Portugal Golden Visa: The Definitive Guide

Introduction to Golden Visa Portugal

The Portuguese Golden Visa Program is a residency by investment program designed to encourage investment to Portugal from non-EU citizens. This program provides a quick way to obtain a residence permit in Portugal and can also count as a citizenship by investment program. The Portugal golden visa gives you the legal right to apply for citizenship after five years.

Portugal’s golden visa is one of the most sought after golden visa programs in Europe! Lisbon shines out as one of the most affordable European capital to live. In addition, it has an incredible energy which draws investors, which is why so many new tech-companies and start-ups are popping in Lisbon. As a result, many young professionals choose to move there.

Portugal is known worldwide for majestic beaches and fantastic climate all year round, making it a prime destination for tourists and retirees alike. Many Americans retiring in Portugal choose places like Porto or the Algarve. In addition, there are very few restrictions on buying property for foreigners, which is why many people choose to have a second home there.

Besides other benefits, it allows you to invest a minimum amount as prescribed by law and acquire a residence permit for you and your family members. 

Since the launch of the Portugal Golden Visa program in 2012, more than 8,500 applicants have subscribed to it (as of May 2020.) This has lead to a total of 5.2 billion Euros investment into Portugal.

In this guide, we will walk you through the benefits, requirements and step by step process of applying for the Portuguese golden visa.

Benefits of golden visa Portugal

All golden visa programs offer various benefits to the investor, the Portuguese golden visa in specific boasts a large number of benefits such as:

Right To Live And Work In Portugal

Your Golden Visa residence permit will give you the legal right to live and work in Portugal and eventually give you the legal right to citizenship.

This does not mean you need to settle to Portugal and live there. You only need to spend an average of seven days a year to maintain your residence permit. 

Free Travel In the Schengen Area / EU Countries

Your Golden Visa residence permit card will allow you to travel freely within the Schengen Area without an additional visa, which is a very desirable advantage for non-EU citizens.  

With Portugal Golden Visa, investors have the right to freely enter and travel across all Schengen countries, for a maximum of 90 days. One of the highest privileges granted to holders of the Portuguese golden visa is the flexibility to live outside Portugal even after a temporary residence permit is issued. So this golden visa allows you to enjoy the Portuguese lifestyle and sunny weather without being obligated to reside in Portugal.

At the end of five years, if you decide to obtain Portuguese citizenship, you are eligible to get a Portuguese passport. As of 2020, Portuguese passport holders can travel to 184 visa-free countries. 

Portuguese Citizenship At the End of Five Years

At the end of five years in the Portugal golden visa program, investors fulfil the legal requirement to apply for Portuguese citizenship. Once you get Portuguese citizenship, you can immediately apply for a Portuguese passport. As a European passport holder, you can choose to live and work anywhere within the European Union. And enjoy all the amenities in Europe, such as education, health care and so on.

Family Reunification in Portugal

Under the act of family reunification, the main Portugal Golden visa applicant can include their family within the Portuguese residency program. The Portugal Golden Visa grants all the benefits of living and working in Portugal to the family members.

The family extension is offered to the spouse, dependant children and dependant parents. The children need to be under the age of 18. If they are over 18, they must be enrolled full-time in a school and must be dependent on the main applicant.

Low Stay Requirement

The Portuguese Golden Visa has one of the lowest stay requirements in Europe. It requires the applicant to only spend an average of seven days annually in Portugal.

Tax Benefits of Golden Visa Portugal

The tax benefits of the golden visa are a big motivator for investors. Those who hold Golden visa Portugal are exempt from taxes on income from outside of Portugal.

In addition, the golden visa Portugal allows you to become a resident for tax purposes in Portugal, which will allow you to benefit from the Non-Habitual (NHR) in Portugal. NHR is a tax program which gives you the option to be exempt from taxes on any foreign-sourced income. Even if you spend more than 183 days yearly in Portugal.

This tax residence is valid for ten years (during which you’ll have to renew your golden visa) and it allows any non-habitual resident to not pay taxes on almost all foreign-sourced income, such as:

    • Royalities
    • Occupational pensions
    • Captail gains
    • Dividends
    • Rental Income
    • Buisness or self-employment income

The Portuguese golden visa is an Approved Program

The program abides by the European Union immigration standards. Unlike numerous residency and citizenship by investment programs, The Portuguese golden visa residency program is not blacklisted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD.)

