How To Move To Portugal
The complete guide!

Find A Job

Portugal remains a popular destination for both living and working among expats, and despite the country’s recent economic downturn, there are still opportunities here if you are seeking employment. Tourism and hospitality remain a major sector, but there is also work in call centres and in manufacturing. Your chances of finding employment will depend somewhat on whether you are seeking casual seasonal work or permanent full time employment. The ease with which you find a job will also depend on whether you are an EU/EEA citizen.

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state, you will not initially need either a visa or a work permit, although you will have to register for residence (Cartão de Residencia) and find a job within 6 months of your arrival. Residence can depend on you being in employment, so it is important to sort out some form of paid work: a number of expats use call centres as a stepping stone.

If you are from outside the EU/EEA, you may find it more difficult to obtain employment. Portuguese companies are supposed to prioritize Portuguese citizens and EU/EEA nationals above third party nationals. One option would be secondment from your current company, if your employer has a base in Portugal.

You will need a residence visa and a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho). You can apply for this at your local Portuguese consulate or with Portuguese Immigration Services (SEF) if you are already on the ground. You will need to submit the following documentation for your residence visa:

• valid passport with at least 2 blank pages
• 1 x passport photo
• letter of invitation from employer or a document explaining the purpose of your visit
• flight ticket reservation or itinerary for multi-area visits
• health and accident insurance
• bank statements as proof that you have sufficient funds (the minimum is €40 plus €75 per country visited)
• proof of accommodation
• biometric data such as fingerprints and digital photos

You will also need to pay a fee (the amount may vary but will not exceed €200). You will then need to supply documents in support of your work permit, which are:

• passport
• residence visa
• 2 x passport photos
• bank statements as proof of sufficient funds
• proof of accommodation
• criminal record checks (e.g. DBS certificate from the UK – this usually has to be valid for 3 months)
• possibly proof of Portuguese proficiency
• your employment contract
• any relevant tax documents
• Social Security registration

You will also need to have to pay a fee for this: again, the amount may varying depending, for instance, on the kind of work permit for which you are applying.

There are skills shortages in IT and medicine, with opportunities also remaining in the tourism sector, where there is a shortfall.

Call centre work, mainly in Lisbon or Oporto, is popular for a short term employment choice and people who are bi- or multilingual in a number of European languages (German, French or Spanish in particular) will have an advantage. Apple also has an online support centre in Portugal.

There is also a demand for online gaming support and web development, so if your skills lie in the digital sector you may find that there are some interesting opportunities open to you.

Teaching English is popular and you should be able to find work if you have a TEFL certificate. Much of the country – particularly the Algarve – is English-speaking and thus if you are a native English speaker, you will find yourself at an advantage.

Portugal typically has a 40 hour working week, consisting of 8 hours spread over 5 days. You can negotiate to work more per week (up to 60 hours).

You will be entitled to 22 days of leave per year, with an additional 9 public holidays.

The minimum wage is currently €600 – 700 a month (depending on how it is calculated per year). This may vary across the regions: for example, if you are working in Portugal itself, in the Azores or in Madeira.

If you become pregnant, you will be eligible for paid maternity leave at a rate of 100% of your salary for 120 consecutive days. 30 days must be taken before delivery and at least 42 days of leave afterwards. Fathers can take 5 consecutive days as leave after delivery and may also take 10 days (not necessarily consecutively) within the following month.

Your spouse will be able to accompany you and to work if they are an EU/EEA citizen. If you are from outside this region, you can apply for a family reunification visa, but this will not automatically entitle your spouse to work: they will need to go through the work visa process above to obtain separate permission to work.


Job Vacancies

You can make speculative approaches to companies without any difficulties, particularly if you are already an EU/EEA citizen.

Your best method of finding employment is to consult online jobs boards, or approach recruitment agencies. There are also a number of consultancies which can guide you through both the residence and work visa application processes.


Applying For A Job

A standard CV/resume is acceptable. You may wish to have some of the headings translated into Portuguese.

Portuguese anti-discrimination law is extremely comprehensive and currently prohibits discrimination on the grounds of parentage, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family situation, economic situation, education, origin or social conditions, genetic heritage, reduced work capacity, disability, chronic disease, nationality, ethnic origin or race, territory of origin, language, religion, political or ideological beliefs and affiliation with trade unions.


Qualifications And Training

You may wish to get your qualifications apostilled, particularly if you are coming from outside the EU.


