How To: Freelancing In Portugal

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Portugal is quite a popular destination for people who want to move and work abroad. There are plenty of opportunities available in this Southern European country, and freelancers who move there often do so due to its warm, moderate climate, quality health care and general safety. Discover how you can freelance from Portugal!

  1. Freelancing in Portugal
  2. Becoming a freelancer in Portugal
    1. Visa
    2. Declaration of entry
    3. Registration
      1. NIF
      2. Bank account
      3. Registration as a freelancer
    4. Health insurance
  3. What is a green receipt?

Freelancing in Portugal

Portugal is often viewed as an amazing holiday destination, thanks to its glorious sites, attractions, food and people. It should come as no surprise then that more and more freelancers are looking into the possibility of moving there.  

In Portugal, 16.9% are self-employed or freelancers.
The European average is 15.2%.

World Bank Data 2019

Many freelancers also move to Portugal because of its low cost of living. Almost everything, from rent to groceries to utilities, is affordable.

Checklist freelancing in Portugal
Steps how to become a freelancer in Portugal

How do I become a freelancer in Portugal?

If you’re planning on working in Portugal as a freelancer, you’ll need to take into account the following:

#1 Visa 

If you’re planning on living in Portugal for a good long while and you are not a European citizen, you’ll need to apply for a Self-employment residence visa. All visa applications are carried out by SEF and you can now apply for visas online as well as schedule appointments to handle processes for residence permits. 

Once your Visa is approved, you can enter Portugal and request a temporary residence permit within 4 months. Once issued, this permit will be valid for 1 year and can then be renewed every 2 years up to a total of 5 years of residence. After that, you can apply for permanent residency.

#2 Declaration of entry

Non-European citizens

Freelancers entering Portugal by way of a border not subject to control are required to declare themselves to the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, Portugal Immigration and Border Service) by filling out the Declaration of Entry. You can schedule an appointment at the nearest SEF office within 3 working days after your arrival. 

However, you’re not required to declare yourself if you’re entering Portugal by way of a border subject to control, hold a valid visa or resident permit that allows you stay in the country for more than 6 months. 

European citizens

If you are a EU citizen and you enter Portugal by way of a border subject to control, you do not need to declare yourself but you have to hold a valid document or passport.

#3 Registration

You’re eligible to become a freelancer in Portugal after you register as being self-employed or a freelancer with the Portuguese taxation & finance department. Before you do that, you’ll have to follow these steps:

Require a NIF

You will need to obtain a NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal, also called Número de Contribuinte). It’s a 9-digit unique and a personal taxpayer identification number used for tax purposes. It’s necessary for both individual and collective persons/companies, but for companies it is actually called Número de Identificação de Pessoa Coletiva (Collective Person ID Number) or NIPC, instead of NIF.

Where and how can I apply for a NIF?

If you are a resident/EU citizen you can request a NIF by presenting your ID or passport at:

  • Any serviço de finanças (tax office)
  • Loja do cidadão (citizen shop)
  • Other dedicated offices or counters

If you are a non-resident and non-EU/EEA citizen, you can apply for a NIF through a Portuguese lawyer or a tax representative in Portugal (representante fiscal) who agrees to act on your behalf. In this case you’ll need a valid passport (and not your ID!).

💡 The only requisite to be a tax representative is having a fixed residence in Portugal. So ask a friend already living there to become your tax representative and help you with the bureaucracy. 

Open a bank account

You will need to open a bank account in Portugal under your name.

Registration

Once you have a NIF and a bank account, you will need to inform the tax authority office about your intentions to work as a freelancer, declaring personal details and information about the activity you’re going to start. This process is generally known as ‘opening an activity’ (abrir uma atividade independente). 

  • EU/Schengen member state citizens can apply for the registration within 3 days after 3 months in the country, at the city hall (câmara municipal);
  • Non-EU/Schengen member state citizens should possess a valid visa first and then apply for the residency at SEF. 

#4 Health Insurance

Health care in Portugal is considered pretty cheap by international standards. If you’re a resident, you’re entitled to the free national health service provided. You can even opt to get additional private health insurance to meet your specific needs. 

People registered for social security coverage are also entitled to receive healthcare coverage. You can get your social security number (NISS, Número de Identificação de Segurança Social) once you have a valid residency permit.

Looking for projects in Portugal?

What is recibo verde (green receipt)?

Green receipts (recibos verdes) are invoices that registered freelancers in Portugal can use to formally invoice clients and declare their income to the tax authorities.

Once you receive the confirmation that you have been successfully registered as a freelancer in Portugal, you can issue recibos verdes:

💡 Ask someone speaking Portuguese to help you fill out the registration form for the green receipts.

Working in Portugal as a freelancer can be an exciting prospect. Would you ever consider moving? Let us know down below!

📌 More guides:
How to: Freelancing in Germany 🇩🇪
How to: Freelancing in Greece 🇬🇷
How to: Freelancing in the UK 🇬🇧

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

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