5 Tips for UK Expats Moving to Portugal

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Are you considering moving to the beautiful land of Portugal? Its stunning beaches, world-famous grottos and top-drawer surfing spots are just a few reasons Brits flock to the most western state of mainland Europe.

Are you thinking of moving to Portugal?

Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Spain, Portugal is just a short 2-hour flight away from the United Kingdom, major European cities like Paris, Milan and Rome, as well as Morocco and Tunisia.

And with amazing food, an abundance of fresh fish, a vibrant culture, rich history, the warm Mediterranean climate, and a laid-back lifestyle that includes daily 2-hour lunch breaks. What’s not to like?

The Portuguese are welcoming and friendly people who treat expats with respect and kindness. If you do not speak Portuguese, it will be helpful to learn the basics to help you easily adapt and become comfortable.

Life in Portugal tends to be slower than the United Kingdom and other European countries – from queuing at the bank, doctor’s appointments, work meetings, and general customer service. As they say, “Pão pão, queijo queijo.“ Literally translated, this phrase means “bread bread, cheese cheese”, but it can also mean, “It is what it is”. This can be a big adjustment for expats. A way to look at life in Portugal is that there is no rush, so enjoy the moment, the divine fresh food, and of course, a glass of vinho do Porto.

The expat community in Portugal is large

According to the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in the UK, over 2 million Brits visit Portugal every year. As of 2022, over 48,000 British citizens live there, making them the second largest group of expats in the country.

Many UK expats choose to move to the dynamic and exciting city of Lisbon. Other popular destinations are the Algarve, Porto and Coimbra. With such a large community of British people in Portugal, expats can benefit by talking to those who have already made the move for information on importing a vehicle from the UK, visa requirements, places to visit, etc.

Before you move to Portugal, it is recommended to search for a job and research Portuguese wages. While the cost of living is relatively low, Portuguese wages are also generally lower than in other European countries, so finding a remote job that pays in dollars or pounds could make life a lot easier. Bonus: the internet connection in Portugal is one of the fastest in the world.

The healthcare system is great, and relatively cheap

Portugal has a very good healthcare system, and while healthcare is not free, it is relatively cheap. Expats (and Portuguese citizens) can expect to pay a small fee when visiting GPs or A&E. Unfortunately, public healthcare is not very efficient. For this reason, you might want to consider private medical care, which is affordable.

How to Move to Portugal

1. Search for a reputable moving company

If you are thinking of making the big move to Portugal, consider using a moving company that can help you with the entire process. To ensure a smooth, stress-free experience, start your search at least 6 months before you plan to move.

AGS Global Movers is a moving company that specialises in international moves, secure storage facilities and vehicle transportation. They have been moving families and expats since 1974, across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. AGS Movers Portugal can literally move you anywhere.

AGS Movers can assist you with moving your pets, shipping your furniture and belongings, transporting your vehicles and artwork, as well as professional packing, all-risk insurance, and shared container shipping.

2. Ship your belongings

Bringing your goods and furniture from home is a great way to make yourself feel at home in your new environment. Your goods can be shipped via air, sea or road freight. Sea freight is much more affordable, but slower, than air freight. There are two types of sea freight: groupage shipping and Full Container Load (FCL).

Groupage shipping (a.k.a. shared-container shipping or consolidated moving) entails shipping only a few items of furniture or goods, not enough to fill a container. Your goods share a container with the goods of other people who are travelling to the same destination. This method can take longer than FCL.

Full Container Load shipping is generally for transporting a large amount of furniture and goods, enough to fill 80-100% of a container. This is ideal for families who live in a 2–3-bedroom home.

The average transport time for container shipping is typically 8 to 10 weeks, door-to-door, but can take as long as 5 months. There have been major shipping delays in the freight industry since the introduction of lockdown in 2020. As such, AGS advises expats to only choose reliable moving companies. As reputable and trustworthy moving companies tend to receive many shipping requests, they fill containers more frequently. Since containers only depart once they’re full, this could slightly reduce shipping times, but there is no guarantee.

3. Make use of secure storage facilities

Are you moving to Portugal, renovating your house, or needing to store your furniture, fine art, commercial goods or vehicles?

At AGS, you have a range of secure storage warehouse options, and you can store your goods for however long you need – short, medium or long term.

Your goods are stored securely and stacked in wooden pallet boxes, in storage warehouses. AGS has storage facilities in 97 countries.

AGS storage facilities are well-equipped with high-security, 24/7 CCTV monitoring, fire alarms, and air-conditioning for sensitive goods. You can have peace of mind that your goods are safe at all times.

4. Move your pets

Many expats wonder if they can move their pets with them to Portugal. The answer is yes, you can. The laws and regulations for moving pets to Portugal from the UK are fairly relaxed. Your furry friends should be at least 12 weeks old, microchipped, vaccinated against rabies (the vaccination should be carried out at least 21 days before travelling), and in possession of an international health certificate. Read more on the rules and regulations from the UK Government website.

Pet transport specialists, who are experienced animal handlers, will ensure your pets are comfortable, safe, and stress-free. AGS Movers will guide you through every step of getting your pets ready for travel, from finding the perfect crate to the correctly completing the paperwork.

To keep them safe on their journey to Portugal, your pets will be placed in comfortable and secure crates in the climate-controlled and pressurised cargo hold of the aircraft. Water is attached to their carriers for consumption during the flight. It is advised to feed them no later than 2-3 hours before departure, as they are not allowed to be fed on the plane.

5. Transport your car to Portugal

You can easily transport your car to Portugal by using a vehicle moving service. AGS Movers provides door-to-door vehicle transport as part of a larger household move, or on its own. Vehicles are shipped by sea, either in standard steel containers or roll-on roll-off for certain destinations.

If your vehicle is transported in a standard steel container, the extra space can be used to move your belongings. A wooden cradle is built around the vehicle, and your belongings are packed on top.

Within the first six months of driving in Portugal, you will need to pay a vehicle importation tax to exchange your foreign licence plate for a Portuguese one. Like most European countries, the Portuguese drive on the right. Read more on the rules and regulations for importing your vehicle to Portugal.

An international move can be very challenging and time-consuming. AGS Movers is here to make your move to Portugal simple and stress-free. As each move is unique, you will be guided every step of the way by moving experts. Get in touch with us to discuss your moving requirements.


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