Apply For A Visa/Permit

Portugal, a popular destination among both expats and tourists, can offer a number of opportunities to those seeking employment, despite its recent economic downturn. Whether or not you will need a visa to go there will depend on a number of factors, such as your nationality and the motivation behind your trip. Read on to learn more about your options.



If you are from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), you will not need a visa to visit Portugal, but you will need to register with the authorities if you remain there for longer than 90 days.

Nor will you need a visa if you are a British citizen: as above, you will be able to remain in the country for 90 days. If you currently have residency in the country, this should continue even once the post-Brexit transition period has ended.

Since Portugal is part of the Schengen Agreement, if you are a U.S. citizen, you may also enter Portugal for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. To do this, your passport should be valid for at least six months. You will also need proof of sufficient funds to support you during your stay and a return airline ticket.

Portugal has reciprocal visa arrangements with many nations, but if you are from outside the EU/EEA, you will need to apply for residency if you want to remain in the country for longer than 90 days. You may also be able to apply for a temporary stay for a four-month period with multiple entries.

In order to apply for a Schengen visa, you will need:

• A completed application form
• Two passport-format photos
• Your passport and any copies of previous visas
• Travel insurance (including medical coverage) with confirmation of a minimum of €30,000 coverage within the entire Schengen Area
• A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and your itinerary
• Proof of civil status (for example, your marriage certificate or the birth certificates of your children)
• Flight itinerary
• The address of your accommodation, including hotels
• Proof that you are able to support yourself financially throughout your stay (for example, a recent statement from your bank for the last three months that shows funds of at least €50 (£40) per day, or traveller’s cheques, or proof of sponsorship)

You may need further documentation depending on your status. If you are employed, you may need to supply:

• A contract of employment
• A letter of leave from your employer
• A bank statement for the last six months
• An income tax return
• Your business license (if you are self-employed)

If you are a student, you will need to include your certificate of enrolment at the relevant educational institution.

If you are retired, you will need a statement of your pension for the last six months.

The standard cost of a visa is €80, but you will be exempt if you are in one of the following categories:

• A child younger than six years of age
• A family member of an EU/EEA national

Documents required for exemption are:

• Original marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate
• Original full birth certificate
• EU/EEA national’s passport

You will also be exempt if you are travelling for the purpose of study or educational training, such as if you are a school pupil, an undergraduate student, or a postgraduate student. You must be accompanied by your teachers/professors. In addition, invited researchers are exempt.

There is a reduced fee of €35 for nationals of countries that have a visa facilitation agreement with the EU.

Fees are non-refundable and are not a guarantee that you will be issued with a visa.

A long-stay visa will cost around €99.

The Portuguese authorities say that visa processing typically takes from two to three weeks.


Work Permits

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA member state, you will initially need neither a visa nor a work permit, although you will have to register for residence (Cartão de Residencia) and find a job within six months of your arrival. Residence can depend on you being in employment, so it is important to sort out some form of paid work; a number of expats use call centres as a stepping stone.

If you are from outside the EU/EEA, you may find it more difficult to obtain employment. Portuguese companies are supposed to prioritise Portuguese citizens and EU/EEA nationals above third party nationals. One option would be secondment from your current company, if your employer has a base in Portugal. You will need a residence visa and a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho). You can apply for these at your local Portuguese consulate or with Portuguese Immigration Services (SEF) if you are already on the ground. You will need to submit the following documentation for your residence visa:

• Valid passport with at least two blank pages
• One passport photo
• Letter of invitation from employer or a document explaining the purpose of your visit
• Flight ticket reservation or itinerary for multi-area visits
• Health and accident insurance
• Bank statements as proof that you have sufficient funds (the minimum is €40 plus €75 per country visited)
• Proof of accommodation
• Biometric data, such as fingerprints and digital photos

You will also need to pay a fee (the amount may vary, but it will not exceed €200). You will then need to supply documents in support of your work permit, which are:

• Your passport
• Your residence visa
• Two passport photos
• Bank statements, as proof of sufficient funds
• Proof of accommodation
• Criminal record checks (e.g. DBS certificate from the UK – this usually has to be valid for three months)
• Proof of Portuguese proficiency (if necessary)
• Your employment contract
• Any relevant tax documents
• Social security registration

You will also need to pay a fee for this, and again, the amount may vary. For example, it will depend on the kind of work permit you are applying for.

