How to Move to Portugal from the USA

Located just off the North Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is one of the best European nations to relocate to. It is world-renowned for its eccentric culture that is punctuated through vibrant dance, music, attire, delicious cuisines, sports, and happy people.

As of 2020, it is estimated that a total of 661,000 people were registered as legal migrants in the country.

Records show that the number of legal US migrants in Portugal stood at 8,264 in 2007. As of 2010 to 2011, that number was estimated to be 2,127. At the moment, the number of US expats in the country is approximately 6,000.

It is possible to move to Portugal from the USA and lead a happy & successful life. Whether you’re thinking about relocating for work, studies, retirement, investment, family, or other reasons, we are going to show you how you can make it all happen.

Here are some other articles that might help you plan your move:
  • Best USA to Portugal movers: The long-distance moving industry is full of scammy movers, and when all of your belongings are at stake, don’t take chances.
  • How much will your move cost?: This cost calculator will provide an immediate calculation of what your move should cost. Just plug in your moving dates, the size of your move, where you’re moving to/from, and let the calculator do the rest.

How Much Does it Cost to Move from USA to Portugal?

Home Size Moving Company Moving Container Freight Company Truck Rental
Studio/1 Bedroom $1,680-$5,840 $1,923-$2,429 $1,520-$2,160 $1,093-$1,509
2-3 Bedrooms $2,200-$8,050 $2,422-$3,650 $2,185-$3,180 $1,142-$1,763
4+ Bedrooms $3,885-$10,300 $3,273-$4,134 $2,850-$3,600 $1,444-$1,949

*Pricing above does not include gas, tolls, lodging, and other related moving expenses.

For recommendations on the best t USA to Portugal moving companies, check out our list. 

How to move from the USA to Portugal

Visa information:

Here are the options Americans have to travel and live in Portugal long term if you:

Are moving to Portugal to study, you will need to apply for a study visa.

If you want to travel to Portugal from the US to work, you will need to apply for a work visa.

If you’d like to retire in Portugal, you should apply for the D7 visa, also known as the retirement visa.

If you want to move to Portugal to join family members there, you should apply for a family reunification visa.

If you plan to invest in Portugal, you should apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa. Introduced in 2012, the Golden Visa grants applicants the freedom to work, study and travel freely through the Schengen area.

The process to live in Portugal long term:

The starting point is to identify your reason for relocating to Portugal. That will guide you to choose the right type of visa to apply for. Whether it’s work, study, retirement, investment, or a reunification visa, you will need to apply for it right here in the US at the Portuguese embassy.

Once you get your visa, you will need to travel within 4 months lest the visa expires. Before traveling, you will need to visit the Portuguese immigration department (SEF) at the embassy and get a luggage certificate indicating all the goods you plan to ship to Portugal. Upon receiving this certificate, your goods should arrive in Portugal within 90 days.

Upon arrival in Portugal, you will need to visit a SEF immigration and border office and apply for a residence permit. This can be done online too. The residence permit is for one year. But after that, you can renew it for two years.

After living in Portugal for 5 years, you are eligible to apply for permanent residence or Portuguese citizenship. Getting any of these two will let you access public health benefits and social security benefits. You will also be free to visit, work, study, and live in any of the other European nations that are part of the Schengen area.

How to move your things from the United States to Portugal

There are several ways to relocate from the USA to Portugal. The most common options include:

  • International moving companies

With this option, a professional moving company will come to your house, pack up all your goods and ship them to your new home in Portugal.

This is the most expensive option, especially if you choose to transport your possessions by air. However, you will enjoy a full-service treatment that includes packing, loading, unpacking, customs clearance, and moving advice.

  • International container companies

International container shipping is a good option to consider if you would like to just pack your household goods and later have everything safely and securely transported for you from your US address to your new home in Portugal.

With this option you get the container delivered at both addresses, giving you ample time to pack and later unpack. You can do the packing by yourself or you can request that service from the container company (or from a third-party service).

Container shipping is cheaper than using an international moving company but costlier than sea freight.

  • Sea Freight

With sea freight, you simply pay to have your household goods transported via sea as cargo freight. This is the simplest way to transport your possessions from the U.S. It is also the cheapest.

With this option, you will need to pack your goods carefully and move them to the seaport. You can do this by yourself or via a shipping agent. You will also need to facilitate the transportation of the goods from the port of arrival in Portugal to your new home.

  • Shipping companies

With this option, you get the low cost of sea freight but without all the hassle of delivering your goods for shipping, dealing with customs agents, clearing your goods at the ports, or forwarding them from the port in Portugal. The shipping company will do all that for you. So it’s like sea freight – but with some convenience.

Also, you can choose to ship your goods via air. Air transportation is much faster but it is costlier and you can only ship a limited amount of cargo.

Why are people moving from the USA to Portugal?

As we mentioned earlier, about 6,000 US citizens are residing in Portugal at the moment. And thousands of others have already obtained citizenship in the country and now live as European nationals anywhere across the Schengen region.

