated (or not) facilities. Some furniture may not fit in with your new life here—literally.


Can I take all my American utensils and furniture to Portugal?


Yes, you can! You just need to head to your local consulate (for those assigned a VFS office for a visa, you'll just need to get in touch, via phone or email, with the Portuguese consulate located in the same city as the VFS office that covers your state).

You'll request your baggage and residency certificate, which will allow you to take all appliances owned for at least one year completely duty-free.


How to budget from your move from the US to Portugal?


The cost of relocating from the US to Portugal varies widely depending on your lifestyle and needs. It’s advisable for immigrants to have at least six months of financial coverage to begin their life in Portugal comfortably.


What could be costly as I move to Portugal?


  • Housing Deposits: Some landlords may require a deposit ranging from three to four months, while others might ask for the entire year’s rent upfront.
  • Adjusting to Local Culture: Adapting to the Portuguese lifestyle may involve purchasing items uncommon in local households, such as dryers or dishwashers.


And what about any other smaller cost?


  • Getting Around: While Portuguese residents often walk extensively, new immigrants might prefer using ride-sharing services like Uber during the initial months to ease into their new environment.
  • Establishing a reserve fund for unforeseen expenses is crucial, especially during the initial phase of settling into a new culture where spending might exceed that of the locals.


How can I transfer my funds from the US to Portugal


For smaller amounts (under $20k)


We recommend Wise (formerly TransferWise) for its low conversion rates and user-friendly process. Their app or website allows for quick transactions, making it a popular choice among immigrants in the EU.


For larger amounts


For larger amounts, from US dollars to euros, we recommend Currencies Direct. They also offer lower conversion rates and a simple in-app transaction to transfer your funds. Additionally, you'll have support available to cater to all your needs.


How is Portugal compared to the US?


In Portugal, distances are perceived differently. A 30-minute drive may seem lengthy due to the country's small size. This perception extends to class sizes, local shows, and retail spaces compared to American standards.


Is there any similarity between Portugal and the US?


  • Southern Portugal: Reminiscent of Southern California and Florida with its sandy beaches and lifestyle, particularly appealing to golf enthusiasts.
  • The climate of Alentejo is similar to that of Nevada and Arizona, being hot and less populated, but not as arid.
  • Lisbon: a vibrant mix that compares to Miami and San Francisco, with nearby areas like Algés, Cascais, and Estoril drawing parallels with San Diego or the Bay Area.
  • Central Portugal: It resembles parts of Colorado with its mountains and green spaces.
  • Porto and Nearby Regions: Echo the lifestyle of the eastern tri-state area of the U.S., combining historical significance with the daily hustle of people commuting for work.

And what about cultural differences between Portugal and the US?

  • Portuguese cuisine: focused on fresh, often seafood-based meals rather than processed foods.
  • Family Structure: Family ties are strong in Portugal, with it being common for many adults and their families to live together, and children often return home after college.
  • Work-Life Balance: Portuguese workers typically make full use of their 22 business days of paid leave, often spending this time at the beach.
  • Wine Culture: Despite its size, Portugal is a significant wine producer, ranking 10th globally, with wine becoming a staple at meals.
  • Safety: Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and very low rates of violent mortality.


Is Portugal really for me?


Many people agree that Portugal is one of the best places to live. However, not everyone finds Portugal suitable.


What should you consider for your move from the US to Portugal?


  • Urban Life: For those accustomed to a vibrant, party-centric lifestyle, Portugal might seem quieter compared to cities like New York or Los Angeles. Even Lisbon and Porto, while lively, may not meet the expectations of someone from a more bustling urban environment.
  • Bureaucracy: Navigating services in Portugal can be challenging, especially for foreigners. Institutions like IMT (the equivalent of the DMV), Social Security, and Finanças (the tax office) have systems in place to facilitate processes, but they can still be complex and stressful to deal with.


How does the government work in Portugal?


  • Political Structure: Portugal’s governance involves a parliament, a prime minister, and a president. The country’s small size can expedite decision-making and legal processes, including those related to nationality and foreign laws.
  • Taxation: While the cost of living is relatively low, the tax obligations are not the lowest, though not the highest either. This could be a significant consideration, depending on your financial and personal beliefs.


Conclusion


Before deciding to move to Portugal, it is crucial to consider how well the country's lifestyle, bureaucratic challenges, and tax system align with your expectations and needs. This consideration will help ensure that your experience in Portugal matches your lifestyle preferences and requirements.

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AnchorLess is not a bank, accounting, tax, investment, or legal advisor. We serve as an intermediary, streamlining your access to accredited financial and legal professionals for your relocation to Portugal.

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