Moving to the UK from Portugal

Relocating from Portugal to the UK

For decades, the UK has been a premier destination for Portuguese citizens looking for a new life. It is estimated that around 286,000 Portuguese nationals currently call the UK home, a substantial increase from 9,000 in 2008, largely driven by the freedom of movement between EU member states. If you have the UK on your horizon for 2024, 2025 or beyond, whether to work, study, or join family members who already live here, it is useful to understand how to make the move here as smooth and seamless as possible. In this guide, we will explain everything that you need to know about moving to the UK from Portugal, including the legal requirements and how much it costs to live here. We also provide a relocation checklist and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about relocating from Portugal to the UK.

Moving from Portugal to the UK after Brexit

The United Kingdom (UK) ceased to be a member of the European Union (EU) at 11pm GMT on the 31st December 2020 (midnight in Brussels), ending the right of free movement for EU and UK citizens. As a result, a new arrangement came into force allowing EU nationals who were living in the UK before the end of 2020 to remain indefinitely under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

EU nationals who were not living in the UK before the end of 2020 now need to apply for a UK visa to work, study, or join family members. The process of applying for a UK visa is relatively straightforward but with the assistance of a UK immigration specialist,

Moving to the UK from Portugal benefits

There are many benefits of living in the UK as a Portuguese national, including:

  • An excellent transport system, making it easy to access the continent by plane, train, or car.
  • A robust and flourishing economy with access to highly lucrative markets
  • A wide variety of highly skilled and well-paid job opportunities
  • Excellent rates of pay
  • Minimal levels of administration and ‘red tape’ make it easy to set up and run a business.
  • Rich culture and history of the UK
  • Beautiful ‘chocolate box’ villages, mountains, hills, lakes, and countryside, and
  • World-renowned schools and universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St Andrews, and University College London (UCL).

Transforming Lives: Real Stories of Client Satisfaction

"This was my first application for a skilled worker visa and A Y & J helped me through it, making me feel at ease with the process. Very quick replies on e-mails & assistance provided by Imad and Silvia was excellent. Truly could not have had a better experience. Would absolutely recommend them if assistance required."

Isis Smid

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"They are the best, very reliable and always on time"

Mashavave Viola

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"I will be glad to work with you again and again ❤️ you are the best 💋 and l will love to contact you when ever l need your support."

Ogunnaike Olakunle

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"This was our 2nd application for my wife's visa. A Y & J Solicitors were recommend to us and they delivered. Right from the outset. The process was explained thoroughly. We was not pushed to commit. Our appointed Solicitor Nagina was absolutely brilliant. Took all our concerns away and approached our application in a professional manor. Can not recommend enough. Thank you A Y & J & a special thanks to Nagina"

neil Pedder

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"I'm very pleased to recommend Diana and her team. They have consistently provided excellent service and achieved successful outcomes in our applications, thanks in part to Ikra's outstanding casework and exceptional support throughout the process. She ensured we fully understood everything and addressed any questions we had promptly and professionally."

Esmeralda Krutani

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"My experience with the A Y & J and Team was amazing. Mehak was very accessible and honest person which makes you feel instantly at ease. if you are looking for an affordable law firm, that actually treats you like a real person and makes everything run smoothly, then you have found it! I finished all my uk skilled work visa application with A Y & J. Thanks A Y & J."

Sriram Popuru

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How to set up your finances in the UK?

The UK has a modern digital banking system, which makes it very easy to set up a new bank account here. We recommend waiting until you get here to open a new bank account, however, as UK banks require proof of identity and a permanent UK address.

You will also need to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number after you arrive in the UK and before you start to work. The tax system is also very straightforward in the UK, with any tax owed automatically deducted by your employer and paid to the government through the ‘Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) system. If you are self-employed, you will also need to prepare a ‘self-assessment tax return’ each year for submission to HMRC. A UK-based accountant will prepare your tax return on your behalf to make it as easy as possible.

The exact legal requirements that you will need to meet as a Portuguese citizen moving to the UK will depend on the visa that you apply for. Here are some of the most popular types of visa available to citizens of Portugal who wish to relocate to the UK:

UK Skilled Worker visa

The UK Skilled Worker visa allows nationals of Portugal to live and work in the UK for up to 60 months (5 years). At this stage, the visa can then either be further extended, or holders can apply to settle permanently and then have British citizenship one year later. To be eligible for a UK Skilled Worker visa as a Portuguese national, you must:

  • Have an offer of a job with a licenced UK employer
  • Receive a salary that meets the minimum salary requirement of £38,700 per year (or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you do). Note – your salary threshold may be lower if you have a PhD, a job on the UK government’s immigration salary list, or are a new entrant to the job market.
  • Meet the English language requirement by passing an approved English language exam.

UK Student visa

To secure a Student visa to attend a British university, college, or school as a national of Portugal, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have an offer of a place on a course with an approved education provider
  • Have enough money to support yourself while studying in the UK
  • Be able to cover the cost of your course.
  • Meet the English language requirements

If your Student visa is approved by the Home Office, you can remain in the UK for the duration of your course. If you would like to stay once your course finishes, you can then apply for a 2-year UK Graduate visa, allowing you to find employment.

UK Innovator Founder visa

The UK Innovator Founder visa is an excellent route for Portuguese business people and entrepreneurs who would like to move to the UK to set up a business here. By choosing this immigration route, you can settle permanently after just 3 years, rather than the normal 5 years it takes to secure permanent residency. To apply for a UK Innovator Founds visa, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a business idea for a new, unique, viable, and scalable business
  • Have your business plan endorsed by an approved UK-endorsing body
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Have enough money to support yourself while establishing your business.

This is just a selection of the many UK visas open to Portuguese nationals. To better understand all of the routes available to you and your family and which are best suited for your needs, please speak to an experienced immigration Solicitor.

