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Moving to Portugal from the UK

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Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

23rd Feb 2023 (Last updated on 4th Apr 2024) 12 minute read

Portugal is a picturesque country to consider moving to from the UK. With its warm climate, it's easy to see why Portugal is a popular location for retired UK expats.

The winter months are particularly mild, meaning expats can enjoy the warmer weather throughout the year. This is very different to living in the UK where the winter months are colder and the weather is more unpredictable.

Property prices are considerably lower than in England. When compared to other European countries, the cost of living is lower. Given the current cost of living crisis, moving to Portugal from the UK can provide a better quality of life and a higher amount of disposable income.

If you’re looking to move to Portugal from the UK, there are several things to consider. This includes removal costs and residency permits.

This article discusses everything you need to know before booking your removals to Portugal.

  1. Why Are People Moving from the UK to Portugal?
  2. Types of Portuguese Permits and Visas
  3. How to Apply for a Portuguese Visa
  4. Cost of Removals to Portugal from UK
  5. Property Prices
  6. Work and Salary
  7. Cost of Living
  8. Education
  9. Healthcare
  10. Importing and Registering Vehicles
  11. Culture/Art
  12. Is It Worth Moving to Portugal from the UK?

Why Are People Moving from the UK to Portugal?

There are many reasons why people are choosing to move to Portugal from the UK.

While it's situated on the Atlantic Ocean, it still experiences weather that's not too dissimilar to Spain and Italy. It's a lot warmer on average than any part of the UK, which is great for those seeking to live in a hotter climate.

The crime rate in Portugal is particularly low, and overall Portugal has a slower pace of living. This is great for those looking for a quieter town to relocate to as a retired expat. The cost of living is better, meaning that living in Portugal is far more affordable compared to the UK.

Schengen Visa Info estimated there are 714,123 UK citizens residing in Portugal. 42,071 British became Portuguese residents in 2021, emphasising the country’s popularity, with people from the UK.

Types of Portuguese Permits and Visas

The transition period for Brexit ended in 2020, meaning that the process of applying for a Portuguese visa from the UK has changed slightly. While the process is longer, it's not overly complicated.

For those already living in Portugal before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects their rights and a visa or permit is not necessary.

For those who are looking to move to Portugal from the UK after Brexit, you will need to apply for a visa and be approved to live in Portugal before moving to the country.

There are 4 main types of visas to consider as a British expat:

1. Temporary Stay Visa

A temporary visa is useful for anyone that is looking to initially move to Portugal for a short period. The visa is valid for up to one year and can be used for many reasons, including work, study and health purposes.

2. Residency Permit

This permit is suitable for the majority of people. The permit must be registered with Immigration and Border Services (SEF). A person can then be given a Certificado de Registo (registration certificate) which costs €15.

A Residency Permit is valid for a year, and can be extended twice, for 2-year periods., After this time, a British person can then apply for a Permanent Residency Permit to continue living in Portugal.

Click here for both Temporary Stay Visas and Residency Permits.

3. Portugal Golden Visa

If you're looking to invest in Portugal or purchase a property in the country, you may be eligible to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa programme.

While this allows a British citizen to live in Portugal, it covers all other countries in the Schengen Area too. After 5 years, a person with a golden visa can apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Here are some requirements for this visa type:

  • You will need to pass a basic Portuguese language test
  • Have a clear criminal record
  • Invest a minimum of €250,000

While the Portugal Golden Visa is still currently valid, in February the Portugese Prime Minister has issued potential changes to the programme in the future. This scheme may potentially end or be subject to changes.

Click here for the Portugal Golden Visa application form.

4. D7 Visa

The D7 Visa is often known as the Passive Income Visa and is popular with entrepreneurs and retired Brits. If you can support yourself when moving to Portugal, this is a suitable visa to choose.

Unlike the Portugal Golden Visa, you won't need to invest in the country. However, you will need to meet the financial requirements, whether this is through a job income or your pension.

After 5 years, you will be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Click here for the D7 Visa application form.

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How to Apply for a Portuguese Visa

You will need to apply for a Portuguese visa through VFS Global. The application forms can be downloaded from their website. You will then need to fill out the application and submit it at your nearest Visa Application Centre.

You are required to book an appointment at the centre and have fingerprints taken along with your photograph. This is for the biometric information.

After this, you will receive a confirmation for your visa appointment and will be required to pay the relevant visa fees. You are able to track your application online to see how quickly it's being processed.

