9th November 2023
Over 2,600 visas granted to digital nomads in one year in Portugal

Portugal continues to establish itself as a leading global destination for digital nomads, having granted over 2,600 visas to remote workers in just one year. Considered a “rising star in the remote work universe”, Portugal is also seeing several cities and towns ranking high in global lists of the best locations for digital nomads.

But first to the data: over 2,600 visas have been issued in one year to digital nomads who have moved to Portugal to work, Público newspaper reported last week, citing an official source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The new visa scheme was created in October 2022 for workers from outside the European Union and the Schengen Area who want to come to work remotely in Portugal and earn more than four times the minimum wage.

American digital nomads lead the way with the most visas issued, followed by Brazilian and British remote workers, while Lisbon, Madeira and Porto are the most sought-after destinations.

Lawyer Ricardo Nascimento recently summarised the reasons why so many digital nomads seek Portugal in an opinion piece on online newspaper Eco.

“Portugal has become an increasingly sought-after destination for digital nomads. The country offers several advantages for these workers, such as a mild climate, a relatively low cost of living, and a rich and diverse culture that encompasses history, architecture, gastronomy, and music. This provides digital nomads with the opportunity to experience a new culture and connect with people from around the world,” he wrote.

The word about Portugal’s attractive landscape for remote working is spreading quickly, and as the ever-growing number of Americans seeking Portugal to live and invest in proves, Portugal is no longer the ‘secret’ paradise that it once was viewed as.

The country has been appearing in multiple digital nomad rankings, having recently placed sixth in the Global Remote Work Index (GRWI) when it comes to the ‘Top 10 remote work destinations’.

“Portugal’s beautiful scenery and rich history are not its only attractions anymore,” says the ranking created by Nordlayer, which describes the country as a “rising star in the remote work universe”.

“Known for its pleasant weather and vibrant culture, Portugal now boasts an impressive cyber safety ranking at 18th. This achievement is largely due to its respectable response capacity, which stands out in the 4th position. Moreover, its cybersecurity legislation, ranked 8th, emphasises the nation’s commitment to creating a safe digital workspace,” it says.

Portugal also ranks 8th in economy safety, 7th in social safety, with its “remote work landscape” being described as “a blend of sterling strengths and opportunities for growth”.

“As Portugal continues to enhance its remote work ecosystem, it beckons digital nomads and professionals to experience a blend of traditional charm and modern connectivity,” the ranking concludes.

Portugal’s growing popularity as a digital nomad destination is also clear when visiting online portal www.nomadlist.com, which has four Portuguese locations in its top-20 destinations ranking.

The Azores archipelago is ranked 3rd behind only the Thai cities of Bangkok (1st) and Chiang Mai (2nd), with the Algarve towns of Lagos and Portimão placing 14th and 16th respectively, followed by the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in 17th.

In fact, Lagos and Portimão have established themselves as the Algarve’s leading destinations for digital nomads, with each town boasting its own digital nomad groups.

Lagos Digital Nomads offers two co-working spaces – WOT Lagos Montemor (Rua da Torraltinha, 33-34) and Giramar (Rua Antero Quental, 18) – while Portimão Digital Nomads inaugurated its co-working space in Alvor (Rua Pedro Alvares Cabral, 3B).

Lisbon is naturally another of Portugal’s top destination for digital nomads, offering them nearly everything they may need.

“Generally speaking, it has all the assets, the sea and waterways, the climate, the hospitable people … and this alone makes it an attractive place,” said Future Point Global CEO Ahmad Mansur at a debate in September organised by the cross-border Lisbon-San Francisco community RedBridge.

“Companies want to come here and can attract employees to move because it’s such an attractive place to live, but also because they can get the talent in Lisbon, particularly IT engineers,” he said.

“When you look at digital nomads, they usually go to places that are inexpensive, cool and have good (travel and internet) connections, and where there is a community. I think Lisbon currently provides that,” he added.

How to obtain a digital nomad visa?

There are two ways to obtain a digital nomad visa, Observador newspaper reports.

One is a temporary residence visa that lasts four months (after which an interview with Portugal’s border authorities is required) which can then be converted into a residence permit, valid for two years, during which digital nomads cannot be outside the country for more than eight months interspersed or six consecutive months. It can be renewed for another three years.

Another way involves obtaining a temporary stay visa, not a residence visa: it is valid for one year and can be extended for another year. It does not require an appointment with border authorities and does not count towards applying for citizenship.