Move to Portugal

Find answers to some of the most common questions about buying a property in Portugal and the Portuguese lifestyle...

The process of moving to Portugal is a journey that may often begin with a search on the Internet or a visit to a property exhibition.

During the research phase, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with Portugal. Although our country is small in size, it’s huge regarding its historical, cultural and geographical diversity, with plenty of different locations to choose from.

If you are looking for a simpler way of life, surrounded by wonderful beaches, stunning landscapes, delicious food, good wines and extraordinarily friendly and welcoming people, you have come to the right place!

Below you will find several resources with important information about Portugal that may also help you at this stage. If you have any questions, give us a call. Our team is always available to assist you in making your home in Portugal a reality.

Buying a house in Portugal

1. Is it easy for a foreigner to buy property in Portugal?

There are no restrictions on buying a property in Portugal, and the real estate sector is well-developed.
After deciding on the property you want to buy and ensuring all financial and fiscal requirements, the process is relatively fast.
Before the deed is signed, a notary will review all the official documents to make sure the property can be legally sold and check for any restrictions on its use. The deed is then signed in the presence of the seller, witnessed by the notary.
If you’d like to know more about buying a property in Portugal, please click here.

2. Do I need a NIF (tax number) to buy property in Portugal?

To buy a property in Portugal, you are required to obtain a taxpayer number, also known as NIF.

You can request a NIF number at any tax office in Portugal (Serviço de Finanças), Loja de Cidadão or at the offices where the Portuguese Cartão de Cidadão (Citizen's Card) is issued (when requesting this document, the NIF number is simultaneously issued).

If you are a non-resident in Portugal, you only need three documents to request a NIF:
1. Passport or personal identification document;
2. Proof of address from the country of origin (it can be an electricity, water or Internet bill, for example);
3. Document proving your fiscal representative's acceptance to perform this function.

To know more about requesting a NIF number in Portugal and why you may need to appoint a fiscal representative, read this useful information by Portugal Accounting.

3. What additional costs will I have when buying a property in Portugal?

Property buyers in Portugal should also consider the following costs:

  • Property taxes - When you purchase a property in Portugal you are required to pay the Municipal Property Transfer Tax, called IMT (Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis), and a Stamp Duty tax called IS (Imposto de Selo). 

  • Deed costs - These may vary depending on the type of notary involved (public or private) and the existence of bank financing.

  • Documentation costs - If you are buying a property with bank financing, your bank may require you to submit a provisional registration which you must request at the Land Registry (Conservatória do Registo Predial).

  • Bank fees, stamp duty, and mutual registration with mortgage - If you are taking out a home mortgage, you will also have to pay bank fees, stamp duty, mutual registration mortgage fees, as well as life and property insurance, which are legally mandatory.
4. Is buying property in Portugal a secure investment?

Buying a property in Portugal can be an excellent investment as there are plenty of real estate opportunities offering good value for money in highly sought-after locations.
Given the high demand for tourism in Portugal, you can expect high rental yields if placing your property on the holiday rental market.
New build properties are also a good investment due to the increase in house prices, a trend that has been ongoing for several years in the Portuguese real estate market.

5. Do I need a lawyer to buy a property in Portugal?

Although the process is quite simple, buying a property in Portugal is made easier with the support of a lawyer or a similar legal representative that speaks Portuguese and has knowledge of national regulations.
It is not mandatory, but it is advisable, as a lawyer or solicitor can assist you in things such as obtaining the legal documents necessary to buy a property in Portugal, opening a bank account or translating contractual information, which is especially useful if you’re not a fluent Portuguese speaker.

6. Do I have to be a Portuguese citizen to buy a property in Portugal?

Foreigners are free to own private property in Portugal without limitation of value or number of properties, regardless of their nationality.
However, many foreigners residing in Portugal do apply for Portuguese citizenship because it grants rights such as the freedom to live, work or retire in any other EU member state, vote in national and European elections and referendums, as well as the right to obtain a Portuguese passport which allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 172 countries.
Find out more about the advantages of Portuguese citizenship here.

Selling a property in Portugal 

1. Who can sell a property in Portugal?

Properties in Portugal can be sold directly by private owners or through a licensed real estate agent. All realtors in Portugal are legally required to have an AMI licence granted by the IMPIC (Instituto dos Mercados Públicos, do Imobiliário e da Construção, I.P.). 

Working with a licensed real estate agent guarantees security, credibility, professionalism, as well as transparency and speed in the services provided.
2. What costs will I have when selling my property in Portugal?

