Portugal is a fusion of blistering sun, beautiful beaches, impeccable cuisine and friendly locals, all of which make it one of the most attractive places for UK expats to emigrate to. Approximately 49,000 Brits currently reside in Portugal, which is unsurprising given its warm, Mediterranean climate, affordability and relaxed pace of life.
If you are thinking of relocating to Portugal from the UK, then read our essential guide for UK expats.
Living and working in Portugal
As a UK citizen, there is currently no need to obtain a visa if you are moving to Portugal before the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December 2020. After the transition period, you may require a visa to live and work in Portugal.
To stay in the county for longer than three months, you must register as a resident at your local town hall (Câmara Municipal) in order to obtain a registration certificate (Certificado de Registo), which costs €15. To obtain the certificate, you will need to show your Portuguese proof of address, a declaration of employment, your passport and proof of sufficient earnings. If you are a student in Portugal, you will also need to bring proof of enrolment at a Portuguese educational institution.
Once you have been issued with your Certificado de Registo, it will be valid for five years, after which you can apply for a Permanent Residency Certificate (Autorização de Residência Permanente) with the Immigration Agency (SEF).
Without a Residency Certificate, you cannot access routine services, such as healthcare or education.
In recent times, Portugal’s state healthcare system has undergone a considerable transformation and now ranks 12th best in the world according to WHO, which is ahead of the UK. Much like the UK, state healthcare is free for all residents, but you must register at your local health centre (Centro de Saude) after you become a resident in order to access it. After this, you will be entitled to routine GP consultations, exams and prescriptions.
To register, you will need your passport or ID card, tax number, proof of address and social security number. EU nationals will also be required to bring with them their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access emergency healthcare during their first three months in Portugal.
If you are a retiree moving to Portugal and receive a UK state pension, you may be immediately entitled to state healthcare, but will need to fill out an S1 form to receive an S1 certificate of entitlement.
Cost of living
Portugal is an affordable country compared to many other European destinations, and most Brits who relocate there find that their money goes a lot further, though this will depend on lifestyle. If you wish to fully immerse yourself in the culture and live like a local, you can do so inexpensively. Locals tend to purchase fresh groceries from the market and drink the cheap (but delicious) local wine.
As for eating out, a main meal in an affordable restaurant will typically cost around €7 in Lisbon, €6 in Porto and €5 in Braga. A coffee at a café in a city centre will typically range from between 85 cents to €1.50, depending on the region – still a lot cheaper than any coffee here in the UK!
To access state services, such as healthcare and education, residents must pay for social security, which is based on your earnings.
Public transport is significantly cheaper in Portugal than in the UK, with a one-way bus, tram or metro ticket starting at just €1.50. Many Brits who move there decide to purchase their own car, which can, unfortunately, prove rather costly, as petrol and car prices are generally more expensive in Portugal.
Housing rental and buying costs are low in Portugal, but this will of course vary, depending on location. Housing in the Algarve is generally on the pricier side, as are apartments in the centre of cities like Lisbon and Porto. However, all areas are significantly cheaper when compared with London or other popular UK cities, like Brighton.
Unlike in the UK, renters will not have to pay council tax. However, homeowners will need to pay a property owner’s tax, but this still works out significantly cheaper than the UK equivalent.
If you are considering purchasing a property in Portugal, it may be worth looking into the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) or Golden Residence Permit (GRP). These schemes offer non-Portuguese people tax reduction incentives to invest in property in Portugal.
There are generally no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Portugal, and the low purchase costs, therefore, make it an attractive option for many retirees.
Finding a job
The job market has finally started to pick up in recent years, with more opportunities for Portuguese nationals and expats, particularly in the hospitality and tourism sectors. However, unemployment rates are still higher than the average.
Brits will undoubtedly find that salaries in Portugal are a lot lower than in the UK (and many other popular European countries), at an average of €15,000pa after tax. However, the low cost of living means that, with good budgeting, incomes can go a lot further.
UK expats who do not speak Portuguese to a good level will find it extremely difficult to find a job, so it is essential to learn the language before you move there for work.
As the capital city, Lisbon has the widest range of job opportunities across many sectors. There is a particular shortage of IT specialists and doctors, so it is worth considering a move to Portugal if you are trained in either discipline.
One big draw for Brits is the proficiency with which locals can speak English, especially the younger generation. On a global scale, Portugal ranks just behind Switzerland with spoken English, setting it well ahead of France, Spain and Italy. This makes it a popular choice for retirees.
However, if you are moving to Portugal for work or study, learning Portuguese is certainly recommended and can open up a wider range of job opportunities to you.
The Portuguese way of life
Brits will find that things move a little slower and at a more relaxed pace in Portugal, which some people may find frustrating at first. Public services, such as immigration, can take hours, so this is may be a custom that will take some getting used to!
Family, tradition and community spirit are very much a part of everyday Portuguese life, with frequent family gatherings in which local food and wine are devoured. Portugal is also a largely Catholic country.
Regarding Portuguese business culture, there is a more apparent hierarchical structure between bosses and employees, with an emphasis on authority and status. British people moving to Portugal to work can, therefore, find it tricky initially to adjust to this workplace structure.
Removals to Portugal
Whether you wish to opt for a gorgeous, beach-side lifestyle and need removals to Algarve, or prefer a vibrant, multi-cultural city and require removals to Lisbon, Matthew James has got you covered. We offer weekly relocation services to, from and within Portugal throughout the year and can cover the entire move or only part of it.
As always, the cost of your move will vary according to the overall distance, method of transport, number of belongings you have, and if you wish to take out additional insurance (this is recommended).