After 5 years as a legal long-term resident, individuals can qualify for permanent citizenship in the country by joining the residency program in Portugal. Legal residents are not obliged to reside in the country, but the citizenship process involves a basic Portuguese language test.

For European, EEA and Swiss Citizens:

  • At the end of the 5th year of having a legal title of residence, the applicant is entitled to apply for Portugal Permanent Residency.


  • A permanent residence card is not subject to minimum stay requirements. However, it may be cancelled if the holder is away from Portugal for a period of 2 consecutive years. Note that the residency card will have to be renewed each 5 years.


  • If the citizen has dependent family members – spouse (or common law spouse of at least 3 years), dependent children or dependent parents – who are not entitled to the EU freedom of movement, they may apply for a permanent residence card after having possessed for 5 years a residence card of non-EU dependent relatives of an EU citizen.

For Non-European, EEA and Swiss Citizens  – Non-Golden Visa Holders:

  • Within the scope of the residency program in Portugal, the application for a residence permit must be submitted to the SEF – Foreigners and Borders Service, and under the terms of the Foreigners Law, permanent residence is granted to those who cumulatively:

    • Holds a temporary residence permit for at least 5 years;

    • In the last 5 years, the individual has been convicted of a crime punishable with a prison sentence of more than 1 year;

    • Subsistence/sufficient financial means;

    • A place of residence in Portugal;

    • Basic Portuguese language test;

    • The card must be renewed every 5 years or whenever there is a data change.

  • The permanent residence permit may be canceled if the holder, without admissible justification, is absent from Portugal for a period of 24 consecutive months, or for a period of 30 non-consecutive months over 5 years.
    Absence for any period of time in the country of origin for the exercise of a professional, business, cultural or social activity is allowed.

  • The SEF will only require proof of actual residence of the holder in the country or justification of absence from the country if the renewal of the card is requested after the expiry date.

Portuguese Language

Proving basic knowledge of the Portuguese language is required for any individual who wants to apply to become a Portugal permanent resident. Under the Foreigners’ Law, the applicant for a permanent residence permit must prove a foundational knowledge of “basic Portuguese”. SEF (Portugal’s border agency) declare that if an applicant cannot pass the basic Portuguese test, they can only be granted a temporary residence permit. This provides the applicant with the right to stay in Portugal until they can meet the requirement.

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