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Working in Portugal As An Expat
Updated: August 18, 2023 | Zahra
Working in Portugal as an expat can be a rewarding experience. With its beautiful climate, rich history, and diverse culture, Portugal is an attractive destination for many people looking to work abroad. However, navigating the job market and employment laws can be challenging, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the Portuguese system.
This article will cover everything you need to know about working in Portugal as an expat, including work visas, work culture, labor laws, working hours, parental leave, social security, salaries, and taxes.
If you’re considering working remotely in Portugal, read our blog post, Working Remotely in Portugal.
Tips for Applying for a Job in Portugal
The first step towards working in Portugal as an expat is beginning the job hunt. Here are some tips to help you find a job:
Check job boards and company websites
Some popular job boards in Portugal include Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. Job boards allow you to filter out jobs according to your experience level, whether you’re looking for full-time or part-time work, and according to required qualifications or languages. As a result, they can be good places to find English-speaking jobs.
You can also check company websites to see if they have any job openings.
Networking is crucial in Portugal. Join professional groups, and attend conferences and events to meet people in your industry. Portugal’s numerous coworking spaces can also help you network, with many offering networking and team-building events such as cinema nights and happy hours, e.g., Heden in Lisbon.
While English is widely spoken in Portugal, speaking Portuguese can give you an edge over other applicants in the Portuguese job market. It shows you’re serious about working in Portugal and can communicate with locals.
Have a solid CV
A well-written CV is essential to get hired in Portugal. Make sure it’s easy to read, one to two pages long, highlights your hard and soft skills and achievements, and includes a professional photo.
Tourism jobs in Portugal for English speakers
tourism industry plays a significant role in the country’s economy, offering a wide range of job opportunities for both locals and expats. From hotels and resorts to tour operators, restaurants, and entertainment venues, the tourism sector in Portugal is diverse and vibrant.
Job opportunities for English speakers in the tourism sector
As an English speaker, there are various job opportunities within the tourism sector in Portugal. Many international visitors, especially those from English-speaking countries, visit Portugal each year. This creates a demand for English-speaking professionals who can cater to the needs of these tourists. Some job roles that frequently require English language skills include:
- Tour guides: Guiding tourists and providing them with information about the country’s history, culture, and attractions.
- Hotel and resort staff: Working in customer service roles such as receptionists, concierge, or guest relations, assisting guests with their needs and ensuring a pleasant stay.
- Restaurant and hospitality staff: Serving customers, taking orders, and providing excellent customer service in restaurants, bars, and cafes.
- Travel agents: Assisting tourists with travel arrangements, including booking flights, accommodations, and tours.
- Event planners: Organizing and coordinating various events, conferences, or weddings for tourists and locals.
- Language instructors: Teaching English to locals or providing language training for tourism professionals who want to improve their English skills.
Online jobs in Portugal for English speakers:
The rise of remote work has opened up opportunities for English speakers to work online while living in Portugal. Whether you are a freelancer, digital nomad, or seeking employment with remote-friendly companies, Portugal offers a favorable environment for remote work. The country provides excellent infrastructure, reliable internet connectivity, and a growing community of digital professionals.
Popular online job industries for English Speakers
The following jobs are popular for English speakers working remotely in Portugal:
- Digital marketing and social media management: Many companies require professionals who can manage their online presence, execute marketing campaigns, and engage with audiences through social media platforms.
- Content creation and writing: Content creation, including blog writing, copywriting, and content marketing, is a thriving industry that offers remote work opportunities. English speakers can contribute their language skills and creative abilities.
- Online education and language teaching: With the growing demand for online education, opportunities for English language instructors, tutors, or course creators have expanded. Platforms like VIPKid and iTalki provide avenues for teaching English online.
- Virtual assistance and administrative support: Remote administrative roles, such as virtual assistants or customer support representatives, are in demand, offering flexibility and the ability to work remotely.
- Web development and design: Skilled web developers, designers, and UX/UI professionals can find remote work opportunities with companies around the world, leveraging their technical expertise while enjoying the lifestyle in Portugal.
