header eures en 5

Living and working conditions


Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Portugal on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

With the exception of certain market segments, such as customer service or IT, bear in mind that it is not easy to find a job in Portugal if you do not speak Portuguese. 

Before deciding to travel to Portugal to find a job, contact the EURES services in your country and they will be able to give you up-to-date information on the job market in Portugal. 

If you are already in Portugal, you can look for a job in:

Employment services

The public employment service in mainland Portugal (IEFP – Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional, I.P. [Employment and Vocational Training Institute]) has a network of 83 local employment services (addresses available at www.iefp.pt/redecentros). You can register with an employment service and get information on job offers throughout the country. To do so, you must present an identity card/citizen’s card or, if you are a citizen of a country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, a valid identity card or passport from your country.

Where, in addition to a valid passport (or a national identity card), you have a Portuguese social security identification Number (NISS) and a password for Segurança Social Direta, you can also enrol and gain access to job opportunities available on iefponline (https://iefponline.iefp.pt/).

If you’re in Madeira you can enrol at the Madeira Institute for Employment (www.iem.madeira.gov.pt). If you’re in the Azores you can enrol online or in person at one of the Agencies for Skills, Employment and Labour run by the Regional Directorate for Employment and Qualifications (https://portaldoemprego.azores.gov.pt/).

Temporary employment agencies

Taking a temporary job may be a first step towards finding a more stable job. For that purpose you can also use temporary employment agencies, which assign their employees to other companies.

The contact details of temporary employment agencies authorised to carry out this activity in Portugal are regularly updated on the IEFP Portal at www.iefp.pt/empresas-trabalho-temporario

Internet: job agencies

Portuguese employers advertise their job offers on various websites. The most widely used websites can be found under Related topics.

Social networks

Employers and recruitment companies in Portugal increasingly use platforms such as LinkedIn to find potential candidates, particularly in segments requiring higher education qualifications. To ensure a (considered) presence on LinkedIn – and on social networks in general – it is increasingly important to ensure that your profile is being seen and is accessible to potential employers and recruiters.

Written press

Portuguese companies also make use of the national and regional press to advertise their recruitment needs. The most widely used national newspapers are: Jornal de NotíciasCorreio da Manhã and Público, which publish job offers in a variety of sectors on a daily basis. The newspaper Expresso publishes job offers each week for managerial and specialist staff, executives and consultants in the ‘ExpressoEmprego’ section. In general, these newspapers also have online versions of their classified ads or employment sections in easily searchable job agencies. 

Speculative applications

Many of the jobs available are not advertised. A speculative application is one of the ways you can use to let employers know about your skills.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

How to apply for a job

Application letters, either in response to an advertisement or presenting an unsolicited application, are normally short and simple and never more than or equivalent to one A4 page. The content should highlight (by means of key words, for example) how your experience, qualifications and expectations correspond to the professional profile sought by the employer. A curriculum vitae (CV) should also be attached. These letters are increasingly being replaced by the text in the email to which the CV is attached.

Copies of qualification certificates are not required until later, upon actual recruitment. On average, the recruitment process may take close to 1 to 2 months (depending on the complexity of the job and the urgency in filling the vacancy).

Application forms are widely used for applicants with or without qualifications, and come in many varieties (increasingly in an online format). Some are fairly standardised, while others focus mainly on previous professional experience and invite open-ended replies. Standard questions cover personal information, education, experience and knowledge of languages. 

A Portuguese CV is generally presented in reverse chronological order (starting with experience and qualifications acquired more recently), and has one or two pages. The functional model (for professionals with broad experience) and the infographic model (on one page, particularly for young people with less professional experience) are also increasingly used. The inclusion of a photograph is very often appreciated. 

The following points should be mentioned on a CV: 1. Personal details (address – city and country, telephone or mobile number, email address, LinkedIn page, Skype address, etc.); 2. Professional experience; 3. Education (highest level of schooling); 4. Vocational training (different category from initial education; list training courses and internships, and mention a professional card / memberships of professional associations where applicable ); 5. Other skills (foreign language and IT skills, driving licence where applicable, particularly when it is a requirement of the offer); 6. Leisure activities / personal interests (optional).

After applying for a job (by email, application form or letter), the next step is the interview, which is the main selection technique. Interviewers place most value on professional experience, vocational training, knowledge of the company and its main sector of activity and your skills (technical, organisational, social). You can take certain documents to the interview, i.e. diplomas, evidence of prior experience (work certificates), recommendations from former employers and other documents which you believe will support you – but you should only present them when asked by the interviewer.

