Are you an aspiring entrepreneur from outside the EU with dreams of relocating to Portugal? If so, the D2 Visa could be your gateway to making those dreams a reality.
Known by various names such as the Entrepreneur Visa Portugal, the Start-Up Visa, and the Freelancer Visa, the D2 is tailored for individuals looking to establish a new business in Portugal or expand their existing enterprise to the country.
Securing the D2 Visa brings several advantages for successful applicants, including a residence permit in Portugal and visa exemption when traveling across Schengen countries, among other benefits.
However, understanding ithe requirements and the application process for this visa can be a complex task. To assist you, we have compiled a comprehensive guide that highlights all the essential information you need to successfully obtain your D2 Visa for Portugal. Below, we’ll cover key aspects such as:
- What is the Portugal D2 Visa?
- Benefits of the Portugal D2 Visa
- Who can apply for the D2 Visa?
- D2 Visa Requirements
- A step-by-step guide to the D2 Visa application process, and more.
What is a Portugal D2 Visa?
The D2 Visa is a Portugal residency visa for entrepreneurs. Introducded by the Portuguese government to raise external resources and investments to grow the Portuguese economy, the D2 Visa is issued for individuals intending to start a new business or purchase an existing business in the country.
In contrast to visas such as the Golden Visa or the D7 Passive Income Visa, the Portugal D2 Visa sets itself apart by not necessitating a substantial investment or a steady passive income.
Instead, it emphasizes the importance of business investment and the presence of a viable business concept. The D2 Visa Portugal offers versatility, catering to a wide range of business types, spanning from cozy cafes to expansive real estate agencies.
There’s no minimum investment requirement for the D2 Visa, but you must have sufficient funds to establish and run your business and sustain your livelihood in Portugal for a year. The D2 Visa is valid for four months, during which the entrepreneur must enter Portugal and apply for a residence permit.
The residence permit post-D2 Visa is valid for two years and can subsequently be extended for three years. After five years of residency, applying for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residence is possible.
Types of D2 Visa Portugal
The Portugal D2 Visa encompasses two distinct categories to accommodate different types of entrepreneurs. The first category is the entrepreneur route, which is suitable for individuals who intend to establish a new business or expand an existing business in Portugal.
To qualify for the D2 Entrepreneur Visa Portugal, certain essential requirements must be met:
- Obtaining a NIF (Portuguese tax number)
- Opening a business bank account in a Portuguese bank
- Establishing a Portuguese limited company (LDA)
- Employing an accountant well-versed in the Portuguese tax system
Additionally, it is necessary to demonstrate sufficient financial means to initiate and manage the company, which includes fulfilling obligations such as paying annual corporation tax and social security contributions.
Entrepreneurs may be considered for the Portugal D2 Visa under several conditions, such as:
- The acquisition of a Portuguese company
- Having a pre-existing company abroad
- Intending to open a branch in Portugal or proposing a detailed business plan for a new company in Portugal.
The applicant must demonstrate their business’s potential economic and social contributions to Portugal.
Independent service provider route
The second category, known as the independent service provider route, is specifically designed for individuals, such as freelancers, offering services to local or global clients. This route entails fewer requirements compared to the entrepreneur route.
Here are the key aspects of the D2 Freelancer Visa:
- Obtaining a NIF
- Opening a bank account in Portugal
- Demonstrating the existence of a self-employment agreement, or promise of a self employment agreement, with a Portuguese-based company.
If the services provided by your company are delivered remotely to clients located outside Portugal, it is worth considering alternative visa options such as the D7 “Passive Income” Visa or the D8 “Digital Nomad Visa”. These options might be more suitable in such cases.
Benefits of a Portugal D2 Visa
Acquiring the Portugal D2 Visa offers numerous benefits such as residency in a developed and safe European nation, the opportunity to establish a business in Portugal, a residency permit for non-EU/EEA citizens, visa-free travel across the Schengen countries, tax incentives, and the possibility of applying for citizenship and/or permanent residence permit after five years of residency.