The costs you can expect when selling your property in Portugal include:

• If you use the services of a real estate agency, you will have to pay a commission (a percentage to be mutually agreed by both parties), plus VAT (Value Added Tax), on the price entered at the signing.

• If you are going to sell a property purchased with a mortgage still in progress, the request for cancellation of the mortgage will also have a fee charged by the Land Registry Service (Conservatoria do Registo Predial). It is also important to be aware of any fees due to your bank because of paying your mortgage in advance.

• The sale of property also requires that you have in your possession a set of documents required by law, namely: a permanent land certificate, a second copy of the property licence, a second copy of the property's technical file, and an energy certificate. The cost of these documents varies according to the type of property being sold. However, in some cases, you may already have these documents. 

• When selling a property in Portugal you will also have to pay Real Estate Capital Gains Tax.

New Build Properties

1. How does buying a new build property work in Portugal?

Buying a new build property, which can also be referred to as buying ‘off-plan’ or 'key-in-hand', means that the construction of your villa or apartment hasn’t started yet. However, the building plans are drawn up and the planning permission is granted.
In Portugal, purchasing new build properties is extremely popular because it's a very safe process for both the contractor and the buyer. Every stage of the build is secured by contracts that safeguard the interests of each party involved.

2. What are the advantages of buying a new build property?

Buying a new build property has several advantages, namely fewer taxes and the possibility of accompanying the construction of your dream home step by step.
New build properties also have the benefit of being built with modern, energy-efficient materials that provide lower running and maintenance costs.
Experienced contractors in Portugal will accompany each client from the design phase to licensing, guaranteeing any after-sales services you may need and the construction guarantee required by Portuguese legislation.n.

3. How long does it take to finish the construction on a new build property in Portugal?

The standard waiting time for construction to be completed on a new build property in Portugal is between 12 and 24 months, but it depends on the location, size and specific features of the project.
The estimated time will be negotiated with the contractor before any legal contract is signed and the buyer regularly receives updated reports as the construction progresses.

4. Are new build properties in Portugal a good investment?

Property prices in Portugal, registered in the last few years, have shown that buying a new build property is usually a great investment.
On average, buying off-plan may be up to 15% more affordable than buying a second-hand property in the same location. During the construction phase, property prices also tend to increase by 15% or more, depending on the location.

Incentives for Foreign Buyers

1. What incentives are there for foreigners who move to Portugal?

Portugal offers a series of tax and residency invectives aimed at foreigners who want to invest in Portugal.
As these programmes are constantly evolving, it is wise to check with Portuguese official services to make sure which incentives you qualify for or offer more advantages to your personal situation.

2. What is Portugal’s NHR (Non-Habitual Resident) tax regime?

Portugal's Non-Habitual Resident tax regime, also known as the NHR status, was created by the Portuguese Government to attract investment from foreign retirees and professionals who are considered of high cultural and economic worth.
This regime allows for its beneficiaries to receive substantial tax savings, such as tax exemptions on foreign source income or paying a fixed rate in personal income tax during a specific time period.
If you wish to benefit from the NHR status, bear in mind that this programme has changed a bit over the years so be sure that the information you have is up to date. We strongly recommend you find an experienced Portuguese Accountant to assist you in confirming what benefits exist at the time of your application, whether you qualify and what steps and legal documentation are required to apply to the programme.

Mortgages in Portugal

1. Can foreigners get a mortgage in Portugal?

Portuguese banks offer mortgages to any investor buying property in Portugal, regardless of nationality or residency status.
Also, it’s quite easy to open a Portuguese bank account, as all the main Portuguese banks have consultants who speak foreign languages and have experience in assisting international clients.

2. Why is it important for me to have a clear budget?

As you research properties for sale in Portugal, keep in mind the budget and manner in which you intend to finance your purchase.
Portuguese banks will normally finance between 50 to 70% of the purchase value, depending on your nationality, age and other factors.
When considering your budget we also suggest that you allow from 7-10% extra, for costs that may be incurred in the registration and transfer of your property.
It is important that you are clear on your budget, as this will assist your realtor in selecting properties for you to view, saving you both time and unnecessary hassle.

Taxes in Portugal

1. What property taxes are there in Portugal?

As in all European countries, Portugal has property taxes that, apart from a few rare exceptions, have to be paid when buying, selling, or owning a property.
It is important to be aware of these taxes in order to weigh all the costs involved in a property transaction. In addition, having an early notion of these obligations will help you have a more accurate cost estimate and avoid last-minute surprises.
These taxes, which in some cases are much lower than in other European countries,  include:

  • Real Estate Capital Gains Tax: Paid by whoever sells a property;

  • IMT - Imposto Municipal sobre as Transmissões Onerosas de Imóveis and IS - Imposto de Selo: Paid by whoever buys a property;

  • IMI - Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis (municipal property tax): Paid annually by any property owner.
2. Are Portuguese taxes different when purchasing a new or a used property?

