The new Portuguese Startup Visa


published on May 11, 2018


In an attempt to promote and attract foreign investment and stimulate entrepreneurial projects, Portuguese Ordinance No. 344/2017 dated 13 November (“Portaria n.º 344/2017, de 13 de Novembro”), established the bases for the new Portuguese “Startup Visa” programme, consisting of a scheme intended for foreign entrepreneurs who intend to develop a project of entrepreneurship and/or innovation in Portugal, while at the same time, facilitating the granting of a residence visa or residence permit.



1. Subjects of the Startup Visa and eligibility criteria

2. Selection of Applicants

The Ordinance regulated the first phase of the programme, consisting of the selection and certification of certain entities (“Incubators”), whose function is to support and welcome entrepreneurial immigrants in the creation and installation of technology-based companies, being responsible for supporting the development of new businesses in its early stage, promoting small science and/or technology-based enterprises and providing a wide variety of services (such as the provision of well-equipped spaces and administrative support, serving as an intermediary between innovation and development (R&D) institutions and enterprises and between the latter and the respective markets).
Once the bases for the programme were established, the Government issued Normative Order No. 4/2018 (“Despacho Normativo n.º 4/2018”) to approve the regulation of the Startup Visa program itself.​


Subjects of the Startup Visa and eligibility criteria

The Startup Visa programme is intended for:
1. Entrepreneurs who intend to develop their entrepreneurial and/or innovative project in Portugal, even though they have not yet set up a company; and
2. Entrepreneurs who already have business projects in their countries of origin and who intend to pursue their activity in Portugal.

In order for their applications to be selected, entrepreneurs must fulfil 2 types of eligibility requirements: a) about the candidate himself and b) about the project.

In regard to the personal criteria, applicants must demonstrate:
1. Not having permanent residence in a country pertaining to the Schengen Area 
2. That they have fulfilled their obligations before the Portuguese Tax Administration and Social Security (if applicable);
3. Not having a criminal record;
4. Being of age;
5. Possessing financial resources equivalent to 12 times the Social Support Indexation (IAS), which in 2018 corresponds to the amount of 428,90 Euro, evidenced through bank statement;
With respect to the project, the applicants should demonstrate:
1. effective interest in developing an entrepreneurial project in Portugal, namely through the creation of an innovative company;
2. that he intends to develop activities of production of internationalizable goods and services. For this purpose, applicants must demonstrate that
    • the start-up company was set up less than 4 years ago in its country of origin
    • it has the potential to create at least 5 jobs, excluding the number of project entrepreneurs, within 24 months;
    • they are administrators of the company and / or possess a capital participation in the company or voting right, corresponding to at least 10% of the company’s share capital;
    • the official statements of the company in the year prior to the application have a net positive result;
3. their projects and/or companies focus on technology and knowledge, with perspectives of development of innovative products;
4. there is an interest of 1 or more certified Incubators to incubate the entrepreneurial project under the terms of the programme;
5. they have the potential for the creation of qualified employment, in addition to the entrepreneurs included in the application for the programme;
6. they have the potential to achieve a turnover of more than 325,000 Euro/year and/or an asset value of more than 325,000 Euro, up to 5 years after the start of the incubation contract; and
7. they have the capacity to set up a company, when applicable, for the duration of the programme.

Selection of Applicants

The entrepreneur must first liaise with the certified incubators whose characteristics and capabilities best match the needs for the development of their project, in order to obtain an express declaration of interest concerning their application.
The List of incubators should be made available on the electronic platform of the programme.

Once having collected the support of the incubators, the entrepreneur must prepare his application, which must be submitted in English or Portuguese by means of an electronic form made available on the electronic platform of the programme, accompanied by the following documents:
1. letter of motivation evidencing the interest in developing an entrepreneurial and / or innovative project in Portugal;
2. proof of compliance with the eligibility requirements regarding the person of the entrepreneur;
3. documents related to the identification and presentation of the project, proving the eligibility requirements mentioned above with respect to it; and
4. Declaration of one or more certified incubators interested in the project.

Pursuant to the submission of the application, IAPMEI - Agência para a Competitividade e Inovação, I.P (the regulatory entity) analyses the conformity of the project with the applicable legal requirements and issues its decision within 30 working days of the submission, making it available on the programme's electronic platform within 3 business days.
If the decision is favourable, the applicant has up to 40 working days to execute the incubation contract with one of the incubators that has declared interest, being subsequently registered on the electronic platform of the programme within 5 working days.
The incubation contract is subject to a written form and should include the obligations and services to be rendered by the certified incubator (including appointing a person responsible for the project, registration of the incubation contract on the platform, development, follow-up and implementation of a personalized incubation plan that schedules and characterizes the type of support that will be provided to the project and presentation of a quarterly progress report of the activities developed) and the obligations of the entrepreneur (in particular as regards the fulfilment of the incubation plan, provision of information and clarification and communication of any changes to the requirements to the IAPMEI and SEF – Foreigners and Borders Service).
The incubation contract is valid for 12 months, renewable for equal periods by agreement of the parties provided that the incubator continues to be certified in accordance with the applicable legal requirements.
Foreign Entrepreneurs who develop projects integrated in certified incubators, duly approved within the Startup Visa programme, are entitled to apply for a residence permit or a residence visa for entrepreneurial immigrants, as set forth in articles 89, paragraph 4 and 60, paragraph 2 of Law no. 23/2007, dated 4 July (Lei n.º 23/2007), which approves the regime of entry, stay, departure and removal of foreigners of the national territory (without prejudice to the need for evidence of the legal requirements by the proper authority, SEF).


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António Frusoni Gonçalves

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