The possibility to apply for a residence permit for a startup inside Portugal has been closed from June 4, 2024, t. Now only through a consulate and obtaining a type D visa

Portugal startup visa

Move to Portugal and get a residence permit for 2 years with an extension for another 3 years. Become eligible for citizenship after 5 years. Apply entirely online in your country. You can include a team of up to 5 people.
Hi! We are a team of enthusiasts who moved to Portugal with a startup visa. Fully understood the whole system, applied, got approved, came and made residence cards for 2 years. Then we helped our friends to move. They recommended us to another team, then two more came....

We realised that there was not enough time to answer basic questions and created this website. Here is the most up to date information (as of June 2024). All facts and figures are from official sources and based on personal experience (this is important as many sites have irrelevant or incorrect information). Use, ask questions, book consultations!

About the program, visa and residence permit

Portugal, like many European countries, is interested in attracting people and companies that will work in the country and pay taxes to the budget. To this end, the authorities have launched several programs for relocation and legalization. Among them is the Portugal Startup Visa program, which started in 2018, runs in 2024 and has no expiration date yet. Under this program, there is a government organization IAPMEI (Agencies for Competitiveness and Innovation), which together with business incubators consider applications for startup visas. Under this program, citizens of any country, except EU residents, may move.

This program is one of the most interesting ways to move to Portugal. And here's why:
  • You don`t have to have a working and profitable startup to apply, just an idea in the form of a presentation and an MVP.
  • Up to 5 people can apply for one startup and one application, and all five can get visas and a residence permit at the same time.
  • The primary residence permit is issued for two years, then easily extended for another 3 years. And then you can apply for permanent residence permit or citizenship of Portugal.
  • You do not need to issue NIF (tax number) and NISS (social security number), no need to look for housing to rent, open a bank account and transfer the money. This can all be done after you move in Portugal.
  • You do not need an investment, it is enough to show the availability of money in the amount of at least 5766 euros in any currency at the current exchange rate.
  • The entire process is automated and takes place online through a special portal.
  • A high approval rate (if you meet all the requirements).
  • Priority registration of residence permit with a short waiting period (compared to other methods of legalization in Portugal).
  • After obtaining your residence permit, you can be reunited with family members.
  • Start-up visa allows you to work in Portugal.

Why Portugal

Portugal has many advantages as a country and a way to live in Europe.

  • The cost of living here is relatively low (except that the cost of renting a house is higher than the European average).
  • A pleasant southern climate, warm winters, tolerable temperatures in summer.
  • Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Wonderful people, the Portuguese are very hearty and friendly.
  • Beautiful nature, mountains and the ocean with huge waves.
  • Travel free with residence permit in Schengen countries
  • You can get a Portuguese passport after 5 years of life with a residence permit.
  • Portugal allows dual citizenship (unlike Spain, where you have to renounce your country's citizenship to obtain a passport).
  • Portuguese passport is one of the five strongest passports in the world, you can visit 186 countries without a visa or with a visa on arrival.
  • Special tax regime for non-residents, a reduced tax of 20% on income within the country for 10 years.

Requirements for participants and our recommendations

In order to apply for a Portuguese startup visa, the following requirements must be met.

  • All participants must be over 18 years old.
  • There is a higher education or other proof of qualification.
  • No residence permit in European Union countries.
  • No criminal record or EU tax debts.
  • There is a sum of at least 5150 5766 euros per participant (in any currency and in any bank, preferably not in a sub-sanctioned bank).
  • The startup must be innovative and technological in nature (classical business will not do, there are other ways of legalization for such).
  • There is the potential to hire employees with high qualifications.
  • There is the potential to achieve a turnover or asset value of 325,000 euros in 5 years of operation.

Incubators and IAPMEI evaluate a startup based on the following criteria:

  • How innovative the project is.
  • What growth potential it has.
  • Whether it has prospects for hiring employees.
  • How likely it is to scale globally.

Each of these criteria is described in a separate section.

What documents are needed to apply for a startup visa

You can apply for a startup visa from your country of citizenship or where you have a residence permit. The application and monitoring are automated, and all communication is done through the IAPMEI portal. The following documents are required to successfully complete the application:

  • A scan or photo of each startup participant's passport. Make sure that the passport is valid for at least one year.
  • Proof of at least EUR 5766 equivalent per participant. Bank statement in English will do. If the money is not in Portugal, you should attach to this document a certificate stating that you undertake to transfer this amount to the Portuguese bank after obtaining a visa and arrival in Portugal.
  • Proof of absence of debts to the tax authorities of Portugal. Here a free-form certificate will do, that you do not have a tax number in Portugal, and therefore no debts.
  • A certificate of no criminal record from your country. It can be obtained from your country and translated into English. Or request from the Russian consulate in Portugal, then it will be immediately in Portuguese.
  • CV - resume in an international standard describing your education and experience.
  • Diploma of higher or specialized education. This is a new requirement, added in April 2023.
  • Detailed description of the startup, answers to the questions in the application form, more about that below.

The list of required documents is not long and they are quite easy to collect. The bulk of the paperwork will be already in Portugal after obtaining the visa.

The procedure for applying for a residence permit for a startup

We have made a detailed checklist with the order of actions from preparation of documents to obtaining residence permit cards for all project participants and their family members. The checklist has been placed on a separate page, since there is a lot of information there.

What information about the startup is needed for the application and how to fill out the form

The number of fields in the startup visa application and the signatures above them can be shocking to untrained users. All this is complicated by the fact that the application must be filled out in English or Portuguese. The data specified directly affects whether your application will be approved or not. The general point of the application is to prove that the project is innovative and useful for the Portuguese economy.

We went through the whole quest of approving the application and obtaining a residence permit for ourselves and for our friends. So the list does not seem so big and complicated to us anymore. But we still remember our first impressions and understand how difficult it can be for most people who want to apply for a startup visa for the first time.

If you decide to fill out the form and apply on your own, we have prepared detailed instructions for you on how to fill it out and what each field means.

Who will be approved and who may be denied a visa application

The startup visa program contains explicit requirements and requirements for the startup and participants, which we mentioned above in the section "Requirements for participants.

  • The program requirements are also implicit, which are not mentioned explicitly, but can influence the success or failure of the program.
  • If the IAPMEI or incubator staff is not satisfied with something on the questionnaire. For example, the experience of the manager or the employees.
  • If the potential of the startup is implicit or not clearly expressed.
  • If there is a lack of documents or they are of the wrong form/quality.
  • If the person has an unexpunged criminal record or is wanted by Interpol.

Usually, IAPMEI asks for missing documents or asks for clarification of some data, and gives 3 days for this. Sometimes a decision is made without these requests. Therefore, you should be very careful with the process of filling out the application and attaching documents.

In theory, they may look at the fact that the education or work experience of participants does not correspond to the sphere of the startup. We also do not recommend the inclusion of spouses of the same name in one application. If the plan is to obtain a residence permit for family members, this can be done through the reunification procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers