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Immigrate to Portugal from South Africa

Immigrate to Portugal from South Africa

Foreign nationals can immigrate to Portugal from South Africa in order to seek employment opportunities, to reunite with family members already living here, or pursue different investment options.

South African nationals who wish to enter Portugal require a mandatory visa for entry. However, for the purpose of immigration, they will follow the steps needed to apply for a residence permit that suits the purpose of their prolonged stay in the country.

Our Portugal immigration team can help you apply for a residence permit that will allow you to remain in the country. Read below to find out more about the conditions and reach out to us for complete and personalized application assistance.

How to immigrate to Portugal from South Africa

There are several options for South Africans who plan to travel to Portugal in order to remain here for more than three months. The common grounds for long-term stay are listed below by our immigration specialists:

  1. Employment: South African nationals who have signed an employment agreement with a Portuguese company or who are part of a corporate transfer to a Portuguese branch of their company;
  2. Study: students accepted to a Portuguese University, for the duration of their studies (can be subject to renewal);
  3. Investment: South African entrepreneurs who wish to open a company in Portugal or who are able to make another type of investment;
  4. Family reunification: the family members of an individual who is already a lawful resident in Portugal (included here are the spouse, children, parents, subject to certain conditions).
 Quick Facts 
Visa requirement to enter Portugal  Yes, South African citizens need a visa for short or long-term trips to Portugal.

 Types of temporary residence permits for those who relocate to Portugal from SA

Study, employment, investment, family reunification. 

 Documents for temporary residence permits

Permit specific documents: proof of employment/educational institution acceptance letter/investment, etc.

General documents: passport, proof of sufficient income, etc. 

 Approximate time needed to obtain a temporary stay permitOne month or more in some cases 
 Residence permits for investors who relocate to Portugal from South Africa

Residency is awarded after making certain types of investments of a minimum value. 

Temporary residence permit duration 

 1 year or more in some cases

Post-arrival registration with the authorities 


 SA permit holder can bring dependents to Portugal

 Available for some types of residence permits, subject to conditions.

 Facilities for South African nationals married to a Portuguese citizen

 If the South African citizen is married to a Portuguese citizen for more than 3 years, he or she can apply for citizenship faster.

 Minimum lawful stay before applying for permanent residenceFive consecutive years. 
Minimum time in the country before applying for citizenship 

Five consecutive years. 

 Naturalization requirements

Meet the minimum residency period, provide proof of Portuguese language knowledge, proof of regular income, no criminal record, etc. 

Dual citizenship 


 South African pension available in Portugal

 Possible. Our team can help you determine how you can receive your pension in Portugal.

Taxes for South African nationals in Portugal Progressive personal income tax rates apply, starting at 13.25% and up to 48%, depending on the individual’s total taxable income. 

For each of these categories, the applicant will present a filled-in application form, along with documents that justify the stay (employment contract, letter of acceptance for study purposes, proof of family ties, proof of investment, etc.).

A set of documents is mandatory in all cases for those who move to Portugal from South Africa and these include the applicant’s passport, along with proof of accommodation or sufficient financial means in some cases.

Our team can help you submit your application by including all of the needed documents, according to the purposes of your stay.

South African citizens can apply for the visa called the residence visa for professional activities provided remotely outside the national territory. This is intended for freelancers and digital nomads and, in addition to the conditions for the type of activity, it is also subject to a minimum income requirement. Our team can give you more details about the nomad visa for Portugal.

Relocate to Portugal for employment purposes

For some South African nationals, moving to Portugal can present important career opportunities. Moreover, because Portugal is part of the Schengen Area, the holder of a residence permit will be able to travel through the Schengen countries, which make up most of the EU states.

If you wish to immigrate to Portugal from South Africa to pursue career opportunities, the following are important:

  • You can relocate to the country once you sign an employment contract with a Portuguese employer, or you can come to the country and look for a job;
  • Depending on the type of professional qualification(s) you have, you may need to have your qualifications recognized in Portugal;
  • As an employee, you will have both rights and duties, the same as a Portuguese national; our Portugal immigration specialists can give you details;
  • If you were issued a residence permit for study purposes, you will only be able to take up employment if you announce this to the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF);

You can choose to seek employment in Portugal, or you can work as a self-employed person. Alternatively, our immigration experts assist international entrepreneurs who wish to open a company in Portugal, including South Africa, but also investors from other countries, such as US investors.