Get in touch with our immigration experts for help with your move to the UK from Portugal

What is the cost of living in the UK?

The overall cost of living in the UK is higher than in Portugal, however, this is offset by the higher average wages on offer here. According to the cost of living comparison website Numbeo, the cost of living in the UK is around one-third more expensive than in Portugal. This is mainly driven by the higher cost of renting property, which is over 33% higher in the UK. It is important to remember that the cost of rental can be significantly reduced by living in an area outside of London and the South East (typically the most expensive areas to buy and rent property).

Emigrating to the UK from Portugal – Checklist

Before you emigrate from Portugal to the UK, you recommend that you complete the following steps:

  • Research your immigration options – we recommend speaking to a trusted immigration specialist in the UK with whom you can discuss your needs and plans to determine the best visa for your needs. Immigration specialists understand all of the visas available to EU nationals, including the relatively new self-sponsorship route (see below for more details).
  • Get a job with a UK employer before you apply for a work visa. Remember, your employer must have a sponsor licence and offer pay that meets the salary requirements.
  • Calculate your income and cost of living in the UK – we recommend creating a budgeting spreadsheet for this purpose.
  • Work out your likely cost of living, including transport, removal costs, and rent deposit, etc.
  • Create a short list of the areas where you would like to live in the UK.
  • Visit the UK to look around your short-listed areas.
  • Find out which schools are in your preferred areas and check if they have availability for your children.
  • Ask any Portuguese nationals you know who already live in the UK for any advice and tips on relocating from Portugal to the UK.
  • EU / UK Driving licence - According to the rules, if you are younger than 67 when you become a resident of the UK, you can drive on your EU licence until you are 70. If you are 67 or older when you become a resident, you can drive on your EU licence for 3 years after that point.

What is a Self-Sponsored Route?

Nationals of Portugal can use the Self-sponsorship route to relocate to the UK without needing to apply for a job. Through this route, they can simply set up their own business here and sponsor and employ themselves. We can explain and guide you through the self-sponsorship process, ensuring that you meet all of the legal requirements. The self-sponsorship route also provides a route to permanent settlement in the UK and, ultimately, British citizenship.

Emigrating to the UK as a non-Portuguese national

Non-Portuguese nationals also need to apply for a visa to emigrate to the UK. As for Portuguese nationals, there are several immigration routes available, the most suitable of which depends on your nationality, family connections to the UK, and your plans for living in the UK. To discuss your immigration options as a non-Portuguese national, please speak to one of our friendly and astute UK Immigration Solicitors.

Joining UK Family Members as a Non-Portuguese National

To move to the UK and live with your partner, spouse, parent, or child as a non-Portuguese national, you will need to apply for a Family visa. You must have a family member who lives in the UK and is a British citizen, a person with indefinite leave to remain, an EU/EEA national who started living in the UK before 1st January 2021 or has refugee status in the UK. If your Family visa application is successful, you will be able to apply for permanent residency after 5 years of continuous residence and British citizenship one year later.


What documents and information do I need to move to the UK?

To relocate to the UK for work, you will need:

  • A valid Portuguese passport
  • Evidence of a job offer for an eligible role
  • A Certificate of Sponsorship
  • A bank statement showing that you have enough funds to support yourself and your immediate family members.

This is only a small selection of the documents that you may need. Your immigration solicitor will provide you with a complete list of all the documents that you will need based on your chosen visa type.

Do Portuguese citizens need sponsorship to work in the UK?

Yes, if you wish to apply for a work visa in the UK as a Portuguese national, you must be sponsored by a UK employer. Alternatively, you can consider the self-sponsorship route.

What should I consider before moving back to the UK from Portugal?

Here are just some of the considerations before moving back to the UK from Portugal:

  • Employment
  • Banking arrangements
  • Establishing a credit rating
  • Selling your property
  • Tax arrangements - if you have lived in Portugal for more than 5 years, you may need to meet different rules for income and capital gains tax.
  • National insurance and pension - Check whether you will need to ‘top up’ your national insurance contributions so that you are eligible for a UK state pension when you reach retirement age.

Moving from Portugal to the UK requirements

Please see the legal requirements for moving from Portugal to the UK above.

Can you move to the UK from Portugal?

Yes, however, Portuguese citizens and their family members require a visa to live in the UK. Please see the visa options explained above.

Are Portuguese citizens allowed to work in the UK?

Yes, but you will need a job offer from a sponsoring employer, a certificate of sponsorship, and a work visa granted by the UK Home Office.

Applying for a UK visa from Portugal

As a Portuguese national, you can apply for your UK visa online through the UK’s Home Office website. You will need to fully complete the application form, pay any required fees, and submit any documents required to support your case. You will also need to meet the requirements for the type of visa you are applying for. An immigration Solicitor in the UK can handle this process for you.

UK entry requirements from Portugal

Please see the legal requirements for moving from Portugal to the UK above.

How long can a Portuguese citizen stay in the UK?

The length of time you can spend in the UK will depend on the type of visa you hold. Portuguese nationals can visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa. Work visas last up to 5 years and provide a route to permanent settlement. Student visas typically last for the duration of the course, but holders can then apply for a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for a further 2 years to find work.

What is the cost of living in the UK?

Please see the cost of living section above.

Moving Back to the UK from Portugal: Why are British ex-pats leaving Portugal?

Many UK nationals are moving back to the UK from Portugal following Brexit and the ending of UK/EU free movement. This is because UK nationals are now restricted to the number of days (90 days in every 180 days) they can spend in the EU. Other UK nationals are returning for work opportunities or to be with family members.

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!

Moving From Portugal to the UK

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Moving From Portugal to the UK

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