Foreign residents in Portugal: the highest ever recorded

The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) has reported that the foreign population living in Portugal has increased in 2020, for the fifth consecutive year, totaling 662,095 foreign born holding a residence permit. Foreign residents now represent over 6% of the country’s population, the highest value ever recorded.

At the end of 2020, Brazilians remain the main foreign community residing in the country, representing last year 27.8 % of the total, an increase in arrivals of about 22% compared to 2019. The United Kingdom citizens are the second most represented nationality in Portugal.

According to the SEF report, 183,993 Brazilians lived in Portugal, followed by citizens of the United Kingdom (46,238), Cape Verde (36,609), Romania (30,052), Ukraine (28,629), Italy (28,159), China (26,074), France (24,935), India (24,550) and Angola (24,449). About 68% of the foreign residents are registered in the districts of Lisbon, Faro and Setúbal.

Portugal is known for its Golden Visa, which uses tax perks to attract foreign nationals. In this case, any expats who invest in a Portugal property of €350,000 or more (on January 1, 2022, the sum increases to €500,000 or more) will receive a two-year residency permit for themselves and their immediate family. It also includes a tax-exemption on most foreign income—including pensions, dividends, and real estate investments—for up to 10 years. You can renew the visa every two years, as long as you spend at least two weeks in the country during that time span.

Another great option for both retirees and semi-retirees is Portugal’s D7 Passive Income Visa. This popular residency program includes the option to become a non-habitual resident (and reap the aforementioned tax benefit), as well as the ability to actually work while there, whether it’s living life as a digital nomad or being employed at a Portuguese-run business. It even allows access to the country’s extensive healthcare system. The visa is valid for two years, and then can be renewed for three more. Five years in, you can apply for permanent citizenship. 

Requirements: There are no age restrictions for the D7 visa, though you must demonstrate an annual passive income of at least €7,800 (plus €3,700 per adult, and €2,200 per dependent), which is equal to the country’s current minimum wage, to apply. To qualify for the Golden Visa, you can’t have paid taxes in Portugal over any of the last five years.

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