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Your Guide to Moving to Portugal

This content has been reviewed by the National Van Lines Team
At National Van Lines, we understand that moving to a new country can be both exciting and daunting. To help make your move from Portugal to the US a smooth and successful one, we have prepared this comprehensive guide. While we cannot provide visas, we can certainly assist you with your moving and storage needs, ensuring your belongings reach your new home safely.

Moving to Portugal from the USA

Moving to Portugal from the USA is an enticing prospect, given its blend of Mediterranean spirit and Western European development. Lisbon, with its growing economy and influx of tech companies, has become particularly attractive to foreign investors and expatriates. If you’re considering moving to Portugal, here’s everything you need to know as an American:

  1. Customs: Before moving to Portugal, visit your local Portuguese consulate or diplomatic mission to obtain a Certificado de Bagagem (Luggage Certificate) by providing an inventory of your belongings.
  2. Shipping and Flying Goods: Shipping your belongings to Portugal is easy, with options such as air freight and sea freight available. Sea freight is more affordable but slightly slower. Consider your budget and timeline when choosing the best option.
  3. Storage: Research storage companies near your intended location in Portugal, as they can be helpful for expats needing temporary storage solutions.
  4. Pets: Portugal is pet-friendly, and your furry family members are welcome. Ensure they have a rabies vaccination and meet any specific requirements for certain breeds.
  5. Vaccinations: While there are no official vaccination requirements for Portugal, it’s always recommended to consult your local doctor before traveling to a new country.

How to Move to Portugal from the USA

As an American, you don’t need a visa to enter Portugal for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes. However, if you plan to stay longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit. There are several types of visas available for different purposes, such as the Portugal Golden Visa and D7 Visa (retirement visa). The process for acquiring a visa is typically carried out by the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF).

Required Documents for a Portuguese Visa:

  • Valid passport
  • Passport-size photos
  • Visa application form
  • Valid travel insurance
  • Proof of financial ability to support yourself during your stay
  • Additional documents may be required for specific visa types

Becoming a Permanent Resident or Citizen in Portugal

After obtaining a temporary residence permit and renewing it within five years, you can apply for permanent residence or Portuguese citizenship. Permanent residents in Portugal enjoy various benefits, such as access to social security, healthcare, and education in the Schengen Area. Dual citizenship is allowed for both Portugal and the United States.

Accommodation for Americans in Portugal

Deciding whether to rent or buy a home in Portugal depends on your preferences and needs. Renting offers flexibility, while buying can be a long-term investment. Consider the pros and cons before making a decision. If you need assistance with real estate, our team at National Van Lines can help you find the perfect home in Portugal.

Best Cities to Live in Portugal:

  • Lisbon: A cosmopolitan city with a vibrant culture, offering a blend of modernity and historic charm.
  • Porto: Portugal’s second city with a laid-back vibe, known for its rich history and excellent cuisine.
  • Braga: A city with a vibrant nightlife and proximity to both beaches and mountains.
  • Madeira: A picturesque island with mild weather and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Coimbra: Home to Portugal’s oldest university, offering a mix of history and culture.
  • Portimão: A sunny destination with beautiful beaches and a laid-back ambiance.

How Can National Van Lines Help You?

At National Van Lines, we offer full-service international moving and storage options to assist you with your relocation to Portugal. Our team of experts can handle all aspects of your move, from packing and transportation to storage solutions. With our local offices in Lisbon and Porto, we have the knowledge and experience to make your move stress-free and efficient.

Cost of Living in Portugal vs. the USA

Portugal offers a high quality of life at an affordable cost compared to the US. The average cost of living for a couple in Lisbon is around $2,500 per month, while smaller cities may cost around $2,000 per month. Real estate is also more affordable in Portugal, making it an attractive option for expats.

Real Estate and Rent:

Rents in Portugal are affordable, with a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon ranging from $750 to $1,500 per month. Buying property in Portugal is also a great option, with minimal restrictions for foreigners and programs like the Portugal Golden Visa encouraging real estate investment.

Food and Drink:

Portugal’s food and drink scene is rich and diverse, with plenty of affordable options. Eating out is cheaper compared to the US, with beers costing around $1-2, wine at $2-3, and most meals around $10-12.

Healthcare in Portugal

Portugal’s healthcare system is well-regarded, with public healthcare provided for free to those under 18 and over 65 years old. As a resident, you can access public healthcare by obtaining a user card from your local health center. Additionally, private healthcare is available and provides quicker access and more English-speaking medical staff.

Education and Schools

Portugal offers both public and private schools. Public schools provide education in Portuguese, while private schools may offer English or other language curriculums. There are also international schools available for expats, providing education in English or other foreign languages.

Driving in Portugal

If you plan to drive in Portugal, it’s essential to be aware of the local rules and regulations. The minimum age for driving is 18 years old, and seat belts are mandatory for all passengers. Speed limits are generally 50 km/h in cities, 90 km/h on rural roads, and 120 km/h on highways. Ensure you have the necessary documents, including a valid driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle registration.

Learn the Language

While many Portuguese people speak English, learning the local language will enhance your experience and help you integrate better into the community. Consider taking language classes or using language learning apps to get started.

Explore Portuguese Culture

Portugal has a rich cultural heritage with influences from various civilizations throughout history. Embrace the local customs, try traditional dishes, and participate in festivals to immerse yourself in the Portuguese way of life.


Moving to Portugal from the USA offers an exciting opportunity to experience a new culture, lifestyle, and beautiful landscapes. With careful planning and the assistance of reputable movers like National Van Lines, your transition can be smooth and stress-free. From obtaining the necessary visas to finding the perfect home, we hope this guide has provided valuable insights to make your move a success. Portugal awaits your arrival with open arms!

Contact our friendly team for more information about moving to Portugal and how we can support you with our international moving services.

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