EU blue card

If you have been issued a residence permit for work that requires advanced skills by an EU member country, you will be eligible for an EU blue card. This is an approved EU-wide work permit that allows highly skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country within the European Union (excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom).


Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property


Renting Property

In cities such as Lisbon and Porto, it can be fairly easy to find an apartment to rent long-term. However, it can be an increasingly difficult task in areas that are densely populated with short-term holiday homes, such as Algarve. The cost of rent in Portugal is considered quite cheap, as is the general cost of living, but this often coincides with a lower wage. Locals tend to spend a third, or even up to a half, of their salary on rent.

Most long-term rentals in the cities are available unfurnished (sem mobilia). The monthly rent is usually agreed between the landlord and the tenant, and reviews are allowed annually. There is also a cap on rental increases. Your landlord must notify you of any proposed increases at least 30 days before implementing them. More often than not, the monthly rent in Portugal does not include utilities.

You will need to sign a tenancy agreement (contrato de arrendamento) in order to rent a property. You will also need to have a Portuguese fiscal number (Numero fiscal de contribuinte). You may find the whole process quite informal, especially if you are renting a room, so do not be surprised if your landlord has no interest in references or credit checks (although it won’t hurt to have the information ready, just in case).

It is not uncommon for the landlord to ask for a deposit, which can be as much as two months’ rent. It is worth noting that, unlike in many other European countries, there is not a set scheme for managing rental deposits. This means that landlords can hold the deposit themselves for the duration of the tenancy. If you are uncomfortable with this, see whether you can arrange with your landlord to place the deposit in an escrow account, which can’t be touched by either party during the tenancy. You should also make sure that you both sign a tenancy contract, which should detail the deposit paid, the terms of agreement, the amount due in rent, etc.

Quite often, properties are advertised locally by landlords. You can also find properties by using rental agents. Additionally, there are a few property portals that people use in Portugal to find rentals, such as:

KW Portugal
ReMax Portugal

The cost of monthly rent can differ significantly across Portugal. For example, in Lisbon, you may pay €500 per month for a small studio flat and up to €2,000 per month for a family-sized apartment. According to data statistic website Numbeo, the average rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in a central city location is around €642.64. An apartment of the same size but a bit further out costs nearer to €472.09. A three-bedroom place in the city costs an average of €1,141.61, but its suburban counterpart only costs around €790.42.

You should always conduct additional checks in order to avoid falling foul of any property scams. For example, ensure that the property has a rental license (alojamento local) issued by the local council. Double check your potential landlord’s details by asking to see their ID or passport. The documentation will almost always be in Portuguese, so if you do not speak the language, enlist the help of a licensed translator or ask a friend. This is important, as otherwise you may end up signing something that could cause you trouble later on.


Buying Property

Around three-quarters of the Portuguese population are homeowners. There are also no restrictions on foreigners wishing to purchase property in the country. In fact, non-EU citizens who purchase a property with a minimum value of €500,000 automatically qualify for a five-year residency permit known as a “golden visa”.

It’s always highly advisable (especially if you’re not fluent in Portuguese) to invest in the services of an independent solicitor and translator. A solicitor can handle all of the contractual details, and they can help you arrange for a surveyor to inspect the property as well.

Once you’ve found a property that you’d like to make an offer on, and once the necessary background checks have been conducted, you can negotiate the price and put down your offer. If your offer is accepted, then you can have a preliminary contract drawn up.

Your notary will then inspect the details of the transaction and check the details of the property with the Land Registry. You must employ a notary (which is different to a solicitor) by law, otherwise your contract and purchase will be null and void.

If you’re happy to go ahead, you will pay your deposit and confirm a completion date. Then the ‘Deed of Purchase and Sale’ (Escritura Publica de Compra e Venda) is signed, the property is registered in your name, and your full payment is processed.

The best way to purchase property is to simply do it through a property agent. Alternatively, if you have a good knowledge of the local language, you can conduct the search yourself. Several newspapers have property sections, such as the Diário de Notícias, Jornal de Notícias and Correio da Manhã. In addition to this, you may spot local advertisements on bulletin boards and in local shops. Many of the websites that list rentals in Portugal will also have sections for property you can buy.

Both residents and non-residents can apply for mortgages from banks in Portugal. Variable mortgage rates in Portugal start at 3.3% per year, based on a 30% loan-to-value. For a non-resident, the minimum deposit is typically around 30% of the purchase price. It is advisable to start the mortgage process as early as possible, so that you know how big a loan you can get, and therefore what budget you have to work with.


Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Portugal health insurance

The Portuguese Ministry of Health operates the country’s national healthcare system, the Service Nationale de Saude (SNS). It is funded primarily out of taxes, and recently costs have grown beyond the rate of inflation.

The SNS is governed regionally, but it applies only to continental Portugal. If you are visiting the islands – Madeira and the Azores – then you will find that these autonomous regions have health systems of their own and you will need to approach health insurance in these parts as a separate issue.

If you pay into the system, you and your family members will be covered to the same degree as other Portuguese residents. However, the range of treatments available under public coverage has been reduced over the last few years and some treatments are now quite expensive.

The system operates on a percentage basis, meaning that not all of the cost of your treatment is covered. If you have a long-term or chronic condition, you may need private cover.

If you have a Portuguese employer, your enrolment into the state health insurance scheme should be automatic. If you are self-employed, you will need to sign up with the Social Security Institute in order to be eligible for state care. Once you have signed up, you will need to register at your local health clinic (centros de saude). You will need your:

• passport
• residence permit
• security card

The SSI will give you a temporary certificate, proving that you are covered, and in due course you will receive your healthcare card (cartão do utente), which will entitle you to discounted treatment.


Open A Bank Account

Banks in Portugal are currently imbedded in a somewhat volatile market. The history of state bail outs in 2014 and 2015, lingering debt, potential bank recapitalisation, reforms and post EU referendum uncertainty are negative influences on a recovering Portuguese banking system.This hasn’t deterred a steady flow of expats however from relocating and holidaying in Portugal, opening nonresident and resident bank accounts and even taking out mortgages without any bank related problems.

As a rule, anyone relocating to Portugal must open a Portuguese bank account (they are still able to keep their home country account if desired) because taxes and utilities need to come from a local account. The main local banks are Millennium BCP, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BBVA amongst others. Banking in cities can be a fairly similar affair to your own country although that familiar bank name you recognise (for example Barclays) will have different services, features and procedures than those you are used to. When it comes to banking in more rural areas, you’ll be assigned a bank manager (gerente) who you can get to know over time as they often contact you directly. Don’t assume English will be spoken outside of cities, take your time to find the best bank and person of contact who you can communicate well with. As always, word of mouth can help expats to choose the best bank for their needs. Opening hours are generally 8.30am – 3pm from Monday to Friday. Smaller local banks and banks in rural locations may close during lunch hours.

Types of accounts:

Current accounts (conta corrente) everyday banking including debit cards and cheque book accounts, online banking and marginal if any interest. Must be 18 to open.

Deposit account (deposito a prazo) account to store money without direct access to funds. Higher interest on funds.

Savings account (caderneta de poupança) requires deposit to open, may be minimal withdrawal allowances, access to funds may be limited. Higher interest rates.

Credit account (conta de crédito) EU comparative interest rates, credit card statements and online banking.

Useful phrases:
Levantar dinheiro – withdraw funds
Extracto de conta – bank statement
Saldo da conta – bank balance
Cartões – cards

When opening a bank account in Portugal you need to go into a branch (sucursal) in person. If you need to, ask for a member of English speaking staff to assist you. As well as an application form new customers need to fill out a form about complying with the bank’s services and products (Dados de cliente e Adesão a Produtos) and the Terms and Conditions (Condicoes Gerais) of the bank document. Although bank dependant, EU citizens require their passport or identity card, their residency card, Fiscal number/card, proof of address such as utility bill or driving licence and tax return or payslip with National Insurance number/ Social Security number. Also required will be proof of your Fiscal Representative (firm of lawyers). Non EU members require the same documentation as well as proof of their home address from their home country, their contract of employment/company details/proof of profession.The identity documents with photos must be in colour. At minimum, a 250€ will be required as a deposit to start up your account. Once this is cleared you will receive cards, login details for online banking and statements to follow.

Foreign banks are Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch, Santander and Barclays. Expats tend to bank with Barclays, Santander, Millennium BCP and Montepio.

