D7 Visa - Residency in Portugal

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Non-EU citizens can gain residency in Portugal with a D7 visa. Proof of foreign income is required, property investment is not. Find out the steps in applying and qualifying for a D7 Visa and the differences between a D7 Visa and the Golden Visa scheme - residency through investment.

Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination for retirees and those looking to relocate for a better quality of life. Non-EU citizens looking to gain residency in Portugal may be aware of the Golden Visa programme - a residency by investment scheme that has had great success. However, there is another route to Portuguese residency - the D7 visa. This visa is of particular interest to non-EU retirees - a group that now includes UK citizens.

In the article below, Luis da Silva from Portugal Senior Living explores the advantages of the D7 and breaks down the requirements and steps involved in obtaining one. Portugal Senior Living is a leading provider of rental, permanent and long-stay accommodation in Portugal, for the senior expat market, along with relocation services. They work to help those looking to relocate to Portugal with property searches, discovery tours, visa applications and insights into tax and pension incentives.
Check our Moving to Portugal Guide for insights on schools, taxation, where to live, healthcare, buying property and more.

Moving to Portugal using the D7 visa application process
(valid for those who earn a foreign pension)
By Luis da Silva - Portugal Senior Living

Residence versus Non-Habitual Residence
All individuals and their families (if dependent) must have the right to reside in Portugal if they wish to remain beyond a period allowed by a tourist visa. For EU citizens, this is simple as the principle of freedom of movement and settlement among all EU citizens and nations, is enshrined in EU law. For those with non-EU citizenship, and wishing to settle in Portugal or remain for extended periods every year, it is necessary to obtain the right of residence. Much has been made of Portugal's Golden Visa program, which until recently (until surpassed by the Greek Golden Visa) was Europe's most successful by amount invested. (Find out more about this and other Portugal Tax incentives).
However, many people are unaware that there are other routes which are equally valid in terms of obtaining residence. In particular, some do not involve a real estate purchase.

A stand-out candidate is the D7 visa, which is valid for applicants who have a foreign source of income, including pensions.
The D7 visa has two distinct advantages over other better-known visas:
a) It does not require a property purchase (a long-term rental contract will suffice)
b) It is quicker than a Golden Visa application.

The D7 visa subsequently still entitles eligible applicants to apply for the NHR program.

Clearing up a few misconceptions
Residence in a country is usually defined as spending half a year (183) days in that territory. Some exceptions exist but this is the general, internationally recognised rule. It is not necessary for this period, in the case of Portugal, to be continuous. References which you may find to a continuous period of permanence in order to accumulate the 183 days is incorrect;
Accommodation in a hotel: many Portuguese consulates do not consider a hotel stay as reflecting a "permanent" nature. Hotels are far too easy to cancel at short notice;
It is possible to extend a tourist visa for a period beyond the original 90 days, subject to certain restrictions. However, one should not do this repeatedly as it a strong indication of residence under the guise of tourism. This would not be acceptable in other countries, and should not be assumed to be acceptable in Portugal;
Even if you are an EU citizen, not registering in a country in which you effectively live, is not legal. No matter how much your lawyer tells you so, a country has the right to tax you should you be resident there and in effect be using its public services. One has only to observe the number of British citizens who, under the threat of the perceived "loss" of rights in a no-deal Brexit, have suddenly started to register themselves and ensure that they are legally compliant. In effect, there is a tacit admission by both these citizens and their advisors that they have been non-compliant, in some cases for decades. While for EU citizens it is difficult to monitor this situation, it is not the case for non-EU citizens and so we strongly advise against this under any circumstances;
Most of our clients are not seeking to work and are also not able to rely on Portuguese ancestry in order to obtain a visa. In these cases, a different category of visa would apply;
If any applicants can prove Sephardic Jewish ancestry please let us know as you are eligible for a special fast-track visa.

Necessary documents
More than just an application itself and all the supporting documentation, the veracity of the application is crucial. If you are intending to live in Portugal, apply for a residence visa. If you are a tourist, then a tourist visa is the way to go. Do not try to substitute one for the other.
For residence visas, the following are the most important documents which will be required:
1. Application, or request for the D7 visa, including the reason/motivation for the request, and accompanied by recent photographs
2. Passport and sometimes national identity document (of home country)
3. Proof of the sources of income, their regularity and availability to be received in Portugal (some Consulates ask for proof that some funds have been deposited into a Portuguese account in the applicant's name)
4. Proof of accommodation, either a rental contract, letter of invitation from friend or family with a statement of continued support by that person (some legal responsibilities may accrue to the individuals concerned) or proof of ownership of the property. Some online sources of information have quoted a hotel reservation as acceptable but our experience is that some Consulates will not accept this. We believe it best to apply the principle that a hotel reservation does not indicate an intent to remain permanently
5. Medical insurance, which proves that you will not be a burden to the state in case of a medical need or emergency. Over time, it may be possible for applicants to be eligible to treatment under the national system (SNS)
6. Clean criminal record, proven by a certificate issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin. In the US, we suggest using an expediter who will deal with this matter more efficiently;
7. Bank information and NIF: in almost all cases, proof of having a Portuguese fiscal number  is required. As regards the bank account, it is often required that you have deposited some funds into that account;
8. Information regarding your travel plans (tickets and proof of travel)

The process in simple steps
To gather the necessary documents, submit the application and receive a response, allow a minimum of three (3) months.
Without wishing to overstate the obvious, the first step MUST be to determine whether Portugal is really the place you wish to. If in doubt, undertake a Discovery Tour to check where you wish to be
If you are thinking of importing a car into Portugal, there is a limit to one tax-free importation per person. Ensure that the cars have been officially registered in the names of the respective applicants well enough ahead of time
Lock down a property, either by buying or renting. Consider having a company with a broad range of expertise be alongside you in this process 
Prepare the application and all supporting documents and only submit when you have everything in order. Once your temporary visa, you will have 120 days to book and appear at the SEF or Borders Agency in Portugal, for an entry interview
Ensure that any personal effects are exported within the legal limit to allow for taxfree transit
The temporary residence permit is issued for a year and then subsequently for two further periods of two years, after which a permanent residence document is issued (or a citizenship application can be made)

Some of the risks requiring management
You may not know your departure date so you may need to purchase a more expensive flight which permits changes. In addition, some Consulates like to see a return ticket which of course it makes no sense to use. A simple but effective approach, which covers you if your application is granted or denied, is to purchase a fully flexible ticket which will allow you to shorten or extend the period of stay (assuming that most people will wish to return home to finalise any remaining matters or to visit family, within the first year of their move)
Locking in a rental may be difficult if your dates are not fixed. Three practical suggestions are to:
- Aim for a start date no earlier than 3 months from the date of your application, and also see if some flexibility can be negotiated into the rental agreement - again, using a firm such as Algarve Senior Living, with many of our existing owner relationships, this is sometimes possible
- Try to start a rental well outside the peak summer season - November to February is best as owners are most flexible
- If your application is delayed, be prepared to pay for a rental even if you do not manage to occupy it, in time. The risks of delays are unlikely to be transferred to the owner who has no control over the timing of your application.

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