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Accommodation in Portugal

With such a wide range of housing options available, new arrivals are sure to find their ideal accommodation in Portugal. Expats will be able to choose from apartment blocks, condominiums and even rustic farmhouses. The price of accommodation in Portugal relative to the typical salary earned is generally considered to be reasonable, except in the main cities and surroundings of Lisbon and Porto.

Expats, especially those who don't speak good Portuguese, should consider hiring a reputable real estate agent to assist them in finding a suitable home for the duration of their stay in the country.

Types of accommodation in Portugal

The standard of accommodation in Portugal can vary hugely from area to area and from building to building. Newer apartment blocks are modern and structurally sound with great finishes, while older buildings, although beautifully rustic at times, can often have problems with plumbing and electricity supply, among other things. Property in Portugal is typically quite spacious, particularly by British standards.

Shipping existing furniture to Portugal is an option, but the costs can run quite high. It will probably end up being more economical for expats to simply buy furniture once they are settled. There are plenty of reputable furniture stores to be found in the large urban centres in Portugal.

Home security is not a pressing issue in Portugal, although in tourist areas minor break-ins can sometimes occur. Modern apartment blocks in Portugal are usually fitted with electronic access panels, deadlocks and shutters. For the most part, expats report that they feel safe in their homes and confident in the safety of their possessions.

Finding accommodation in Portugal

Expats planning on moving to Portugal should start researching properties before they actually move to the country. Since Portugal is such a popular holiday destination, there are loads of short-term rentals available, but long-term rentals can disappear from the market quickly.

Expats can use estate agent websites to get an idea of the market in their chosen area or suburb. Local newspapers will also have classified sections where landlords may advertise accommodation. Those who don't speak Portuguese may find it best to hire a real estate agent to help them with the process of finding accommodation in Portugal.

Renting accommodation in Portugal

Most expats moving to Portugal will probably look to rent rather than buy, at least initially. Expats should note that they need a Portuguese fiscal number in order to rent accommodation in Portugal. EU residents can apply for their fiscal number by visiting their local tax office. Non-EU residents must make use of a legal representative to apply.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Short-term rentals will typically be furnished, while long-term rentals tend to be unfurnished. Expats need to make sure they know what is included in their rental before signing the rental contract.

Rental process

Once expats have found a suitable property in Portugal, they'll need to sign a rental contract. Some landlords or agents may have contracts available in English, but in many cases, expats will need to have the document professionally translated. The rental contract will establish the legal obligations of both the tenant and the landlord. It will also state what is and isn't included in the rental price.


Landlords in Portugal will normally require two months' rent as a security deposit. They may also require the first and last month's rent in advance.

When moving into a property, it is best to carry out a full inventory of the fittings and fixtures, as well as any existing damages. Upon the termination of the lease, the property will be inspected. Any damage to the property is deducted from the security deposit.


Rental contracts in Portugal are fairly flexible. Most landlords or rental agents will offer a choice between fixed-term and open-ended contracts.

Fixed-term contracts are set for a minimum of one year, but can be significantly longer. Some expats prefer open-ended contracts, as they may not be sure how long they will stay in the country or if they'll end up buying instead. Tenants will need to take careful note of the notice period of their contract.


Short-term rentals will most likely include utility bills in the rental price, but long-term rentals rarely include utilities like water, gas and electricity. These costs need to be added to the monthly rental price when expats are creating a monthly budget.

Doing business in Portugal

The Portuguese economy has undergone a major transformation in recent decades. Its primarily agricultural infrastructure has given way to a modern, service-based economy, in line with the rest of the European Union. Expats will find that doing business in Portugal reflects this change, with a curious mixture of old-school conservatism and new-age innovation characterising the business world.

Fast facts

Business language

Portuguese is the primary business language of the country, with English often being used as the 'second language of business'.

Hours of business

Hours vary but are generally from 8.30am to 1pm, and 2pm to 6pm, from Monday to Friday.


Business attire in Portugal is generally formal and conservative.


Gifts are not generally given at business meetings and could even be seen as inappropriate. If invited to an associate's home, expats should take along some good wine, flowers or sweets.


Shaking hands with both male and female associates.

Gender equality

Women are ostensibly treated as equals in the Portuguese business world, though it is rare to see them occupying the highest corporate positions.

Business culture in Portugal

Though the situation is slowly changing, business culture in Portugal retains vestiges of paternalism and hierarchical 'top-down' approaches to management and leadership are common.

Business etiquette in Portugal displays an interesting mix of formality and easygoingness – with conduct being at once formal and conservative, yet also warm and relaxed. Expats should use the titles 'Senhor' and 'Senhora' until strictly instructed not to do so, and show deference to those in obvious positions of authority.


Business meetings in Portugal must be made by appointment and should not be scheduled for times that might conflict with important family or religious holidays. Expats will be expected to be punctual, even if the hosts may not be. Since the official language of business in the country is Portuguese, it is a good idea to provide translations of all important documents or to engage the services of a translator to ensure that everyone is on the same page at business meetings.


The accepted management style in Portugal is fairly directive. More often than not, subordinate employees are expected to follow instructions rather than contribute to the decision-making process.

In Portugal, the strongest business relationships are those built on the trust of individuals and as a result, nepotism has been seen as an advantageous hiring policy. Expats should be sure to allow time for personal connections to develop with Portuguese business associates, as familiarity can go a long way toward ensuring success.


The dress code in Portugal is strictly smart and formal, with a strong importance placed on looking good. A person's status in the business world may be judged by how they present themselves. Expats are advised to choose clothing in dark colours with stylish cuts.

