How to Become a Contractor in Portugal

If you’re considering a career in construction abroad, you might be curious about becoming a contractor in Portugal. Much like the U.S., you’ll have to jump a few bureaucratic hurdles before reaching your goal. 

First, you’ll need to learn Portuguese and become a legal resident of Portugal. Next, you’ll develop a business plan, arrange your taxes, get insurance, and secure funding to start your business. Once you’ve formed your business, you can apply for a permit, certificate, and/or license in public or private works, depending on the type of contracting work you want to do.

Please note that links in this article are to Portuguese websites and will need to be translated into English through an app, browser add-on, or Google translate.

  1. Moving to Portugal

Before becoming a contractor, you’ll need to settle in Portugal and have strong control over the language, a place to live, and a work permit. 

For those coming from a country outside of the European Union (EU), you’ll need to get a visa from your nearest Portuguese embassy. Once in Portugal, you’ll apply for a work permit. 

For those coming from another EU country, you’ll be able to move, work, and live in Portugal without issue. After three months, you’ll need to apply for a Residence Certificate. 

You will need an official address of residence for your paperwork – including to get a work permit. This address could be a rented space. 

  1. Starting a Portuguese Contracting Business

Once you have your work permit, place of residence, and NIF number (similar to a tax identification number), you can begin to set up your contracting business. 

Contractors in Portugal take on similar positions to those in the U.S. You’ll need to form a registered business that follows all federal laws and protocols. 

Create a Business Plan

First, you’ll create a business plan. This should define and outline your business, as well as contain all of your business goals. Be sure to include steps for each part of the process and a timeline. 

Most businesses will contract a professional to create the final copy of this plan. For an outline of what your Portuguese business plan should include, check out this site.

Taxes and Insurance

Next, find a certified accountant to help you set up your payments, taxes, and finances – especially if you plan to have employees.

Then, reach out to one or a few insurance companies to verify what coverage you’ll need. This will depend on the contracting work you plan to do, but will likely include liability insurance.

Secure Funding

If you need to secure funding for tools or equipment, reach out to lending agents with your up-to-date documents in hand.

  1. Get Certified or Licensed as a Contractor in Portugal

The Instituto dos Mercados Publicos do Imobilario e da Construcao supplies all permits, certificates, and licenses for contractors. 

Once you have your business set up, you can apply for a Class 1 Permit (public works contractor permit). These permits allow for contracting work up to €166,000. Permits require a long list of documentation including an application, criminal record attestation, tax information, proof of insurance, and more. 

There are also certifications and licenses available:

  • Public works contractor certificate
  • Contractor license for private works
  • Private works contractor certificate

Check out this site to read about the differences between them and their requirements.

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