Portugal Citizenship by Investment: All You Need to Know
Over the past ten years, Portugal’s Golden Visa has become one of the most successful residency by investment programs in Europe. The program has seen more than €7.2 billion invested in the country, making the Portugal immigration by investment program one of the most popular in the world. But now applicants are wondering, is Portugal citizenship by investment possible?
Citizenship Law Change: Eligibility in 5 Years
There had been some doubt in recent years as to whether the Golden Visa residence permit counts for the five-year residency requirement for citizenship. After a change to Portuguese residency law, the eligibility period dropped from six years to five years.
Many applicants became eligible to apply and applied for their citizenship in Portugal. It has been confirmed that applicants can obtain Portuguese passports after fulfilling the short-stay requirement of the Golden Visa program over five years.
Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa Program has been in effect since 2012. The ultimate aim of the program is to encourage foreign investors to invest in the country. In exchange for their investments, the government rewards the investors with residency in Portugal. This comes with the following benefits:
- Visa-free travel to Schengen countries
- Benefits from tax regulations
- Potential citizenship and visa-free travel to 186 countries
Investors can make their investments in different forms, which we will explain later in this article. When they make their investments, they obtain a residence permit in Portugal. After this, they have the right to live, work, and study in Portugal.
Furthermore, after five years of successful residency, they become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. This gives them the right to live, work, and study in all European Union countries.
If you want to obtain citizenship in Portugal, you need to stay in the country for a minimum of seven days each year. After five years of successful residency and holding on to your investment, you can apply for and obtain citizenship, and thus your Portuguese passport.
Qualification Process for Citizenship by Investment in Portugal
The very first thing you should do is invest in the country.
You used to be able to qualify for a Golden Visa through a real estate investment or a real estate fund investment. However, as of late 2023, you no longer qualify for a Golden Visa through these investment methods.
You can, however proceed with one of the below investment types in order to qualify for Portuguese residency:
- Investing €500,000 in Portuguese investment funds or venture capital
- Owning a company which creates a minimum of ten jobs for citizens of Portugal
- Investing a minimum amount of €350,000 in research and development or €250,000 in the arts or the reconstruction or refurbishment of national heritage projects
It will take you between one and three months to complete the investment process. Later on, you prepare the necessary documentation and submit them. It is important to note that you should first invest, and then you can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa. Following this, you should go to Portugal for your biometrics appointment with SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Border Service) office.
Once you complete the necessary fee payments, you obtain your Golden Visa residence card, which is valid for two years.
You then renew your residence card every two years. At the end of the fifth year, you will gain the right to either (1) renew the Golden Visa residence permit for two year periods at a time, (2) apply for a permanent residence permit, or (3) apply for citizenship in Portugal.
Benefits of Portugal’s Citizenship by Investment
The good news is that you will not be alone in the country. Portugal Golden Visa covers the family members of the investor as well.
The family members include the investor’s spouse and children under 18 years of age. If the children are over 18 years of age, but they are full-time students and depend on the applicant, then the Golden Visa covers them as well.
Immediate Visa-Free Travel to Schengen Countries and Eventually 188 Countries
After you get your Golden Visa residence permit, you have the right to visa-free travel to Schengen countries.
Furthermore, after five years, you will gain the right to visa-free travel to 188 countries when you obtain your citizenship and Portuguese passport.
Live, Work, and Study in EA/EEA Countries
As a Golden Visa holder, you have the right to live, conduct business, and study in Portugal for the first five years.
When you get citizenship in Portugal, then these rights will be valid across all the EU countries.
Beneficial Tax Regimes for Investors
Portugal is very generous in its tax regimes. It has Double Taxation Agreements (DTA) with many countries. DTA aims to prevent people from paying taxes on the same income in two countries.
The income you earn outside of Portugal will not be subject to taxation in Portugal. Additionally, if the foreign income is from a country Portugal has a DTA with, it won’t be subject to taxation. If your income is from Portugal, you will be subject to lower tax rates as an expat.
In addition to DTA, you can enjoy the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) regime. Most of your foreign source income will be exempt from taxation for ten consecutive years under this program. If your job is a “high-added-value” profession, then you will get generous tax exemptions. The Portuguese government determines the types of these professions.
Benefit from Healthcare and Education Services
Golden Visa holders have free access to public schools and public healthcare in Portugal. These are incredibly well-developed in Portugal, and education specifically can open doors to many profitable professional avenues.
Portuguese Citizenship: Worth It?
The fact that investors do not have to relocate in order to obtain citizenship is one of the biggest advantages of the Portuguese passport by investment.
Note that the Portugal Golden Visa is not a direct route to citizenship. The program is a residency by investment program. However, as long as you make the minimum investment requirement, hold your investment for five years, and fulfill all the requirements set out under Portuguese nationality law, you can apply for citizenship through naturalization.
Investors don’t have to relocate to Portugal Whereas other European citizenship-by-investment programs require applicants to maintain their investment as well as spend the majority of the year in the country, the Portuguese Golden Visa program requires investors to spend just seven days per year in the country and 14 days in every subsequent two-year period.
Moreover, you can apply through an investment and not necessarily a donation.
So yes, Portuguese citizenship through investment is worth it.
Portugal is a strong competitor globally when it comes to the economy and quality of life. It’s also the fourth safest country in the world, according to the Global Peace Index 2021.
An investment in Portugal well probably has a decent return fiscal and otherwise. Additionally, you’ll qualify for citizenship and enjoy all the benefits Portugal offers to its citizens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I buy Portuguese citizenship?
No, but you can obtain residency through investment with the Portugal Golden Visa program and then apply for citizenship.
How do I apply for a Portuguese passport?
You'll need the correct forms, birth certificate, language test proof, and other documents, and can apply at a Loja do Cidadão or IRN office.
Do I have to relocate to Portugal?
No, you do not have to relocate to Portugal, but a valid residence permit and a specific stay requirement are needed.
Why is the Portuguese Golden Visa program so popular?
The Portuguese Golden Visa program is popular, because offers multiple benefits and investment options and also a low stay requirement. Consult a guide for detailed information.
How can I get Portuguese citizenship?
You can get Portuguese citizenship through descent, marriage, birth, or naturalization, and residency permits like the D7 Visa, Digital Nomad Visa, or a work visa.
Is it hard to get citizenship in Portugal?
Compared to other EU countries, it's relatively easy, but specific conditions must be met.
What is the latest Portugal immigration news?
You can check the SEF website or specific articles on Golden Visa changes and new rules for the most recent updates. Some significant changes were implemented on the Portugal Golden Visa program in 2023.
How can I get citizenship in Portugal through investment?
You can get citizenship by investment in Portugal through the Golden Visa program, by maintaining an investment for five years and fulfilling other requirements.
Can a US citizen become a citizen of Portugal?
Yes, an American can get Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa program and other specified requirements. Check out our article on Portugal Golden Visa for Americans.
Note: The information provided here is a summary of legal processes and should not replace legal advice from a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant. Laws and requirements can change, so it is advised to consult with a local expert or official source to ensure compliance with all current regulations.