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Finding a Job in Portugal: A Job Seeker’s Guide

Finding a Job in Portugal: A Job Seeker's Guide
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If you’re looking to work in Portugal, here’s a guide to finding jobs in Portugal and the requirements for Portuguese work permits.

Finding jobs in Portugal has improved slightly in recent years as the country recovers from an economic crisis. With the right qualifications and research, it’s possible to find a good job or you might consider starting your own business in Portugal. This guide to finding work in Portugal includes sections on:

  • Work in Portugal
  • How to find jobs in Portugal
  • Self-employment and freelancing in Portugal
  • Traineeships, internships, and volunteering in Portugal
  • Applying for a job in Portugal
  • Support while looking for a job in Portugal
  • Requirements to work in Portugal
  • Starting a job in Portugal
  • Useful resources

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Work in Portugal

If you plan to look for a job in Portugal, prepare yourself by researching the job market before moving and setting realistic expectations for yourself. You may find some obstacles to finding a job in Portugal. There are a growing number of graduates and so competition in the job market has increased, yet there are still shortages for highly skilled workers in growing industries.

Job Market in Portugal

Unemployment in Portugal has come down significantly in recent years, from around 12.4% in 2016 to 5.6% as of June 2020. Youth unemployment remains much higher, measuring at 25.6%.

Portugal’s main industries include tourism, textiles, and footwear, hospitality, automotive, construction, electronics, and transportation. The country doesn’t attract as many foreign workers as the bigger European economies, however, there has been a growth of working-age migrants in recent years and they now make up around 3.2% of the active working Portuguese population.


The biggest Portuguese companies are:

  • EDP (energy)
  • Jeronimo Martins (food retail)
  • Galp Energia (energy)
  • NOS (telecommunications)
  • REN (energy)
  • Banco Comercial Portugues (finance)
  • Corticeira Amorim (cork supply)
  • Altri (wood pulp)

In addition to these, multinational companies with a strong presence in Portugal include Nestlé, Nokia, and Samsung.

Job Vacancies in Portugal

The tourism industry is vital to Portugal’s economy, with a variety of seasonal and part-time jobs on offer across the industry, particularly in hotels and catering. In recent years, the call centre industry has also boomed, offering good opportunities for multi-lingual workers, while the automotive trade and repair sector and construction showed some job growth. Skills shortages have been reported in several sectors including:

  • communications (particularly call centres)
  • IT
  • healthcare
  • tourism and hospitality
  • agriculture

Job Salaries in Portugal

The Portuguese government reviews the minimum wage annually. In 2020, it stands at €635 a month based on 14 payments a year, or €740.80 based on 12 monthly payments. This works out at an hourly rate of around €4.64.

The average Portuguese salary as of mid-2019 is €1188.06 a month. This makes it one of the lower-paying countries within the EU.

Work Culture in Portugal

Portuguese business culture focuses on building close relationships. The family has played an important role in business in Portugal over the years and many businesses are still family-run.

Larger organizations tend to be more hierarchical than in many northern and central European countries. Meetings and negotiations are often more personal than people from countries such as the UK or Germany are used to. Decisions are usually left to the most senior staff. Long business lunches are common and it’s not unusual for them to take place in a business partner’s home.

Labor Laws and Labor Rights in Portugal

Employees in Portugal typically work 40-hour weeks (eight hours per day). Employment law does allow flexibility in certain instances up to a limit of 60 hours per week (12 hours per day).

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Full-time employees are entitled to annual leave of 22 days, on top of the compulsory nine days of public holidays.

Employment contracts in Portugal work similarly to many European countries, with permanent, fixed-term, part-time, and intermittent work contracts the most common methods of employment.

Notice periods in Portugal tend to vary according to years of service. Minimum notice periods are:

  • 15 days for employees with less than one year of service;
  • 30 days for employees with 1-5 years of service;
  • 60 days for employees with 5-10 years of service;
  • 75 days for employees with over 10 years of service

How to Find Jobs in Portugal

Job websites

There are also various general job websites, including the following:


If you’re from the EU/EFTA, you can look for a job through EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal, which is maintained by the European Commission. As well as looking for work, you can upload your CV and get advice on looking for work in Portugal.

Public Job Sites

The Portuguese Public Employment Service (Instituto do Emprego) provides information on job vacancies in Portugal. Here, you can register your CV and access thousands of job listings around the country.

English Speaking Jobs

If you’re in search of an English-speaking job, there are a few dedicated sites that you can check to find the latest job openings. These include:


It’s also worth keeping an eye on English language newspapers, such as Portugal Resident, which runs job adverts in its classifieds section.

Recruitment agencies

As a starting point, look in the Portuguese Business Directory for underemployment. You can also check out Expatica’s recruitment agency listings here.

Foreign Language Teaching

To teach English in a school in Portugal, you’ll generally need to have a BA degree and a TEFL certification. Most teaching contracts begin in September and end in late June. Some teachers also choose to teach at English language camps in the summer or take on private lessons. The main cities for teaching jobs are Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, and Braga. There are more than 30 English language schools across the country.

You can also look for jobs at British Council, and on TEFL-associated websites such as APPI or ESL Base.

Embassies and Foreign Organisations

Check out opportunities at the embassies and consulates in Lisbon and beyond. Most will expect a high standard of both spoken and written Portuguese.