Santander Totta (site requires English translation)
Rua do Ouro, No. 88, 1100-063 Lisboa
Santander PT account
Able to transfer money to from UK and other countries to Portuguese account without international transfer charge. Must be resident with ID and proof of address. Minimum payment to current account per month.
Tel: +351 707 212 424
Information about necessary documents and procedure for opening the account in Euros

Barclays Bank PLC
WiZink Bank, SA – Sucursal em Portugal Av. Da Liberdade 131, 1st Floor ,1250-140 Lisbon
Barclaycard Flex Credit card
Gift card after first purchase, credit up to 50 days without interest, contactless technology. Must be 21 years + resident.
Tel: +351 707 780 808
Contact form

Millennium BCP (local bank)
English language website. Online banking in English, clients can open an American Express blue account, mortgages and services for non-residents and money bank transfers to a range of countries. Advice on finances and legal matters.
Millenium current account: minimum deposit 50€, enables operations in GPR, USD, clients can be residents or non-residents, overdraft facility. 5.30€ maintenance costs unless under 23 years of age. Debit card.
Contact form

(Click to call)
Branch finder

Atlantico Europa (Banco de Portugal)
Current card account: minimum deposit 50€, enables operations in GPR, USD, clients can be residents or non residents, overdraft facility. 5.30€ maintenance costs unless under 23.
Tel: (+351) 210 403 400

Given the delicate nature of the banking market you may find as an expat it is an uphill struggle to get an overdraft or loan. The banks won’t have your previous credit history or tax returns so unless you can put together a detailed story of your past banking, have evidence of your residency in Portugal, your fiscal number and have been in the country a number of years it may be unlikely that you will be granted either. Mortgages however due to the popularity of foreign buyers are available for expats, both residents and non-residents. Not all banks do offer mortgages but getting the correct documentation and deciding on the purpose of the mortgage are key approaches which will help you in the process.

The banking system in Portugal is generally considered to be efficient and modern for customers but at times archaic and slow. In branches there can be slow service and long waits at busy times. In contrast the multi-use ATMs named Multibancos are state of the art machines which can be used to pay bills, withdraw money and top up phones as well as other features. Look for a blue/green M sign to locate one. Other known ATMs are Euronet with a blue and yellow symbol. With so many foreign residents losing money in the collapse of Banco Espirito Santo in 2014 the trust of banks to handle expats money is still fresh in people’s minds.

Whilst plenty of locals and tourists use cards for transactions it is still very common for people to pay with cash. That said the more local and small the establishment the less likely card payments will be used so have cash to hand as well as if buying only a few items in a smaller shop. Contactless is set to become more widely used from 2017 onwards where card machines exist. Accepted cards are Mastercard, American Express (shops, restaurants and hotels) and VISA. You may find Apple pay and Android pay accepted in a few supermarket such as Jumbo or electronic retailers like Pingo Doce.


Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

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Learn The Language

Portugal is a highly popular destination for expats, for the purposes of work and also for retirement. If you are thinking of relocating here, however, you might be asking yourself how easy it will be to communicate. Will you need to be fluent in Portuguese, or can you get by in English? We will answer some of your questions below.

The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, a Western Romance language with Latin roots. This is not confined to its country of origin but is spoken widely elsewhere across the world, notably in Brazil, but also in Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and other countries. It is estimated to be the sixth most widely spoken language in the world, used by around 260 million speakers. It is not the only language spoken in Portugal: others include Mirandese, which is spoken in north eastern Portugal and which has official status regionally. Portuguese also has a number of dialects. Brazilian Portuguese, and Portuguese spoken in other countries, will also have differences in pronunciation, spelling and accent – just as English is different between the UK, the USA and Australia.

English is the second most widely spoken language in Portugal and it is also spoken in the workplace, often serving as a lingua franca in international offices. However, once you get beyond tourist areas such as the Algarve, you may find that the language is spoken more sparsely and although you can get by locally in English, due to the large number of British expats concentrated in particular areas, it is both polite and practical to master at least some basic phrases in Portuguese.

You will find plenty of language training provision in Portuguese, both online before you arrive, and when you are on the ground you will discover a plethora of language schools. Lisbon and Faro have extensive language provision, for all levels ranging from beginner students to advanced. Several of these have international accreditation and may be affiliated to language learning centres elsewhere, such as in the UK.

For example, CESA language training, who are based in the UK, offer European, African and Brazilian Portuguese in Lisbon and European Portuguese in Faro. Language Lisboa offers a range of courses, from week-long group study to individual classes. Cial Centro de Linguas has centres in Lisbon and the Algarve, and has been teaching Portuguese to foreign students since 1959. You can even study a combination of surfing and language training with them.