See: Working Remotely in Portugal: The Ultimate Guide and Digital Nomad Portugal: The Definitive Guide to Portugal for Digital Nomads for more detailed information about working online jobs in Portugal.
Portugal Work Visa: Do I need a visa to work in Portugal?
You’ll need a work visa to work if you’re a non-European Union/European Economic Area/Swiss citizen moving to Portugal.
If you’re an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you don’t need a visa to work in Portugal, but you do need to register with your closest town hall (Câmara Municipal) within three months of arrival.
European Union/European Economic Area/Swiss citizens
You can work in Portugal without a visa if you’re an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen. Freedom of movement covers your right to live in Portugal. However, you must register with your closest town hall within three months of arrival and get your Certificate of Residency, known as a CRUE.
You must bring your passport or national identity card, health insurance proof, employment declaration, and NIF.
Your NIF, or the Número de Identificação Fiscal, is your tax identification number. If you’re working in Portugal, you need to have a NIF as it’s required to sign a contract such as your employment contract. Your NIF lets you pay taxes and register with the Portuguese tax authorities. The NIF is one of the most important documents to get if you’re planning on living in Portugal. Without it, you cannot get a job in Portugal, a social security number, or a Portuguese work permit.
You can get the NIF at a local tax office, but we recommend getting a NIF before moving or starting a job in Portugal. We can help you get your NIF online. Just contact us today.
You’ll need a work visa to work in Portugal if you’re a non-EU citizen. The visa application process can take several months, so starting the process as soon as possible is essential.
Numerous visas are available, so contact your local Portuguese Embassy or Portuguese Consulate for advice on what visa you’re eligible for. If you plan to work remotely for a foreign company, we’d recommend a Digital Nomad Visa. You can read about the different types of work visas available in Portugal here.
Note that if you’ve been considering the Golden Visa program, we urge you to act quickly as the Government has announced its ending.
Generally, to get a work permit in Portugal, you need to complete the following steps:
Find a job in Portugal
Before applying for a work visa, you need a job offer from a Portuguese company (unless you are applying for a Digital Nomad Visa, the D7 Visa, or the D2 Entrepreneurship visa).
Apply for a work visa
You can apply for a visa at a Portuguese Consulate or Portuguese Embassy in your home country. You’ll need to provide proof of employment, your bank statements, your photo ID, a police clearance certificate, and proof of international health insurance covering your stay in Portugal. You should get a temporary stay visa at the end of your application.
You will get a short-term visa if you plan to work in Portugal for less than six months. If you plan to work in Portugal for over six months, you must apply for a long-term work visa.
After five years of living in Portugal, you qualify for permanent residency.
Get your NIF
You’ll need a NIF to sign a work contract or conduct any economic activity in Portugal. Non-EU/EEA nationals are required by law to have a fiscal representative to assist them in obtaining their NIF and act as a point of contact between the foreign national and the Portuguese tax authorities.
Get a residence permit
Once your visa is secured and you arrive in Portugal, you must apply for a Portuguese residence permit within three months. You’ll need to bring your passport, work contract, and proof of health insurance.
Get your NISS
Your NISS is a Portuguese social security number that allows you to access the social security system and pay social security contributions.
If you are self-employed, you need to apply for your NISS in your local social security office to enjoy social security benefits. Obtaining your social security number depends on the nature of your employment.
The following resources are full of information about visas and residence permits in Portugal:
- Portugal Freelance Visa: A Guide for Digital Nomads and Freelancers
- Portugal Immigration Guide – Your Visa Options
- Portugal Permanent Residence Permits: Requirements and More
Work Culture and Etiquette in Portugal
Portuguese work culture is similar to Western European countries, emphasizing a healthy work/life balance. People value relationships, take long lunch breaks, and work late into the evening.
Note that work culture depends on the company you’re working for. Start up’s tend to have a more relaxed dress code but could expect you to work later hours. Traditional corporations may have more clearly designated working hours but expect a formal dress code.
