Moving to Portugal 2024

Best guide on moving to Portugal. What you need to know to make the move to the Algarve. Information on getting a NIF, opening a bank account, visas such as D7 visas, on taxes in Portugal, on living as an expat in the Algarve. Find out about the most popular places to live, the property buying process and how to manage your finances. What are the differences between Portugal and the USA? How does the health system work? How does the education system work? Below you can find a wealth of resources and information to help you plan your move to Portugal.

You'll find:

  • guides to the most popular towns in the region
  • how to get a NIF
  • how to open a bank account
  • applying for a mortgage
  • guides on applying for visas
  • guides to service providers, such as pet transport and internet solutions
  • guides to property transactions
  • information on fiscal and financial planning
  • information on the health and educations systems

So, you're thinking of moving to Portugal. And why wouldn't you! Consistently ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, as one of the best places to retire to, as one of the best destinations for digital nomads, and families seeking quality of life, it is no surprise that many people are making the move to Portugal. As a whole, the country has much to recommend it. The Algarve, in the south, holds a special place in our hearts, so below we focus our attention on moving to the Algarve.
Thinking of buying property in Portugal?
Check out this practical Guide to Buying Property in Portugal
And learn why buying an investment property makes sense
And of course, there is lots of information on all the fun and fabulous experiences you can enjoy here. If you're moving to a new country, you're probably looking to improve your quality of life, so we give you plenty of inspiration for your new life in the sun, with suggested walks, scenic drives and more.
Check the links below for guides to the most popular places to move to, including guides to Albufeira, Vilamoura. Portimão, Quinta do Lago, Tavira and more. Each town and area has its own unique vibe and there is quite a variation across the Algarve region. The landscape is different, with a wilder, harsher beauty on the West Coast, and a gentler, less dramatic landscape to the east. Even the climate varies quite a bit across the region.

The eastern Algarve is known as the Sotovento, while the western Algarve is called the Barlavento. These are nautical terms meaning leeward (sotovento) and windward (barlavento) and are very appropriate for the Algarve region. Sagres and Lagos, in the west, do tend to be breezier than towns such as Tavira in the east.

Some of the popular places to live include residential towns such as Faro and Portimão, Lagos and Tavira. These are bustling towns that offer all the services you would expect, with the added bonus of being right by gorgeous beaches and a scenic coastline. 

Other popular spots are resorts such as Vilamoura, Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. These offer a superb lifestyle, with great restaurants, facilities and amazing properties ready to become your new home.

Best places to live in the Algarve  
Take a look at Ideal Homes Portugal's YouTube channel for tips on mortgages, exclusive offers, the inside track on new developments,
plus all the latest IHTV episodes.

One of the very first steps to take when moving to Portugal is to get a NIF - your Portuguese tax identity number, known as the número de indentificação fiscal or número de contribuinte.
You need a NIF to rent or buy property, for example, to open a bank account, register at a health centre, set up a phone or wi-fi contract, as well for tax purposes. All residents and non-residents can have a NIF.

How to get a NIF in Portugal
A NIF can be requested in person at your local Finanças office. For EU and EEA residents, bring a valid ID and proof of address and you can receive your NIF straight away (once you've navigated the queues ....). However, for many people, it makes sense to acquire a NIF in advance, using online services, which are paid services. All you need is a valid passport (or photo ID card for EU citizens) and proof of address, and you can expect to have your NIF within a week. 
  For non-Eu and non-EEA residents, you can obtain a NIF in person, you should be accompanied by a fiscal representative (resident in Portugal) to complete the process. Once you have registered for electronic notifications from the government Finance site, you no longer need a fiscal representative.

Applying for and receiving a NIF does not automatically make you a tax resident in Portugal as long as you use a non-Portuguese address.

Check the links below for guides to applying for a D7 visa - detailed guides exploring who is eligible, what is required and how to qualify for a D7 visa.
The D7 visa is a pathway to residency in Portugal. Unlike the Golden Visa, no property investment is required. It is often referred to as the passive income or retirement visa.
One key requirement is proof of income from outside Portugal. The minimum requirement is not high. For 2023, it is set at €9,120 per year for a single applicant and €13,680 per year for a married couple. However, these are the minimum requirements. by showing proof of greater income you can maximize your acceptance chances.

Applying for a D7 visa is basically a two-step process. The first step is to apply to the Portuguese consulate or embassy in your home country and present all the documentation required (see the details in the links below). 
The second step is completed in Portugal by applying for the actual residence permit issued by SEF. Note: SEF will be decommissioned in 2023 and a new entity will take on its role.

Portugal D7 Visa Guide
The NHR is no longer available, with no new applications being accepted from 1 Jan 2024.
Those with their application submitted by this date should still be able to gain NHR status.

