How to apply for a Startup visa for Portugal?

If you just have a startup idea! Requirements, documents, how to apply for a Startup visa to Portugal
June 12, 2023

A Startup visa to Portugal is a relatively easy way to move to the land of the sun and ocean with your team, even if you only have an idea for a startup. 

Moreover, it is better to have an idea and not a working business - than obtaining a residence permit with a startup visa may be faster.

Main requirements

👉 Have a startup at the idea stage.

👉 Founder or founders must be at least 18 years old, have no criminal record, live outside the Schengen countries, and have no tax debts.

👉 А deposit in a bank account of at least 5 800 € (per applicant).

👉 Be supported by one of the local business incubators.

👉 Proof potential to achieve after the incubation period (after five years) a turnover of more than 325,000 € per year and/or an asset value of more than 325,000 € per year.

Answers to the main questions

How long does it take to complete and submit the form until I get my residence permit?

2-6 months, depending on how quickly IAPMEI responds.

What is important to reflect in the application?

  • Show the project's scalability and willingness to grow in the European and global markets.
  • Show that you will create jobs for Portuguese people.
  • Show that the project is innovative. You will unlikely get an OK from IAPMEI for a cafe or beauty salon project.
  • Add your wife/husband as a cofounder, so you don't have to worry about applying for family after.

How much should I pay an incubator monthly, and what does it provide for that money?

There are different incubators: from 50€ to 400€. This amount includes a workplace and networking as standard. Some incubators ask for a guarantee package for additional services.

Do I have to report on my work? How often?

There are obligations to the incubator; read the contract you sign. However, everyone understands what a startup is, so if something does not go according to plan, you can negotiate additional conditions.

Can I fly to Portugal and get a startup visa on the spot? Or do I have to apply at home?

Yes. You can fly to Portugal and get a visa domestically - that's what most applicants do. But it is better to get your idea approved by IAPMEI before you arrive.

What do I need to do when entering Portugal?

When you enter the territory of Portugal, do not forget to make a "legal entry" within three working days.

If Portugal is your first country of entry into the Schengen area, keeping your boarding passes for the flight you arrive on is sufficient.

Suppose you entered the Schengen area through another EU country after arrival in Portugal. In that case, it is sufficient to check into a hotel for one night, and the hotel staff will send the data to the SEF about your accommodation, just in case, to keep the receipt of the rental accommodation payment.

Do I need a Portuguese bank account to get a residence permit for a startup?

No, you do not need an account. But when you apply, you need to show in any bank in the world (of course, it would be better if it was not under sanctions) the amount per person of 5186 €, preferably more.

Is the selection strict? What is the approval rate?

No one knows the internal approval process except the SEF staff. About the severity of the selection - if you prepare the documents correctly, then with a probability of 100% will get incubators support and a visa. True, today we notice that the application processing time in some cases may be longer - previously, the answer came in four months; today, you can wait six months.

For how long is a residence permit on this program?

The first residence permit is for two years; the extension depends on the work of the company and the implementation of plans.

Can I apply to an already operating startup with revenue?

Yes, it is. But it is easier to apply an idea.

Do I have to start a company right away?

You must open a company in the first year after receiving a residence permit. If something goes wrong, you can extend this period twice.

Can I bring family members/civil partners/business partners with me?

If you have a spouse, you can register him/her as a co-founder of your startup and get visas simultaneously. It is essential in this case not to forget to show double the amount of money in your account (from 5186€ per person).

What about my family?

It's easiest to take your wife/husband as co-founders right away. The children will go by reunification. When you get a residence permit, you can reunite the family either on a D6 visa (which will take at least six months, and all this time, you will live in different countries) or immediately bring the family with you on a Schengen visa, and get a residence permit to reunite within the country (in this case the family is not separated).

Startup visa for Portugal Guide
Sample documents and more information
Read the guide

How does the application process work?

Step 1: Fill out the form at Startup Portugal.

Fill out the form on the Startup Portugal website and wait for the incubator to approve it. The answer may not come tomorrow - do not worry. You can write to several incubators at once and wait for an answer.

Read more in the guide.

Step 2: Get IAPMEI approval.

You must prepare documents according to the list and upload them to the IAPMEI website.

IAPMEI evaluates whether your company is genuinely innovative and technological. You need to be patient here - officially, it may take 60 days to review.

If they do not answer, you can email - they usually respond within 3-4 days and are eager to help.

Step 3: Sign a contract with your incubator.

Read more in the guide.

Step 4: Make a SEF appointment.

You can only sign up for SEF by phone, but they may introduce online enrollment in 2023. Apply and pay the fee.

Step 5: Get your residence card

On average, in 2-3 weeks, the card will arrive in the mail at your address. Sometimes it can take up to 3 months.

Do you need help? 

We consider the Startup Visa to Portugal one of the most accessible and straightforward. Still, even the best project could use an expert opinion and an outside view. 

You can do a lot independently, but contact us if you need expert help:

See more details here. 

Got a question? Contact us!

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