You will be required to provide the following documentation when submitting your visa which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Valid passport
  • 2 passport photos
  • Transport documents (when required)
  • Criminal record documents
  • Statement of responsibility or proof of being able to financially support yourself
  • Travel insurance
  • Proof of the purpose of your stay
  • Tax number

The Schengen visa eligibility checker provides details on whether you can apply for a Portuguese visa. For the latest information and requirements, check the Portuguese Government website.

Cost of Removals to Portugal from UK

According to our international removal costs research, it will cost £1,870 on average to ship your household items to Portugal. Removal companies can provide extra services. This includes pick-up and delivery, and packing. On average packing services cost around £250.

The cost of shipping to Portugal will vary based on factors such as weight, type of shipping used, and shipping times.

    Shipped goods need to be declared to customs. You must have a baggage certificate for items to be accepted. This can be obtained from the Portuguese Consulate in the UK before you travel.

    Here at Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 verified and reliable international removal partners.

    Property Prices

    In general, property prices in Portugal are cheaper than in the UK.

    The average house price per square meter for a property inside a Portuguese city centre is €2,932.82 (£2,603.39). This is far less expensive than in the UK, where it would cost £7,844.91. A property outside of a Portuguese city centre is €2,020.16 (£1,793.24). In the UK, this still sits at a higher cost of £3,332.18.

    Rental costs in Portugal are 27.6% cheaper than in the UK. The average rental costs in Portugal for a 1-bedroom apartment and a 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre are €751.12 (£667.39) and €1319.92 (£1,172.78). In the UK, a 1 bedroom flat in a city centre would cost £1250. For a 3-bedroom apartment, it would be around £2,566.67.

    The Algarve is one of the most expensive areas to live in. Being the capital city, Lisbon is also an expensive area to live in. Places such as Porto and Notre, are still popular locations but are far more affordable.

    Less expensive areas to live in include Centro and Alentejo. Madeira and the Azores islands are reasonably priced locations.

    * Data taken from Numbeo statistics

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    Work and Salary

    The Portuguese job market isn’t too dissimilar to those in the UK.

    Here are the most popular Portuguese graduate jobs as stated by Prospects AC:

    • Biotechnology
    • Chemical products
    • Healthcare
    • IT
    • Pharmaceuticals

    Other popular jobs include:

    • Automobiles
    • Construction
    • Electronics
    • Footwear
    • Hospitality

    There is currently a shortage in the agriculture, communications, engineering and health sectors. This may benefit British people working in these fields that are moving to Portugal.

    The 2021 Census displays that the most popular jobs in the UK are:

    • Wholesale, retail and motor trade
    • Health and social work
    • Education
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing

    Moving to Portugal states that the average yearly salary is €24,557 (£21,612.95). This is significantly lower than the UK average. The average salary in the UK is £25,971 according to ThinkPlutus.

    If you’re a pension, ensure you can still access your pension scheme when you move to Portugal. You can then continue to claim your state and private pensions.

    Cost of Living

    It’s 41% cheaper to live in Portugal in comparison to the UK. While the average salary in Portugal is far lower than in the UK, so is the cost of living.

    Here is a table displaying the living costs for each country:

    Cost of Living ExamplesPortugalUnited Kingdom

    Public transport pass (monthly)

    €37.06 (£32.60)

    £77

    Utility bills (monthly - one person)

    €69.57 (£61.20)

    £120

    Gym membership (monthly)

    €33.99 (£29.90)

    £33.10

    Taxi (5 miles)

    €9.87 (£8.68)

    £14.20

    Inexpensive restaurant meal for 2 people

    €33.42 (£29.40)

    £51.60

    1 cinema ticket

    €6.97 (£6.13)

    £10.10

    Beer (0.5L)

    €1.09 (£0.96)

    £1.83

    Chicken Breast (1kg)

    €5.59 (£4.92)

    £6.09

    Cappuccino

    €1.47 (£1.29)

    £3.03

    * Data taken from LivingCost.org

    Education

    Education in Portugal and the UK are similar. Children begin school at the age of 6 in Portugal and 5 in the UK (4 in Northern Ireland).

    Before compulsory education, children from the age of 3 can attend preschool. Schooling in Portugal is free, and compulsory education lasts until the age of 18. Compulsory education in the UK ends at 16.

    Some of the best schools in Portugal include Greene's Tutorial College. There are many high-performing international schools to choose from. These schools are most suitable for British children whose first language isn't Portuguese.

