Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 21/05/21


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The Portuguese authorities are bound by a duty to issue beneficiaries of international protection a residence permit.[1] The duration of residence varies according to the type of international protection granted: the residence permit for refugees is valid for 5 years,[2] while the residence permit for subsidiary protection beneficiaries is valid for 3 years.[3] According to the statistics provided by SEF, in 2020 a total of 257 residence permits were issued to refugees and 60 residence permits were issued to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.

According to CPR’s experience in providing legal information and assistance to asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection at all stages of the asylum procedure (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance), the average length of the procedure for issuing a residence permit following a decision granting international protection in previous years was considered reasonable, ranging from a few weeks to a month and a half. Since 2019, CPR noticed significant waiting periods for the issuance of residence permits, in particular due to difficulties in booking appointments for renewals. During such periods, asylum seekers are issued a declaration from SEF certifying their application for the issuance/renewal of a residence permit. It should be noted that asylum seekers admitted to the regular procedure are in possession of a provisional residence permit, valid and renewable for 6 months, at the time they are granted international protection (see Short Overview of the Asylum Procedure).[4]

The delays in the issuance and renewal of residence permits have been recently flagged by the UN Human Rights Committee.[5] Such delays, with impacts in access to services and assistance, have also been identified by the Statistical Report of Asylum 2020.[6]

In late 2014 and 2015, the launch of a cessation procedure by SEF regarding Guinean nationals, the first ever to target citizens of a specific nationality in a collective manner, has been characterised by significant shortcomings, including a curtailment of the residence rights of those concerned by failing to renew or by delaying the renewal of expired residence permits during the procedures. The same practice was observed in 2019 and 2020 as a significant number of cessation procedures was triggered by the authorities (see Cessation).

While noting the existence of difficulties in determining the number of beneficiaries of international protection in the country each year, the Statistical Report of Asylum 2020 indicates that by the end of 2019, 2,427 beneficiaries of international protection were in the country (837 refugees and 1,590 beneficiaries of subsidiary protection).[7]

On 13 March, the government enacted Decree-Law no. 10-A/2020, establishing temporary and exceptional measures in response to the new coronavirus.[8] It was determined, inter alia, that documents expired after the entry into force of the Decree-Law, or within the 15 days prior, were valid until 30 June 2020. Said Decree-Law was subsequently amended, further extending the validity of such documents. At the time of writing, it was last amended by Decree-Law no. 87-A/2020[9], determining inter alia that:

  • Documents expired since the entry into force of the Decree-Law, or within the 15 days prior to its entry into force, are accepted as valid until 31 March 2021.
  • After 31 March 2021, such documents continue to be accepted providing the holder has an appointment for its renewal.

This extension of validity is applicable to visas and documents related to the residency of foreign nationals.



[1]  Article 67 Asylum Act. This provision is generally in line with Article 24 recast Qualification Directive.

[2] Article 67(1) Asylum Act.

[3] Article 67(2) Asylum Act.

[4] Article 27(1) Asylum Act.

[5] Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on the fifth periodic report of Portugal, CCPR/C/PRT/CO/5. 28 April 2020, par 34(a), available at:  

[6] Observatory for Migration, Entrada, Acolhimento e Integração de Requerentes e Beneficiários de Protecção Internacional em Portugal – Relatório Estatístico do Asilo 2020, May 2020, p.227, available in Portuguese at:

[7] Observatory for Migration, Entrada, Acolhimento e Integração de Requerentes e Beneficiários de Protecção Internacional em Portugal – Relatório Estatístico do Asilo 2020, May 2020, p.17, available in Portuguese at:

[8] Decree-Law 10-A/2020 of 13 March 2020, available in Portuguese at: An English translation of the amended Decree-Law is available at: [last updated on 15 January 2021].

[9]  Available at  

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation