For British and Irish teachers, it couldn’t be simpler to go and work in Portugal. Upon receiving a job offer they are automatically entitled to a Temporary Residence Permit which allows them to stay in the country for more than 90 days, or the duration of their contract. To obtain this permit, you need to submit your passport, 2 photos and a declaration from your employer stating the likely period of employment to the Immigration and Border Control Department (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras). A tourist visa is not required for EU-citizens, so many travel directly to Portugal to find work and get the lay of the land.
For non-EU citizens, it is far more complicated, though not impossible. To secure a work permit they need to obtain a formal offer of employment before entering the country. Obviously, it can be difficult to secure a position in this way, particularly as your prospective employers have to make a case to immigration justifying their reasons for hiring you. Essentially, they have to prove that no EU citizen is better qualified or available to take the position. Therefore, it follows that well-qualified, experienced teachers are more likely to be successful, and more so if they have traveled to the country beforehand.
Non-EU citizens need to first obtain a tourist visa from the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in their home country. This usually takes 7-14 weeks from the date of the initial application. A tourist visa is good for 90 days, but if you need more time to secure a position it’s normally possible to get an extension while you are still in the country. If you are lucky enough to find a school willing to go through the hassle of obtaining a work permit and make you a formal job offer, you then need to return to your country of residence to begin the application process.
The following documents should be submitted to Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in your home country:
- fully completed visa application form
- two passport photographsvalid national passport & one copy
- original of valid resident visa
- confirmation letter from your health insurance stating coverage & one copy
- current bank statement & one copy
- reference letter from your employer/ education institution
- visa fees for the Portuguese Visa
Be aware that applications for work permits have been known to take up to 12 months in some cases, and are rejected more often than they are granted. However, if you have exceptional skills and experience it might be worth your while, as the salary to cost of living ratio for EFL teachers in Portugal exceeds that of any other Western European country.
A general overview of what to expect teaching English in Portugal
Detailed living costs for teaching English in Portugal