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Obtain Startup Visa for Portugal

Obtain Startup Visa for Portugal

Entrepreneurs without permanent residence in the Schengen area who wish to do business in Portugal, relocate, or develop an already-created startup in the country can do so through a special program. If their company qualifies, they can obtain a startup visa in Portugal that will allow them to do business in an environment that will allow them to grow.

The Portugal startup visa is a program that offers residence, hoping to attract investment, talent, and innovation.

Our agents who specialize in immigration to Portugal can also help you with information about how to open a business or relocate a startup and benefit from the advantages Portugal has to offer. If you happen to be interested in another type of visa, for example, the golden visa in Portugal, or a residence permit in Portugal, our immigration lawyers can help you obtain it.

Who can apply for the Portugal startup visa?

Entrepreneurs are eligible for the startup visa in Portugal if they wish to start a company in Portugal or develop their own innovative entrepreneurial project even if they have not created a company yet. The program can also include those who already have a company in their country of origin and wish to also do business in Portugal.  

As part of the benefits of the program for obtaining the Portugal startup visa, the applicant will obtain a residence permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration and Borders Service. Apart from the option to reside in the country, an important feature of the program is that it offers access to a network of certified incubators. This can greatly increase the entrepreneur’s ability to succeed as he will have access to a number of specialists, like-minded investors, advice, and assistance, as it is common to find in business incubators.

The list of certified incubators for the startup visa, as approved by the IAPMEI (the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation) visa included well over 50 listed incubators that are active in their support for technology-based and innovative new companies. They are based all over Portugal, and those interested in selecting an incubator with particular experience, such as in fintech, can explore the available options. Our team specializing in immigration to Portugal can also give you some details about these. The incubation process, as well as the signing of the contract and the conditions thereof, is under the competence of the chosen certified incubator. Some of the conditions can include the need to submit quarterly reports on the evolution of the business.

Your startup visa will also mean that you will be granted residency. However, the residence permit will have a certain validity period and your activities in the country will be outlined by the purpose of this particular permit. For more information about the renewal of the permit, as well as how to change from one residence permit type to another, please reach out to our team.

If they are accepted for the program they can comply with the requirements for minimum residence in order to be able to apply for Portugal citizenship, should they wish to relocate to the country permanently.

What are the conditions for the applicants?

The entrepreneur will need to comply with the following criteria:

  • be over 18 years of age and have no criminal record;
  • non-Schengen regular residence in the recent past;

Our Portugal immigration agents can help evaluate your application to see if you satisfy all of these conditions and provide more information about the general regime for the residence permit in Portugal.

If you do not wish to or cannot fund a startup at this moment, you can relocate to Europe if you are a non-EU/EEA national based on a nomad visa for Portugal. This is possible if you are self-employed or work for a foreign company and if you meet the minimum income requirements, calculated as several times the minimum monthly wage in Portugal. Our team can give you more details.

What are the conditions for the startup project?

Investors willing to explore the Portugal immigration options they have through this program should know that their startup or project needs to be focused on innovative goods and services and needs to be able to generate an annual turnover of a certain amount.

We list the main requirements for the Portugal startup visa below:

  • annual turnover of 325,000€ per year within 5 years of entering into a chosen tech incubator; or
  • create new jobs for qualified employees;
  • the entrepreneur will conclude a contract with the incubator within 40 days; the parties will need to observe the physical incubation model;
  • if not developing a new business activity for the production of innovative goods and services, then relocate a project or open a company focused on technology and knowledge that will focus on the development of innovative products.

The applications can be submitted all year and they can be submitted online, on the Startup Visa portal. The IAPMEI usually issues a decision within 30 working days after the receipt of the complete list of documents.

The evaluation of the proposed business plan will take into account the degree of innovation, the scalability of the business, the available market and its potential, the qualification and capacity of the management team, as well as the potential to create new jobs in Poland. This is an evaluation that takes into account several important factors and we advise those who wish to apply for the Portugal startup visa to reach out to our immigration experts if they need more details.

Portugal is a country that offers a dynamic business field and investors in the technology sector can explore the options and benefits offered by this special program. Investors who qualify can also choose to apply for Portugal citizenship if they have lived long enough in the country.