Information on Portugal's NHR - non-habitual resident status, and the significant tax benefits it can bring.
Portugal’s non-habitual residence regime offers new residents very attractive tax advantages. Some foreign income will be exempt from Portuguese tax; foreign pension income benefits from a special fixed low tax rate, and local ‘high value’ employment is also taxed at a lower rate than usual.
There are certain conditions to be filled in order to qualify for NHR status: you cannot have been a tax resident in Portugal in the previous 5 years; you must become a tax resident and spend at least 183 days per year there or maintain a property there as an habitual residence.
People of any nationality (including non-EU/EEA citizens) can potentially qualify for NHR if they have not been resident in Portugal within the previous five calendar years.   
You need to meet Portuguese residency rules and have a Portuguese taxpayer number (NIF) to register. 

Tax in Portugal - information on Capital Gains Tax, Property Tax, Income Tax, how to move tax-efficiently to Portugal etc.
When moving to Portugal from another country, it is vital to ensure you have up-to-date and accurate information, so that you can take advantage of the available tax benefits while also being fully compliant.
There are schemes, such as the NHR - non-habitual residence - that provide very attractive tax incentives to new residents. Estate planning should also be considered - inheritance tax in Portugal is structured quite differently to the UK, for example.
To ensure you reap the benefits of available incentives, and are fully aware of all your obligations, getting cross-border tax advice is the smart move. It can help save you time and money. Professional tax advice and financial planning services are available in the Algarve.
See the links below for more information.

Information on buying property in the Algarve - the buying process, the services available and required, mortgages and financial services.
Investing in property in Portugal is generally considered a good investment. Aside from the various tax incentives which are attracting foreign residents to the country (see our information on NHR), a rental property in a popular area with strong tourism, such as the Algarve, can generate significant rental income.

Finding that perfect property, be it for investment or for a home, can take time and research, starting with exactly where you want to live. The services of a good real estate agent can make the whole experience much simpler.

While online searches are a good starting point, there comes a time when a viewing trip to Portugal is almost essential. By working with a reputable broker, you can narrow down your property wish-list, so that on the ground, you view properties that match your chosen criteria. A viewing trip also allows you to get a feel for a particular town or area.
Having a good realtor on your side can make the whole process of searching and buying property much easier. They can provide you with access to expert legal and financial advice, help you source the best mortgage, and help with organizing the move.

In order to request a visa, or complete a property transaction, you will need to have a Portuguese bank account. It is possible to open a bank account in Portugal from anywhere in the world using online services. A NIF (see above) is required in order to open a bank account in Portugal.

You can of course also open an account in person. Generally, you will need to bring
  • Proof of income that should ideally state your profession
  • Proof of address
  • Passport as ID
  • NIF document from Finanças

Opening a bank account in Portugal
You can opt to have an online service take care of opening a bank account for you. These are paid services.
In recent years there has been significant growth in the number of people relocating from the USA to Portugal. The reasons are varied, however, in addition to the tax incentives, a healthier, safer, less stressful lifestyle is frequently mentioned as a factor.

Portugal is a consistent presence on the lists for "best places to retire" and "safest places to live". It's not just the wonderful climate and great food that attracts Americans. The sense of safety and security is a huge factor, with relatively low levels of crime, a stable society, and a tolerant ethos across the population.

Comparing living in the USA with living in Portugal - real-life experience.
Joe and Terri moved for the USA to Lagos, Algarve, in 2021. They discuss their experiences with healthcare, the factors that drew them to Portugal and how they are settling into their new life in Lagos.
Moving your family to the Algarve is a major decision. There are many factors to consider such as education and the school system in Portugal, healthcare for your family, how you and your family will adapt to a new culture, language and experience. See detailed articles in the links below.
Ensuring you have good internet is also going to be a factor, not just for leisure, but also for work - the new Digital Nomad Visa is attracting a whole new population of remote workers to Portugal. If you're planning on working remotely from the Algarve, you'll be glad to know speedy internet is available.
There are both private and public education options in Portugal, from the early school years right through to university level, as well as international schools.
The public school system offers free education.
University education is not free, but yearly rates are set at public universities and generally do not exceed €1000 per year. In 2023, the rate is €697 per year, for an undergraduate degree.
Portugal has a national health service - the Serviço Nacional de Saúde which is available to all residents, and treatments costs are low.
However, in some cases, obtaining a visa to live in Portugal, for example the D7, requires that you also have private health insurance.

Financial planning - information on how to safeguard your financial health after moving to Portugal and how to plan your financial future. Estate planning and wealth management services can help. Post-Brexit, UK expats need clear advice and insights to ensure the best outcomes.
Cross-border taxation is complex and with potential pitfalls. Expert advice can make all the difference to your tax bill. There are expert financial services consultancies available in the Algarve and Portugal, to ensure you have structured your wealth in the most efficient manner possible.

Practical considerations on moving to Portugal - finding home services such as good internet, insurance, heating and cooling your home, removal services, pet transport etc.

Tips on Driving in Portugal. Discover the rules and regulations concerning valid licences, ID documents, vehicle ownership and inspections. Find out about renewing or exchanging your driving licence.

Other Resources:
Browse our site for tips on the beaches to avoid the crowds, the best walks, unusual things to do in the Algarve and much more.

There are some excellent Facebook Groups with plenty of first-hand experience tips on moving to Portugal, such as Americans & FriendsPT.