With beautiful beaches, charming medieval towns, an abundance of finely crafted wine and port, and a range of tax benefits, it is no wonder workers and companies alike are seeking to move to Portugal. Of course, there are some legal first steps before a foreign employee can officially begin work in Portugal. While the official source of information is the Portuguese Labor Code, here are the three main steps to securing a proper work permit in Portugal.

Apply for Portuguese Visa

Assuming a foreign employee is being contracted to work in a previously established Portuguese entity, the first step is to obtain a visa for the employee so that they may enter the country.

All non-EU member-state employees will need to apply for and obtain a visa before entering the country. The exact documentation required may vary slightly depending on the country of origin and the type of visa for which they are applying. However, for a regular visa one can expect to be asked for the following information:

  • 2 copies of a completed application
  • Two recent and identical passport style photographs
  • Original unexpired passport with at least two available pages
  • Proof of funds to support oneself
  • Proof or proposed accommodation
  • Proof of insurance (minimum of €30,000 in coverage)
  • Background check or permission for check
  • Copy of valid labor/employee contract
  • Original Social Security Documentation

Apply for Portuguese Work Permit

Slightly more difficult to obtain for non-EU workers, the Portuguese work permit is reserved for highly skilled professionals and positions that could not reasonably be filled by Portuguese workers. To be eligible for these positions, applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and 5 years of senior level work experience in their fields. In most cases, the individuals must already have a job offer from a Portuguese entity.

A work permit application can be lodged by the Portuguese employer on behalf of the employee or by the employees themselves at the regional delegation of the Portuguese immigration and border services. In addition to the materials required by the visa application, one must submit the following documents along with the completed permit application:

  • Unexpired residence visa
  • Relevant tax documents
  • Social Security Registration

Obtaining a work permit can take up to 60 days, with variable fees depending on the type of work permit one is applying for. Once the permit is obtained, the employee can travel to Portugal and complete the last steps before beginning work.

Upon Arrival in Portugal

Once the lengthy process of obtaining a Portuguese visa and work permit is complete, the employee is permitted to travel to Portugal and complete their final to-do list upon arrival. The employee must register and obtain the following items before their official start date:

  • Obtain residency card from the Immigration and Border Service (“SEF”)
  • Register with Portuguese Social Security
  • Obtain a Tax Code from the Director General of Taxes

In accordance with Article 5 of the Portuguese Labor Code, the employer must keep on file a copy of the employee´s contract, with all the previously mentioned items attached, for the duration of contract. Article 5 also requires the submission of the following employee data:

  • Identification, signatures, and address or headquarters of the employee and employer
  • Reference to the work visa
  • Job title and remuneration
  • Workplace location and normal working hours
  • Amounts, frequency, and form of payment
  • Start and end dates of the contract

Before the foreign employee´s start date, the company must register their contract with the Labor Conditions Authority, or ACT, who will then provide further instructions via their online platform. The company must also notify ACT via their online platform in cases of early termination, although citizens from Portugal, the EU, and the following member states are exempt: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Turkey, Brazil (subject to equal rights status), Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, and Sao Tome and Principe.

As Portugal continues to become an increasingly attractive country for foreign citizens to work, there are many important aspects that both employees and employers should consider in advance. Registering a foreign employee to legally work in the country is just the start.

In a global economy with a mobile and skilled international workforce, companies in attractive locations are poised to benefit from staffing specialized personnel from abroad. Yet there are always legal and regulatory systems to navigate.  Partnering with a provider that specializes in international finance and mobility to complement a business´ value proposal may be the decision that unlocks the company´s potential.