With a rise of 15.7%, the natives of the United Kingdom continued to be the sixth expatriate community in Portugal with a total of 22,431 people in 2017.
Portugal offers a friendly living environment for British students who would like to pursue their Portuguese studies outside their country.
But what are the steps to take before leaving to Portugal?
Do You Need A Passport To Study In Portugal?
British students are not required to have a passport to travel to Portugal, even if their language stay lasts more than three months.
The country is part of the Schengen area, ensuring the free movement of persons, as is the UK.
If you wish to spend a few months during your university studies in Portugal, only a valid identity card is required.
You can apply for a first adult passport if all of the following apply:
- you’re a British national
- you’re aged 16 or over (or will be in 3 weeks)
- you’ve never had a UK passport before
You can also apply if your last UK passport was an old handwritten blue or black one.
You can use your child passport until it expires, even if you’re over 18. An adult passport is valid for 10 years. If you’re in the UK, you can either:
- apply online - it costs £75.50
- apply with a paper form - it costs £85
There’s a different way to apply if you’re overseas.
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
You must send original documents. Photocopies are not accepted. If you do not have your original certificates (for example, your birth certificate), you need to get an official copy.
If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you need to send a certified translation. You can send laminated documents if that’s the only format they are issued in.
You’ll need your full birth certificate or adoption certificate and either:
- your mother’s or father’s full UK birth certificate, or the Home Office certificate of registration or naturalisation, or a British passport belonging to one of your parents that was valid when you were born, or a British passport number for either parent
- evidence of one of your parents’ immigration status in the UK at the time of your birth, for example, a foreign passport belonging to one of your parents that was valid when you were born
If you send documents relating to your father, you must also send your parents’ marriage certificate.
Do You Need A Visa To Study In Portugal?
For a stay abroad in a country of the Schengen area, as a UK citizen, you do not need a visa.
However, you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit (Autorização de Residência) on arrival if you wish to stay for more than three months and less than one year. A fee of 7 € will be charged.
You must apply for your residence permit within three months at the Foreigners and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) of your city.
Avenida Antonio Augusto de Aguiar 20
Tel: (351) 21 358 55 00
Rua D. Joao IV 536
Tel: (351) 22 589 87 10
The documents to be provided are as follows:
- The application for a residence permit,
- Your identity card or passport,
- A passport photo,
- Proof of your student status.
If you wish to stay for more than one year, you will need to apply for a residence permit from the same department.
To do an internship or work in Portugal, young British people do not need a visa either, but a work permit. All you need to do is present your passport, your employment contract or proof of income if you do not yet have a contract.
Working visas usually take a while to get in Portugal. But it is common that you would be authorised to start your employment before you are issued your work visa.
In addition, you will need to have a non-resident Contributor number be in good order with the Portuguese tax serviced. You will be asked for proof of residence in your country of origin.
Please note that this number will be required to complete a lot of procedures. If you plan to settle permanently in Portugal, it is better to apply.
How To Register For University?
For students, another question arises: how to register at their host university?
First of all, you must have a secondary school graduation certificate, essentially your A-level results, corresponding to the certificado of habilitaçŏes do ensino secundàrio or diploma de ensino secundàrio in Portugal.
To register, you will need to request an equivalence of the A-levels from the Portuguese Ministry of Education.
Your application will only be accepted after you have passed the entrance exams, called Provas de ingresso.
You can be exempt from this requirement if you have already completed a degree in Portuguese depending on the institution you are aiming for in Portugal.
Otherwise, the entrance exam includes 1 to 3 subjects depending on the university course you are considering to take. The universities themselves set the minimum mark to be obtained each year in order to be able to enter their course. But if it is a very popular university, the minimum grade to get in may be much higher than usual...
The tests obviously depend on the course chosen and the university concerned. Ask them directly for more information. To obtain the application form, ask the coveted educational institution directly. The procedures are carried out until the end of June-early July.
For some courses, prerequisites may be required as soon as you apply (this is the case for physical education in particular).
Be aware that a quota system promotes access for young people of Portuguese origin living abroad.
Your Portuguese language level will also be assessed. It is mandatory to master the language in order to study Portuguese abroad.
The Portuguese university system
Portugal is also part of the Bachelor's master's doctorate system, which aims to standardise diplomas across Europe.
A university cycle in Portugal is therefore equivalent to a British university cycle.
There are two types of establishments in Portugal with the same organisation:
Universities: general and theoretical knowledge,
Polytechnic institutes: vocational education.
The University of Coimbra is renowned for studying law, management and literature, while the universities of Porto and Lisbon are particularly sought after by students in economics and medicine.
The system is comparable to the British system:
- 1st cycle licenciatura (bachelor): three to four years of study depending on the course. Obtaining 180 to 240 ECTS credits. For polytechnics, it may also be the Bacharelato (bachelor) in three years,
- 2nd cycle mestrado (master): one to two years of study to deepen a specialization or become more professional,
- 3rd cycle doutoramento (doctorate).
The academic year begins in mid-October and ends in mid-May, much like in the UK.
The cost of living abroad varies depending on the nation you choose to visit. Eligible Erasmus+ students receive a grant of €280 – €330 a month towards accommodation and living costs, on top of any existing allowances or loans that are in place through your current university.
There’s also an extra €120 a month available for students who already qualify for supplementary support for higher education, and further financial assistance for students with special needs.
You do not have to pay tuition fees at the university you choose to visit, and you may even be able to take advantage of a financial contribution for your existing UK tuition fees if you study abroad for the whole academic year.
Speak to the Erasmus+ representative at your university to find out more.
Other Formalities You Might Have To Go Through
Depending on the length of your stay, you may have to take other steps.
To have water, electricity or internet, you can easily do it with the companies managing your network by phone provided you speak Portuguese. In most cases, the invoices are in the owner's name and you pay the money directly to the owner.
To subscribe to a telephone contract, simply go to the shop of an operator who will provide you with a local SIM card. You can pay a monthly fee or use a pre-paid card
To open a bank account if you do not have an address yet, here are the required documents:
- Identity card or passport,
- Proof of residence in the country of origin,
- Your Tax Identification Number,
- An address in Portugal for sending correspondence.
To open a bank account if you already rent a home, here are the documents requested:
- Identity card or passport,
- Proof of residence in the country of origin (proof of address and tax number)
- Portuguese taxpayer card,
- Proof of application for a residence card,
- Proof of address in Portugal (rental contract or invoice for water, electricity, gas, telephone).
You should now have a better idea of everything you need to do before leaving for Portugal.