Moving to Europe with
a start-up

Several European countries offer start-up visas that incentivise non-European tech industry employees and the founders of those start-ups to apply.

These temporary residence programmes aim to attract entrepreneurs from around the world. The conditions and requirements for eligibility vary depending on the country, yet they all have various advantages. This article will go through a number of those European countries and list some of the routes open today.

What is a Start-up Visa?

Start-up visas grant the holder temporary conditional residence and the right to live and work in the country where they have been granted the visa. The visa aims to attract talent from around the globe and where certain conditions are met, can also grant the holder permanent residency. Most authorities will assess the eligibility of the applicant based on the estimated capital of the start-up and the individual’s background, such as their education and/or resume.


Denmark has been considered the number one location for ease of doing business. Its start-up visa opens the doors to entrepreneurs (non-EU nationals) looking to establish and run an innovative business. The scheme also offers a pathway to permanent residency in the country.

The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • The business plan must be approved.
  • You must document that you have sufficient funds to cover yourself and your family.
  • You must play an active role in running the business.

As part of the application process, you will need to submit a business plan, which will be evaluated and approved by an expert panel. You will also need to present documents that prove your fund sources and qualifications. More information can be found here.


The Lithuanian start-up visa provides a streamlined access immigration procedure for innovative start-up founders to obtain a one year permit, which can be extended to 3 to 5 years. The acceleration of the process with e-government solutions and the regulations in place make setting up a business a seamless experience.

The eligibility requirements include:

  • The start-up must operate in one of the listed fields in tech.
  • You must partly own the company.
  • You must have enough capital to sustain your business for one year.

To apply, you will need to submit an online application to the Start-up website, where you fill out basic information about the company and provide supporting documents (i.e. business plan, CV). After this, there will be an online video interview where you will be asked questions about your business. Your application will then be sent out to the Evaluation Committee and once approved you will apply for your temporary residence permit at the Lithuanian Embassy. More information can be found here.


The Finnish Start-up Permit allows entrepreneurs from outside the EU to initially set up their business for two years and renew it from there. Applicants must have an intention of founding a fast-growing company and have an innovative plan at hand.

The eligibility requirements are:

  • You must have a start-up team with at least two founders.
  • You must have a favourable evaluation of your business plan.
  • You must have a significant holding in the company and have access to sufficient funds.

As part of the application process, you must initially have your business plan assessed by Business Finland and receive a positive statement before submitting your application to the Finnish Immigration Service. You must submit your application within 2 months of having received the Eligibility Statement from Business Finland. The application process can be completed online. More information is available here.


Portugal is currently home to one of the fastest developing start-up communities in Europe. The start-up visa has been an attractive option to entrepreneurs in recent years, who are looking to establish their business at the heart of Europe. The visa is open both to applicants who intend to develop their start-up in Portugal, who have not yet started their business, and those more established businesses looking to set up in Portugal.

The eligibility requirements include:

  • Your company must be focused on tech.
  • The business plan must show potential to create jobs in the local market.
  • The company must show a potential annual turnover of 325,000€ or assets value of the same amount within 5 years after the start of the contract with a chosen incubator.

You will initially submit your application online and select a preferred incubator. Once the incubator reviews and accepts, you will receive a notification to proceed. When you apply, you will need to prove your motivation and provide supporting documents. More information can be found here.

Moving to Europe?

If you are looking to relocate to a European country for work purposes, you may need to apply for a visa. Smith Stone Walters can provide up to date advice on work permits and eligibility requirements for EU countries.

To speak to a member of the global immigration team, please contact us today.

Share story
Back to top of page