So why are US citizens leaving the USA and relocating to Portugal?

Why people are moving from the US:

In recent years, some key factors have led thousands of US citizens to migrate to other nations across Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Canada. The top reasons cited for these relocations include:

High cost of living

Living in most of the U.S. big cities has become quite expensive. Housing, food, entertainment, healthcare, and general utility bills can be quite high in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

High cost of housing

The cost of housing in major cities across the US has been rising steadily over the years. Currently, housing costs in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are among the highest in the world.

High taxes

High-income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes have led some Americans (especially retirees) to seek out cheaper places to live.

Unemployment

Americans with special skills can land attractive job opportunities and live as expats abroad.

Cultural reasons

Some Americans choose to migrate to other countries where they feel their culture will be more accepted, or where they feel the local culture is preferable to that of the US.

Why people are moving to Portugal:

Portugal is a favorite for many people globally seeking to migrate to Europe. The main factors that attract people to choose Portugal as their second home include:

  • A strong economy with lots of employment opportunities
  • A lower cost of living
  • Warm, sunny weather all year round
  • Strong public and private educational systems
  • Efficient healthcare systems
  • Friendly and welcoming Portuguese citizens
  • A vibrant culture full of sports, music, fashion, and entertainment

Why people are moving from the United States to Portugal:

  • A much lower cost of living
  • Affordable medical care
  • Warm and sunny Mediterranean weather
  • Quality and affordable education (public and private)
  • Friendly and welcoming Portuguese citizens
  • Great food, wine, music, and arts
  • Outdoor attractions that include mountains, beaches, and architectural heritage sites

What are some of the best places to move to in Portugal?

Wherever you choose to settle in Portugal, you are bound to enjoy most of the attractions that led you to relocate there in the first place.

Some of the popular cities/neighborhoods for expats in Portugal include:

Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and has a population of about half a million people. It is located along the coastline in the southwestern region of the country. Lisbon is the destination of choice for those coming to Portugal to lead an urban lifestyle constituting work and entertainment while living close to the amazing beaches found here.

Algarve

Algarve is not a city but the southern region of Portugal. The area enjoys beautiful sandy beaches and the warmest weather in Portugal. This is a top destination for retirees settling in Portugal as well as investors and expats looking to raise families in the country. Some of the top coastal cities to live in around this region are Faro and Lagos.

Porto

Porto is another favorite destination for many expats living in Portugal. It is a warm, coastal city located in the northwestern region. This city of about 214,350 people is quieter and cheaper to live in compared to Lisbon or Algarve. If you’re looking for a place that balances work and rest, this is where you want to be.

Cascais

Cascais is a small municipality located about 20km west of Lisbon. Unlike the other metro cities, Cascais is a small, quiet, relaxed, and charming town with a long coastline and a marina. It is a great destination for expats looking for a more traditional and calm lifestyle in Portugal while still staying close to the capital just a few miles away.

FAQs – Frequently asked questions about moving to Portugal:

  • Can US citizens emigrate to Portugal?

Yes, they can. All you have to do is check your eligibility and then apply for the right visa. If you’re looking to visit and stay for less than 3 months, you do not need a visa.

  • Is it hard to migrate to Portugal?

Apart from a few bureaucratic processes, it is not hard to migrate to Portugal. And it is especially easy if you have family or an employer there already.

  • Can I move to Portugal permanently?

Yes, you can. However, you’ll first need to maintain residency for 5 years. After that, you can apply for citizenship or permanent residency and enjoy the freedom to tour the larger EU region.

  • Can US citizens retire in Portugal?

Yes, they can. And many Americans have done just that. You will need to apply for a D7 visa and show that you can retire there comfortably. Or you can invest in the country and apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa.

  • What are the requirements for a US citizen to move to Portugal?

The main requirements include a clean criminal record, no record of rejected entry into Portugal or into any of the Schengen region, a passport, and a Portuguese Visa.

  • Is there a Portuguese embassy in the US?

Yes, it is located in Washington D.C. on Massachusetts Avenue Northwest. You can get in touch with the embassy here.

  • What are the requirements for retiring in Portugal?

To retire in Portugal you will need to show that you have enough income or investments to sustain yourself and live there comfortably.

  • How can I move to Portugal?

Simply get in touch with the embassy and apply for a visa. You’ll be given a list of requirements to attach to your application. Once you have your visa you can travel to Portugal.

  • What are the benefits of moving to Portugal?

They include a low cost of living, affordable housing, warm weather, beautiful beaches, wonderful people, as well as quality medical and educational institutions.

  • How do I get citizenship in Portugal?

Once you have held a residence permit in the country for 5 years you will be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

  • How much does it cost to move to Portugal?

The cost of a visa application is about $90 and $80 for a residence permit. A one-way ticket from Los Angeles costs about $400 and shipping your goods will cost between $1,200 and 3,200 depending on where you live.

  • What types of visas are available for people living in Portugal?

To move to Portugal you can apply for either a work visa, study visa, retirement visa, investment visa, or a family reunification visa.

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