Portuguese Residency Visa for Canadians

Are you considering a move to Portugal? We spent three months there last year and loved almost everything about it. So much so that we decided to move full time and establish our home base there.

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Drawbridge across the harbour, Lagos

The first step in gaining residency in Portugal is to obtain a Residency Visa. It allows a 4 month stay while you look for long term accommodations, and apply for a 1 year Residency Permit. While there is some paperwork and costs involved, it is one of the easier countries to obtain residency in of several that we looked at.

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Late afternoon at the Sagres Fortress

The process described here is what we just went through applying for a 4 month Canadian Portuguese Residency Visa. This is for applicants in the Pensioners Category, but it could be more challenging if you are looking for work in Portugal.


A small street in Silves

You must apply in person at either the Embassy in Ottawa or one of the Consulates in Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto. We went to the Portuguese Embassy in Ottawa. You can email or call to make an appointment. They have limited hours and a small staff so it is best to set this up well ahead of time. This link will take you to the page listing all the Portuguese Embassies and Consulates.


Portuguese Embassy in Ottawa

Once you have a meeting set up you will need to begin assembling the forms and paperwork necessary for the visa application. The applications are sent to Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) in Lisbon for approval. While this may seem an involved process for a visa, keep in mind that this serves as the basis for the Residency Permit which you will apply for once you are in Portugal.


Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

This is the link to the portal to start from and will bring you to a page headed “Visa”. Click on the tab at the top menu “Long Stay Visa”. Click on “Common Documentation” to open up a list of required documents and information.

Here is a short explanation of what we provided for each element (we left the translated titles so you may chuckle at some of them).

1. Completed Application form – This is the “Application for a Schengen Visa” which is available under the FORMS tab (top menu), go to the British Flag and click on “Visa Form”. Note: we filled in this form in the office and it might be a good idea to leave areas blank until you meet in person, as there are areas on the form that don’t need to be filled in. ALSO on the form it has “Intended date of arrival in the Schengen area” and you can’t enter Portugal before the date you specify. So leave that one blank until you discuss it with the consulate official. However once your visa is approved you can travel at any time for up to three months.

2. A valid travel document – They took a copy of our passports.

3. Two identical photographs – You can use any local shop that takes passport photos. The office only took one and it didn’t need to be dated on the back.

4. Ticket that assures the return – We didn’t have to provide this and it is not applicable.

5. Travel medical insurance – Our current insurance covers us for the first 40 travel days. We were told SEF may not ask for it, but they took a copy just in case. We were told this length of time for insurance was fine as when we get our residence permit we have to enroll in the Portuguese health care system. Note: We need to confirm how long after receiving your Residency Permit your Portuguese Health Insurance becomes valid – we think it is about 3 months.

6. Authorization to the Portuguese Criminal Records by SEF – This is a form that they printed out for us as we couldn’t print the form from the portal. It is a one page document with a paragraph authorizing SEF to do a Criminal Records Check.

7. Criminal Records Certificate from Country of origin – There are several companies in Canada that are certified by the RCMP to collect fingerprints and send them electronically direct to RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa. We used CSI Screening in Halifax and an Internet search will find one in your area. In addition to collecting your digital fingerprints they also complete the form requesting the RCMP for a full Criminal Record Check. Note: this is not the same as the “expediting services” in the US. We also asked if it could be forwarded to us by registered mail but the RCMP only use regular Canada Post service. We were told it would take 10-15 business days, however we met with them on a Friday afternoon and received our clearances in the mail from the RCMP one week later. The total cost for the two of us was $195.

8. Documents related to accommodation – You have to provide an address and a contact in Portugal. It can be a rental agency, hotel, or a mailing address if you know it. They will ask for some form of confirmation which can be a deposit, rental or lease agreement or an email confirmation.

9. Documents proving that the applicant possesses sufficient income – We have a pension and provided the latest annual statement which was fine. The stated income required is 1100€ a month per person.

10. Minors clause – Not applicable for us.

The total cost for this was $258 for both of us. Notes: They didn’t take credit cards at the Embassy in Ottawa so we used debit card. While we were in the office they also took photographs and electronic fingerprints.


Looking inland from Meia Praia, Lagos

All of the information will then be sent to Lisbon for review and approval by SEF. You will be notified when they have the approval from Lisbon and you have the choice of either returning to the Consulate or Embassy and having it inserted in your passport in person OR you can mail (courier) your passports to them to have the visas inserted and sent back. We used Canada Post Express Post and included a prepaid envelope for the return.