The British Embassy in Lisbon advertises jobs from time to time. As well as working on foreign policy issues, the embassy offers various services for British nationals in Lisbon including assistance with emergency travel documentation.


Portuguese newspapers such as Correio de ManhãDiário de NotíciasJornal de Notícias (jobs page) and Expresso (jobs portal) are worth checking out to keep an eye on vacancies across Portugal.

Make the First Move – Speculative Applications

There’s no harm in firing off some speculative applications to companies you’d particularly like to work for. Try looking on the company websites to see if they have a vacancies page or contact details where you can send your CV.

Self-employment and Freelancing in Portugal

Another option is to set out on your own and either work as a freelancer in Portugal or start up a Portuguese business.


Around 16.9% of the Portuguese workforce is self-employed and you can do this as long as you have the right to work in Portugal. This includes all EU/EFTA citizens and third-country nationals with the relevant visa.

You can choose from various legal business structures in Portugal. These include different sole trader or unlimited company set-ups where your individual and business finances are treated as one. This is easier to set up and can be done online in Portugal in a matter of days.

Another option is to set up a type of limited company which exists as a separate legal entity. This can have distinct advantages but also bear in mind that you will have more obligations such as filing separate business tax returns in Portugal.

The Portuguese government has been keen in recent years to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses and has set up an investment initiative called Portugal Ventures which has invested €144 million since 2012. The initiative includes funding for new businesses as well as a startup hub.

Traineeships, Internships and Volunteering in Portugal

University graduates can find EU-based traineeships via the European Commission Traineeships Office (Bureau de Stages); otherwise, you can search for internships and placements on AIESEC (for students and recent graduates in the UK) or IAESTE (for students in science, engineering, and applied arts). Internships can also be found at Globalplacement and Intern Abroad.

For those aged between 17 and 30, you can find volunteer programs at the European Voluntary Service (EVS), where you work abroad for up to 12 months in exchange for board, food, insurance, and a small allowance. Concordia is another organization for volunteer opportunities. For holiday volunteering opportunities, check Workaway.

Applying For a Job in Portugal

Once you’ve found a suitable job in Portugal, you need to work on your application to give yourself the best possible chance of landing the job.

The job application process in Portugal usually involves either completing a standardized application form (often done online) or sending a CV with an accompanying personal statement. Some applications may require both a form and an accompanying CV.

Unless asked, don’t send copies of educational certificates along with your job application but bring them along to the interview if you get to this stage.

The interview process can take some time, including psychometric, psychological, or psychometric tests. The exact process will depend on the job you are going for.

If you get the job, your references will be contacted and a start date will be arranged. Expect to provide between 1-3 references, which should be previous employers, college tutors or those who can vouch for your job skills, experience, and character.

Support While Looking For a Job in Portugal

Like many European countries, Portugal has a social security system that includes an unemployment allowance to provide financial support in times when you don’t have a job. However, this is contribution-based and you need to have worked at least 360 days in the two years before claiming the full amount. Other conditions include having the capacity and availability to work.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you can contact the Portuguese Social Security Office (Seguranca Social) to see if you are entitled to any support.

You can search for job training on the Portuguese government website if you would like to improve your skills while looking for a job.

Requirements to Work in Portugal

Work Visas in Portugal

Citizens from the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) moving to Portugal will not need any official permit to work but they will have to find a job and apply for a residency card (Cartão de Residencia) within six months. See our guide for EU/EFTA citizens moving to Portugal for more information.

If you’re a non-EU citizen you’ll typically need to obtain a visa to work in Portugal. If you’re only working in the country on a short-term contract, you can get a temporary stay visa, which is generally valid for up to three months.

Language Requirements to Work in Portugal

While speaking fluent Portuguese is of course an advantage, there are jobs in Portugal for English speakers. This is especially the case in the tourism and hospitality sector and with large multinational businesses based in Portugal.

If language is a barrier, there are plenty of institutions offering language classes, including CESA languages and the Eurolingua Institute. See our guide to learning Portuguese in Portugal for details of language schools and opportunities.

Should you decide to look for a job in the tourism sector, speaking other European languages such as German, French, and Spanish can be very useful.

Qualifications to Work in Portugal

Most major European countries are signed up to the Bologna Process, through which your qualifications from your home country will be recognized in Portugal. If your country isn’t signed up, you should instead contact the National Academic Recognition Information Center (NARIC) in Portugal to ensure your qualifications are recognized.

You can find out whether your profession is regulated (needs specific qualifications for you to be able to practice it) in Portugal by checking the European Commission’s database.

Tax and Social Security Numbers in Portugal

Everyone carrying out official or legal activities, for example working or buying property, needs a Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF) number. This applies to both residents and non-residents and should be sorted out through your local tax office in advance of looking for work in Portugal.

The NIF number is a unique nine-digit number that you need to receive an income, pay Portuguese taxes, or claim social security in Portugal.

Starting a Job in Portugal

Probation periods in Portuguese jobs depend on the type of contract as well as the type of job you’re doing. For permanent contracts, the probation period is between 90-240 days. For fixed-term or unfixed contracts it is between 15-30 days. During this time, the notice period for terminating your contract may be shorter.

Once you start work in Portugal, your employer should enrol you on social security including health insurance and the Portuguese state pension. You will also be covered for workplace accidents and be entitled to other statutory benefits.

Depending on your employer, you may also be offered the chance to opt-in on a company pension to top up your state pension benefit, as well as other in-work benefits.

Useful Resources

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