Residency in Portugal after Brexit: new residence permit for UK citizens

Everything you need to know about how to get residency in Portugal post-Brexit, for UK citizens in Portugal and those moving to Portugal in 2021.

26 January 2021, Emma Donaldson

With the COVID-19 pandemic stealing the headlines in recent months, Brexit seemed to take a back seat. Now in 2021 in the blink of an eye, the Brexit transition period has ended, as of 1st January 2021, the UK is no longer a member of the EU, and we are now living in a post-Brexit world. But what does this mean for UK citizens in Portugal? WIth many questions still unanswered for those who live in Portugal, or even those with a holiday home in Portugal, such as "will I need a visa for Portugal after Brexit?" or "how can I get residency in Portugal?", we're here to help. Let's have a look at everything you need to know about residency in Portugal after Brexit, including the latest information about Portugal's new residence permit and how to apply.

What is the new residence permit in Portugal?

Portugal has introduced a new residence permit for Brits living in the country. The main purpose of this new ID card is to confirm the status of UK citizens in Portugal as beneficiaries of the frequently mentioned withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU. This document is a replacement for any previous residency permits that Brits in Portugal may hold, and is issued by SEF, the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service

Is this new permit necessary?

Portugal's new residence permit is a necessary document for any UK national in Portugal who wishes to live and work in the country. If you already have some sort of EU residency document in Portugal, you must exchange it for the new permit if you haven't already done so. If you've yet to start the process of applying for your new permit, don't panic; you still have time, as the current deadline for exchanging the document is in June 2021. This deadline is subject to change and may be extended. Take note that your old document will still be accepted until the new residence permit is issued.

Who can apply for this new permit?

If you were legally resident in Portugal before 1st January 2021, you are eligible to, and must exchange your EU resident document for this new biometric card using SEF’s Brexit portal. The process is simple and can be done online to begin with. If, however, you have been living in Portugal without legally being a resident, or you are planning to move to Portugal, then you will have to get an alternative visa

Moving to Portugal after Brexit

Before Brexit, moving to another EU country from the UK was seen as almost a right. However, this "right" no longer exists, meaning that UK citizens will be treated the same as any other citizen from a 3rd or non-EU country (such as those from the USA, India, Brazil, Australia, etc). This however doesn’t mean that you can’t move to Portugal anymore: it just means that now you will need to apply for a visa, attend an interview with SEF, and obtain permission to live in Portugal. There are a range of different visas available depending on your situation, such as the golden visa for investment, the D7 visa (also known as the “retirement visa”), D2 (or entrepreneur visa) or finally the Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) scheme for those moving to Portugal from outside the EU. It is also worth checking out if you are eligible for Portuguese citizenship

Take note that as a British citizen, you will still be able to travel to other Schengen area countries, including Portugal, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism, also subject to the latest COVID-19 restrictions. This means that travelling to your holiday home in Portugal after Brexit may not be affected if you only visit for short periods of time. 

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