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Portugal Startup Visa: how to get residency by opening an innovative company

Portugal’s government tends to attract foreign talents and investment to the country, and that’s why innovators are welcomed there. So, if you have a prospective startup idea, you may apply for residency in Portugal.

Entrepreneurs must submit detailed business plans and find approved Portuguese incubators to accelerate their projects. After that, they apply for a Startup Visa and a 2-year residence permit.

Read on to find out the requirements for applicants and businesses under the Portugal Startup Visa program.

Portugal Startup Visa for entrepreneurs to run a business

What is a Portugal Startup Visa

A Startup Visa is a Portugal residency visa for entrepreneurs. They can apply for the visa if they have a detailed startup idea. Those who run an innovative or technological business abroad also can get residency if they wish to transfer their companies to Portugal.

Up to five team members may be included in the Startup visa application. Family members move to Portugal later after they get residency for family reunification.

A Portugal residence permit must be obtained after the Startup Visa. The first permit is valid for two years, and all the consequent ones are issued for three years. To retain residency, one must live in Portugal permanently — for six months in a row or eight months in total yearly.

The Startup Visa Program was launched in 2018 by IAPMEI, a Portuguese agency responsible for projects in the area of innovation and competitiveness. The program is intended to attract foreign talents, innovative businesses and investment to the country.

The legislative framework for the visa is articles 60 and 81 of REPSAE, Portugal’s immigration act.

Requirements for entrepreneurs and their businesses

Startup founders must be non-EU, non-EEA and non-Swiss citizens or permanent residents to apply for the Startup visa. Also, they have to be over 18 and without a criminal record.

Every applicant must confirm owning money for living in Portugal for a year, at least €5,146.80. In addition, they have to rent or buy housing in the country; the price and area are unlimited.

Up to five team members can be included in the application.

5 team members
Can obtain a Portugal Startup Visa

Businesses must be focused on innovation and technology. Projects in IT, biotech, electronics, communication, energy, healthcare, commerce and consumer products and services may be suitable.

Applicants have to submit a detailed business plan and presentation to show their projects’ perspectives:

  • for entering global markets;
  • creating jobs for highly qualified professionals;
  • reaching €325,000+ of annual turnover or assets value after five years of incubation.

When business incubators and IAPMEI evaluate a startup idea, they consider all the criteria mentioned above. Also, they pay attention to the team’s skills and experience.

How to get Portugal residency for an entrepreneur’s family members

The Startup Visa doesn’t allow one to include family members in the application immediately. Instead, relatives get Portugal residence permits for family reunification.

Entrepreneur’s family members who can apply for residency:

  • a spouse of the entrepreneur or a partner in a registered civil partnership recognised by the state;
  • minor children;
  • children over 18 if they are not married, dependent on the entrepreneur and study in Portugal;
  • parents if they are financially dependent on the main applicant.

To get residency for relatives, a Startup Visa owner must prove they have money to live in Portugal. The minimum amount is counted according to the minimum salary in the country, which is €8,460 a year in 2022. The required amount to confirm is 50% of the annual salary for each adult and 30% for each minor family member.

Documents needed for a Portugal Startup Visa

The list of documents for applying for the visa includes the following:

  1. A copy of a passport and a residency card, if applicable.
  2. A detailed business plan and a project presentation.
  3. A letter of motivation demonstrating interest in developing an innovative project in Portugal.
  4. Certificate of no criminal record from the countries of origin and residence.
  5. CV.
  6. A bank statement confirming a balance of €5,146.80 or more per applicant.
  7. A Portugal taxpayer number, NIF.
  8. A social security number, Segurança Social.

After getting the startup visa, an applicant receives a declaration of participation in the program from IAPMEI. It is required to obtain a residence permit. Also, one must prove to have sufficient funds and housing to live in Portugal to apply for residency.

The step-by-step application process for a Portugal Startup Visa

Getting a Portugal Startup Visa takes 2+ months if you already have a detailed business plan. Then you should come to Portugal to acquire residency; it may take several months.
Stage Этап
Details Детали
1. Collect the documents
1. Collect the documents

One needs a business plan, a project presentation, a motivation letter, a CV and all the above-mentioned additional documents to apply for a visa. 

Immigrant Invest lawyers help entrepreneurs to get taxpayer and social security numbers and prepare all necessary papers.

1. Collect the documents
2. Submit an initial application
2. Submit an initial application

Fill out the form at the IAPMEI website and attach copies of all the required documents.

