Study abroad for a semester in


Portugal, located on the Iberian Peninsula, is a country where tradition and modernity blend seamlessly. Imagine studying in Lisbon, the bustling capital with its iconic trams and vibrant nightlife, or in Porto, known for its historic Ribeira district and famous port wine. Portugal’s rich history, warm climate, and welcoming atmosphere make it an ideal destination for international students.

Portuguese universities offer a wide range of programs and emphasize both academic rigor and practical skills. Whether you’re interested in exploring the depths of marine biology, delving into the humanities, or advancing in engineering, Portugal’s educational institutions provide excellent opportunities for academic and personal growth.

Living in Portugal means immersing yourself in a culture that values family, food, and community. You can explore picturesque coastal towns, enjoy delicious cuisine, and participate in lively local festivals. With its affordable living costs and high quality of life, Portugal promises a rewarding and memorable study abroad experience.

Portugal is best known for

Rich Cultural Heritage 🏰: Portugal is steeped in history, with stunning architecture, ancient castles, and vibrant cultural traditions. From Fado music to traditional festivals, Portugal offers a deeply enriching cultural experience.

Warm Mediterranean Climate ☀️: Enjoy a pleasant climate with long, sunny summers and mild winters, perfect for outdoor activities and exploring beautiful beaches.

Affordable Living Costs 💰: Compared to other Western European countries, Portugal offers a relatively low cost of living, making it an attractive destination for students on a budget.

Table of contents

1. Visa and Health Insurance 🛂

Embarking on your academic journey to Portugal involves navigating the visa and health insurance processes. These essential steps ensure you comply with legal requirements and have access to necessary healthcare services during your stay. Proper documentation and insurance coverage are vital for a smooth and secure study abroad experience.

Visa Types

  • Residence Visa for Studies: This visa is required for all non-EU/EEA students who plan to stay in Portugal for more than 90 days to pursue their studies. The residence visa is typically valid for the duration of the academic program and can be renewed annually.
  • Short-Stay Visa (Schengen Visa): This visa is for short-term study programs or courses that last less than 90 days. Valid for the duration of the short-term program, up to 90 days. It cannot be renewed for the same purpose; students must leave and reapply if they wish to extend their stay.
  • EU/EEA Students: EU/EEA students do not require a visa to study in Portugal. However, they must register with the local authorities upon arrival if they plan to stay for more than 90 days. They are also required to have health insurance coverage.

Application Process

  1. Acceptance from a Portuguese Institution: Secure admission from a recognized Portuguese university or educational institution.
  2. Prepare Documents: Gather all required documents, including your passport, proof of acceptance, proof of financial means, and health insurance.
  3. Residence Visa Application Form: Complete the application form available on the website of the Portuguese consulate or embassy in your home country.
  4. Submit Application: Submit the completed application form along with all required documents to the nearest Portuguese consulate or embassy.
  5. Pay the Application Fee: Pay the required residence visa application fee.
  6. Attend an Interview: Some consulates may require an in-person interview as part of the application process.
  7. Wait for Processing: Residence visa processing times can vary, so it’s important to apply well in advance of your intended travel date.

Required Documents

  • Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay)
  • Completed residence visa application form
  • Proof of acceptance from a Portuguese university
  • Proof of financial means (bank statements or financial guarantee)
  • Health insurance coverage proof
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Academic transcripts and diplomas from previous education

Application Timeline

Start Early: Begin the application process at least 3-6 months before your intended departure.
Processing Time: Residence visa processing can take several weeks to months, depending on the country and application volume.
Important Deadlines: Be mindful of university application deadlines and ensure your residence visa application is timely.

Tips for Success

Complete Documentation: Ensure all documents are complete and accurately filled out.
Financial Proof: Clearly demonstrate financial stability and sufficient funds.
Interview Preparation: Prepare for potential visa interviews by understanding common questions and having clear answers.
Health Insurance: Secure a visa-compliant health insurance plan early in the process.

Importance of Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Portugal. It ensures that students have access to medical care and covers a wide range of health services, from regular doctor visits to emergency care.

