What Is a Portugal Startup Visa?
Portugal launched the startup visa programme with a vision to attract international investment, talent and innovation capacity to the country, by supporting and promoting entrepreneurship as a strategy for overall economic growth and employment generation.
By investing and creating qualified employment in Portugal, foreign national entrepreneurs can integrate a startup incubator in the country through this programme.
It is promoted by the Institute for the Support of Small and Medium Enterprises and Innovation (IAPMEI, I.P. or IAPMEI), who offers incentives and support to entrepreneurs developing innovation and business competitiveness in Portugal.
Turkish entrepreneurs who seek to develop their innovative and/or entrepreneurial projects in Portugal can apply for a Portuguese startup visa, even if they have not created a company in the country.
In fact, for a startup visa in Portugal, you may or may not have a viable product or a working prototype. Having a well-developed, innovative business idea should suffice for your application to IAPMEI.
However, your project must be related to innovation and technology to qualify for a Portuguese startup visa.
- What Is a Portugal Startup Visa?
- What Are the Benefits of a Portugal Startup Visa?
- Who Can Apply for a Startup Visa in Portugal?
- What Supporting Documents Do I Need for a Startup Visa in Portugal?
- How Do I Apply for a Portuguese Startup Visa?
- Processing Time
- Startup Visa Validity and Renewal in Portugal
- Bringing My Family to Portugal on a Startup Visa
- Pathway to Permanent Residency and Citizenship in Portugal
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Benefits of a Portugal Startup Visa?
The Portuguese startup visa is a residency visa and a low-cost settlement route to Portugal.
Since Turkey (or Türkiye as per the new official spelling) is not among the visa-exempt countries for Portugal, eligible Turkish nationals will have to apply for a startup visa to travel to the country.
After arriving in Portugal, they will need to get in touch with Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF) to apply for their temporary residence permits. The residence permits are initially valid for two years, and can then be renewed for three years.
Once you have received your residence permit, you will be able to enjoy all rights and benefits that come along with Portuguese residency, including the rights to live, work and study in Portugal, to enter and exit the country freely, to bring your family members to the country under the family reunification principles, and to obtain visa-free travel access to the EEA countries and Schengen Area.
Additionally, given that under the startup visa programme you are required to reside in Portugal for at least 183 days a year, you will become a tax resident in the country and may obtain a 10-year beneficial tax status. You will then not have to pay income taxes in your home country since Turkey has a Double Taxation Prevention Treaty with Portugal.
Moreover, after five years of holding a temporary residence permit in Portugal, you can apply for a permanent residence permit, which will allow you to continue with all rights and benefits available to Portuguese residents without the need to renew your residence permit.
Alternatively, you may also apply for Portuguese citizenship after residing in Portugal lawfully for five years on a temporary residence permit. As a Portuguese citizen, you will get additional rights in the country such as the right to vote and the right to live, work and study in any of the EU countries.
As a Portuguese citizen, you can also apply for a Portuguese passport, which will allow you to travel either visa-free or on a visa-on-arrival basis to 188 countries.
Who Can Apply for a Startup Visa in Portugal?
To be eligible to apply for a Portuguese startup visa, a foreign national entrepreneur must meet certain eligibility criteria. You must:
- Not have permanent residence in the Schengen Area
- Have complied with tax and social security obligations fully, if applicable
- Not have any criminal records in your country of residence
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have sufficient financial resources to reside in Portugal for at least a year (i.e. a sum equivalent to 12 times the Social Support Index in Portugal)
- Demonstrate that you are interested to develop an entrepreneurial project in Portugal, by either setting up an innovation-based business in the country or by transferring your existing innovation-based business elsewhere to the country
- Prove that your projects and/or companies are focused on technology and knowledge, and you intend to conduct business activities in Portugal to develop innovative products and/or services
- Have received an interest from one or more certified incubators in Portugal to physically incubate your entrepreneurial project. Under the terms of the programme, collaboration with a Portuguese business incubator is obligatory
- Have the capacity to set up a company, if applicable, throughout the programme
- Have the potential to create qualified employment in Portugal
- Have the potential to achieve a turnover of more than €325,000 per annum, and/or an asset value of more than €325,000, up to five years from the beginning of the incubation contract
If there are multiple candidates involved in the prospective entrepreneurial project, individual contribution of each candidate will be essential to the development of the project, and will be assessed as such by IAMPEI.
What Supporting Documents Do I Need for a Startup Visa in Portugal?
To apply for a startup visa in Portugal, you will have to submit the following documents:
- Relevant visa application form, duly completed and signed by the applicant
- A declaration of acceptance to startup visa by IAPMEI, certifying the signing of an incubation contract with a certified incubator, in accordance with the Ministry of Economy regulations
- A detailed business plan
- Current passport, valid for three months beyond the duration of the planned stay
- Two passport size photos
- Medical insurance, where the insured amount is sufficient to cover your medical expenses including medical emergencies and repatriation
- Proof of lawful residence in case you are applying for your visa from a country where you are not a citizen
- Criminal record certificate, issued by a competent authority of your country of residence, with the Hague Apostille (if applicable) or legalised
- A letter granting permission to SEF for criminal record enquiry
- Proof of subsistence (e.g. bank account statements)
- Proof of accommodation in Portugal (e.g. property purchase documents, rental lease, etc.)
Given that Turkey is a member of the Hague Apostille Convention, your official documents do not need to be legalised.