Attitude to foreigners

Although traces of nepotism are revealed now and then, foreigners and foreign investment are increasingly forming an integral part of the modern Portuguese economy. So long as expats treat associates with respect and warmth, they will have no problem integrating themselves into the Portuguese business world.

Dos and don'ts of business in Portugal

  • Do respect the authority of higher-ups

  • Do be warm, friendly and willing to make personal connections

  • Don't be impatient – let senior associates conduct meetings at their own pace

  • Don't be resistant to taking instructions from superiors

  • Don't be late, rude or self-aggrandising when attending business meetings

Visas for Portugal

Before expats make their move to the country, it's important to make sure they have the correct paperwork in order and have obtained the correct visa for Portugal, if necessary. As Portugal is an EU member state, citizens of other EU states can travel to the country with only their passports.

Although EU citizens are entitled to live and work in Portugal without a visa, there are still some documents which will be required to obtain the necessary residence permit. Residency permits are necessary for any stay longer than six months and can also be used as proof of residence for administrative tasks.

Non-EU citizens travelling to Portugal for a short visit or holiday may need to apply for a short-stay visa. On the other hand, those who plan on moving to or working in Portugal will need either a temporary-stay visa or a long-stay visa, depending on the duration of their stay in the country.

Types of visas for Portugal

Short-stay visas

Portugal is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement. Nationals of countries also signatory to the agreement don't need to apply for a tourist visa prior to arrival. Citizens of some countries such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand are also entitled to stay in Portugal for up to 90 days without a visa.

Visitors from other countries will be required to apply for a short-stay visa, also known as a Schengen visa, before arriving in Portugal. Applicants will need to submit proof of adequate funds, valid travel insurance and a booking for a return ticket.

As Portugal is part of the Schengen territory, once a person is granted this visa, they can visit multiple destinations that are signatories to the agreement. Those who plan on travelling to several Schengen countries should make their application at the consulate of the country in which they plan to spend the most time.

Temporary-stay visas

Nationals of third-party countries planning on staying in Portugal for longer than 90 days but less than a year will need to apply for a temporary-stay visa rather than a short-stay visa. Temporary-stay visas allow multiple entries into the country and are renewable.

Long-stay visas

Long-stay visas, also known as residency visas, are for stays of longer than a year and are renewable. Expats moving to Portugal for work will usually need to obtain this visa and a work permit.

Permanent residence and citizenship

After five years in the country, expats can apply for permanent residency in Portugal. Permanent residents can then apply for citizenship after an additional year. Some expats, such as those married to a Portuguese citizen, are eligible for permanent residency and citizenship earlier than those without such ties to the country.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Moving to Portugal

Situated on the west of the Iberian Peninsula, surrounded by Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal's beauty abounds with long stretches of white beaches and imposing mountains. A population of just over 10 million leaves plenty of room for expats to enjoy themselves and explore Portugal's architectural treasures and archaeological gems without the claustrophobia of large crowds.

Living in Portugal as an expat

Portugal offers expats a high quality of life at a low cost. Apart from the appealing warm weather, another reason expats move to Portugal is the warm environment created by the local people. Portuguese culture revolves around family, and locals are usually friendly, welcoming and helpful. That said, the Portuguese approach and the tedium of government bureaucracy can be frustrating for expats doing business in the country. Employment is also difficult to find, and wages are generally lower than in other European destinations.

Cost of living in Portugal

To make up for lower wages, the cost of living is by far one of the most reasonable in Europe. Expats will find good quality local fruit and vegetables as well as affordable, well-made wine. Eating out is relatively cheap, as are soft drinks, beer and coffee.

Property is also reasonably priced outside the main tourist areas and, unlike in other expat destinations, expats living in Portugal prefer to buy property rather than rent. For those with money from other investments, moving to Portugal can be financially prudent, and it makes for an attractive retirement destination.

Expat families and children in Portugal 

Expats moving to Portugal with children will be pleased to know that there are plenty of high-quality international schools clustered in and around large cities. Public healthcare facilities are manned by highly capable staff with a good knowledge of English, but understaffing and limited facilities make relying solely on the public sector unadvisable. We recommend expats secure private health insurance for themselves and their families before moving to Portugal.

Climate in Portugal

Expats moving to Portugal are more often than not self-confessed sun lovers. The long, hot summers are certainly one of its greatest lures, and many move to the country to enjoy their retirement on its warm shores.

Portugal is well positioned in regard to the rest of Europe, with air links to most destinations from the main airports at Faro, Porto and Lisbon. Expats looking for natural beauty, friendly people, good weather and a slower pace of life will love living in Portugal.

Fast facts

Population: About 10.2 million

Capital city: Lisbon

Neighbouring countries: Spain

Geography: Portugal is located on the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula, which divides the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the Atlantic coast of the plateau and crossed by several rivers.

Political system: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Catholicism

Main language: Portuguese

Money: The Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. The country has a well-developed banking system, and many international banks have a presence in the main Portuguese cities.

Tipping: A standard 10 to 15 percent tip can be added to the bill if the service is good.

Time: GMT+0 (GMT+1 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Round, two-pin plugs are most common.

International dialling code: +351

Internet domain: .pt

Emergency numbers: 112

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side of the road in Portugal. Public transport in the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon and other major urban hubs is of a good standard, but national transport systems aren't usually in line with standards that expats would be accustomed to in the rest of Europe. It's worth considering buying a car if expats wish to explore the country.

Frequently asked questions about Portugal

Expats moving to Portugal might have some questions regarding their relocation. Here are some of the most common questions asked by those considering relocating to Portugal.

Do I need to learn Portuguese?

Many retired communities have large populations of English speakers, and residents can generally get by without learning the local language. In tourist destinations and resort communities, English is commonly spoken.

However, English is limited in more rural communities, and business is often conducted in Portuguese. To become integrated into the culture, learning the language is important, and it also reduces the impact of culture shock on new arrivals.

Is Portugal a good place to raise children?

Portugal is a great place to raise children. The education system in Portugal is good, and transfers from EU schools are easy. The communities are safe and although public medical facilities aren't up to the best standards, private healthcare for children is top-notch. The quality of life in Portugal has also made the population among the healthiest in the world.

What is the weather like?

There are really two climates in Portugal, the southern and warmer Mediterranean area, and the Northern Atlantic climate. Some expats who expect extreme heat may be surprised that it is not as warm as countries further south near the tropics. Summers usually hover around 85°F (30°C), and winters 50°F (10°C).

Banking, money and taxes in Portugal

Expats moving to Portugal will find that the country has a modern and efficient banking system that makes it easy to manage one's finances.

Banks in Portugal offer a wide range of accounts and financial services including current and savings accounts, joint accounts and business accounts. Online banking is a standard feature of bank accounts in Portugal.

Money in Portugal

The Euro (EUR) is Portugal's official currency. One euro is divided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: EUR 5, EUR 10, EUR 20, EUR 50, EUR 100, EUR 200 and EUR 500

  • Coins: EUR 1, EUR 2 and 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents

Banking in Portugal

Portuguese banks are part of a national grouping of banks called Multibanco. This makes accounts easily accessible, and account holders may use a Multibanco debit card in ATMs across the country and for buying most goods.

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in Portugal is fairly straightforward. Expats will need to visit a bank branch in Portugal with certain documents, including proof of identity and proof of address. Documents may vary between banks, so expats should check with their chosen bank.

Credit cards and ATMs

Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted throughout Portugal. Transaction charges do apply for those using international cards in Portugal, though.

ATMs can be easily found in most town centres and urban areas. ATMs in Portugal will accept major foreign cards. They also tend to provide better exchange rates than those offered by bureaux de change and are therefore a convenient way to access money in Portugal, especially for those without a Portuguese bank account.

The Multibanco system in Portugal is lauded for allowing its users a wide variety of conveniences. In addition to normal withdrawal and transfer services, at a Multibanco ATM expats can:

  • Pay certain utility bills
  • Load talk time onto mobile phones
  • Pay income tax and value-added tax
  • Purchase concert tickets
  • Pay motor tolls

Taxes in Portugal

In Portugal, residents and non-residents are taxed differently. To be considered a resident for tax purposes, a person must reside in the country for 183 days of the year or have a permanent home in Portugal. If someone is considered a resident, they are liable to be taxed on their worldwide income.

For tax residents, tax is charged according to a sliding scale based on the individual's global income. Non-residents are taxed only on income derived from within Portugal, usually at a flat rate.

Expats may be concerned about being simultaneously taxed in Portugal and their home country, but in many cases, treaties exist to prevent double taxation. Often, becoming a resident of Portugal can exempt expats from higher overseas taxes. To find the most advantageous tax plan, it's a good idea to consult an international tax planner.

Working in Portugal

Unlike many other destinations, working in Portugal is hardly a hook for expats looking to move to this Mediterranean country. In fact, many relocate here to escape the faster business cultures of their own home countries. These include retirees and professionals that would sacrifice higher wages for a better quality of life.

Job market in Portugal

Expats who do move for employment can find the transition difficult, as Portugal's bureaucracy can be slow to provide licences and certifications. Furthermore, unemployment is generally high and wages are well below the European average, leaving many locals to settle for some abbreviated version of self-employment.

Much of Portuguese industry is in manufacturing, which has a limited need or attraction for expat workers, but burgeoning technology and alternative energy industries are beginning to take root in the country as well.

Finding a job in Portugal

Those lucky enough to secure a job prior to relocation will find that the businesses usually take care of most of the groundwork. Expats planning on taking the self-employed route or those who move without a job opportunity will have much more difficulty beginning a business as well as navigating the waters of foreign affairs.

Those wanting to work in Portugal will find the best method of obtaining a job is through word of mouth. Many positions never even reach the press for advertisement and are rather marketed through social connections and friendship networks.

Expats may also find that the expat community often prefers hiring service providers that originate from a similar part of the world as themselves, so it's worthwhile to cultivate acquaintances in these circles. Many have made a living in Portugal working strictly for expats like themselves.

Work culture in Portugal

Portuguese business culture tends to be hierarchical and focuses on relationships. Employees show respect to superiors and should always use titles like 'Senhor' and 'Senhora' when speaking to colleaguesAppearances are important to local businesspeople. Expats should make an effort to wear formal, neat and conservative clothing.

Expats would also do well to learn at least basic Portuguese before arriving in their new home, as this will go a long way when building a business network in Portugal.

Healthcare in Portugal

Expats looking to move to Portugal might find that the country's healthcare system poses some significant challenges.

Both public and private healthcare options are available in Portugal. Private healthcare in Portugal is steadily gaining popularity among expats, and many now take out private health insurance. The public healthcare system, on the other hand, continues to frustrate and disappoint locals and expats alike.

Those moving to Portugal will find it reassuring that virtually every doctor is conversant in English in major cities. This is true in both public and private healthcare facilities in Portugal. Whether other employees in the health sector, such as nurses and technicians, speak English will depend on the location of the facilities. Areas with a larger expat population, such as Lisbon and the Algarve, will naturally have more bilingual employees. Expats living in rural parts of Portugal shouldn't rely on healthcare professionals to speak English, and should ensure they can speak an adequate amount of Portuguese in order to communicate at the local hospital or clinic.

Health insurance in Portugal

Access to public healthcare in Portugal is free for children under 18 and people over 65. All other legal residents can access public healthcare at low rates.

EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare here during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

Both EU and non-EU expats with residency in Portugal must obtain a National Health Service user card in order to take advantage of the free public healthcare system. This can be done at a local health centre with a passport and residency card. Non-EU expats will also need to provide a social security card.

Public healthcare in Portugal

Basic services can be found in rural areas, but travel to a larger city will be necessary for specialised care. Public hospitals and clinics in Portugal are frequently understaffed and overcrowded.

The shortage of physicians has caused long waiting lists for non-life-threatening surgeries and a strain on the system as a whole, which often forces Portuguese nationals and expats alike to use emergency-room services in place of a general practitioner. At the public level, technology is often lacking, and it can be difficult to arrange an appointment with a specialist.

Private healthcare in Portugal

The benefits of private healthcare in Portugal include shorter queues, less crowded waiting rooms, more creature comforts and modern equipment. Doctors at private establishments in Portugal are generally also more attentive, as they have more time and resources than staff in the public sector.

Private healthcare in Portugal is expensive, especially for those who don't have health insurance. However, private healthcare is the best option for those who can afford a good health insurance policy. Some larger corporations and government bodies offer private health insurance to their employees, but this is not the norm, nor is it required by law. Expats should therefore be prepared to pay for their own healthcare expenses while living in Portugal.

Pharmacies and medicines in Portugal

Pharmacies in Portugal are widely available and easily accessible. They can be found in most town centres and shopping malls.

Since many medications are subsidised, medication can be obtained at a low cost with the proper prescription from a general practitioner or specialist. The cost rises significantly without a prescription, even for the most common medications.

During a consultation, if a doctor offers a prescription for a medication that doesn't require one, it is wise to accept it, even for common cough medicines or anti-inflammatories. Having these prescriptions saves money when it comes to purchasing medication at the pharmacy.

Emergency services in Portugal

Emergency services in Portugal can be reached by dialling 112. Paramedics who respond to emergencies are adequately trained, generally proficient and considerate.

In serious emergencies, it's not unusual for patients to be quickly transferred from a less equipped hospital to a more specialised care unit in the closest large city.

Culture shock in Portugal

Expats moving to Portugal are bound to experience some degree of culture shock, even if moving more for reasons of leisure and less for integration into a business environment. Learning about certain differences beforehand can help expats get a jump start on the process of settling in.

Slow pace in Portugal

Portugal is well known for its relaxed, slow pace of life that usually sounds appealing until it leads to frustration and exasperation. Bureaucratic processes can be long and tedious, often marked by redundant paperwork. This can be unnerving to new arrivals when opening bank accounts, filing tax information or applying for residency.

Since this is something expats can't change, it's best to adopt an attitude of patience and acceptance. Adjusting expectations before embarking on a bureaucratic task can help temper frustration.

Language barrier in Portugal

Language is probably one of the biggest areas affecting those moving to Portugal. Thousands of expats live outside the main centres, often causing them to feel isolated and without the opportunity to socialise with locals. In many Portuguese towns, there are schools or organisations offering free or low-cost Portuguese language classes, with options for everyone from beginners to more advanced speakers. In addition to helping new arrivals get to grips with the basics of the Portuguese language, these courses are also great for meeting fellow expats.

Learning the language is a key element to feeling more at home in Portugal, managing one's way through the system and, of course, being able to share conversation with the locals. It is also a key element to help new arrivals integrate themselves more smoothly and feel like less of an outsider.

Greetings in Portugal

Unlike most Western countries, Portugal still has a more formal approach when it comes to addressing individuals. The use of 'Senhor' (Mr) or 'Senhora' (Mrs) in front of a name is common practice, especially for the older generations. To be polite, expats should take care to address locals in this manner until on more familiar terms.

Shaking hands and kissing on both cheeks is the common greeting. Men shake hands at even the shortest of meetings, and more reserved expats will find it odd that strangers will often kiss them on both cheeks. Men don't commonly kiss each other unless there is a great display of affection or joy.

Public holidays in Portugal




New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Good Friday

7 April

29 March

Easter Sunday

9 April

31 April

Freedom Day

25 April

25 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Corpus Christi

8 June

30 May

Portugal Day

10 June

10 June

Assumption Day

15 August

15 August

Republic Day

5 October

5 October

All Saints' Day

1 November

1 November

Independence Restoration Day

1 December

1 December

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

8 December

8 December

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December


Relocation companies in Portugal

Relocating to a new country can be a complicated process. Fortunately, with the help of a reputable relocation firm, it doesn't have to be. Relocation businesses offer companies and individuals an extensive assortment of services when moving to Portugal, from cultural and language training to home-finding services and lease negotiation. Families with children can also get support looking for schools and enrolment processes.

Below are two highly recommended international relocation firms.

International relocation companies



With 64 offices in 38 countries, Sanelo specialises in providing customised end-to-end moving services to Portugal for individuals, families and businesses alike. Sanelo clients get five-star protection and coverage, first-rate packing and expert guidance. When it comes to organising shipping paperwork and third-party vendors, Sanelo is the expat's one point of contact, making the move simple and seamless.


Santa Fe

Santa Fe Relocation

With more than 50 years' experience, Santa Fe Relocation offers a full spectrum of relocation services for both corporate relocations and individual expats moving to Portugal. They are a global firm whose services include everything from home search, school search and removals, to arrival orientation, pet relocation and more.