Understanding Portuguese employment laws is essential for any foreign employee. Upon request, our immigration lawyer in Portugal can discuss with you some of the most important issues related to working in the country, as well as your essential rights as an employee. Some of these basic issues concern the following:

  • Your type of employment contract: fixed-term or employment with unspecified or indefinite duration; You could also have a contract for temporary work, part-time work, or the provision of services (as a self-employed individual);
  • Wage: your work in Portugal needs to be remunerated accordingly, as per the guaranteed national minimum wage; Your employer needs to observe this;
  • As an employee, you are entitled to annual leave, holiday pay, and a maximum working period of 8 hours per day/40 hours per week.

You can also relocate to Portugal if you do not intend to work in the country. However, in this case, you will need to have a non-Portuguese income that allows you to provide for yourself while in the country. This can be a suitable option if you are retired and wish to move to Europe. Our team can also give you details about the retirement visa for Portugal.

Living in Portugal

As you take care of the residency requirements for your long-term stay in Portugal, you will find that several matters need addressing once you obtain the residence permit (for employment, investment, or otherwise):

  • As a South African national who arrives in Portugal, you will need to apply for a taxpayer identification number (NIF), which is issued to natural persons and is mandatory when entering into service agreements with different providers in Portugal, including banks;
  • Employees will need to open a bank account to receive their salary; However, this step is useful for all those who relocate to Portugal;
  • South African expats will need to obtain a national health service number; This is allocated to all those who take up services offered by the National Health Service in the country;
  • Drivers will exchange their foreign-issued license for a Portuguese one; In some cases, this will not be needed (like for UK driving licenses), however, it is always useful to check this requirement with our immigration specialists.

If you would like to know more about any of these topics, please do not hesitate to reach out to our agents specializing in Portugal immigration matters.

Citizenship by naturalization is possible for South African citizens who have lived in Portugal for at least five years. The applicant is required to provide adequate documentation proving his or her lawful stay in the country (a valid temporary residence permit, among others), and show that he/she has sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language. Other requirements also apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Move to Portugal from South Africa for investment purposes

Portugal is one of the European countries that allow non-EU/EEA foreign nationals to gain residence by making an investment.

The available investment routes are the following:

  • Substantial capital transfer with a value equal to or above EUR 1 million;
  • Creating at least 10 new jobs;
  • Buying real estate with a value of at least EUR 500,000 or EUR 350,000 for constructions dating back more than 30 years or located in an urban regeneration area;
  • Capital transfer of EUR 350,000 or more for supporting research activities in the public or private sector.

Individuals who wish to immigrate to Portugal from South Africa can also make a capital transfer of at least EUR 250,000 in artistic projects or for the refurbishment of national heritage.

Certain conditions apply for these investments projects and our team specializing in Portugal immigration can give you details about how to obtain the residence permit by presenting evidence to support the investment.

The statistics issued by the Foreigners and Borders Service show the following:

  • residence permits for investment were issued to South African nationals in June 2021;
  • in June 2020, 13 residence permits were issued to South African nationals for investment activities.
  • between October 2012 and November 2021, a total of 422 residence permits were issued to South Africans;
  • 10,170 residence permits were issued in total, during October 2021 and November 2021, to foreign citizens from China, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, and Russia.

If you are ready to apply for a residence permit for investment purposes, our team can help you. You can choose to immigrate to Portugal from South Africa with the help of this permit and, in addition to obtaining residence for yourself, you can also bring your family with you.

Part of the advantages offered by Portugal’s investment programme is that the applicant can also obtain a residence permit for his or her family members. In total, since October 2021, more than 17,100 families were reunited under the residence permit for investment activity in the country.

Seeking specialized counsel before applying for a visa that allows the holder to migrate to Portugal is advisable to all non-EU citizens. You can learn more about the conditions for residency in Portugal, as well as the available types of permits, the conditions for their renewal, and how to request a permanent residence permit if you reach out to our local team of specialists.

Contact us if you want to know more about how to immigrate to Portugal from South Africa. We can help you start the procedure, make the needed applications, and handle any matters once you arrive in the country.