At the bottom of the initiation well at Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra

We applied on June 23rd and were told we could expect them by the end of July. We put on our form August 20th as our intended entry into Portugal which we were told would be fine. We received a call on July 27th that our Visas had been approved and they confirmed we could make plans to leave at anytime.


The side streets in Lisbon are worth taking extra time to explore

Our one way tickets are now purchased and we fly to Portugal on August 9th. We are very excited to begin a new chapter in our life and look forward to sharing more stories from Portugal. We plan to change the format of our blog to better show what life is like in our new home and would love to hear of your own experiences.




About timannehall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe. For the next stage of our journey we are going to be based in Portugal and traveling from there.
This entry was posted in Canada, Europe, Preparations, Travel Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Portuguese Residency Visa for Canadians

  1. Great blueprint on the initial phase of getting your resident visas. I know a few Canadians who will definitely find it useful! So … drumroll … Welcome to Portugal! Land of beautiful women, long lashed men, cliffs and castles, olives, figs, cork and oranges sweet as honey. Can’t wait to explore more of it with you.🙂 Love the photo of you both looking up, up, up at the initiation well in Sintra and looking forward to more head tilting, head swiveling and jaw dropping sights. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks you guys – and for putting us up on our arrival. We hope that this post does prove helpful to people,as we know from sharing your experiences how much of a benefit it is when you can learn from those who have gone before. We have already had several people contact us who either have an interest in coming to Portugal or just want to learn a bit more about it. There is definitely a growing awareness of the charm of this country and its people. We are very excited to settle in and do some more exploring.


  2. Tammi Kale says:

    Fascinating posts! I travel vicariously at every opportunity and your blog provides superb wanderings!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Returning to Portugal: We’re not Tourists This Time | A New Latitude

  4. D. says:

    Thank you so much for these valuable informations ! I was wondering if a printed version of the electronic Canadian background check version is acceptable ? Also do you think I need to provide FBI background check of the last 3 years that I spent in the US ?


    • timannehall says:

      Hello and we’re glad that you found the information helpful. Our RCMP security check was printed out and we used that no problem. They require the check from the RCMP containing your fingerprints. We’re not certain about time spent in the US, so it would be best to check with the Consulate that you are going to apply through. Hope that helps and good luck. Tim & Anne


  5. Excellent and concise blueprint and it is exactly what we were looking for. We are also planning to follow your steps in the nearest future. We don’t have pensions yet but we have some savings. Do you have any idea how much one needs to have as assets for one year period by a chance?

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Glad to hear that you found our site helpful. The page Emigrating to Portugal has much of the day to day steps that we have gone through. Not sure if you are asking about an amount required for living in Portugal but depending on your lifestyle a minimum for everything would be in the 2,000 – 2,400 euro a month range for couple. It all comes down to lifestyle as you can certainly lower that a bit or increase it a lot. There are also cheaper places to live farther north in Portugal than the Algarve. If you haven’t seen “No Particular Place to Go” latest post on their costs of living in Lagos it’s worth having a look at. Ours would be somewhat similar, just some different choices. Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Array says:

        Thanks for your response, No, I didn’t mean to ask about the cost of living in Portugal. What I’m trying to find out is the amount of money we have to show in the consulate to be eligible for residence visa in Portugal. You mentioned that the stated income required is 1100€ a month per person. I read somewhere online on expat forums that you can also show a lump sum amount of savings that is equal or lager than one year cost of living based on the monthly number you provided in your blog. Do you happen to know, if that’s true or not? As I said, we will not be receiving any pensions for quite some time and will be living on our savings and rental income from our property after we leave Vancouver. Most likely we will sell our house down the road and buy some rental properties in Portugal, if we realize that we are comfortable with living in this country permanently for many years to come. We already traveled to Portugal in the past but visiting and living there can be quite different experiences.

        Liked by 1 person

      • timannehall says:

        No, we still have not seen anything official on the amount required to enter as pensioners. We have heard the 1100 euro amount, but also heard (and seen on some forums) they will accept the current Portuguese Cost of Living. Perhaps the Consulate in Vancouver can provide you with a more official number. And yes, visiting and living here are very different – we are quite enjoying living here!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s most likely would be the best way of finding out the numbers we are looking for. And I am really glad to hear that you are enjoying your life there. 🙂


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