You may also be able to participate in a language exchange with a ‘language buddy’: teaming up with someone who wants to learn English, and will swap conversational practice with you. Check whether there is a local meetup group near you or a language café. You can also check with your employer to see if they run any in-house Portuguese lessons.

You may be intending to go out to Portugal to teach English or otherwise utilise your language skills. Call centre work, mainly in Lisbon or Oporto, is popular as a short-term employment choice and if you are bi- or multilingual in a number of European languages (English, German, French or Spanish in particular) you will have an advantage. Apple also has an online support centre in Portugal and its in-house language is English.

Teaching English is popular and you should be able to find work if you have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Much of the country – particularly the Algarve – is English-speaking and thus if you are a native English speaker, you will find yourself at an advantage.

It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.

You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools. Portugal runs a number of summer camps, but you are most likely to find employment in the larger areas such as Lisbon, Oporto, Coimbra and Braga, at a private language school.

It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree as most language schools require this: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work. Peak hiring months are in September and January and you can expect an average salary of US$1300 – 1850 per month.

You will need a work permit, particularly if you are coming from outside the EU. You may prefer to register as self employed and work on a freelance basis, but you will still need the relevant documentation.

If you are seeking work in translation or interpreting, you will obviously need to be highly proficient in Portuguese, and will also need the relevant qualifications.


Choose A School

Education in Portugal falls under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, plus some input from the Ministry of Labor and Social Solidarity. Education is compulsory up until the age of 18, and is free of charge. Educational standards in the country are high and Portugal ranks well on international educational scales, such as the OECD PISA rating. Government spending on education over the last couple of decades has been significant and has resulted in a substantial improvement in the public educational system.

Schooling is divided into:

• pre-school / Infantário / Creche (ages 4 months – 3: this is mandatory from the age of 4)
• kindergarten / Jardim de Infância (ages 3 – 5)
• basic education / Ensino Básico (ages 6- 14) divided into cycles
• secondary education / Ensino Secundário (ages 15 – 17)

Nurseries are private or run by the Portuguese Social Security and partly financed by the state. Similarly kindergartens may be private or state subsidised.

Secondary education is divided into areas and leads to a diploma (diploma de ensino secundário):

• general programmes
• technical/vocational programmes
• artistic programmes

The public sector school year starts in mid September and ends in mid June. Enrolment ends on July 15th, so if you want to enrol your child for the next school year you will need to do so in good time. The school week runs from Monday – Friday and the school day itself lasts from 8.45 am – 4.45 pm. Times for private sector schools may vary.

Education in Portugal is conducted in Portuguese, so although the public school system is of a high calibre, unless your child speaks the language or you are prepared to put them through additional language support, you may prefer to enrol your child in the private educational sector.

You will find plenty of private provision in Portugal, mainly in Lisbon and the Algarve. You can also contact the British Council, who run a number of schools themselves in the country. Note that a number of private schools may be faith-based, so you may prefer an international school depending on your own religious principles. Provision starts early and international schools may take your child from the age of three. Curricula will vary depending on the nationality of the school: some will offer the International Baccalaureate, others will focus on the British National Curriculum leading to IGCSEs and A Levels, while some may emphasis the American curriculum.

For example, the British School in Lisbon, part of The Schools Trust (TST), is a United Kingdom registered, non-profit organisation. It offers a British curriculum for children aged 3-8 years. Fees range from €3,400 – 4,200 per term.

St Julian’s School offers tuition for students from 3-18 and also offers a British curriculum, but in addition a Portuguese and an IB curriculum. Fees range from just under €10K – €23K per annum.

The Carlucci American International School of Lisbon offers an IB curriculum and costs from €8K – 18K per year.

Enrolment policies may vary but you may need to submit previous school reports in addition to:

• the child’s id card (cédula)
• passport photo
• completed enrolment form
• health centre card and vaccination book

The school may in addition put your child through some initial testing.

You may find that you need to make one-off or regular payments such as capitalisation fees or enrolment fees: these can vary by several thousand euros, so do check with the school and make sure that you are aware of what you are paying for. You may be able to pay in termly instalments. Check if there are any reductions for siblings.

Students may wish to go on to higher education in Portugal if they are reasonably fluent in Portuguese, although some universities are bilingual to some extent. Portugal has 13 universities in the overall Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the highest-ranking university in Portugal being the Catholic University of Portugal, which is ranked at number 351/400.

Homeschooling is possible but only under the Portuguese national curriculum. There will be mandatory annual exams in Portuguese.


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