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What type of work visa do you need? How long does it take to get one? Can you legally work in Portugal if you aren’t an EU citizen? We’ll answer all these questions in this guide on the different types of work visas in Portugal, including how to apply for them, how long they last, and more.


Why do you need to apply for work visas?

A work visa is essential to allow you to work in Portugal for any period of time; they are also a necessity if you want to apply for residency in Portugal! In most cases, work visas will not be issued before you have secured a job offer. However potential employees married to a Portuguese citizens may be able to apply before getting a job.

Getting a job as a non-Portuguese or non-EU citizen can be difficult because companies must first offer job opportunities to Portuguese/EU/EFTA citizens for 30 days. However if you receive a job offer, you can then go ahead and make a work permit application!


Do you need a work visa if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national?

As an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you will not need a work permit to work and live in Portugal, but you will need a Residence Certificate from the SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service) if the duration of your stay is longer than six months. 

Nationals of all other countries will need to apply for a work visa; however some may apply after arrival in Portugal due to agreements between Portugal and their own country. For example, employees from Canada, New Zealand, the USA, Japan, Israel and Australia can make an application for a long-term work permit up to 90 days after arriving in Portugal. It is important to apply prior to arrival if you come from any other non-EU country!


What are the different types of work visas?

What work visa you need in Portugal depends on the length of stay, and the nature of employment. There are several available if you come from outside the EU, including:

  • Short-term visas (less than six months) are available to any worker approved by the IEFP (the labour authority and can be extended to a maximum duration of one year if you are employed in certain sectors, e.g research or other highly-qualified professions.
  • Long-term visas (longer than six months) are a type of Schengen visa, so an employee with one can work in any of the 26 countries in the Schengen area! You can apply for a residence permit once you are issued a long-term visa.


What are the different types of residence permits?

Non-EU employees can apply for a residence permit valid for one year and renewable for up to five years. At this point, it is possible to apply for Portuguese residence. Self-employed applicants need to include more documents about the activity of their business.

The Golden Visa is another option for those investing in real estate or business in Portugal for example. If you’ve been wondering what a golden visa is, read our recent guide on everything you need to know and how we can help you apply!

For unpaid work or volunteering, you can apply for a different residence permit valid for one year in most cases. These are typically non-renewable.


How do you apply for work visas?

Once you receive a job offer and the company makes a successful application for your work permit, you can begin the process of a work visa application at a Portuguese embassy. This can take anywhere between two weeks and three months, so make sure you apply long enough in advance! 

You will need to bring an application form, a passport (as well as a set of passport photos), copies of any past visas, proof that you have suitable accomodation and a medical insurance policy (covering up to €30,000) in addition to your employment contract. 

Upon arrival in Portugal, you must apply for a tax number and social security, via any local Social Security Office.


If you are unsure about any step of the process, or you would like some advice on the best kind of visa for you, please contact us at RHJ Law to talk to experts in the consultancy field.

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