2. Submit an initial application
3. Find an incubator to accelerate the project
3. Find an incubator to accelerate the project

Turn to several incubators, pass interviews and get the project approved by at least one incubator. Then finish filling out the form at the IAPMEI website.

3. Find an incubator to accelerate the project
4. Wait for the application approval
4. Wait for the application approval

IAPMEI considers the application for 30 working days. Applicants may track the progress in their account on the website. 

After the approval, applicants get a declaration of participation in the Startup Visa program, valid for six months.

4. Wait for the application approval
5. Get the Startup Visa
5. Get the Startup Visa

Schedule an appointment in the Portuguese Consulate in your country of residence and submit a visa application with all required documents on the appointment date. Then get the visa after the approval.

5. Get the Startup Visa
6. Come to Portugal and apply for residency
6. Come to Portugal and apply for residency

An applicant or a legal representative schedules an appointment at SEF, Portugal’s Foreigners and Borders Service. The entrepreneur submits an application and biometrics in person.

6. Come to Portugal and apply for residency
7. Get a residence permit card
7. Get a residence permit card

After the application is approved, one gets their residence card. The first one is valid for two years, and the consequent ones are issued for three years each.

7. Get a residence permit card

Entrepreneurs have an alternative path to getting a residence permit for opening a startup. If they are in Portugal, they submit documents directly to SEF without visiting a consulate in the country of residence. 

State fees include €90 for processing the visa application and €85.05 for a residence permit.

Benefits of getting a Portugal Startup Visa

Low costs. Compared to other Portugal residence visas, the Startup Visa has relatively low requirements in terms of money. Applicants must only prove they have about €5,200 per person to live in the country for a year. 

At the same time, the passive income visa D7 requires applicants to have at least €8,460 in their bank accounts in 2022, and an investment of  €250,000+ is necessary to obtain a Portugal Golden Visa.

Relocation to Portugal. The country is known to be a safe place to live. Also, expats choose it for its beautiful landscapes, clean beaches, tasty local cuisine and relaxed lifestyle. 

Portugal may be a good choice for the ones who wish to live by the ocean and move away from bustling big cities but still have easy access to quality goods, services and entertainment.

Travelling to other Schengen countries visa-free. The allowed stay in this zone is 90 days within 180.

Business incubator’s assistance. One of the principal requirements for projects under the Startup Visa program is collaborating with a Portuguese business incubator. It may seem challenging in terms of getting a visa, but it is quite an advantage when you run a business in a new country.

An incubator helps with paperwork, provides startup owners with offices on beneficial terms, and sometimes supports businesses in seeking investments or grants.

Tax optimisation. Entrepreneurs are required to live in Portugal for at least 183 days a year, which leads to obtaining tax residency in the country. A new resident may get the beneficial status of a Non-habitual resident (NHR) to pay less. For example, this status allows one to pay income tax at a 20% rate instead of the usual taxation of up to 48%.

Access to Portugal’s healthcare and education systems. Their services are of relatively high quality, and they seem low cost for residents compared to some other EU countries. Residents may turn to public facilities or choose private if they wish to have a special approach: for example, to get medical procedures done faster or to have their children’s classes conducted in English.

Applying for citizenship after five years of residency. Startup founders must live in Portugal permanently to retain their residency status. After five years, they may apply for citizenship if they speak Portuguese at the A2 level and have no criminal records.

A Portugal passport allows its holders to live in the country or visit it at any time without any restrictions, travel to 180+ countries visa-free, including the US and the UK, and move to other Schengen states without applying for residency in advance.

Portugal entrepreneur visa benefits

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. It is also an important economic centre of the country and a popular destination for relocation

Portugal Startup Visa benefits

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, and it is also considered a major economic centre of the country. Some business incubators work there, so the Startup Visa holders can choose Porto as their residence

Portugal Startup Visa benefits

Living by the Atlantic Ocean is one of the reasons to choose Portugal for living. In 2022, the country’s marinas and beaches received 431 Blue Flags for clean water and comfort for recreation. Most of the awarded beaches are situated in the Algarve, the southern region of the country

Alternatives to a Portugal Startup Visa: D2, D7 and Golden visas

Business people have several paths to acquiring residency in Portugal, so they can choose the most suitable option. Let’s discuss other Portugal visas entrepreneurs can get.

Portugal D2 Visa is intended for business people who buy a company in Portugal, open a branch or wish to register a new company in the country. In the case of a new company, a detailed business plan is a must. 

Collaboration with a Portuguese incubator is not required, and the type of the company’s activity doesn’t matter. Instead, applicants prove to have funds to run a business and live in Portugal and confirm that their company will profit the locals — for example, will create some new jobs.