Care with your personal appearance (clothes, haircut, etc.) can be important at interviews. Avoid showing any piercings, for example, and be careful with the visibility of tattoos.

The use of personality tests is common in Portugal, particularly in large companies or when recruitment is carried out by recruitment agencies or selection and recruitment consultants.

Aptitude and psychometric tests are normally used for middle management applicants. Graphology is sometimes used (prior permission of the applicant is not required).

Medical examinations may be requested for some jobs before a candidate is taken on. Only the doctor concerned can declare whether the candidate meets the medical requirements for the work to be undertaken.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Finding accommodation

The Portuguese property market has been affected by a considerable increase in tourist demand in recent years (though this fell drastically in 2020). In major cities such as Lisbon and Porto, and in tourist regions such as the Algarve, it is more difficult to find accommodation to rent or buy. 

It is rare for an employer to provide accommodation – although in some cases they provide support in finding the best options. You should therefore start to look for somewhere to live well before you go to Portugal.

You can begin by looking on the internet: there are many sites (some in English) that provide reasonable coverage of what is available in the main cities: to buy, long and short-term rental (for holidays).

Once you are in Portugal you can also look at the classified advertisements:

  • in the most widely-read national newspapers such as Jornal de NotíciasCorreio da Manhãor Público for the main cities;
  • in some specialist advertising papers, such as Jornal Ocasião;

in the local press, if you intend to live in smaller cities. These newspapers also usually have online versions which are easy to search. 

You should always check that advertisements are genuine. Ask whether you have to pay to see the accommodation. If the answer is yes, it is better to avoid it.

You can also use estate agents or contact certain associations, such as the Associação dos Profissionais e Empresas de Mediação Imobiliária de Portugal (APEMIP) [Association of Professional Real Estate Agents of Portugal] or the Associação Lisbonense de Proprietários [Lisbon Property Owners Association]. Some banks also have online databases of houses or flats for sale or rent.

Long-term rents vary according to the type and location of the accommodation. The following is an indication of the costs (minimum and maximums for reference) of renting somewhere to live in Lisbon:

  • T0 (studio) flat (minimum EUR 550 / maximum EUR 1 200)
  • T1 (one bedroom) flat (minimum EUR 600 / maximum EUR 1 400)
  • T2 (two bedroom) flat (minimum EUR 800 / maximum EUR 2 200)
  • T3 (three bedroom) flat (minimum EUR 900 / maximum EUR 3 200)

The rent generally does not cover water, electricity, telephone, gas or internet. Unfurnished accommodation without air conditioning or central heating but mostly with wardrobes and/or equipped kitchens can also be found. 

In the main university cities (including Lisbon and Porto), people also rent rooms to students.

For short-term accommodation, many of the websites mentioned have a ‘holiday rental’ search option. For short-term accommodation you can also consult ‘Alojamento’ [Accommodation] on the Portal Oficial de Turismo de Portugal [Official Portuguese Tourism Portal] or find information on Youth Hostels in Portugal on the Juventude Portal.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Kinds of employment

The legal minimum working age is 16, but the young person will have to: 

  • have the physical and mental capacities for the job and
  • have finished mandatory schooling or be registered with and attending secondary education or vocational training. Most young people therefore only enter the job market from 18 years of age (age at which it is no longer compulsory to attend education or training).

Employment contract

This is a contract whereby an individual undertakes to provide work, in return for pay, to one or more persons, as part of an organisation and under the authority of the employer.

Types of employment contract

Contract of employment of indefinite duration (indeterminate duration or permanent contract): this does not require any special formality and (for a foreign worker) must be in writing. The employer must provide the worker with written information on the basic details of the respective contract or working relationship – in a language the worker understands. A probationary period may be defined, during which either party may terminate the contract without notice and without any compensation being payable.

Fixed-term contract of employment: this is a written contract and may be signed only to fulfil a temporary need within the company and for the period of time strictly necessary to meet that need. It may be signed only for a period of 6 months or less, in situations provided for by law and up to a maximum of 3 years, including renewals.

Contract of employment for an unspecified duration: this lasts as long as is necessary to replace an absent employee or to complete the activity, project, task or assignment to which the contract relates. This contract may not last for more than 6 years, including renewals.

Very short duration contract of employment: this contract applies to seasonal agricultural work or tourist events lasting no more than 15 days, and does not have to be in written form. The total duration of contracts with the same employer may not exceed 70 days of work during the same calendar year.

Intermittent contract of employment: this is used by companies performing an activity that is either intermittent or varies in intensity, where the employee’s activity is interrupted by one or more periods of downtime. Such contracts must be in written form and must indicate the annual number of full-time working hours or days. The employee must be employed full-time for at least 6 months in each calendar year, with 4 months’ consecutive employment. Furthermore, such contracts may not be fixed-term or for temporary work.