Your documents can be in either English or Portuguese. If not, then you will have to arrange for their certified translated copies. Moreover, do keep in mind that SEF may ask you for additional supporting documents depending on your circumstances.
How Do I Apply for a Portuguese Startup Visa?
The prospective applicants for a Portuguese startup visa must start the process with their registration and demonstration of interest to the incubators. The registration as well as the subsequent submission of applications can be done online on the IAPMEI website. Applications can be made either in Portuguese or in English.
To proceed to the next stage of their applications, foreign national entrepreneurs must get a positive response from at least one certified incubator in Portugal. Following the positive incubator response, the migrant entrepreneurs will have to complete their application and submit it to IAPMEI online for evaluation.
IAPMEI may take up to 30 working days to arrive at a decision on your startup application from the date of submission.This decision will be available online on the IAPMEI website. They may ask you for more business information and/or documentation while evaluating your application, which you must submit within three working days.
If your application is rejected by IAPMEI, please note their reasons for such refusal. If you believe you have sufficient evidence to counter the grounds for refusal, you can avail your right of hearing by submitting such evidence to IAPMEI within 10 working days from the refusal notice.
If your application is successful, you can go ahead and sign an incubation contract with one of the incubators who showed interest in your proposed project, within 40 working days. The final contract, dated and signed by both parties, must be submitted on the IAPMEI website.
Once your contract is uploaded, the IAPMEI declaration of acceptance of your startup visa will be automatically available online, and will be valid for 180 days. After receiving the acceptance, you can proceed with applying for a residence visa to travel to Portugal in a Portuguese embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
Please get in touch with your local Portuguese embassy or consulate to schedule an appointment. You can download your visa application form from their website. On the date of your appointment, please submit your completed and signed visa application form along with required supporting documents and pay the visa processing fees at the embassy/consulate.
Turkish entrepreneurs can apply for their startup visa in the Portuguese embassy in Ankara, located at the following address:
Embassy of Portugal in Türkiye
Kirlangiç Cad. no. 39 – Gaziosmanpaşa (GOP),
Çankaya – 06700,
The Portuguese embassy or consulate in your country of residence may take 60 days or more to process your visa. The processing time varies depending on the volume of visa applications being handled by them at the time of your application, as well as the completeness and accuracy of your visa application and supporting documents.
It is advisable, therefore, to pay due diligence while filling up your visa application form as well as arranging for required supporting documents, to avoid any unnecessary delay in processing.
The startup visa programme does not require an immigrant entrepreneur to invest any fixed sum in Portugal, unlike the Portuguese Golden Visa programme. However, you will be required to pay the usual visa and residence permit processing fees.
Your local Portuguese embassy or consulate will charge you €90 for processing your visa. This fee may vary from country to country.
SEF will charge you a fee of €83 for processing your temporary residence permit application, and an additional €72 to send your residence permit to your Portuguese address.
You may have to incur additional costs in case your supporting documents are not in Portuguese or English, and you will have to arrange for their certified translated copies. This cost will vary depending on your country of residence.
Startup Visa Validity and Renewal in Portugal
A startup residency visa is valid for four months, and allows a visa-required foreign national to enter Portugal, provided the Portuguese immigration officer at your port of entry is satisfied with your documentation.
After arriving in Portugal, you must get in touch with SEF within your visa validity period to apply for your temporary residence permit. A temporary residence permit for startup visa holders is granted initially for two years, and can be renewed for three years thereafter.
Bringing My Family to Portugal on a Startup Visa
After receiving your temporary residence permit, you can bring your eligible family members to Portugal according to the family reunification principles. In this context, eligible family members refer to:
- Your spouses or civil partner
- Your biological or adopted children under 16 years of age
- Your biological or adopted children above 16 years of age who are dependent on their Portuguese resident family member, are studying in Portugal, and are not married
- Your dependent parents
Pathway to Permanent Residency and Citizenship in Portugal
After residing in Portugal lawfully for five years on temporary residence permits, the startup visa holders and their eligible family members can apply for a permanent residence permit.
A permanent residence permit is issued indefinitely, so you will not need to renew it unlike a temporary residence permit. However, you must update your permanent residence card every five years.
Alternatively, you can also apply for Portuguese citizenship by naturalisation/residence after five years of lawful residency in Portugal.
How Can Total Law Help?
The Portugal startup visa is a low-cost settlement pathway in Portugal for foreign national entrepreneurs engaged in innovation-based businesses and projects.
However, even if IAPMEI has approved your startup application, the Portuguese immigration authorities will have the final say on approving/rejecting your residency visa/permit. As such, please consider consulting an immigration lawyer before and during your Portugal startup visa application.
Total Law is here to help.
We have a team of expert immigration advisers to guide and assist you with your startup visa application, even if your circumstances are somewhat complicated. From providing step-by-step instruction on how to apply for a startup visa in Portugal to ensuring that your supporting documents meet the SEF regulations, our bouquet of immigration services covers it all.
Total Law also has an appeal package if you would need to appeal your startup visa refusal.
For more information, dial +44 (0)333 305 9375 today and speak with one of our legal team members.
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Yes. A startup visa holder and their eligible family members must reside in Portugal for at least 183 days per year.
A foreign national entrepreneur who has received the IAPMEI declaration of acceptance and who already holds a valid Schengen visa, will not be required to apply for a startup visa to their local Portuguese embassy/consulate.
They can enter Portugal on the basis of their Schengen visa, and contact SEF to apply for a temporary residence permit within the validity period of their Schengen visa.