Portugal D7 Visa is intended for people with passive income and remote workers. They need to prove income higher than the country’s minimum salary of €705 a month. Also, they must rent or buy housing to live in.

You can’t work in Portugal with a D7 visa, but it leads to a residence permit which gives you this right.

Portugal Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment program. One invests €250,000+ in the country’s economy and gets a residence permit. 

Two investment options are connected with business activity:

  • €500,000+ of investment in a business with the creation of 5 jobs;
  • opening a business and creating ten jobs.

Comparison of Portugal Startup, D2, D7 and Golden visas

FeaturesStartup VisaD2 VisaD7 VisaGolden Visa
Financial requirementsHave €5,147+ for a year of residence in the country

Buy or rent housing
Have €8,460+ for a year of residence in the country

Buy or rent housing

Have money to run a business in Portugal
Have €8,460+ for a year of residence in the country

Buy or rent housing
€250,000+ of investment in one of seven options
A state fee for a residence permit card€85 €72 €72€5,392 
Time for obtaining residency3+ months3+ months3+ months8+ months
Relatives who can get residencyA spouse, children and parents get residency for family reunificationA spouse, children and parents get residency for family reunificationA spouse, children and parents get residency for family reunificationA spouse, children up to 26 and parents are included in the initial application
A residence card’s validity period2 years, then 3 years each2 years, then 3 years each2 years, then 3 years each2 years each
Obligation to live in Portugal6 months in a row or 8 months in total yearly6 months in a row or 8 months in total yearly6 months in a row or 8 months in total yearly14 days every 2 years

The Portugal Golden Visa may be the best path if one looks for residency in Europe without limits on stay. Investors obtain their residence permits in Portugal and still have the freedom to live abroad or travel for most of the year.

Another benefit to consider is that the Golden Visa allows one to get residency by investment in properties or other assets. It may be helpful if one doesn’t want to run a business in the country now but wishes to have such an opportunity in the future.

How to maintain residency in Portugal and get citizenship after the Startup visa

To retain residency, startup founders must live in Portugal permanently: six months in a row or eight months in total every year. Their family members must do the same. Also, they have to follow the program’s rules and develop their startups.

To get PR or citizenship, one has to maintain their residency in Portugal for 5+ years. Other requirements include the following:

  • having no criminal records;
  • having money and rented or owned housing to live in Portugal;
  • speaking Portuguese at the A2 level.

Portugal allows its citizens to have multiple citizenships, so people don’t have to renounce other countries’ passports. However, if an applicant’s country of origin forbids dual citizenship, they must decide whether to abandon the previous citizenship or get permanent residence in Portugal.

Citizens of Portugal may live in the country, travel to 187 states visa-free and choose any Schengen area country as their residence. A permanent residence permit is not as powerful as a passport, but it is still a life-long status with a right to live in Portugal and travel to other European countries.

Frequently asked questions

What is a Portugal Startup Visa?

A Startup Visa is a residency visa for entrepreneurs willing to live and run an innovative business in Portugal. Applicants submit detailed business plans, collaborate with business incubators and get residence permits.

How much does it cost to get a Portugal Startup Visa?

The main costs are about €10,000—€15,000. An applicant proves having rented or owned housing, the money of €5,147 or more to live in Portugal for a year, buys health insurance and pays state fees.

In addition, entrepreneurs must pay for themselves while they design their projects and visit Portugal to get a residence permit. Legal services may also be necessary; the prices depend on a particular situation and service provider. 

What kind of business should I start to obtain a Portugal Startup Visa?

The project must be focused on innovation and technology and producing respective goods and services. Also, the business must be prospective in terms of entering global markets, creating jobs and reaching financial goals.

How long does it take to get a Startup Visa to Portugal?

It takes 2+ months to get a Portugal Startup Visa if you already have a business plan.

How long is an entrepreneur’s residence permit valid?

The first residence permit is valid for two years, and the consequent ones are issued for three years.

What are the alternatives to Portugal Startup Visa for entrepreneurs?

Business people can choose different types of Portugal residence visas:

  • D2 Visa: for opening a new company or buying an existing one to run any business in Portugal;
  • D7 Visa: to live in Portugal while working remotely, with the right to work and run a business in the country after getting a residence permit;
  • Golden Visa by investment in a business and creating jobs. It helps to get residency with the freedom of movement and no obligation to live in Portugal permanently.
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Portugal Startup Visa: how to get residency by opening an innovative company