Embassy contacts for Portugal

Portuguese embassies

  • Embassy of Portugal; Washington, DC; United States: +1 202 332 3007

  • Embassy of Portugal, London, United Kingdom: +44 207 291 37 70

  • Embassy of Portugal, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 729 0883

  • Embassy of Portugal, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6260 4970

  • Embassy of Portugal, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 346 4285

  • Embassy of Portugal, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 669 9100

  • Consulate of Portugal, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 2163 23 43

Foreign embassies in Portugal

  • United States Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 727 3300

  • British Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 392 4000

  • Canadian Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 316 4600

  • Australian Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 310 1500

  • South African Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 319 2200

  • Irish Embassy, Lisbon: +351 21 330 8200

  • New Zealand Consulate, Lisbon: +351 21 314 0780

Diversity and inclusion in Portugal

Portugal is a unique and fascinating country. For new arrivals, social norms may be confusing at first. Read on to learn about diversity and inclusion in Portugal.

Accessibility in Portugal

Portugal is considered a fairly accessible country and is making continuous improvements to available infrastructure. In 2019, Portugal was chosen by the UN World Tourism Organisation as the year’s “Accessible Tourist Destination”.

A programme known as ‘all for all’ has been in place since 2016, with the programme’s main mission being the transformation of Portugal into an accessible country. More than 200 beach areas have been made completely accessible with facilities such as reserved parking, walkways on the beach, pedestrian access and adapted toilets. Most of these beaches even supply special equipment allowing those with limited mobility to swim in the sea with assistance.

When travelling by train, those with mobility limitations can arrange to be assisted by the centralised Integrated Mobility Service (SIM – Serviço Integrado de Mobilidade) when boarding and leaving the train. This service needs to be booked a minimum of six hours in advance. Airports have a similar service, known as MyWay, which should be booked when buying a plane ticket or at least 48 hours before departure. Some taxi companies in Portugal have fully equipped cars available for those with limited mobility – similarly, these should be requested specifically and in advance.

Further reading

LGBTQ+ in Portugal

Portugal is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world. There are anti-discrimination ordinances in place to protect people from being treated unfairly on the basis of their physical sex or gender identity. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010, when Portugal became the eighth country in the world to make this progressive change.

LGBTQ+ couples have the same rights as straight couples when it comes to adoption and IVF treatment. Since 2011 and as recently as 2018, various laws have been passed to make it easier for transgender individuals to change the gender listed on their ID documents.

Lisbon and Porto in particular have exciting and lively gay nightlife scenes, as does the Algarve, but the country, on the whole, is considered a safe and accepting area for anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.

Useful resources

Gender equality in Portugal

For the first time in Portugal’s history, there are more women than men serving as ministers in the country’s cabinet. This is a great step towards gender parity since the country's constitution, which guarantees gender equality between men and women, was first adopted. One of the biggest wins for women in Portugal was the legislation of abortion in 2007 following record high maternal mortality rates.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) ranks Portugal 13th for gender equality out of the EU's 20 countries, and the country has taken the top spot in the category for women's participation at work. That said, there is still work to be done in truly achieving gender equality in Portugal. The gender pay gap currently stands at 11.4 percent, and young girls and women spend 7 percent more time on unpaid labour than their male counterparts.

Even so, the Portuguese society continues to modernise and introduce new laws to tackle gender inequalities. A landmark Supreme Court case in 2021 ruled that a woman who performed unpaid domestic work and childcare for 30 years in a non-marital partnership should be compensated for her labour. This case set precedent for the remuneration of unpaid care work in the country. Furthermore, Portugal introduced measures in 2019 to enforce equal pay between men and women for equal work.

New mothers in Portugal have access to six weeks of compulsory paid maternity leave, and men receive up to 20 days of paternity leave. Parents also have the option to share an additional 180 days of leave at 83 percent total pay, or extend the maternity leave alone at 80 percent total pay.

Useful resources

Women in leadership in Portugal

In 2018, Portugal implemented a gender quota requiring publicly listed companies to have no less than one-third of men and women on their managerial and supervisory bodies from 2020. Women make up 31 percent of board members, a promising sign of improvement, and roughly on par with the EU average. Although progress has been made in the world of business – 37 percent of management positions in Portugal are filled by women – there is something of a glass ceiling, and only 14 percent of senior executives are women.

Women make up about 40 percent of parliamentary positions and 42 percent of ministerial positions in Portugal, above the UK's numbers but below neighbouring Spain.

Further reading

Mental health awareness in Portugal

Portugal has one of the highest rates of mental ill health in Europe, with roughly one in five people experiencing a mental disorder in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are particularly common. There is a stigma surrounding mental illness in Portugal, with many believing it to be a sign of weakness rather than a genuine health concern.

Mental healthcare services fall under the National Mental Health Programme, which is part of the national healthcare system (Serviço Nacional de Saúde – SNS). The programme treats mental illness at three levels: local hospitals, regional hospitals and psychiatric hospitals. Institutionalisation rates have dropped by 40 percent since the start of the programme, indicating better outcomes for patients.

Due to the stress of relocation and feelings of loneliness or isolation in their new home, expats are at higher risk of depression and anxiety than the general population. While mental health was once a taboo subject, companies are becoming increasingly conscious of its importance. More companies are holding talks and workshops to raise awareness, and employers are adjusting healthcare plans offered to their employees, so that there’s better coverage for treatment in the mental health arena.

Although most expats in Portugal qualify to use the public healthcare system, most tend to opt for private mental healthcare services. The extent of coverage provided by a particular insurer can vary, however, so it’s important to check individual policy details for clarity.

English-speaking psychologists and psychiatrists, many of whom are expats themselves, can most easily be found in Lisbon.

Useful resources

Unconscious bias education in Portugal

Unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about groups of people different to themselves. These ideas are not purposefully adopted but rather develop subtly over time, and people tend to hold unconscious biases about groups they never or rarely come into contact with. As a result, they're often inaccurate and based on assumptions.

Unconscious bias can profoundly affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on employee performance, retention and recruitment. In a bid to create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to institute unconscious bias training. There are also a number of online resources that can be used to improve self-awareness regarding bias.

Useful resources

Diversification of workforce in Portugal

Portugal is home to more than 700,000 foreigners, a figure increasing year by year. The most common countries of origin are Brazil, the UK, Cape Verde, India and Italy. People moving to Portugal are often drawn by the quality of life. Portugal is especially popular among UK retirees, but plenty of expats come here for the employment opportunities the country offers.

Expats can expect to encounter a fairly diverse work environment in Lisbon. The offices of international firms buzz with a blend of languages, with staff being sourced from all over the world.
Studies show that diversification of the workplace is hugely beneficial to companies and employees alike. In recognition of this, many of Portugal’s largest companies are setting up diversity and inclusion programmes, ensuring that a wide variety of people is represented among employees.

Safety in Portugal

Portugal is generally a safe place to live. The crime rate is low and expats won’t have to worry about security issues beyond normal safety precautions. Best practices include locking doors, being aware of personal belongings in crowded areas and tourist hotspots (pickpocketing can be a problem in these areas), avoiding walking alone at night through isolated areas, and only using reputable taxi companies.

Calendar initiatives in Portugal

4 February – World Cancer Day
March – TB Awareness Month
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
June – Pride Month
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
8 October –World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
1 December – World AIDS Day

Pros and cons of moving to Portugal

Expats moving abroad often lose themselves making comparisons between their new destination and their home country. While this can be a natural part of acclimatisation, it's important not to get too bogged down in what one may perceive to be apparent positives and negatives.

That being said, some preparation for what people may deem the good, the bad and the ugly is necessary. Here are some pros and cons of moving to Portugal.

Culture in Portugal

+ PRO: The people are friendly and welcoming

The people of Portugal are incredibly friendly and helpful. Neighbours will often bring home-grown tomatoes, share their wine and talk to expats quite happily despite the language barrier that might exist.

- CON: The slow pace might take some time getting used to

Expats may find some aspects of Portuguese culture frustrating, such as the slow pace of life. Locals are not generally in a hurry to resolve issues or deal with problems, and this can slow down bureaucratic processes considerably. The phrase 'devagar' will often be heard it means 'slowly' in Portuguese.

Weather in Portugal

+ PRO: Hot, hot summers

The weather is great. Generally, March to October is warm, with July and August being really hot. Temperatures can climb to 104°F (40°C). Sunny days are plentiful; all the better to enjoy the country's lovely scenery.

+ PRO: Beautiful beaches

For those who like beaches, they stretch along the entire western and southern areas of the country and are white and clean. Only in July and August are the most popular beaches ever crowded.

Transport and driving in Portugal

+ PRO: Good road networks and manageable traffic

The traffic in Portugal is considerably less than in northern European countries, except in the large cities where traffic jams at peak hours are bad. There is also a good network of highways or dual carriageways in Portugal, and the main ones are not very busy.

- CON: Driving can be dangerous

Portuguese drivers are keen to drive fast and impatient to overtake. This causes numerous accidents. Keeping a sharp eye out for any sudden or unexpected movements by other cars and reacting quickly but calmly is advised.

Cost of living in Portugal 

+ PRO: General produce is affordable

Food, wine, bread and normal shopping commodities are generally very reasonably priced. Shopping at local markets for fresh, in-season produce is one easy way to save money in Portugal.

- CON: Some aspects of life are pricey

Though fresh produce can be found at a reasonable price, consumer goods can be expensive in Portugal. Accommodation and utilities will take a chunk out of the budget, too. These aspects of life bump up the cost of living in Portugal.

A Brief History of Portugal

Pre-Roman and Roman eras

  • Many ethnic groups settle in prehistoric Iberia. In the first millennium BCE, Celts also spread through the region.
  • 711 BCE: Phoenician traders establish colonies in what is now Portugal, including the city of Lisbon.
  • 218 BCE: The Romans invade the Iberian Peninsula. Over the next 200 years, they expel the Carthaginian colonies, annex the Iberian Peninsula and install a colonial regime.

Visigoth and Moorish rule

  • Early 5th century: Germanic tribes called the Suebi and Vandals invade the Iberian Peninsula and are quickly supplanted by the Visigoths, who rule the peninsula for the next 300 years.
  • 711: The Moors invade and establish the Islamic state of Al-Andalus in the Iberian Peninsula.
  • 722: The Visigoths regroup in the north with the eventual aim of retaking the land for Christendom. The resulting series of battles, known as the Reconquista, would continue for another 700 years.
  • 1143: Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, is recognised as an independent ruler by the Kingdom of Leon, marking the beginning of Portugal's existence as a sovereign nation.
  • 1249: The Reconquista period is marked by constant conflict and war between the Christians and Muslims in the peninsula, culminating in the capture of the southern coast and the expulsion of the last Moorish settlements.

Age of discoveries and empire

  • 1415: The Portuguese Armada sets sail for and conquers Ceuta in North Africa, marking the beginnings of the Portuguese Empire.
  • 1415–1580: The Empire expands rapidly. Portugal becomes a major naval power and establishes a global empire, with colonies in Africa, Asia and South America.
  • 1492: The Reconquista period ends as the Christians successfully conquer the entire Iberian Peninsula.
  • 1495–1521: King Manuel I of Portugal sponsors expeditions to the newly discovered lands, bringing back exotic goods, spices and animals to Europe.
  • 1498: Vasco da Gama sails around the Cape of Good Hope and reaches India, opening up a new route to Asia for European traders.
  • 1536–1605: The reign of King Sebastian I is marked by attempts to expand the Portuguese Empire, including the ill-fated invasion of Morocco in 1578, which leads to the king's death and a period of political instability.