Below are some of the key advantages of the D2 Visa Portugal.
Opportunities for entrepreneurs
The D2 Visa authorizes you to set up a business or function as an independent professional in Portugal, opening doors for your entrepreneurial ambitions. Major cities like Lisbon and Porto offer an array of affordable, modern co-working spaces. Furthermore, long-term commercial space rentals in Lisbon can be up to 80 percent cheaper than startup locations in London, reinforcing Portugal’s appeal for startups.
Visa exemption across the Schengen Area
The D2 Visa permits unrestricted entry and movement within the Schengen Area, which includes 27 European nations, without the need for another visa. This privilege provides you with the same travel freedoms as European Union citizens, facilitating easy networking and the development of business relations across Europe and the Schengen Area.
The D2 Visa also provides for family reunification in Portugal. This means your family members, including your spouse, children, parents, or dependent siblings, can join you and reside in the country.
Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime
As a holder of the D2 Visa, you become eligible to apply for the Non-Habitual Resident tax benefits of Portugal if your home country has a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with Portugal .
This tax regime is open to individuals who have the right to reside in Portugal (citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland or holders of residence permits) and have not been tax residents in Portugal in the past five years. This regime allows foreign nationals preferential tax treatment on income tax, rental income, pension income, etc. Once you establish tax residency in Portugal, you can benefit from these tax incentives for non-Portuguese sourced income and won’t have to pay taxes at ordinary rates.
Non-habitual residents must maintain residency for up to 183 days a year in Portugal, or show proof of accommodation (either a rental contract or purchased property) inhabited as if it is their primary residency.
Important Note: As of 2024, the NHR program will no longer be available for new applicants. Read more here: Is The Portugal NHR Program Ending?
Route to permanent residence and citizenship
After five years of legal residency in Portugal, you may be eligible to acquire a permanent residence permit and Portuguese citizenship under the country’s residency program. It’s worth noting that citizenship usually involves passing a basic test in the Portuguese language and culture.
This is one of the top benefits for non-EU citizens, including Americans moving to Portugal.
Residential rights and service access
With Portuguese residency, you and your family members gain access to the public healthcare system, and your children can register in the public education system, providing essential services for your family’s well-being.
Required Documents for Portugal D2 Visa Application
Application for the Portugal D2 Visa requires both business and personal documents.
Required business documents
Business documents include a detailed business plan and, if applicable, company registration documents, contracts, invoices, financial reports, and a bank statement.
Portuguese officials must be convinced that your business or service operations will yield adequate income to sustain your stay in Portugal. This income could originate from a company incorporated in Portugal or from contracts with clients.
Besides a solid business plan, it is necessary to provide “proof of means of subsistence,” typically signifying sufficient savings for at least a year, comparable to the Portuguese minimum wage, to show your ability to pay corporate tax.
Now, let’s further explore the necessary documents for your D2 Visa application in Portugal:
A declaration indicating that you have invested or intend to invest in Portugal is required, detailing the type, worth, and timeframe of the investment. In assessing your visa application, factors such as the economic, social, scientific, technological, environmental, or cultural value of your investment will be taken into account. Plus, creating job openings in Portugal will significantly enhance your application.
Solid business plan
A meticulously crafted and comprehensive business plan is required, which will be rigorously evaluated based on its social, economic, and cultural implications. This plan must show how your business will prosper, stimulate the Portuguese economy, and aid Portugal’s economic growth by paying corporate tax.
Proof of having the financial capability to support and maintain your company throughout your planned stay in the country is essential, particularly to prove you will be able to pay corporate tax. Demonstrating the financial viability of your business and its capability to prosper during your stay in Portugal is crucial.
The share capital is the minimum initial investment needed to ensure the business operates smoothly, even during periods when it may not be turning a profit. In Portugal, small businesses usually have an average share capital of €5,000, a benchmark worth considering when applying.
Evidence of having set up a company within Portuguese jurisdiction, or of having adequate financial resources in Portugal, as well as documents indicating your ability to establish a company in the country, are required.
For independent service providers, a written contract or proposal outlining their service provision must be included in their application.
Required personal documents
You may be asked to submit the necessary documents, including a the D2 Visa application form, a valid passport, a bank statement demonstrating sufficient funds to live in Portugal, proof of accommodation, a certificate of clean criminal record, valid travel insurance, and two color photographs (3×5 cm).
Personal financial requirements
You need to provide proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself and your dependents for a year, such as bank statements separate from your business earnings. The primary applicant is required to maintain a minimum balance of €19,680.00 in a bank account in Portugal throughout the application period (2 years).
To meet the Portugal D2 Visa financial prerequisites, This balance increases with additional family members:
- An extra 50 percent €9,840.00) is needed for a spouse or any other family member over 18,
- An extra 30 percent(€5,904.00) is needed for each family member under 18.
For example, a family of four with two adults and two minors will need to meet minimum income requirements and maintain at least €41,488.00 in their Portuguese bank account during the family reunification period.
Criminal background check from former countries of residence
A clear criminal record certificate from every country you have lived in for more than a year is typically required. This document should be no more than three months old when applying. Although many people believe otherwise, having a criminal record does not automatically exclude you from visa eligibility requirements—it depends on the nature and severity of the crime.
Designation of a tax representative
Non-EU citizens are required to appoint a tax representative in Portugal as part of the D2 Visa application process.
Proof of accommodation in Portugal
Proof of secure accommodation in Portugal must be provided. This can take the form of a rental contract, property ownership documents, or a letter of invitation from a friend or relative who is a legal resident of Portugal.
Travel insurance cover for at least six months
You should have at least six months of travel insurance coverage, which covers the initial four-month Portugal D2 Visa and the waiting period for registering as a resident with AIMA (former SEF, the Portuguese immigration authorities). Once you receive your temporary residence permit, you’ll be eligible for Portuguese state healthcare.
Empower yourself with our comprehensive guide, ‘Healthcare in Portugal – A Complete Guide for Expats.’ Packed with critical information, it demystifies the healthcare landscape in Portugal for expats. This indispensable resource is your key to confidently navigating the Portuguese healthcare system. Equip yourself with this knowledge powerhouse by downloading your copy here.
Passport and photographs
To apply for the Portugal D2 Visa, you must have a valid passport that remains valid for at least six months beyond the visa’s expiration date, which is initially valid for four months. Two recent passport-sized color photos are also needed for the application.
NIF and Portuguese bank account
To apply for a D2 Visa Portugal, you need to secure a Tax Identification Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal or NIF) from the Portuguese tax authorities. You’ll also have to open a personal and business Portuguese bank account. These two steps are essential for the D2 Visa application process.
Applying for a Portugal D2 Visa
The process of acquiring a Portugal D2 Visa, also known as the Immigrant Entrepreneur Visa, typically takes about two to three months if you already have a business plan or a company in Portugal. Following the acquisition of the visa, the applicant can then apply for a residence permit.
To apply for a D2 Visa Portugal, consider the following steps:
- Obtain a Portuguese Taxpayer Identification Number (NIF)
- Open a personal and business bank account in Portugal and deposit funds into it
- Arrange for long-term accommodation in the country by either buying or leasing a property for a suggested minimum of one year, even if the agreement includes a provision for early termination
- File the application online via the E-Visa Portal or VFS. This can be done through the Portuguese Consulate or Embassy in your home country.
The Portugal D2 Visa application process occurs in two separate phases. In the first phase, most of your documents, including your business plan, are submitted to the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. Upon approval of your application, you will be asked to attend an interview. If successful, a four-month Portugal D2 Visa will be granted, enabling you to travel to Portugal and enter Portugal to apply for residency.
The second phase happens in Portugal with the immigration authorities, AIMA. You will be sent an AIMA appointment date with your visa. If all available appointment slots exceed your visa’s validity, your legal status in Portugal remains unaffected past the four-month visa term as long as an appointment has been scheduled.
Costs of Obtaining a Portugal D2 Visa
While there’s no predefined amount for business investment, entrepreneurs must demonstrate their financial capability to operate the intended business. In addition to this, proof of adequate funds to sustain yourself in Portugal for a year, equal to at least €10,640, and proof of rented or owned accommodation in Portugal are necessary.
Other costs include government fees, which are €90, health insurance, and legal services.
Portugal D2 Visa vs. the D7 and Golden Visas: What option to choose?
A comparison of the D2 Visa, D7 Visa, Startup Visa and Golden Visa in Portugal
Each visa serves a different purpose depending on an individual’s intentions and capabilities. The choice largely depends on an individual’s financial situation, business ideas, and immigration goals.
For example, the D7 Visa is suitable for those who have a steady passive income source and wish to live in Portugal without necessarily starting a business.
The Startup Visa is ideal for individuals or teams with a disruptive business idea that intends to scale their innovative startup from Portugal. The Golden Visa, on the other hand, requires a substantial investment but provides a swift path to residency, making it appealing to high-net-worth individuals.
The Portugal D2 Visa, D7 Visa, and Golden Visa program all allow for a temporary residence permit of two years which can be renewed.
An additional visa is the Portugal HQA Visa, or the Portugal Highly Qualified Visa, which is aimed at attracting workers with high professional qualifications. It is also a two year contract designed for those who already have the promise of a work contract or self-employed contract. For more information, see our Ultimate Guide to the Portugal HQA visa here.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: PORTUGAL GOLDEN VISA 2023
The Portugal Golden Visa program has recently undergone substantial changes. The new legislation, which took effect in October 2023, eliminated the purchase of real estate and real-estate-related funds as qualifying investment options for the program.
However, several attractive investment routes still maintain their eligibility for the program. To learn more, please refer to our comprehensive guide: Portugal Golden Visa
How to get Portugal Citizenship or Permanent Residency After the D2 Visa
Once you’ve resided legally in Portugal for five years on a Portugal D2 Visa, you are eligible to apply for citizenship and permanent residency.
Permanent residence requirements
In order to apply for a permanent residence permit, you will need to fulfill several key criteria:
- Residency requirement: You must have lived in Portugal for at least five years. This period doesn’t have to be continuous, but it should not have any gaps longer than six consecutive months or 8 non-consecutive months, within the validity of the residence permit.
- Financial stability: You must provide proof that you have stable and regular resources sufficient to maintain yourself (and any dependents).
- Accommodation: You need to demonstrate that you have a place to live in Portugal. This could be proof of property ownership or a rental agreement.
- Clean criminal record: You must not have been convicted of any crime in Portugal that carries a prison sentence of more than one year.
- Social Security: You need to be registered with the Portuguese Social Security and demonstrate regular contributions over the period of your residence.
- Health Insurance: Although you will have access to the national healthcare service as a legal resident, you must possess valid health insurance until you become a permanent resident.
- Integration into Portuguese society: This could include factors like language proficiency, community involvement, or other evidence of your commitment to living and integrating into Portuguese society.
After gathering the necessary documents that attest to the above conditions, you will need to book an appointment with the Portuguese immigration authorities (SEF) to submit your application.
Portuguese citizenship requirements
One of the crucial requirements to become a Portuguese citizen is to prove proficiency in the Portuguese language.
Portuguese language proficiency
Applicants for Portuguese citizenship must demonstrate a minimum proficiency in the Portuguese language, equivalent to level A2 or higher.
Final Notes and Checklist for Obtaining a Portugal D2 Visa
Before you begin the process of acquiring the Entrepreneur Visa Portugal, ensure you have a viable business idea or an existing company, enough financial resources to sustain your life in Portugal for a year, and proper accommodation. You also need to prepare the required documentation for the visa application and ensure all the details in your business plan are accurate and clear.
Conducting initial due diligence is crucial. This involves researching the Portuguese market, understanding the existing startup ecosystem, and determining the feasibility and scalability of your innovative business venture or idea in Portugal. It’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with Portugal’s culture, laws, regulations, and potential business challenges.
Consider legal immigration advice for a seamless process, and always stay informed about the latest updates in immigration laws and procedures.
Why work with us to get your Portugal D2 Visa?
- Our multi-skilled team, with 50+ years of experience in immigration, law, and investment, offers top-notch guidance for Portugal D2 Visa acquisition.
- Our real estate arm, Goldcrest Real Estate, provides comprehensive assistance in property acquisition, from viewings to negotiations. We have a strong track record in immigration, offering reassurance of our competency.
- We provide hassle-free onboarding services, including pre-arrival bank account setup and NIF acquisition, and our unique BeGlobal Onboarding System® offers real-time visa application updates.
Frequently Asked Questions about the D2 Visa Portugal 2024
What is a D2 Visa in Portugal?
The Portugal D2 Visa, also known as the Entrepreneur Visa, is designed for non-European Union individuals who intend to invest in Portugal, either by setting up a business, operating as a freelancer, or conducting independent professional activities.
The Portugal D2 Visa was introduced by the Portuguese government to attract foreign investment and stimulate the Portuguese economy.
You can set up an already existing business.
The Portugal D2 Visa allows opportunities for family reunification, low-income tax, a temporary residence permit, and the opportunity to acquire a Portuguese passport after five years.
Can family members join under the Startup Visa program?
When you receive a Portugal Startup Visa, one of the key benefits is the possibility of family reunification. This allows your family to join you in Portugal while you establish your business. Your spouse, minor children, or financially dependent parents can apply for their own residency permits. The application for family reunification can be made concurrently with your visa application. However, it’s crucial to note that the approval of their visas is contingent on your visa being granted.
Once in Portugal, your family members are free to live their regular lives, which includes pursuing professional activities. This means that your spouse or adult children can work, study, or start their own businesses.
To apply for family reunification, certain documentation requirements must be fulfilled. These may include proof of family ties, such as marriage or birth certificates, and evidence that you have enough money to support your family members.
Remember, after five years of legal residency in Portugal, you and your family members may also apply for permanent residency. This Startup Visa program is thus an excellent opportunity to visit Portugal, establish a thriving business, and potentially become permanent residents.
How do I get a Startup Visa for Portugal?
You must meet the eligibility criteria to get a Startup Visa for Portugal. This includes intending to develop innovative products or services, creating qualified employment, and the potential for significant business growth.
You’ll then need to gather necessary documents such as a motivation letter, CV, project presentation, valid passport and copy, and proof of financial means. The application is submitted online via the IAPMEI website.
Can a US citizen start a business in Portugal?
Yes, a US citizen can start a business venture in Portugal. They can do so either by moving their existing business or starting a new one. In both cases, they would need to obtain a visa, such as the Startup Visa, specifically catering to entrepreneurs. This would allow them to live and work in Portugal and establish their business.
What are the benefits of the D2 visa?
The benefits of the d2 Visa are numerous. It allows for residency in Portugal with relatively low costs and provides visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. This visa offers opportunities for starting a business venture in Portugal and offers potential tax benefits through Portugal’s Non-Habitual Residency Tax Regime.
Additionally, it provides a pathway to permanent residency and becoming a Portuguese citizen after five years of legal residency.
The country’s thriving startup ecosystem, high English proficiency, and quality of life make it a desirable location for entrepreneurs.
What are the income requirements for the D2 Visa?
There are no income requirements for the Portugal D2 Visa. However, the applicant must prove to have funds to start and run their business. Also, housing and money to live in Portugal for a year are required. The visa validity period is four months.
How much does it cost to get a Portugal D2 Visa?
Entrepreneurs must demonstrate their financial capability to operate the intended business. They also have to provide proof of funds to live in Portugal for a year, equal to at least €10,640. Other costs include government fees, which are €90, health insurance, and legal services.