Part-time contract of employment: a written contract corresponding to normal weekly working hours but less than those worked on a full-time basis in comparable circumstances. Work may be provided for only a few days per week, per month or per year, with the number of days to be worked established by agreement.

Teleworking contract: provision of legally dependent labour, usually not on the employer’s premises, by means of information and communication technologies. This type of contract may not last more than 3 years. 

Temporary contract of employment, which may be for a fixed or unspecified duration: the employee is hired and paid by the temporary employment agency but he/she provides services to user companies (contracts may not last for longer than 2 years). 

Contract of unspecified duration for temporary provision of service: the employee has a contract of indeterminate duration with a temporary employment agency and provides services to user companies on a temporary basis. 

Very short duration contract of employment:

The Portuguese Labour Code (article 142) foresees the possibility to celebrate very short term work contracts, namely in case of seasonal activities (e.g. within agricultural campaigns or tourism, hotel & catering). Contracts up to 35 days are not subject to written format, but employers must always notify Social Security of its celebration, via an e-form on “Segurança Social Direta” (Social Security Online), which includes the address of both parties, the place of work, the activities to be ensured by the worker, the wage, the starting date and the duration of the work contract – at the latest during the first day of work.

With regard to this particular type of contracts, including renewal(s), the contract(s) celebrated between the worker and the employer must not exceed 70 days per civil year. Otherwise, if no other term of validity is put in written, the contract will automatically be assumed as having 6 months (as a way to protect workers’ rights).

Some Portuguese job banks have dedicated sections to seasonal work opportunities (please check the Related Topics section on How to find a job in Portugal).

In some cases (particularly in agriculture), seasonal work is open to third country nationals, but they must have a work contract, work promise or declaration of interest in written (by a Portuguese employer) before applying for a visa, besides a few other documents. There are 2 types of visas allowing entry and permanence in Portugal for this particular purpose:

  • a shorter-term seasonal work visa, allowing the worker to stay up to 90 days;
  • a longer-term temporary stay visafor the purpose of subordinate seasonal work, which allows the worker to stay up to 9 months (extendable to 1 year, after being in Portugal).

Any of these visas must be applied for at the Consular Post in your country of origin / residence (or the nearest one).

Any work contracts with third country nationals are subject to mandatory notification both to Social Security (in similar circumstances to the ones for nationals and EU/EEA citizens) and to the Authority for Working Conditions.

Relevant links: 

Portuguese Labour Code (updated March 2020) 

Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) 

Social Security: notifying workers’ admission 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Visa Portal 

Where to apply for the visa (third country nationals) 

Applying for the visa: specific documentation required

Authority for Working Conditions: notifying foreign workers’ admission (third country nationals)

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Employment contracts

Employment contracts are not subject to any specific formalities unless the law specifies otherwise. Portuguese law requires fixed-term contracts of employment, contracts of unspecified duration, intermittent, part-time and teleworking contracts (fixed or indefinite) to be set out in writing. 

When set out in writing, the contract must include the following information:

  • identification, signatures and address/head office of the parties (employee/employer);
  • reasons for establishing the contract, specifically mentioning the facts concerned;
  • purpose of the contract, including profession/tasks to be performed;
  • salary; 
  • place of work and normal working hours;
  • date of commencement of work; 
  • date on which the contract comes into force, and the expiry date for fixed-term contracts.

The parties are obliged to disclose information. 

The employer must inform the employee about relevant aspects of the contract such as: the place of work, the professional category or a brief description of the employee’s duties, the date on which the contract is to be signed and the date on which it will come into effect, its expected duration (for a fixed-term contract), the notice periods to be observed by both parties in the event of termination, the amount of salary to be paid and frequency of payments, normal daily and weekly working periods, entitlement to holidays, the number of the occupational accident insurance policy and the applicable collective bargaining agreement. 

The employee must inform the employer of any aspects that are relevant to the provision of labour.

Employees who are to provide their services in another country for longer than one month shall receive written information from the employer before their departure concerning the expected duration of the work abroad, the currency and place of payment of the financial allowances, conditions for repatriation and access to healthcare.

Probationary period

The probationary period is the initial stage of the contract, during which both parties can decide whether to continue the contractual relationship. The parties may decide in writing not to make use of or to reduce this possibility.

In contracts of indefinite duration, the probationary period is 90 days for most workers, 180 days for jobs involving technical complexity or a high level of responsibility, for workers seeking their first job or the long-term unemployed and 240 days for management positions and senior staff.

The probationary period is: 

  • 30 days if the fixed-term contract is for 6 months or more; 
  • 15 days in the case of fixed-term contracts of less than 6 months, or contracts for an unspecified duration not expected to exceed 6 months.

This period can be reduced or dispensed with in accordance with the duration of:

  • the previous fixed-term contract for the same activity; or
  • the temporary work performed in the same post; 
  • probationary practice carried out within the same activity, with the same employer; or
  • the provision of services for the same purpose under contract to the same employer.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Working time

Normal working period: as a rule this may not exceed 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Labour law allows flexibility in daily or weekly working hours, through collective bargaining or by agreement between employer and employee. The limit of 12 hours per day or 60 hours per week may never be exceeded, and employees are entitled to the corresponding additional rest periods. Labour law lays down special rules for time banks, adaptability schemes and intensive work schedules.

Rest break: as a rule, the working day must be broken by a period of between one and two hours to avoid employees working for more than 5 consecutive hours. A collective bargaining agreement may allow employees to work for up to 6 consecutive hours or may lengthen, shorten or eliminate the rest break.

Daily rest: employees are guaranteed a minimum of 11 continuous hours of rest between two consecutive working days. Sectors where continuous service or production must be ensured (e.g. hospitals, ports, airports, telecommunications, industries where continuous working is in operation, etc.) are subject to special rules, but workers are always guaranteed minimum compensatory rest periods by collective bargaining agreement. 

Weekly rest: by law, Sunday is as a rule the compulsory weekly rest day. In addition to this, another half or full day’s rest may be granted (generally on a Saturday), which may be split or discontinuous. There are exceptions in some sectors of activity where weekly rest is defined by collective bargaining.

Overtime: this is all work done outside normal working hours. Employees must work overtime unless they expressly request dispensation on justifiable grounds. Use of overtime has fallen and been replaced by flexible working hours (time banks, adaptability schemes, intensive work schedules, shifts). Each worker may work overtime only for a maximum of 150 hours a year in medium and large companies, or 175 hours a year in micro and small enterprises.

Overtime worked on a normal working day entitles employees to the following increases in pay: 25 % of pay for the first hour or part thereof; 37 % per subsequent hour or part thereof on working days; 50 % per hour or part thereof on compulsory or additional weekly rest days or public holidays. 

Employees who work overtime that prevents them from taking their daily rest are entitled to paid time off in lieu equivalent to the missing rest hours, to be taken within the next three days. Employees who work overtime on the compulsory weekly rest day are entitled to one paid day off in lieu, to be taken within the next three working days.

Night work: work lasting for a minimum of 7 hours and a maximum of 11 hours, which always includes the period between midnight and 5 a.m. Under collective bargaining agreements, night work may cover the period between 10 p.m. on one day and 7 a.m. on the following day. Night work is subject to a pay increase of 25 % or more (where determined by a collective bargaining agreement) over equivalent daytime work.

Shift work: any way of organising work in teams, in which employees successively occupy the same workstations in rotation at a set rate. This means that individual workers may be working at different times during a given period of days or weeks. The duration of shift work may not exceed 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day. Under the system of continuous working, employees on each shift have at least one day’s rest every 7 days. 

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)


All employees are entitled to a period of paid annual leave of at least 22 working days per calendar year. The right to leave is acquired by entering into a contract of employment and takes effect as of 1 January of each calendar year. 

After 6 full months of performing the contract of employment in the year they sign the employment contract, employees are entitled to 2 working days’ holiday for each month’s duration of their contract, up to a maximum of 20 working days. Contracts lasting less than 6 months entitle employees to 2 working days’ holiday for each full month’s duration of the contract. If the calendar year ends before the contract has run for 6 months, the leave may be used up to 30 June of the following year, although no more than 30 working days may be taken as holiday in any one calendar year.

Public holidays: these are mandatory holidays: 

1 January (New Year’s Day)

Good Friday

Easter Sunday

25 April (Freedom Day)

1 May (Labour Day)

Corpus Christi (movable feast in May/June)

10 June (Portugal Day)

15 August (Assumption)

5 October (Establishment of the Republic)

1 November (All Saints Day)

1 December (Restoration of Independence)

8 December (Immaculate Conception)

25 December (Christmas Day)

Besides the statutory public holidays, Carnival Tuesday (movable holiday in February/March) and the local municipal holiday may be observed as public holidays, by means of a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract. 

Absence and special leave:

Absences from work owing to illness are deemed to be justified absences, incurring loss of pay, provided the employee is covered by a social security scheme providing sickness protection. Other absences from work considered as justified include those resulting from the following: accidents, marriage, death of a family member, or travel to an educational institution as the person responsible for the education of a minor. 

When a child is born, the mother and the father are entitled to initial parental leave of 120 or 150 consecutive days, which may be increased by 30 days. This entitlement may be used exclusively by one parent or may be shared between them in two periods of 15 consecutive days, after the initial period of obligatory leave. The mother must take at least 6 weeks’ leave after the child is born, and may also take 30 days of the initial parental leave before the birth. 

Initial parental leave exclusively for the father has a total duration of 25 working days, 20 of which are mandatory while the other 5 are optional. The 20 mandatory working days must be taken in the 6 weeks following the birth of the child – the first 5 being taken immediately after the birth.

In cases of multiple births (twins), this leave is increased by 2 working days for each child (in addition to the first).

In the case of the adoption of a child under 15, the adoptive parent is entitled to adoption leave equivalent to initial parental leave, of 120 days, as of the judicial or administrative guardianship of the child.

In caring for a natural or adopted child up to 6 years of age, the father and mother are entitled to supplementary parental leave which may be of different kinds: parental leave extended by 3 months; part-time work for 12 months, in mid-term; extended interspersed periods of parental leave and part-time work totalling 3 months; and interpolated absences from work, provided they are provided for in a collective bargaining agreement. After these rights have expired, the father or mother are entitled to special leave for the care of a child, whether natural or adopted, taken consecutively or intermittently, up to a maximum of 2 years.

Employees are entitled to leave to care for members of the family unit in the event of sickness or accident, as follows: up to 30 days a year for a child under the age of 12, or for a child or another member of the family unit with a disability or chronic illness; up to 15 days a year for children over the age of 12, a spouse or other member of the family unit, including the father, mother, sister or brother of the employee. 

Employees pursuing any level of academic education may be classed as a student-employee, which allows them to ask for their working hours to be adjusted around these activities or to be released from work for up to 6 hours a week to attend classes without losing any of their rights. Their absence from work on those days when they sit the associated examinations will also be justified. 

Text last edited on: 10/2020


All employees are guaranteed a minimum monthly remuneration, which is set annually by special legislation. The calculation of this remuneration takes into account factors such as workers’ needs, increases in the cost of living and developments in productivity, whilst ensuring that it is kept in line with policy on incomes and prices. In 2019, the minimum remuneration was EUR 635.00. 

In some sectors wages are determined through collective bargaining.

The wage is made up of the basic salary plus other regular or ad hoc allowances paid directly or indirectly in cash or in kind. In addition to monthly wages there is also a lunch allowance, and transport or travel allowances may also be payable (expenses).

Monthly, daily and hourly wages are the most common systems of payment. An annual salary package is also used by large companies, especially multinationals, as reference during recruitment negotiations. Commission is often paid for sales work. 

Salaries/wages are usually paid by bank transfer, though some employers still pay by cheque or cash. Irrespective of the form of payment, the employee is entitled to a payslip that shows the remuneration (gross pay, lunch allowance, etc.) and deductions (personal income tax [IRS], social security contribution to be made by the employee, generally 11 % of the gross wage, and any other contributions the employee has authorised to be withheld, such as union dues). The employer is responsible for transferring the amounts withheld to the social security and tax authorities.

The employer gives the employee a statement in January of the year after the money was earned. Employees require this for submitting their annual tax return to the tax authorities.  

Employees are entitled to a Christmas bonus, equal to 1 month’s pay, which must be paid by 15 December each year (14th month), and to holiday pay, corresponding to the amount they would receive if they were actually working. In addition to this, employees are also entitled to a holiday bonus (13th month), which includes basic pay and other payments representing consideration for the specific means of carrying out the work. 

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Terminating an employment contract

Contracts of employment may come to an end owing to expiry (i.e. at the end of the contract term and in the circumstances covered by law), when instigated by the employer or the employee, and also by mutual agreement between the parties. When a contract of employment ends, the employer must provide the employee with a certificate of employment indicating the dates of commencement and termination and the post or posts occupied, and other documents for official purposes, particularly for Social Security. 

Termination on the employee's initiative: Employees may terminate their contract with due cause on the grounds of: the employer’s deliberate failure to pay the employee for the work performed; inadequate health and safety conditions in the workplace; serious damage to the employee’s property; or attacks upon employees’ physical or moral integrity, freedom, honour and dignity.

Employees may give notice of termination of the contract, regardless of the existence of due cause, by means of written communication to the employer with at least 30 or 60 days’ notice, according to whether the employee has worked for less or more than 2 years in the company. In the case of fixed-term contracts, 30 or 15 days’ notice of termination must be given, depending on whether the duration of the contract is more or less than 6 months. There are also other notice periods, based on the type of employment contract involved.

Termination on the employer's initiative: 

  • dismissal with due cause, as a result of misconduct on the part of the employee, in accordance with the situations described by labour law;
  • collective dismissal: termination of employment which is simultaneous or successive over a period of 3 months affecting a number of employees (at least 2 to 5 employees according to the size of the company), for objective reasons including the closure of one or more sections of the company or a reduction in staff for economic, structural or technological reasons;
  • dismissal because of redundancy, for financial reasons, either owing to the state of the market or for structural or technological reasons relating to the enterprise, when collective dismissal does not apply (this may apply to a single post and to one employee); 
  • dismissal due to failure to adapt, where the employee is found to be incapable of adapting to the job and, because of the way in which the employee works, he/she has in practice made it impossible to maintain the working relationship. 

The employee may, through an injunction, request the preventive suspension of the termination, within five working days of receiving the notice of termination. 

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Health system

In Portugal, public healthcare services are part of the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS) [National Health Service], overseen by the Ministry of Health, through health centres and public hospitals.

EU citizens may also receive treatment from the SNS under applicable EU legislation.

Registration with the SNS

To be able to benefit from SNS healthcare you should register, as soon as you start your job, with the health centre in the area where you live, presenting a valid identity document (identity card/citizen’s card or passport), a social security beneficiary’s card and a document proving that you are a resident.

The health centre will issue an SNS user’s number and inform you who your family doctor is (subject to availability).

Health centres provide general practice and family medicine, maternity and child care, public healthcare, nursing, immunisation, some diagnostic tests and some specialist consultations.

Hospitals have outpatient (specialist), inpatient and emergency services.

Beneficiaries pay a patient contribution for each appointment or treatment provided in the SNS. From 2020, the patient contribution in the provision of primary health care will gradually be phased out: consultations in health centres (already in force), specialist consultations and analyses, examinations and physiotherapy – provided they are prescribed by SNS doctors. The cost of an urgent hospital consultation, which will continue to be charged, may vary between EUR 14.00 and EUR 18.00 (depending on the level of intervention).

Children and young people below 18 years of age, people from households with average monthly incomes below EUR 658.21 (1.5 times the social support index – which stands at EUR 438.81 in 2020) and the unemployed registered with the employment services are exempt from the patient contribution. 

Also exempt from paying the patient contribution are patients receiving treatment for chronic conditions, (cancer, degenerative neurological diseases, diabetes, HIV/AIDS) who need regular healthcare (e.g. respiratory care in the home and/or dialysis) and/or transplant patients, as are fire fighters, blood donors, persons with a degree of incapacity of 60 % or over, and pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. During the COVID-19 pandemic period, patients infected with the new coronavirus are also exempt.

Furthermore, users referred by the ‘linha Saúde 24’ health helpline or by their primary healthcare service do not have to pay the contribution in the event of an emergency.

In addition to health centres and public hospitals, there are various private health establishments and freelance health practitioners providing additional sources of healthcare, either privately or by means of agreements or conventions with the SNS.

There is a lot of useful information on the SNS portal, and also a range of online services and apps provided by the institutions that make up the SNS and other Ministry of Health institutions. These include in particular:

  • searching for healthcare providers throughout the national territory;
  • booking consultations;
  • repeat prescriptions;
  • registration and monitoring of your health information;
  • consultation of personal clinical files;
  • simulator and request for exemption from the patient contribution;
  • information on waiting times for emergencies, consultations and surgery.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, before travelling to Portugal you are advised to consult the Ministry of Health’s dedicated website, with updated information and recommendations (https://covid19.min-saude.pt/)), and other websites with useful summarised information on care to be taken, beginning with the EURES Portugal website.

When you come to Portugal you should bring your European Health Insurance Card with you as you can use it to get healthcare until your SNS user’s credentials are issued.

Also find further important information via the SNS portal on access to healthcare in Portugal for foreign nationals.


SNS patients are partially (or, in certain very specific cases, fully) subsidised when they purchase medicines prescribed by SNS doctors or private doctors, provided they present their SNS user’s number.

Prescription medicines are sold exclusively in pharmacies (though the sale of medicines in commercial outlets such as supermarkets or convenience stores is permitted, provided they are properly monitored by qualified staff and they are non-prescription medicines). Pharmacies are identified by a green cross on a white background.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Incomes and taxation

IRS – Imposto sobre os Rendimentos de Pessoas Singulares [personal income tax]

IRS is assessed annually. Annual tax returns relate to earnings in the previous year and must be submitted between 1 April and 31 May – the tax calendar may be adjusted annually in response to exceptional circumstances (in 2020 this period was prolonged until 30 June). Returns are filed electronically only, via the Finance Portal.