Union with Spain and restoration of independence

  • 1580: When the Portuguese king dies without heirs, Philip II of Spain claims the Portuguese throne.
  • 1640: The country regains its independence with the help of the British. The Portuguese Empire continues to grow until the late 18th century.
  • 1755: The Lisbon earthquake, along with the resulting fires and tsunami, cause widespread destruction and death in Portugal. This leads to significant changes in the country's architecture and urban planning.
  • 1807–1811: Portugal is invaded by French forces under Napoleon, leading to the transfer of the Portuguese royal family to Brazil and the eventual establishment of Brazil as an independent kingdom.
  • 1822: Brazil declares independence from Portugal.
  • 1834: Economic decline and political instability lead to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
  • 1910–1926: The Portuguese monarchy is overthrown, and the First Republic period is marked by political instability, including several coups and assassinations.

World War I, World War II and beyond

  • 1914–1918: Portugal remains neutral for the first half of World War I but sends troops to fight on the Western Front in 1916.
  • 1917: The First Republic is established, marking a period of political and social reforms, including the separation of church and state and the introduction of compulsory education.
  • 1926: A military coup leads to the establishment of a dictatorship that lasts until the 1974 revolution.
  • 1939–1945: During World War II, Portugal declares itself neutral but faces economic hardships and political turmoil.
  • 1961–1974: The Portuguese Colonial Wars, fought against liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, lead to significant political and social changes in Portugal and its former colonies.

Modern Portugal

  • 1974: A peaceful revolution leads to the establishment of a democratic government and the end of Portugal's colonial empire.
  • 1975: Portugal's country's first democratic elections are held, leading to the establishment of a socialist government and significant social reforms, including the nationalisation of major industries and land redistribution.
  • 1986: Portugal joins the European Union and has since modernised its economy and infrastructure, with a focus on tourism and technology.
  • 1998: Lisbon hosts the World Exposition, marking Portugal's increasing presence on the world stage and revitalising the city's urban landscape.
  • 1999: Macau, the last remaining Portuguese colony, is returned to Chinese control. Also, the euro becomes Portugal's official currency, replacing the escudo.
  • 2010: Portugal requests a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union due to the country's debt crisis.
  • 2011: Portugal faces a severe economic crisis and austerity measures are implemented to address the country's debt problem.
  • 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic reaches Portugal, leading to a nationwide lockdown and significant loss of life and economic and social impact.

Transport and driving in Portugal

Expats who plan on travelling in Portugal have several options available to them. Generally, those residing in Portuguese cities such as Lisbon, Faro and Porto will find that having a car is unnecessary unless they want to travel to other parts of the country.

Trains in Portugal are a comfortable and efficient way to travel between cities. Services don't always operate at frequent intervals, so travelling by train takes some planning. The bus network is far more comprehensive and covers areas located inland.

Expats living in rural Portugal or the Algarve usually own cars. While Portugal's road infrastructure is modern, there are some driving conditions that new expat drivers may take some time getting accustomed to.

Public transport in Portugal

Portugal's capital city, Lisbon, and other urban hubs such as Porto have modern transport networks comprising trains, buses, trams and metro systems.

At the national level, though, public transport in Portugal isn't as extensive as one would find in other European countries. The railway network in Portugal is limited, leaving intercity buses as the only option for those without a private vehicle.


The national rail network in Portugal, run by Comboios de Portugal (CP), is somewhat limited. While travelling by train in Portugal is often slightly faster than the equivalent bus journey, most trains only serve to connect the major cities to one another.

Suburban rail services cover the areas surrounding Lisbon and Porto reasonably well, but are limited elsewhere in the country. Commuters using trains in Portugal find the services to be efficient and comfortable. As trains aren't very frequent, it is best to make a reservation well in advance.

Trains in Portugal tend to operate less frequently and are more expensive than intercity buses. Rail fares are still much more reasonably priced than one would find elsewhere in Europe, though. Tickets can be bought online or in person at any train station in Portugal.


Lisbon and Porto both have metro systems. The Lisbon Metro consists of four colour-coded lines, with intervals between trains ranging from four to 12 minutes, depending on the line and time of day. The Porto Metro has six lines. The maximum waiting time between trains on weekdays ranges between six and 18 minutes.


Due to the country's limited rail network, many of those who need to travel nationally in Portugal prefer to use intercity buses. Although travelling by bus in Portugal may take a little longer, bus routes tend to be more extensive and cover places that lie off the beaten track.

Bus fares in Portugal are also reasonably priced, especially in comparison to those elsewhere in Europe. Rede Nacional de Expressos is the largest intercity bus company and has routes that cover the length and breadth of the country.

Driving in Portugal

Road conditions in Portugal are generally good, especially on the motorways that connect major cities. However, there are secondary roads in rural areas of Portugal where driving conditions can be dangerous.

It will probably take some time for expats to get used to interacting with Portuguese drivers. It's important to drive defensively, as local drivers can be erratic at times. The Portuguese government has taken steps to alleviate the problems associated with aggressive driving by introducing harsh punishments for those caught speeding or driving without a valid licence or under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.

A valid foreign licence can be exchanged for a Portuguese licence. EU nationals can use their driving licence until it expires. Those from outside the EU can drive on their licence from home for up to six months, at which point it must be exchanged for a local licence.

Air travel in Portugal

Domestic flights in Portugal are relatively expensive, so not many people fly within the country itself, and airports are largely used for international travel. Portugal's three international airports are in Lisbon, Porto and Faro.

Work permits for Portugal

Work permits for Portugal are granted differently according to an expat's country of origin.