When interviewing for a company, we recommend you ask about their work culture and workplace rules. Being on time is essential in Portugal. As with other cultures, arriving late is considered rude and disrespectful. Living in Portugal will allow you to slowly bridge cultural gaps as you familiarise yourself with Portuguese culture.
Labour Rights in Portugal
These are some of the fundamental labor rights in Portugal:
- Working hours: The maximum working week in Portugal is 40, with a maximum of eight hours per day. Overtime is paid at a higher rate.
- Payslips: Employees are entitled to a monthly payslip from their employers with details of their pay.
- Safe environment: Employees have the right to a safe, healthy, hygienic workplace.
- Protection from discrimination: The Portuguese Labour Code prohibits discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, union affiliation, and disability.
- Holidays: Employees are entitled to 22 days of paid vacation per year and 14 public holidays. Employees are entitled to paid leave on bank holidays.
- Sick leave: If you’re sick, you can take time off work with full pay for up to 30 days per year.
New Labour Laws 2021
In 2021, Portugal introduced new labor laws to improve work-life balance and reduce precarious work. The new laws include:
- The right to disconnect: Employers must now establish measures to prevent employees from being contacted outside of working hours.
- Remote work: The new laws include provisions for remote work, such as the right to disconnect and a requirement for employers to provide equipment and cover expenses.
- Protections for gig workers: The new laws provide more protections for gig workers, such as the right to collective bargaining and the requirement for companies to offer insurance.
Working Age, Working Hours, and Holidays in Portugal
The legal working age in Portugal is 16 years old. However, there are restrictions on the type of work that minors can do. Children must either have completed compulsory education or be enrolled and attending secondary school. They need parental permission to sign a job contract.
The maximum working week is 40 hours, with a maximum of eight hours daily. Overtime is paid at a higher rate. Employees are entitled to 22 days of paid vacation per year and 14 public holidays.
Parental Leave in Portugal
Mothers are entitled to 120 days of maternity leave. Up to 30 days of leave can be taken before birth, and it’s mandatory to take six weeks of leave after childbirth.
Fathers have to take 15 days of mandatory paternity leave and are entitled to an additional ten days’ leave, which may be consecutive or intermittent and must be taken at the same time as the mother’s initial parental leave.
Getting paid maternity and paternity benefits in Portugal is accomplished through paying social security contributions.
Do adoptive parents get parental leave in Portugal?
Yes, adoptive parents are entitled to parental leave in Portugal. The amount of leave depends on the child’s age and the number of adopted children.
Do same-sex parents get parental leave in Portugal?
Yes, same-sex parents are entitled to parental leave in Portugal. The same rules apply to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.
Salaries in Portugal
Salaries in Portugal vary depending on the industry, level of experience, and location. The average gross wage in Portugal was around €1,400 per month in 2020.
However, the average salary and annual salaries are higher in the technology sector and international corporations. An average wage in Information Technology might be around €2,700 a month, and an average salary as a banker might be around €2,990 a month.
An average annual salary in a major city like Lisbon and Porto tends to be higher than in other parts of the country, but the cost of living in Portugal is low compared to other Western European countries.
What’s the minimum wage in Portugal?
In 2023, a full-time worker’s minimum wage in Portugal is €760.00 monthly. The national minimum wage is relatively low, so we recommend finding a better-paid job if you relocate to Portugal.
The Best-Paying Jobs in the Portuguese Job Market
Some of the best-paying jobs in Portugal’s job market include:
- Management: Managing Directors, IT Directors, and CEOs can expect a handsome salary in Portugal.
- Information technology: Portugal has a growing tech industry with high demand for software engineers, data analysts, and cybersecurity professionals.
- Finance: Lisbon is home to many international banks and financial institutions, creating job opportunities for well-paid finance professionals.
- Healthcare: Portugal’s healthcare system is growing, creating job opportunities for doctors, nurses, and administrators. Doctors, particularly specialists, are paid well in Portugal.