A Tax Identification Number [NIF] is required, which can be obtained from the tax authorities by presenting a valid civil identity document or passport (from the country of nationality). 

IRS is levied on the value of the following categories of income:

Category A – Income from employment

Category B – Income from business and professional services 

Category E – Investment income

Category F – Income from property

Category G – Capital gains

Category H – Pensions

Residents are subject to IRS on income earned anywhere in the world. You will be considered to be tax-resident in Portugal for a given tax year if:

   1. you remain in Portugal for more than 183 days (consecutive or intermittent) during the tax year; 

   2. having remained in Portugal for a shorter period, on any given date of that tax year you have accommodation such as to suggest that you intend it to be a permanent residence;

   3.on 31 December, you are a member of the crew of a vessel or aircraft providing a service to bodies domiciled or based in or actually managed from Portugal.

All members of a family are considered to be resident in Portugal if the person responsible for the family lives in Portugal.

Portugal has bilateral agreements with other EU/EEA Member States to avoid double taxation on income. If you earn income in another Member State you will therefore have to pay tax on that income only in that country.

Married taxpayers who are not separated or living separately, and unmarried couples, may choose to submit their annual tax return jointly or separately. This includes all income earned in or outside Portugal, including the income of dependants and people who are considered to be part of the household. Unmarried taxpayers pay tax individually.

Deductions are made from taxable income, including: health expenditure and expenditure on health insurance; education and vocational training expenditure (of the taxpayer and of dependants); vocational rehabilitation expenditure (of the taxpayer and any dependants with a disability); nursing home expenditure (relating to ascendant relatives or dependants); costs relating to property (rent), for dependants and ascendant relatives, and particularly those with a disability, in the family; maintenance payment sums; general family expenditure and other expenditure for which the taxpayer has required an invoice bearing the tax identification number. Deductions may also be made with reference to tax allowances and to avoid international double taxation (where the taxpayer receives income that has already been taxed in another country).

The employer deducts a percentage of the employee’s monthly salary (‘tax deduction at source’) depending on their marital status and number of dependants. A sum of 25 % is deducted from the salary of non-residents (see the International Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements).

Income tax rates vary according to a seven-point scale of annual income, and in 2020 ranged from 14.5 % for income below EUR 7 112 to 48.0 % for income in excess of EUR 80 882.

For further information, visit the Finance Portal or consult your Tax Office.

VAT – Value Added Tax [IVA]

Purchases and sales and imports of goods and services are subject to VAT. The applicable rates vary according to the type of goods and services: 6 % for some foodstuffs, certain medicines and other pharmaceutical products; hotel accommodation; passenger transport, urban construction and restoration work and other basic necessities; 13 % for entertainment tickets, fuel and some foodstuffs, among other items; 23 % for other goods and services. The rates applicable in the autonomous regions have been reduced to 5 %, 12 % and 22 % in Madeira and to 4 %, 9 % and 18 % in the Azores.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Education system

The Ministry of Education (primary and secondary education) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (higher education) are responsible for the Portuguese education system, with the support of the Ministry of Employment, Solidarity and Social Security in the case of preschool education vocational training. 

Preschool education

For children between the ages of 3 and 5, preschool attendance is optional. It is provided by nursery schools, which are run by a variety of State organisations, private social solidarity institutions, private schools and cooperatives, unions and other organisations.

Compulsory schooling

Compulsory schooling is free and runs up to the 12th year, or until the child reaches the age of 18. 

Primary education normally covers children and young people between 6 and 15 years of age and comprises three consecutive cycles: the 1st cycle (4 years) provides a general education, with a single teacher (sometimes supported in specialised areas); the 2nd cycle (2 years) and the 3rd cycle (3 years) are taught by a single teacher per subject or multidisciplinary educational field.

Secondary education comprises 3 years of education (10th, 11th and 12th years of schooling) and is compulsory up to 18 years of age. It is geared towards anyone who intends to continue studying or to join the labour market. It may include science and humanities and specialised arts courses, and technological or vocational training courses or even custom-designed courses, and is provided by secondary schools and vocational schools.

Many vocational training courses issue school and vocational certificates, allowing compulsory schooling to be completed via this route.

Higher education

Higher education in Portugal includes universities and polytechnics. The academic year generally begins in September/October. 

Students can study to the level of Licenciado [Bachelor’s degree] (1st cycle), Mestre [Master’s degree] (2nd cycle) and Doutor [PhD] (3rd cycle). 