Types of Health Insurance

  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC): For EU/EEA students, the EHIC provides access to necessary medical treatment in Portugal under the same conditions and at the same cost as residents.
    • Advantages: Provides basic coverage for necessary medical care.
    • Limitations: Does not cover private healthcare, non-urgent medical care, or repatriation costs.
  • Public Health Insurance (Serviço Nacional de Saúde – SNS): Portugal offers a comprehensive public health insurance system that is accessible to international students. This system provides extensive health coverage and is often included in university fees for students.
    • Cost: Included in university fees or approximately EUR 150 – EUR 300 per year.
    • Advantages: Provides comprehensive coverage for medical services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescriptions.
    • Limitations: Limited to public healthcare facilities, which may have longer waiting times.
  • Private Health Insurance: Some students opt for private health insurance to ensure more comprehensive and faster access to healthcare services.
    • Cost: Varies based on the provider and plan. Plans typically start at around EUR 20 per month.
    • Advantages: More extensive coverage, faster access to services, and flexibility in choosing healthcare providers.
    • Limitations: Generally more expensive than relying solely on public healthcare.

Country-Specific Requirements

Public Health Insurance Registration: Upon arrival in Portugal, students must register for public health insurance at their local health center to receive their health insurance card.
Private Health Insurance: Must meet the minimum coverage requirements set by Portuguese authorities. Private plans often provide quicker access to healthcare services and more flexibility in choosing providers.

Finding the Best Health Insurance

wearefreemovers has developed a partnership with Mondassur with the intent of offering you reliable and visa-compliant health insurance for your stay in Portugal.

Choose Mondassur

Mondassur is our suggested visa-compliant health insurance for Portugal

Or discover other insurance options

Thanks to our Insurance Finder


What happens if my visa application is denied?
If your visa application is denied, you will receive a notice explaining the reasons for the denial. Address the issues mentioned and reapply, or appeal the decision if you believe it was incorrect. Review the reasons for denial carefully and seek guidance from the embassy or consulate if needed.
Can I change my health insurance plan after arriving in Portugal?
Yes, you can change your health insurance plan after arriving in Portugal. Ensure the new plan meets the mandatory health insurance requirements for students. Compare different plans to choose one that offers comprehensive coverage and suits your needs.
What should I do if I need medical care and don’t have insurance?
If you require medical care and don’t have insurance, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for all medical services, which can be very expensive. It’s highly recommended to have valid health insurance to avoid these costs. If you find yourself without insurance, contact a health insurance provider immediately to enroll in a plan.

Additional Resources

Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF): This official government portal provides comprehensive information for foreigners looking to study in Portugal, including visa requirements, application procedures, and practical advice for living in Portugal. It’s a reliable source for the most up-to-date information and official guidelines.

2. Cost of Living 💰

Portugal is known for its relatively affordable cost of living compared to other Western European countries. This makes it an attractive destination for international students who want to enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank. Understanding these expenses is crucial for effective budgeting and financial planning. Whether you’re living in Lisbon, Porto, or Coimbra, knowing what to expect financially will help you manage your resources wisely and make the most of your time in Portugal.

Detailed Breakdown of Living Expenses

Accommodation: Monthly rent can vary significantly based on location and type of housing.
EUR 300 – EUR 900/month
Food: From groceries to dining out, here’s what to expect.
EUR 200 – EUR 500/month
Transportation: Portugal offers an efficient public transportation system that is relatively affordable.
EUR 30 – EUR 80/month
Utilities: Essential services like electricity, water, and internet.
EUR 75 – EUR 150/month
Entertainment and Leisure: Enjoying Portugal’s vibrant cultural and social scene.
EUR 100 – EUR 200/month
Miscellaneous Expenses: Personal items and services.
EUR 50 – EUR 100/month

3. Accommodation Options 🏠

Finding the right accommodation is a key part of your study abroad experience in Portugal. The country offers a variety of housing options to fit different needs and budgets, from student dormitories and shared apartments to private rentals. The type of accommodation you choose will significantly impact your experience, so it’s important to consider your preferences and financial situation.