Expats who are nationals of an EU member state don't need a work permit for Portugal for their first six months in the country. After this period, they will be required to apply for a residence permit to live in Portugal. This is more of a formality and simply makes life easier when it comes to applying for a bank account in Portugal. It also serves as proof of address.

Those moving to Portugal from outside the EU will need to have secured a job offer in order to apply for a work permit.

Work permits for EU nationals

EU nationals aren't restricted from finding employment in Portugal, and are granted a 90-day period to live in the country and find work without obtaining an EU registration certificate.

Some expats may need to apply for a residence card. This is a process that, albeit simple, results in its own long queues and delays. The residence card can only be obtained from the Portuguese immigration office.

Neither a work permit nor a residence card is needed for EU citizens working for an employment period of three months or less.

Work permits for non-EU nationals

Non-EU nationals can obtain a work permit for Portugal if offered a secure job contract by a formal employer. As there are regulations in place that encourage companies to hire members of other EU countries before looking outside the sphere, it can be difficult to secure a job offer.

If an expat does manage to find a job, a work permit is needed before employment can commence. Either the employee or the employer can apply for the permit. In addition to the permit, a residence visa, also known as a long-stay visa, should be obtained. This allows the holder to enter the country for a stay of a year or longer.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Education and schools in Portugal

Education and schools in Portugal fall under one of two sectors: state and private. Regardless of the sponsoring body, learning is separated into tiers. Jardim de infância offers education for children between the ages of three and five years old. Children between the ages of six and 15 attend ensino básico, while teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 attend ensino secundário.

Children in Portugal tend to attend school based on the neighbourhood in which they live or in which their parents work. It follows that many of the richer economic areas are linked to higher-quality educational institutions. Rural areas and less economically developed regions of the country are especially notorious for shifty standards, though the larger urban centres and the expat-friendly Algarve area provide some good options.

Public schools in Portugal

Public or state schools in Portugal are free, but expats will quickly learn that these institutions have been the subject of much debate. In the past, frequent teacher strikes and a much-bemoaned Ministry of Education were enough to scare off any expat looking to enrol their children.

This serious criticism has led to Portugal's government increasing investment to improve facilities, teaching quality and classroom sizes. Although such concerns are now actively being addressed, expat parents should still be wary of the state system.

Some teachers in Portuguese public schools speak English, but not all of them. The curriculum is taught in Portuguese, and expat parents considering sending their child to a public school should look into what possibilities exist to overcome the language barrier and support the learning process.

Parents who want to pursue this route should note that Portuguese schools require specific paperwork and, as bureaucracy can be slow, it's necessary to prepare well in advance.

Private schools in Portugal

There is a large network of private schools for expats to choose from in Portugal. Private schools generally have smaller class sizes, a stronger system of extra-curricular activities and more modern facilities than their public equivalents. Many of Portugal's private schools are faith-based.

It's important to note that the teachers in these institutions are paid less than those in the public sector. As such, teachers in private schools can often be young and underqualified.

International schools in Portugal

International schools in Portugal offer a variety of curricula. Most uphold high standards of education, and expats need not be worried about their children falling behind their peers at home while living abroad. There are several international schools throughout Portugal, most of which are in the popular expat regions of Lisbon and the Algarve.

Tuition and fees at international schools can be expensive. Expats should be sure to budget accordingly, or to negotiate with their employer to include an education allowance in their expat package.

Homeschooling in Portugal

Expat parents who want to teach their children at home will be happy to hear that homeschooling, or ensino doméstico, is legal in Portugal. It's important to note that expats will first have to obtain authorisation from the local school board before starting their homeschooling program.

Parents will need to submit a written declaration in which they provide information on their children, the family member or person who will be responsible for the children's education and this person's qualifications. It would be best for prospective homeschoolers to contact their local educational offices to find out exactly what the procedures and expectations are before starting homeschooling in Portugal.

Special-needs education in Portugal

Special-needs education (necessidades educativas especiais or NEE) in Portugal is integrated within mainstream schools. Only in extreme cases or when students are not reaching their individual educational goals will students be referred to specialist schools.

Once students with special needs enter compulsory schooling at the age of six, an individual educational plan is typically set out for them that details changes and adaptations they will need for their learning. These students then have extra support available to them within mainstream schools like specialised professionals, specific equipment or tools or special conditions for assessment.

Almost all students attend mainstream schools in Portugal; however, those who have needs that can't be met in these schools have some options available in terms of special schools. These include schools for the partially sighted, like Centro Helen Keller in Lisbon, or schools for children with developmental disabilities.

Tutors in Portugal

Tutors are an incredibly useful tool for expat families in Portugal. There is a wide range of both online and in-person tutoring services available. Language tutors can assist with Portuguese or can help maintain the child's mother tongue if their schooling isn't in their native language. Furthermore, tutors can help expat children catch up if they've moved to a school with a curriculum that's new to them.

Problem subjects like maths and science can greatly benefit from the individual attention that tutors can provide. There are also tutors specialising in exam preparation, including study skills and essay writing.

There are endless tutoring companies online, but the wide selection can be daunting. Usually the best way to find a reliable tutor is to ask the school or fellow expat parents for recommendations.

Weather in Portugal

The weather in Portugal is the product of a Mediterranean climate, tempered by the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are mild and summer sunshine is plentiful.

Expats in the central parts of the mainland may experience slightly cooler temperatures due to elevation. Otherwise, the mercury usually sits at around 78°F (25°C) in summer and 61°F (16°C) in winter.

Rainfall in Portugal is mostly present during winter, but heavy periods of precipitation can occur in autumn.

Weather in Portugal's Algarve region, a favourite expat destination, is by far the best in the country. This pensioners' playground is the sunniest, driest and warmest part of the nation, yet temperatures are never uncomfortably hot.