Undergraduate courses last for 3 years on average, and Master’s from 1 to 2 years. There are also 5-year Integrated Master’s courses, leading directly to the Master’s degree.

Admission to higher education institutions depends on the number of vacancies available and is regulated by the national entrance exam. 

Applications are normally submitted online between mid-July and early August (in 2020 they were submitted between 7 and 23 August on an exceptional basis), via the website of the Directorate-General for Higher Education. In order to be accepted, EU/EEA/Swiss nationals must hold an academic qualification equivalent to the 12th year of schooling.

Equivalence/Recognition of academic qualifications

To obtain a direct comparison or equivalence between your qualifications and those recognised in Portugal, you should contact: 

  • the Direção de Serviços de Desenvolvimento Curricular – Equipa de Concessão de Equivalências [Directorate for Curricular Development – Equivalence Team], at the Directorate-General for Education in Lisbon, for basic or secondary qualifications; 
  • ENIC/NARIC Centre Portugal, at the Directorate-General for Higher Education, in the case of advanced level diplomas.

Applications for equivalence/recognition must be submitted to a pedagogically autonomous basic or secondary education establishment, respectively, or to the scientific board of a higher education establishment offering equivalent courses. Applications are treated on a case-by-case basis.

Text last edited on: 10/2020

Cultural and social life

Portugal’s cultural offering is quite diverse.

Portugal has its own theatre tradition (the ‘revista’ [revue or musical comedy]) and many museums and galleries, even in smaller towns and cities. Fado, particularly in Lisbon and Coimbra, is known the world over as the national music, and is now considered part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Folklore is also fairly rich and varied.

Most towns and cities have cinemas that show mostly English language films. Films and TV programmes are not dubbed, but generally have subtitles in Portuguese. 

There are a number of thematic cinema festivals and a varied range of summer concerts and music festivals (from opera and classical music to hip-hop, electronic music and world music – by way of jazz and pop/rock), in addition to a great variety of popular fairs and celebrations throughout the year, in virtually all regions of the country. The feast days corresponding to popular saints, in the month of June, with processions and festivities in the streets of Lisbon, Porto and other towns and cities, are particularly interesting and worth a visit.

There are also book fairs in many cities – with larger events in Lisbon and Porto (in spring/summer).

In 2020, however, all these activities (and sporting events) were significantly restricted – most being delayed or cancelled until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people

The Portuguese are generally reserved, but are also polite, patient, tolerant of differences, flexible and keen to experiment. 

The Catholic Church still has some influence, even though the majority of ‘Catholics’ say that they are non-practising. The extended family is still the basis of Portuguese life.  

Business culture

Work meetings often do not begin at the exact time (with a delay of 10 to 15 minutes), but you are expected to communicate if you are delayed. 

The younger generations and a significant part of the labour market population speak English – though companies which accept the integration of workers who do not speak Portuguese are still in a minority (although their numbers are growing). Exceptions to this rule are customer service, shared service centres, information technology and some multinational companies, where the working language itself may even be English.

In the employment context, the Portuguese are still somewhat conservative and formal, both in terms of dress and in terms of manners. It is customary to use people’s titles, such as Doutor/a [Doctor], Engenheiro/a [Engineer], Arquiteto/a [Architect], etc., to preserve the hierarchy and to show respect for someone’s education. This situation is nevertheless changing. 

Meals and social activity

Portuguese cuisine is highly diversified, rich in vegetables, meat and fish, and shellfish is very popular. The country is also well-known for its excellent wines, and one of the best-known is port, a fortified wine originating from the Douro region.

Even during the working week, an hour is often taken for lunch. It is also normal to drink wine (at fairly reasonable prices) at mealtimes.

Football is the national sport, but there are also other popular pastimes, such as athletics, cycling and ice hockey. Towns and cities have good sports facilities (normally with admission charges, but increasingly free of charge in public parks), particularly for water sports, football, golf, tennis, gymnastics (in all its various forms), etc.

Typical timetables:

Restaurants: lunch from 12 noon to 3 p.m. and dinner from 7.30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Bars: from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Discotheques: from midnight to 6 a.m.

Although opening times of such establishments may vary, municipal authorities may restrict them for safety or health reasons or to protect the quality of life of nearby residents. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the opening hours of bars and discotheques (when open) were significantly different (closure at 8 p.m.). 

In the restaurant trade, the number of outdoor spaces for tables has increased – as a way of adapting to the new public health conditions.

Text last edited on: 10/2020


Nothing found!

Get up-to-date information on EURES services