Types of Accommodation

Student Dorms (Residências de Estudantes): Many universities in Portugal provide on-campus dormitories, offering convenience and a sense of community. Dorms are typically furnished and come with basic amenities.
Price: EUR 200 – EUR 400/month
Shared Apartments (Apartamento Partilhado): Sharing an apartment with other students is a popular and cost-effective choice. This option allows for greater independence while still being economical.
Price: EUR 250 – EUR 500/month
Private Apartments (Apartamento Privado): Renting your own place offers privacy and independence. This option is ideal for students who prefer more space and freedom.
Price: EUR 400 – EUR 900/month
Homestays (Alojamento em Família): Living with a local family can provide a deeper cultural immersion and a supportive home environment. This option is particularly beneficial for improving language skills and understanding local customs.
Price: EUR 300 – EUR 600/month

Find accommodation in Portugal

Find the best student housing options with our Accommodation Finder

Tips and Resources

Start Early: Begin your search well in advance to secure the best options and avoid last-minute hassles.
Budget Wisely: When planning your budget, include utilities and internet costs.
Consider Location: Choose accommodation that is conveniently located near your university, public transportation, and local amenities.
Ask for Help: Utilize university housing services and join student forums for advice and recommendations.
Use Reliable Platforms: Book through reputable platforms to avoid scams and ensure quality accommodations. The options on wearefreemovers have been preselected by us, offering you greater peace of mind.

4. University Information 🎓

Choosing the right university is a significant part of your study abroad journey. Portugal is home to a variety of universities that offer diverse academic programs and vibrant student life, all within a culturally rich environment. Whether you are interested in marine biology, humanities, engineering, or the arts, Portugal has something to offer.

Find universities in Portugal

Try our University Finder and discover the best universities for your needs

5. Further Practical Information 🛠️


Portugal’s transportation network is modern and efficient, making it easy to explore the country and commute to university.

Public Transportation 🚆: Major cities like Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra have extensive public transport systems, including buses, trams, and metro. Monthly passes range from EUR 30 to EUR 50, with student discounts often available. Lisbon’s metro system is particularly extensive and user-friendly.

Bicycles 🚴: Portugal is becoming more bike-friendly, with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs in many cities. Cycling is an excellent way to navigate certain areas, especially during the warmer months.

Long-Distance Travel 🚆: Portugal’s intercity train and bus systems connect major cities and towns, offering a convenient way to travel across the country. For longer distances, domestic flights are available and relatively affordable.

Tips 💡: Always check for student discounts on transportation passes. For intercity travel, booking bus or train tickets in advance can secure the best rates.

Banking and Finances

Managing your finances effectively is crucial for a smooth study abroad experience.

Opening a Bank Account 🏦: Most banks in Portugal offer special accounts for students with low or no fees. Popular banks include Millennium BCP, Novo Banco, and Caixa Geral de Depósitos.

Documents Required 📑: To open a bank account, you will typically need your passport, proof of enrollment, and a local address.

Currency 💶: The currency in Portugal is the Euro (EUR). Having a local bank account helps avoid foreign transaction fees and simplifies everyday transactions.

Tips 💡: Look for student-friendly bank accounts and make use of online banking apps to manage your finances efficiently.Consider using services like for seamless international transactions.

Local Culture and Etiquette

Understanding local customs and social norms will help you integrate smoothly into Portuguese society.

Punctuality ⏰: Punctuality is appreciated in Portugal, but there is a more relaxed attitude towards time compared to other European countries. Arriving slightly late for social events is often acceptable, but being on time for classes and official meetings is still important.

Greetings 🤝: A common greeting in Portugal includes a firm handshake, often accompanied by a friendly “Olá” or “Bom dia.” In more casual settings, friends may greet each other with a kiss on each cheek.

Mealtimes 🍽️: Portuguese mealtimes are social events, with lunch being the main meal of the day, typically around 12-2 PM, and dinner around 8-10 PM. Sharing food and expressing gratitude for the meal is a cherished tradition, and tipping (usually 5-10%) is appreciated in restaurants.

Public Behavior 🤫: Portuguese people value politeness and respect in public spaces. It’s important to be considerate and mindful of your surroundings, especially on public transportation and in residential areas. Keeping noise levels low and respecting others’ personal space will help you integrate smoothly into the local community.

Do you still have doubts?

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