If you’re looking to work in Portugal as an expat, you might want to consider self-employment. Being self-employed in Portugal means you are responsible for your own business and must register with the Portuguese Labor Authorities as an independent worker.
As a self-employed worker in Portugal, you are not entitled to a minimum salary, as you would be if a company employed you. Read our guide to Self-Employment Registration as a Freelancer.
There are many self-employed jobs available in Portugal, and the benefits of being your boss include setting your hours, choosing your clients, and potentially earning more money than you would if working for someone else. However, there are also some challenges to being self-employed, such as managing your finances and finding clients.
If you are looking for in-demand self-employed jobs in Portugal, other options include IT consulting, language teaching, and freelance writing or editing. Whatever your skills and interests, there are opportunities to start your own business in Portugal.
One of the top self-employed jobs in Portugal is in the tourism sector, a thriving industry in the country. Portugal attracts millions of tourists yearly with its beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, and vibrant culture. If you have a passion for hospitality, guiding, or travel planning, this could be the perfect sector for setting up your own business.
In summary, self-employment is a viable option if you’re considering working as an expat in Portugal. With the booming tourism sector and many other in-demand jobs available, plenty of opportunities exist to set up your own business. Just make sure to register with the Portuguese Labor Authorities and that you have the visa required to start.
The Portuguese Tax System: Taxes in Portugal
The Portuguese tax system is based on a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 14.5 percent to 48 percent. In addition to income tax, there are also taxes on wealth, inheritance, and property. The tax system differs slightly for self-employed people.
Tax Incentives for Foreigners Moving to Portugal: Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) Program
The Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) program is a tax incentive program established to encourage foreigners to move to Portugal and become tax residents. The program offers favorable tax rates for qualifying individuals for ten years.
For a more in-depth look at taxes for foreigners in Portugal, read: Taxes in Portugal for Foreigners: Navigating the Tax System.
Conditions for NHR Status
To qualify for NHR status, an individual must meet the following conditions:
- Not have been a tax resident in Portugal in the previous five years
- Become a tax resident in Portugal, meaning that they must spend at least 183 days in Portugal in a given year or have a home in Portugal that is considered their primary residence
- Have a profession eligible for the NHR program (see below)
What professions are eligible for the 20 percent flat tax rate in Portugal?
The 20 percent flat tax rate applies to income derived from “high added value activities” such as:
- Architects, engineers, and similar technical professions
- Artists, actors, and musicians
- Medical doctors and dentists
- University professors and researchers
- Investors, managers, and senior executives
- IT professionals
How can you pay zero tax for ten years while living in Portugal?
Under the NHR program, qualifying individuals can also be exempt from paying tax on foreign income and capital gains for up to ten years.
This can be particularly attractive for retirees or individuals with significant investments or assets outside Portugal.
Note that there is a ten percent flat rate tax on foreign-sourced pensions.
Income Taxes in Portugal (IRS)
The income tax rate in Portugal is based on a progressive tax system, with rates ranging from 14.5 percent to 48 percent.
Income is divided into different categories, such as employment income, business income, and capital income, and taxed accordingly.
If you’re working in Portugal, you need to obtain a NISS (Número de Identificação da Segurança Social). This is your Social Security Identification Number, which you must use to pay social security contributions to the Portuguese government.
Your contribution to the social security system depends on your type of employment. If you have an employer, they contribute 34.75 percent of your share, and you must contribute 11 percent.
If you are self-employed, around 21 percent of your quarterly revenue will go toward the social security platform. If you are self-employed, you must apply for a NISS independently. If you have an employer, they will apply for one on your behalf.
If you work in Portugal, you must open a Portuguese bank account. Your Portuguese IBAN will allow your wages to be paid into your account and allow you to register as self-employed with the Portuguese tax authorities.
Many banks also allow you to pay social security through their online banking services.
Tax on Wealth and Inheritance in Portugal
In addition to income tax, there are taxes on wealth and inheritance in Portugal.
Wealth tax (Imposto sobre o Património) is a tax on the net worth of individuals and companies. The tax rate ranges from 0.3 percent to 1.5 percent.
Inheritance tax (Imposto sobre Sucessões e Doações) is a tax on transferring assets from one person to another through inheritance or gifts. The tax rate ranges from 10 percent to 50 percent, depending on the value of the personal and corporate assets.
Property Tax in Portugal
There are several types of property taxes in Portugal, including:
1. Municipal Property Tax (IMI)
This tax is based on a property’s taxable value and ranges from 0.3 percent to 0.45 percent for urban properties and 0.8 percent to 0.5 percent for rural properties.
2. Property Purchase Tax (IMT)
This tax is paid when purchasing a property in Portugal and ranges from 1 percent to 8 percent, depending on the property’s value.
3. Tax on Stamps (IS)
This tax is applied to certain legal documents, such as contracts, and ranges from 0.04 percent to 0.8 percent of the value of the document.
Company Taxes in Portugal
Companies in Portugal are subject to a corporate income tax (IRC) rate of 21 percent. In addition, there are also taxes on capital gains, dividends, and other income derived by companies.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may be eligible for certain tax benefits and exemptions.
Working in Portugal as an expat can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Living a professional life in Portugal offers a high quality of life that many find appealing. However, knowing the practical considerations when working and living in the country is essential.
Whether you’re an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen or a non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, it’s essential to understand the work visa requirements and ensure you have the necessary documentation. Once you’re settled in Portugal, it’s also essential to understand the country’s work culture, labor laws, and tax system, whether you’re working for a company or are in self-employment.
Ultimately, working in Portugal as an expat can be a fantastic opportunity to experience a new culture, learn a new language, and build a rewarding career in a beautiful Western European country. With the proper preparation and knowledge, you can navigate the challenges and enjoy all this beautiful country has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions about Working in Portugal as an Expat
Is Portugal a good place for expats?
Yes, Portugal is often considered a desirable place for expats. It offers a high quality of life, beautiful landscapes, a welcoming culture, and a relatively low cost of living compared to other Western European countries. The country has a well-developed infrastructure, an excellent healthcare system, and a strong expat community.
Is it easy to get a job in Portugal as a foreigner?
Getting a job in Portugal as a foreigner can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak Portuguese. The job market is competitive, and the unemployment rate can vary. However, there are opportunities for skilled professionals, particularly in the IT, engineering, tourism, and language teaching sectors.
Networking, learning the language, and obtaining the necessary work permits and visas will increase your chances of finding employment.
Can expats find work in Portugal?
Yes, expats can find work in Portugal. While the job market can be competitive, opportunities are available, particularly in sectors requiring foreign language skills or specialized knowledge.
Expats often find employment in fields such as tourism, education, technology, finance, and hospitality. However, note that the minimum wage is low and many hospitality jobs would require you to speak Portuguese.
Foreign nationals in Portugal usually work in start-ups or remotely for international companies. It’s essential to research the job market, understand the visa requirements, and network within your industry to increase your chances of finding work. If you’re interested in remote working, we would recommend the Portugal Digital Nomad Visa.
How much money do you need to be an expat in Portugal?
The amount of money you need as an expat in Portugal will vary depending on your lifestyle, location, and personal circumstances. Generally, Portugal offers a lower cost of living compared to other countries in Western Europe.
Monthly expenses for a comfortable lifestyle, including rent, utilities, food, transportation, and entertainment, can range from €1,000 to €2,000, including housing costs. However, savings are advisable to cover initial expenses, such as housing deposits and visa fees.
What jobs pay well in Portugal?
Certain professions in Portugal offer higher earning potential. Jobs in sectors such as IT, engineering, finance, management, healthcare (particularly doctors and specialized medical professionals), and skilled trades often offer competitive salaries.
Additionally, positions in multinational companies, research institutions, and academia can provide attractive remuneration. However, it’s important to note that salaries may vary depending on your location, qualifications, experience, and company or industry.
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