The application for the visa and the residence permit

The application for the Portugal startup visa includes the evaluation of the business project by the IAPMEI, as well as the receipt of the visa and residence permit by the Foreigners and Borders Service. This means that two separate Portuguese agencies are involved in the approval process. The first part of the application, the one during which the business is evaluated, has two phases:

  1. registering the project and proving its value; during this stage, the applicants will submit documents that will provide details about the business project, the fact that it qualifies to the aforementioned criteria, and the fact that the applicant has sufficient financial means; the goal of this stage is to receive a favorable response from one incubator, at least;
  2. apply with the IAPMEI after the entrepreneurs receive a response from at least one incubator; the submission takes place online and the information submitted during this phase does not substitute the assessment that is made by the other involved agencies that are concerned with immigration (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration and Borders Service).

Once the applicants have received a favorable response from the IAPMEI, they will be able to sign the incubation contract.

Once the business evaluation for the Portugal startup visa is complete, the entrepreneur will be able to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration and Borders Service for the purpose of starting the second phase, during which he will receive the residence permit. According to law, the immigration authorities shall issue a decision regarding the visa application within 60 days.

The visa application will include the declaration of acceptance for the proposed business, the applicant’s valid travel document, valid travel insurance, criminal record, proof of sufficient financial means, as well as other documents as needed.

The issued visa is valid for 4 months and allows for 2 entries into the country until the holder obtains the residence permit.

If you are ready to start a business and the Portugal startup visa offers conditions that are suitable to your project as well as your relocation criteria, our team specializing in immigration can help you.

Obligations for entrepreneurs and the incubator for the Portugal startup visa

The start up project needs to be hosted by a certified Portuguese incubator. This certification is issued by IAPMEI, and our team can provide you with a complete list of these recognized entities, upon request.

Researching the available options is important for foreign entrepreneurs who are considering opening a startup company and obtaining a residence permit in Portugal as a result. The startup visa application procedure makes it mandatory for applicant business owners to receive interest in their project from at least one incubator.

Getting a positive response from an incubator (at least one) is an essential step for the application process, and it is mandatory in order to receive the visa. After the IAPMEI evaluates the application and makes a decision, it is time for the business owner(s) and the incubator to sign their agreement within 40 days of receiving the approval from the authorities.

Foreign investors who base their immigration to Portugal on a startup visa can receive more information about incubation contracts from our team of specialists. However, the minimum information that will be included in the agreement signed between the two parties is the following:

  • the minimum obligations for each party (the entrepreneur and the incubator);
  • the services offered by the incubator;
  • the value of the agreement;
  • the incubator’s assigned responsible person, who will oversee the project.

Incubator agreements are submitted online, following a special procedure. A certain incubator is limited in terms of how many projects it can physically incubate (this limit is 20) and the incubation plan is personalized for each of these projects.

After the business plan (project) has been successfully incubated, an important condition is to ensure compliance with the incubation plan, as well as to submit quarterly reports on the progress recorded by the business project.

While investors oversee the functioning of their startup project, our team can assist with moving to Portugal, which take place according to the relevant immigration law (and for which the application is the responsibility of a different Portuguese authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Examples of incubators in Portugal

Choosing the right incubator for the Portugal startup visa is important. As we have seen above, both the incubator and the entrepreneur will enter into a written agreement, and they will be responsible for submitting quarterly project reports.

Availability can be an important criterion when choosing the incubator (as there is a limited number of projects one incubator can accommodate), however, its location can be another important feature. Below, our Portugal immigration agents list several examples of incubators, according to the official list of certified ones approved by the IAPMEI:

  1. The Association for Technology Incubation Center of Minho, located in Arcos de Valdevez;
  2. Project Booster – Alto Tâmega incubator, in Chavez;
  3. ADILCAN incubator focused on projects in agro-food, technology, and tourism, located in Chão de Couce;
  4. ADRAL, in charge of three separate incubators (Évoratech, CAESC, and the Incubadora de Novas Empresas de Nisa), located in Évora.

Please note that IAPMEI’s official list of certified incubators also includes other legal entities, each identifiable by its NIF (fiscal number in Portugal). A suitable incubator can also be chosen according to the types of businesses it focuses on, as some of these can be inclined to promote companies in certain innovative technology fields, some of which may be seen as niche ideas or activities.

A startup visa can be the starting route for those who are ultimately interested in gaining Portuguese citizenship. A foreign national who has been lawfully living in the country for five years can choose to apply for Portuguese nationality if he also meets a set of other criteria. Our team can give you more information about citizenship by naturalization if remaining in the country is your purpose.

For detailed information for those who also want to move to the country, not just start a business here, you can contact our Portugal immigration agents.