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Residency - Living in Portugal

Common questions and answers regarding residency in Portugal.
Information from the UK Government Embassy website as of September 2006.

Q. I am a British citizen. Do I need authorisation to settle in Portugal?
A. As a European Union national, you can settle in Portugal.

Q. Do I need an identity card?
A. The Portuguese authorities no longer issue identity cards to EU nationals resident in Portugal. However, it is a legal requirement to carry some form of identification with you at all times and your driving license or your passport is acceptable for this purpose.

Q. What is the procedure if I wish to bring my car with me?
A. As a tourist, you may keep your vehicle in Portugal for a maximum of 180 days in any 12-month period provided it is for your own private use and you do not loan it to anyone else during that period. Do not depart leaving your vehicle unaccompanied. If you do, you may be subject to a fine. If your stay exceeds 180 days or you intend to take-up residence in Portugal, you must apply for the permanent importation of your vehicle to the nearest office of the Direção-Geral das Alfândegas (Customs authority) as soon as possible after your arrival.

Q. May I continue to drive on my British driver's licence once I am resident in Portugal?
A. A national driver's licence (old-style green model) has to be exchanged for a Portuguese-issued licence within 12 months of taking-up residence in this country. A community model driver's licence is valid until it expires. However, it is advisable to exchange even this licence for one issued by the Portuguese authority (Direção-Geral de Viação) for the following reasons:
It is a legal requirement in Portugal, as it is in the UK, for the address on the licence to reflect the address of its holder.
The licence can only be renewed or replaced by the original issuing authority, but the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will not renew or replace a UK-issued licence to an overseas address.
When the licence eventually expires, the Portuguese authority will not renew it unless the holder takes (and passes) a new driving test.

Q. Will I be entitled to use the Portuguese national health service?
A. On production of your British passport and residence permit or registration certificate, you will be entitled to apply for a Portuguese national insurance identity card (Cartão de Utente) from your local health centre (Centro de Saúde) and enrol with one of their GPs. Once you have evidence that you have applied for the issue of a national health card, you will become eligible to use the national health service under the same conditions as any Portuguese national. Until then, you will be treated as a visitor to Portugal who, on production of a British passport, is entitled to receive emergency state treatment.
Those who are retired and are in receipt of a UK state retirement pension, may apply for a national health identity card and enrol with a state GP on arrival, simply on the production of their passport and pension receipts.

Q. Can I bring my pet with me to Portugal?
A. Yes. If the animal is arriving from an EU country, it must be accompanied by a health certificate (Atestado Sanitário) issued by the competent authority in the animal's country of origin. The competent authority in Britain is the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 1A Page Street, London (Tel.: 0207 904 6346-7). If the authority in the animal's country of origin requires official notification of the need to issue a health certificate, such notification may be requested from the Direção-Geral de Veterinária, Largo da Academia Nacional de Belas Artes 2, 1200-005 Lisboa (Tel.: 21 323 9500, e-mail:

Q. Can I take my pet back to the UK?
A. Yes. The Pet Travel Scheme was introduced in April 2001. This Scheme allows pet cats and dogs from certain countries to enter or re-enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet certain rules. Visit the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website ( for detailed information or contact their Pets Helpline Monday to Friday from 0830-1700 GMT on +44 870 241 1710.


Q. Can the Embassy attest my signature on a legal document?
A. Yes. The Embassy will do this Monday to Thursday between 0930-1130 and 1500-1630 and Friday between 0930-1230. For details of the cost involved, see the Consular Fees Table on their website. The other British Consulates in Portugal are also empowered to perform this service. Please check their opening times.

Q. I have to make a sworn declaration for production in an English-speaking country. Where can I do this?
A. At the Consular Section of the British Embassy in Lisbon or at one of the British Consulates at Oporto, Portimão, Funchal (Madeira) or Ponta Delgada (Azores).

Q. I need to have my accredited British university degree legalised. What do I have to do?
A. You should contact the Legalisation Office of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at Old Admiralty Building, Whitehall, London SW1A 2LG, Tel.: 0207 008 1111, Fax: 0207 008 1010, and ask for information on legalisation by Apostille in accordance with the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961.

Q. May I register the birth of my child at the Embassy?
A. Although not compulsory, the birth of children born in Portugal after 1 January 1983, may be entered in the Consular Register of Births. A certified copy of the entry may also be obtained on request for an additional fee.