Residence permit


Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 12/05/23


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The Portuguese authorities are bound by a duty to issue beneficiaries of international protection a residence permit.[1] Its duration 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] The issuance of these residence permits is free of charge.[4]

According to the statistics provided by SEF, in 2022 a total of 715 residence permits were issued to refugees and 252 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. Starting in 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).[5]

The delays in the issuance and renewal of residence permits have been flagged by the UN Human Rights Committee.[6] Such delays, with impacts in access to services and assistance, have also been identified by the Statistical Report of Asylum 2020.[7]

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, was 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 since 2019 as a significant number of cessation procedures were 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 2022 indicates that by the end of 2021, 2,725 beneficiaries of international protection had valid residence permits in Portugal (1,596 refugees and 1,129 beneficiaries of subsidiary protection).[8] According to the same source, the majority of refugees were from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq, and the majority of subsidiary protection beneficiaries were from Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.[9]

In June 2022, the Government amended Decree-Law 10-A/2020,[10] determining, inter alia, that documents[11] expired since its entry into force (or within the previous 15 days) were to be accepted as valid until 31 December 2022. It further determined that, after 31 December 2022, such documents would continue to be accepted providing the holder has an appointment for its renewal.[12] Said Decree-Law was further amended in December 2022[13],  determining inter alia that:

  • Visas and documents related to the residency of foreign nationals expired since the entry into force of the Decree-Law, or within the previous 15 days, are accepted as valid until 31 December 2023;
  • After 31 December 2023, such documents will continue to be accepted providing the holder has an appointment for its renewal;
  • This regime does not apply to documents concerning temporary protection.

With regard to the readmission of beneficiaries of international protection in Portugal, SEF reported that requests for readmission are analysed according to the following criteria:

  1. The person concerned holds a valid residence permit;
  2. The person concerned has a valid right of residence in Portugal, regardless of the validity of the corresponding residence permit:
  3. The person concerned continues to benefit from international protection in Portugal, regardless of the issuance of the corresponding residence permit.

According to SEF, if the person concerned is undocumented, they can be either issued a laissez-passer by the requesting authorities or request a travel document to the Portuguese consular authorities for the purposes of readmission in Portugal.

According to SEF, in 2022, the Portuguese authorities received a total of 81 readmission requests concerning beneficiaries of international protection (49 concerning persons with valid residence permits and 32 concerning persons with expired/without residence permits). Given the extension of validity of documents referred to above, many of the expired documents were deemed as valid in national territory.




[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 67(4) Asylum Act.

[5] Article 27(1) Asylum Act.

[6] 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:

[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.227, available in Portuguese at:

[8] Observatório das Migrações (OM), Requerentes e Beneficiários de Proteção Internacional – Relatório Estatístico do Asilo 2022, June 2022, available in Portuguese at:

[9] Ibid, p.186.

[10] Decree-Law 10-A/2020 of 13 March 2020, available in Portuguese at:

[11] Including visas and documents related to the residency of foreign nationals.

[12] Decree-Law 42-A/2022, of 30 June 2022.

[13] Decree-Law 90/2022, of 30 December 2022.

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