Some Hints On Taking Up Residence And Living in Portugal

Information correct as of October 2010 from the British Embassy website.

Orginal can be downloaded here (.pdf)

Please note that though every effort is made to ensure that the information given herein is accurate, no legal responsibility is accepted for any errors, omissions or misleading statements in that information caused by negligence or otherwise.

Hints on taking up residence & Living conditions in Portugal

Going to live abroad is a major decision and you should obtain a wide range of information and advice before you go. The following tips and sources of information provide a guide to help you.

In addition to this information about Portugal, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office produce a range of information booklets which you may find helpful and interesting. These are available on the FCO website:

Registration Certificates

Under EU directives and in compliance with a recent change in Portuguese law, you may remain in Portugal for a maximum of 3 months without having to comply with any formalities.

If you intend to remain in Portugal for a period exceeding 3 months, you must apply to your nearest town hall or to the Portuguese Immigration Service - the Servço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF)* - for a Registration Certificate, during the 30 days following the 3-month period. This certificate will be valid for 5 years from the date of issue, or for your period of intended residence (if this is less than 5 years).

To obtain a registration certificate, you will be required to show your British passport and make a sworn declaration to the effect that you fulfil the conditions of residence. These are:

a) that you are working or are self-employed, or

b) you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family (if appropriate), or

c) you are enrolled on a course of study and have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family (if appropriate).

If you are applying for a registration certificate on behalf of a dependant relative, e.g. a child or an elderly relative, you will also be required to produce their passport and documentary evidence of their relationship to you as the main applicant.

EU nationals, who have lived legally in Portugal for a consecutive period of 5 years, may apply to the Immigration authorities (SEF) for a Certificate of Permanent Residence.

If you are already resident in Portugal and are the holder of a 'residence permit', you may continue to hold this document until it expires. Thereafter, you should apply to have it replaced, as appropriate, with a registration certificate or certificate of permanent residence.

*In accordance with the new law (Lei 37/2006 of 9 August 2006), the local town council (Câmara Municipal) will eventually be responsible for issuing registration certificates to EU nationals. For the time being, however, and until arrangements can be put in place, the regional offices of SEF will provide this service.

Proof of Identity

There is a legal requirement in Portugal for people to be able to show some form of identification, if requested by the police or judicial authorities. A Portuguese national would be expected to show his identity card. For UK nationals, this means a passport. A driver's licence or credit card would not be considered sufficient proof of identity.

In most cases, it should be sufficient to carry a photocopy of the data page of your passport. However, you should be prepared to be accompanied by the police to collect the original document, if necessary, or to produce it within 12 hours of notification. The police can detain anyone who is unable to produce satisfactory identification until such a time as his/her identity has been established.

The requirement to carry the original document is rigorously enforced in the case of those stopped while driving in Portugal.


Residents in Portugal are liable to Portuguese tax. Non-residents who own property in Portugal are liable to some taxes, such as IMT - Imposto Municipal sobre Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis (Municipal Tax on the Transfer of Property) and IMI - Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis (Municipal Tax on Property). Anyone who is due to pay taxes in Portugal should apply for a taxpayer's number (número fiscal de contribuinte) from their local tax office (Repartição das Finanças). A tax number is also necessary for opening a bank account, entering into a long-term rental agreement, purchasing property and road tax, etc.

The Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income was ratified between the UK and Portugal on 17 January 1969. This allows for income to be taxed once only in the taxpayer's country of residence.

In Portugal, it is incumbent upon the taxpayer to submit his own income tax return annually between 1 February and 15 March for earnings derived from salaried employment and/or pensions, and between 16 March and 30 April for all other sources of income. Married couples must submit a combined tax return. There are seven income tax brackets ranging from 10.5-42% and an array of tax deductions, credits and special benefits.

Tax laws and regulations are frequently subject to change and it is therefore advisable to seek professional guidance from a reputable firm of accountants or your local tax office (Repartição de Finanças). Their website is: You may also request clarification by e-mail from the tax authorities' (Direcção-Geral dos Impostos) enquiry line

For help with UK tax matters, you may wish to contact the Inland Revenue's Centre for Non-Residents. For more information, consult their website at

Health Service

Under EU legislation, British citizens who are legally resident in Portugal are entitled to state medical treatment on the same terms as any Portuguese national who is covered by the National Health Service. Non-resident British visitors to Portugal are entitled to emergency medical treatment at state facilities on production of their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

In order to benefit from state-funded health care as a resident, you should apply for a National Health Service 'user card' (cartão de utente) at your local health centre (Centro de Saúde) producing your passport as evidence of national status, and your registration certificate (see paragraph 1 above). Until such a time as a registration certificate has been issued, you will only be entitled to emergency treatment from state facilities. Routine consultations, complementary exams, such as x-rays and blood tests, and prescriptions for existing illnesses only become available on National Health Service terms once a registration certificate has been issued and a user card has been applied for.

There is, however, one exception to this rule. If you are retired and are in receipt of a UK state retirement pension, you may apply for a user card and enrol with a state GP immediately on arrival, on the production of your passport and Form E121 which you should obtain from the Department for Work and Pensions before leaving the UK. This confirms your status as a UK pensioner to the Portuguese authorities, and speeds-up the issue of a Portuguese health service user card.

Please note that the only medicines that are available free-of-charge in Portugal, are those used to treat the sufferers of certain chronic illnesses. All other medicines have to be purchased, though many are subsidised to some extent when obtained on prescription and on presentation of a health service user card.

There are several good but extremely expensive private clinics in Portugal. If you are considering using private health facilities, you may wish to take out health insurance, either in the UK or locally on arrival.

Pensions and Benefits

You must be clear about your financial situation on your retirement. Remember to allow for exchange rate fluctuations and inflation. Even if you live overseas, you will still receive your state pension on retirement (provided you have reached state pension age). For more information, see our section on Pension, Healthcare and Benefits:

You may also ask for a UK state pension forecast from the State Pension Forecasting Team, Future Pension Centre, The Pension Service, Tyneview Park, Whitley Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE98 1BA, tel 0845 300 0168. This will tell you at today's prices, the amount of state pension you have earned already and the amount you can expect to receive at state pension age. For more information, visit the Pension Service website:

If you wish to obtain a pension forecast from abroad, you should contact the National Insurance Contributions Office, Centre for Non-Residents, Longbenton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE89 1ZZ, tel 00 44 191 203 7010, and ask for form CA3638. You may also wish to visit their website:


Cremation is legal in Portugal but there are only seven crematoriums - two in Lisbon, one in Rio de Mouro, near Sintra, one in Figueira da Foz (Central Portugal), one in Oporto and two in the Alentejo at Elvas and Ferreira do Alentejo.

Bodies buried at municipal cemeteries in Portugal are exhumed after 3 years when the next-of-kin may arrange to have the remains cremated or transferred to a wall box. If the body is not fully decomposed, it will be buried again for further periods of 2 years until decomposure is complete. Due to the very great shortage of space, the British Cemetery in Lisbon is reserved for the burial of Protestants residing in Portugal whose normal place of worship is St George's Church, Lisbon, St Paul's Church, Estoril, St Vincent's Church, Lagos or St Andrew's Church of Scotland.

Transportation of a body or ashes to the UK is possible but costly and should be handled by a reputable firm of undertakers. A list is available from the Embassy and Consulates.

Consular Offices in Portugal

The Consulates in Portugal may be contacted as follows:

British Embassy
Consular Section
Rua de São Bernardo, 33
1249-082 Lisboa
Tel: 21 392 4000
Fax: 21-392 4153

British Consulate
Edifício A Fabrica
Avenida Guanar
Apartado 609
8500-915 Portimão
Tel: 282-490750
Fax: 282-414054

Honorary British Consulate
Travessa Barão de Forrester, 86
4400-034 Vila Nova de Gaia
Tel: 22 618 4789
Fax: 22 610 0438

Honorary British Consulate
Rua da Alfândega, 10, 3C
9001-956 Funchal
Tel: 291-212860-7
Fax: 291-212869

Honorary British Consulate
Largo Vasco Bensaude, 13
9500-108 Ponta Delgada
São Miguel
Tel: 296 628192
Fax: 296 628175