    There are 105 universities in Portugal, offering a wide variety of different subjects. Some of the most notable universities include:

    • University of Lisbon
    • University of Coimbra
    • University of Porto
    • Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
    • University of Aveiro

    In England, the most prestigious universities include:

    • University of Cambridge
    • University of Oxford
    • The University of Edinburgh
    • King’s College London
    • Durham University

    Portugal offers particularly affordable university courses, especially when compared to the UK. Top Universities state that fees are between €950-€3,000 (£834.77-£2635.13) a year. Tuition fees in the UK are around £9,250 a year.

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    Healthcare

    Portugal has a state-provided healthcare system called Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). While it's similar in many ways to the NHS, it's not entirely free.

    Healthcare is free for those under the age of 18 and people over 65. For everyone else, healthcare is provided at a subsidised rate. The costs are lower and more affordable in comparison to other countries

    Portugal's healthcare services are accessible to all EU citizens. Post Brexit, British nationals can no longer use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Those living outside of the EU will not automatically have access to healthcare and will need to use private medical care.

    You will need to be a Portuguese citizen to receive access to healthcare. UK citizens can apply for the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and register with the Portuguese Social Security. They will be given a número de utente de saúde (health number) to access healthcare.

    Importing and Registering Vehicles

    It’s possible to import and register your current vehicle when moving to Portugal.

    Current EU driving laws are valid for UK drivers in Portugal until the end of 2023. It’s important to keep up to date with the relevant information.

    Importing a Vehicle

    To import a vehicle to Portugal from the UK it’s recommended to use a 20ft sea freight shipping container. For more than one car or larger vehicles, a 40ft container can be used. The average cost for these options are:

    • 20ft container -£1,339
    • 40ft container -£1,810

      Customs charges, import charges, and emissions testing will apply. Before shipping, the IMT will need to approve the car. A Customs Importation Declaration will need to be made.

      You need to have the correct documentation before shipping and registering your vehicle. The registration process must be completed within 20 days of the car entering the country.

      Registering a Vehicle

      When you apply to be a resident in Portugal, you will need to register your UK driving license within 60 days of entering the country. From 2024, you can continue using your UK driving license as a Portuguese resident.

      Your vehicle should be inspected by The Institute for Mobility and Transport (IMTT). This is to gain a Portuguese registration plate which costs €76.64. After the car is fully insured and approved, it can be driven in Portugal.

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      Culture/Art

      Portugal is a country that is deep-rooted in family connections, and religion. Portuguese people are welcoming, and it’s a peaceful country with a low crime rate.

      Being a Roman Catholic country, religion is important. There are many festivals held in Portugal each year, including the Feast of Saint Anthony.

      The north and south of the country have their own historical traditions. This includes traditional dances, music, and food.

      Art is an important part of Portuguese culture, from Arraiolos carpets to traditional stitching. There are a number of art galleries, such as the National Tile Museum and The Centro de Arte Moderna Gulbenkian.

      Portugal is home to many historical sites and buildings, from the National Palace of Pena to the Belem Tower.

      Cities such as Lisbon and Funchal have good nightlife, bars and restaurants. Towns and villages will have local and independent bars, cafes and restaurants to visit too.

      The Portuguese way of life is different to British culture. It’s important for British expats to make an effort to learn Portuguese words and phrases. This is something to be aware of before applying for a residency visa.

      Is It Worth Moving to Portugal from the UK?

      If you're looking for a warmer climate and a lower cost of living, then it can be worth moving to Portugal from the UK. However, there are many different aspects you need to take into consideration

      Here are some pros and cons to provide you with a better idea of whether this would be the best option for you:

      Pros:

      • Affordable property market
      • Good tax system
      • Lower cost of living
      • Better climate
      • Good education system
      • Rich in its culture and history
      • Low crime rate
      • Diverse country
      • Good transport links

      Cons:

      • Visa applications are costly and time-consuming
      • Cost of shipping furniture overseas
      • Healthcare system isn't entirely free
      • You need to be efficient at speaking and understanding Portuguese
      • Bank cards are not as popular to use as a form of payment in comparison to the UK
      • Houses in Portugal are not as insulated as those in the UK

      All costs listed in this article are correct at the time of writing. Costs may vary slightly and this is just an estimated number.

      long_term_service
      Dave Sayce

      Reviewed by Dave Sayce

      Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

      Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.

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