First country to visit after issue of Residency Card

Which is the first country you can visit after issue of Residency Card ?As the Residency Card allows free access to Schengen countries, can you visit any country say, Switzerland.

My lawyer advised that, you should ensure that the first trip after issue of Residency Card should be Portugal. This is similar to issue of a multi entry Schengen visa where you have to ensure that the first trip is made to the country which issued the visa.

Would like to know about the experience of other holders of Residency Card.


If I understand correctly, your lawyer meant that the first stamp on the passport shall be done by Portuguese custom officers.

If you are outside Schegen, you still can take indirect flight to visit PT. For example, someone from Malaysia. He can fly from KL-> Paris->Lisbon. Then, the first stamp to enter Schengen would be done by French authority, but he still visits Portugal eventually.


The first country you show as your destination should be Portugal. You can enter through Frankfurt or any other Schengen airport. But your first country where you will stay should be Portugal.

According to your lawyer, then we need to keep all documents (boarding pass, hotel booking,…). Otherwise, it is hard to prove our stay in Portugal.

And if someone has is picked up by friends in Spain/France and travel by car, then it will be very difficult to prove later on …:sweat_smile:

1 Like

Well, our lawyer never said anything about Portugal required to be the first country to visit after issuance of the temporary residency card. And we’ve received our card, and have since made a previously scheduled trip to Mediterranean countries without visiting Portugal.

@rbook12 , what does your lawyer tell you of the consequences of such action (i.e., failure to make Portugal the first country of visit after issuance of card)?

1 Like

That seems like a fairly odd thing to require. No one’s said boo to me about it. And it appears your passport doesn’t get stamped. Why would it? The stamp implies you need a visa. Since you are a resident, you don’t, so they have no reason to keep track of how long you are there or how many times you were there. Though I suppose practices may vary since the US seems to want to stamp your return to the country irrespective of anything else. I am curious what happens if your final destination is not Portugal, if you get stamped then. Somehow, I doubt it.

Either way, the notion that your residence permit resembles a multi-entrance schengen visa is, to me, absurd. As seems to me the notion that your first country of entry needs to be Portugal.


Hi Jeff,
I just checked with my friend who has een holding ARI permit for many years. His passport has always been stamped when he entering Schengen borders. He sent me the photos of stamps at FRA (2019), BCN (2019 & 2020) and LIS (2020) from his most recent trips to PT.

Huh. That’s really weird.

Ok, I dug at this a bit.

SBC says that all passports of all third country nationals are to be stamped, per Article 11. Exceptions listed in Article 11, sec 3:

(g) to the travel documents of nationals of third countries who present a
residence card provided for in Directive 2004/38/EC.

2004/38/EC is about the family members of EU citizens who are not themselves EU citizens (and thus have been issued a residence permit). So there is a class of people who carry a residence permit that don’t need to have their passport stamped.

There’s some other classes of cases. An interesting one is … if your passport is full. Then they give you a piece of paper with the stamp and tell you “don’t lose it”. excellent. Another is “if it would cause you political difficulties”. Same answer.

Well, so. Enter a EC report from 2009 that takes a huge survey of all of the border control agencies. Determinations:

  • the passports of residence permit holders should have been being stamped - except of course for when they aren’t supposed to be being stamped
  • a bunch of country’s border guards haven’t been doing it
    • by the way - it’d be really nice if folks could be a little more careful about not stamping over other stamps so that the other agents elsewhere could read them, please
  • it’s a mess
  • why the hell are we doing this in the first place? the point of the stamp is to determine whether someone is overstaying - but how are we to know that a permit holder hasn’t just gone home and spent all their time in their home country, or where the heck they really were?
  • there’s too many edge cases around that family member exception thing too

In the conclusions:

The Commission underlines that travel documents of third-country nationals who are
in possession of a valid residence permit of a Schengen Member State are exempted
from the stamping obligation on entry and exit.

But SBC itself hasn’t changed.

So… shrug

So now we have reports both ways - my experience, and Roger’s friend’s experience. I am curious about other people’s experiences now.

(acknowledgements to someone on stackexchange for pointing at the discrepancy.)

You are not required to go to Portugal as your first country. Wherever you enter the Schengen will probably ask where you are going, but once you get entry (there won’t be a stamp, not needed as a legal Schengen resident) they can’t really track where you are.

The Residency Card allows the holder to stay in Portugal. However, it restricts stay in other Schengen countries to 90 days in a period of 180 days. The Residency Card allows the holder to work in Portugal. So the holder is not a Schengen resident but a Portugal resident.
If you stay in a hotel in any Schengen country, the passport details are recorded when you check in.
The risk is that visiting other countries instead of Portugal could be viewed negatively by the authorities when considering the citizenship application after five years.

1 Like

Not sure what the point of this comment was? Portugal does not expect GV holders to stay in Portugal 365 days a year. So any travel to the Schengen zone for holiday or travel and checking of a passport at a hotel won’t have any negative effect on your residency or potential citizenship.


Hi so what is the consesus on this now. I was also under the impression that if I have a valid tempory (2-year) residency card, that I would be able to enter any schengen border for holiday or visiting friends. As per the Gv rules you still need to show proof that you have spent a minimum of 2 weeks in the country for every two years. But lets say I have done that and also want to go visit someone in France for a week at another time, surely I dont have to get a visa for that and surely my final destination need to be Portugal?

1 Like



nope. no visa. don’t need to go to portugal.

Let me rephrase. After issue of residency card, you should ensure that the first country that you use the card for visiting is Portugal.
For subsequent visits, you are free to go to any Schengen country, without coming to Portugal.
This is what my lawyer has advised. It will be nice if other members could check with their lawyers.
Would not like this to become an issue at the time of applying for citizenship.

@jb4422 Thank you for clearing that up. Thats how I understood it as well. The big thing is that you have to spend the 2 weeks per every 2 years there and keep the proof.
The other question on that is, does the first visit when you come for your biometrics, count? We are flying there in a month and will be staying there for 12 days. Technically thats before we have received our actual residency but I think I read that it may count??

nope. gotta have your card.

1 Like

Just remember that it is borderless travel in the Schengen zone. We have lived in Europe for 5+ years. There is no way to track where people really are once you are in the zone (if you got a speeding ticket in a country, etc. or something like that would make you trackable). Travel freely. This doesn’t mean break the rules, but really the proof you need to show your 1 week a year in Portugal is hotel receipts in Portugal, restaurant bills, etc.

I would like to ask how do the Tax authorities determine the tax residency. Most Schengen countries have a rule that if you stay for more than 182 days in one country, then you are taxed as resident of that country. Is this based on a self declaration.

Never heard of this requirement to enter Portugal first after getting a residence card either from lawyers or anywhere else. Residence permits are not in the same category as visas, and in the absence of a clear reference to the rules which require this, I think it is overcautiousness on the part of the lawyers who are advising this.

I spent some time in other Schengen countries before getting into Portugal on my first trip with the residence permit, and I don’t think it’s an issue.

I had a hard enough time convincing the immigration officer in Helsinki to stamp my passport. He kept telling me it wasn’t necessary as I was traveling on a residence permit, and finally shrugged and said ‘well, that’s really strange but here you go’ and stamped it. Same rigmarole on the way out.

Dear MM,
Thank you for sharing your experience.
Is there a big advantage of getting the passport stamped at immigration. Is this to give proof of your stay in Portugal.