The IMT tax has to be paid regardless of whether the property purchased is new or used. However, the value of this tax is not the same in all cases.
The IMT tax varies according to the acquisition value of the property or tax asset value (whichever is higher), its location and its purpose, and there may be cases in which you are exempt from paying this tax. For example, this tax is lower if the property is for your own use and permanent residence, and higher if it is a buy to let.

3. Do foreigners pay income or pension taxes in Portugal?

Portugal provides excellent tax opportunities for foreigners who invest in Portugal.
If managed correctly, these opportunities, granted through specific incentive programmes and tax legislation, allow foreigners to benefit from tax cuts or even pay zero taxes due to conventions with other countries to avoid double taxation. However, each case should be analysed individually to see what incentives are available and what requirements are needed to qualify.

Choosing a location

1. Where is the best place to buy property in Portugal?

This is a question that many clients ask us, but there is not always an immediate answer. The best place to buy a house in Portugal depends a lot on each family's profile, needs and budget.

That's why it's very important to do a bit of research on the locations that interest you the most and learn if they suit your needs.

If you have any questions, one of our real estate consultants will be happy to accompany you on your journey to finding the right location for you and your family.

You can book a FREE CALL here.

Living in Portugal

1. What is the weather and climate like in Portugal?

Portugal is one of the sunniest places in the world, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year! Here you'll find a wonderful Mediterranean climate, as Portugal is one of the European countries with milder temperatures all year round.
The southern region of Portugal is the warmest, but even the hottest summers are cooled by the Atlantic breeze. In the winter there are plenty of sun-filled days to keep you warm and cheerful.
The average annual temperature in mainland Portugal varies between the mountainous north interior, which is much cooler, and the south, that registers an average annual temperature of about 18 °C.
Snow only occurs in four districts in the north of the country (Guarda, Bragança, Vila Real and Viseu) and is almost non-existent in most of the Algarve and the coast of Portugal.

2. Is Portugal a safe country?

Portugal is regularly ranked by the Global Peace Index as one of the world’s top 5 most peaceful countries. But no one in Portugal needs statistics to know the country is safe! In small rural villages, it is still common for people to leave their doors unlocked.
Larger cities such as Lisbon and Porto do, however, register the same annoyances as other major European tourist hotspots where foreigners are sometimes victims of pickpocketing and bag snatching. But even in these two larger cities, it is still very safe to visit as a tourist or live, even for solo female travellers.

3. What is the average cost of living in Portugal?

The quality of life in Portugal is one of the best in the world although the general cost of living is surprisingly low. In most places in the country, you can comfortably live on as little as 1000 euros per month, in addition to whatever you're spending on rent.

For example, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost you an average of 15 €, one litre of regular milk 0.90 €, one kg of apples 1.80 € and a one-way ticket on a means of public transport such as the Metro in Lisbon 1.65 €.

Also, public services such as education and healthcare in Portugal are free for children and most of the elderly, or require very small co-payments for the rest of the population who are residents, which makes the overall cost of living even more affordable.

4. How much are utility costs in Portugal?

Utility costs in Portugal depend on the size of the property, materials used in the construction, the number of people living in it and day-to-day general use. For example, a new build property with an energy certification of B or higher will have much lower comfort costs.
To get an idea of the costs in general, a 2-bedroom apartment will cost you an average of 40€ in electricity and 17€ in water per month.

5. Do I have to learn Portuguese to live in Portugal?

Although the vast majority of people in Portugal do speak foreign languages, namely English, the Portuguese appreciate the effort that some foreigners make in learning their language.
If you do decide to learn the language, there are several language schools throughout the country, and in some locations public schools and local volunteer groups that offer free Portuguese classes. You can also find a wide range of tools for learning Portuguese online, such as online Portuguese courses, apps, podcasts, YouTube videos as well as e-books and audiobooks on Portuguese Grammar and useful phrases.

6. Why is Portugal considered one of the best places in the world for retirement?

Portugal is one of the sunniest places in Europe, with over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. But that’s not the only reason the country is so popular amongst retirees.

The country also offers an excellent healthcare system, three international airports with low-cost daily flights to practically everywhere in Europe, an affordable cost of living, as well as a welcoming and laid-back lifestyle.

7. How long can I stay in Portugal as a non-resident?

The type of visa you require depends on how long you want to stay in Portugal.
Portuguese visa requirements also differ depending on your citizenship (for example, European Union nationals can stay in Portugal for as long as they want and do not require a visa to enter the country).

8. What is the education system like in Portugal?

There are two systems of education in Portugal: private and public state schooling.

Generally, children attend public schools located within their communities or as close as possible to their neighbourhood. Public or state schools are free and all lessons are given in Portuguese.

The alternative option is either private or international schools, mostly found in Lisbon and the Algarve. International schools in Portugal offer international curricula and a few also have boarding options.

9. What is the Portuguese lifestyle like?

The Portuguese take pleasure in small things, such as watching the sunset or savouring delicious food, without overthinking it or complicating what is already perfect. They live each moment fully, with sincere gratitude for life’s simple pleasures.

At Portugal Realty, we believe that a simple life is living a step from the beach, taking time to go for a coffee and enjoy the view, feeling the sea breeze and the freshness of the water on your feet, letting the sun turn your skin golden… you relax and take in all the best Portugal has to offer, we'll care of the rest.

To find out more about living in Portugal and the Portuguese lifestyle, 
subscribe to Portugal The Simple Life Podcast.

10. Is Portugal a “family-friendly” country?

More and more families from all over the world are moving to Portugal to enjoy the exceptional possibilities our country provides for kids and grown-ups alike.

Portugal offers a gorgeous coastline, lots of things to see and do, excellent public and international schools, a safe and welcoming environment and all the commodities of modern living, from an excellent healthcare system to a robust coverage of services, commerce and access to technology.

Healthcare in Portugal

1. What is the healthcare system like in Portugal?

Portugal's public health system is considered one of the best in the world, ranked as the 12th best on the planet by the World Health Organisation. Depending on your nationality or residency status, access to public health care services, known as the "Servico Nacional de Saude" (SNS), may be free or cost a very small co-payment.
There are also various options for private healthcare providers that are renowned worldwide and accept a large variety of insurance plans.

2. As a foreigner, do I qualify for state healthcare in Portugal?

Access to Portugal’s national healthcare system may be free of charge or require the payment of a small fee, depending on the patient’s age, health condition, and nationality, among other factors:

  • Legal residents: If you are a legal resident in Portugal, you have access to all public health centres and hospitals for a very low cost, regardless of your nationality. Children, women who are pregnant, seniors and people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes have free access to healthcare.

  • European Union Citizens: EU Regulations establish that Citizens of European Union Member States share the same rights as nationals, regarding Portuguese healthcare rights.

    • All EU citizens staying temporarily in Portugal have to present a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to have access to the National Healthcare Service.

    • As for EU citizens residing in Portugal, after applying for healthcare at your local Social Security Center, your healthcare centre will issue a national healthcare service number (número de utente) that grants access to all public healthcare services.

  • Citizens of Third Countries: Citizens of Third Countries under Bilateral Agreements also have access to public healthcare services and, in some cases, these are provided free of cost to the patient.
    In the case where there isn’t a bilateral agreement or an entitlement document issued by the country of origin, the patient will have to pay for the healthcare services provided.

Property Management & Holiday Home Rentals

1. How can I manage my Portuguese property from abroad?

If your property is a second home or you intend to maximize your investment through holiday rentals, rest assured you don't have to take care of everything yourself.
Portuguese property management companies offer a professional service aimed at your comfort and peace of mind, including everything from simple key holding to collecting the mail to cleaning, laundry, garden & pool maintenance.
Click here to see how our network of qualified partners can help you maximize the investment of your holiday home in Portugal.

2. Can I rent out my Portuguese property as a Holiday Home?

If you intend to rent your Portuguese Property as a holiday home, Portuguese law requires a touristic rental license called AL licence (AL - Alojamento Local).
You can take care of this yourself or seek help from a holiday rental agency. Such companies will not only assist you with all the legalities but also provide management and marketing services that will help you get the best results on rental platforms such as, Airbnb or HomeAway, amongst others.
Click here to see how our network of qualified partners can help you maximize the investment of your holiday home in Portugal.

Find out more about living in Portugal

Portugal's most popular English-speaking podcast

Every week, Dylan and his guests share why the simple life in Portugal is so appealing...

Blogs about living & investing in Portugal

Portugal offers lots of reasons to visit or invest in property! Browse our blogs to find out more ...

Free magazine - An insider's perspective to Portugal

Download your free copy of Portugal The Simple Life Magazine - Available in English and in Dutch! 

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