Investment in the Stable Real Estate Market of Portugal

Portugal’s real estate market experienced a tough period after the 2008 economic crisis. This led the real estate prices to tank in the early 2010s. With the right economic policies, the Portuguese real estate market started a recovery period beginning with 2013.

As a result of the growth in the country’s popularity, it experienced a strong come back in the real estate market. Portugal is still quite affordable by European standards. If you are looking for a European residency through a real estate investment in a warm climate, Portugal is undoubtedly worth a look.

One of the most economical ways to acquire the Portuguese golden visa is to make a real estate investment in the rehabilitation of property for 350,000 Euro or 280,000 Euro if the real estate property is in a low-density area. Keep reading this guide for more information on real estate investment options.

Eligibility for the Golden Visa Portugal

In order to be eligible to apply for a Golden Visa in Portugal, you need to;

  • be a non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen and,

  • make a qualifying investment in Portugal.

Investment Options for the Portuguese golden visa

One of the most attractive qualities of the Portuguese golden visa is that there are various investment methods available, Which means that the investors have their choice in the investment route that works better for them and as advised by their financial advisor. Before making the investment, you need to get an NIF number and Open a Portuguese bank account

To qualify for the Golden Visa in Portugal, at least one of the following options needs to be pursued to claim Portuguese residency through investment:

Capital Transfer

Transfer of capital of at least 1 million Euros to Portugal or a Portuguese business.

Creation of Jobs in Portugal

Creation of ten jobs in a Portuguese business. The positions need to be newly created and full time. The business needs to be a limited company with a single owner. And that one owner will qualify for the visa, along with his family members as stated above.

This option is very popular with those who wish to found a start-up or a tech company. Many entrepreneurs choose to establish their new companies in Lisbon due to its bustling lifestyle and capable workforce, plus it is one of the cheapest capitals in Europe.

Real Estate Investment: 500,000 Euro

Real estate investment of at least 500,000 Euro in Portugal. The property can be in the type of real estate that suits you best, located anywhere within the country.

If the subject property is in a low-density area, the minimum investment is reduced to 400,000 Euro.

Many investors go for this route as it is a smart idea to invest in the ever-growing Portuguese real estate market. Plus there are very little restrictions on foreigners buying a property in Portugal.

Real Estate Investment: 350,000 Euro Rehabilitated Property

This is also a very common investment route. The Portuguese government encourages foreign investor to contribute to the renovation of property through this option, to boost the real estate market.

In order to complete this investment, three steps must be taken:

The purchase of a real estate property that is at least 30 years of age and

its renovation

the purchase price plus the cost of rehabilitation are at least 350,000 Euro in total.

If the subject property is in a low-density area, the minimum investment is reduced to 280,000 Euro.

Portuguese Venture Capital Fund Investment

A minimum of 350,000 Euro investment in a qualifying Portuguese venture capital fund. There are specific requirements that the fund needs to fit to qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa program.

Scientific and Technological Research Investment

A minimum investment of 350,000 Euro in scientific or technological research. The research needs to be conducted by an accredited national institution in Portugal.

National Heritage Investment

A minimum investment of 250,000 Euro into the conservation of national heritage, arts or culture in Portugal.

Portuguese Business Investment

(i) Investing a minimum of 350,000 Euro into an incorporated business in Portugal and (ii) creating five full-time jobs for a minimum period of three years.

Timeline of the Portuguese Golden Visa

Portugal Golden Visa Step-by-Step Process

  • Step 1

    Decide on your investment method

    Before you apply for the Golden Visa, you need to make your investment. The time frame may vary depending on your chosen investment option. If you are investing in real estate, bear in mind that buying a property in Portugal can take between one and two months to complete.

  • Step 2

    Collect all the necessary documents

    While you wait for your investment process to be complete, you can start collecting the necessary documents for your application.  This can typically take a month. Requesting a criminal record may take the longest. Other documents include proof of address, marital status, employment letter, and bank reference letter.  You need to have a Portuguese NIF (MST) or a financial number and open a Portuguese bank account.

    Step 2

  • Step 3

    Complete the investment

    Transfer funds needed to complete your investment in Portuguese bank accounts. Then make an investment.

  • Step 4

    Translate and certify your documents

    Your documents then need to be translated to Portuguese, notarized, and apostilled. To ensure the translation is certified by a Portuguese notary or Portuguese consulate to meet the requirements of SEF.

    Step 4

  • Step 5

    Complete the registration before submitting the application

    The immigration office, Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), has an online portal where you can submit your application.

    Because Portugal’s residency under the investment program can be complex, your lawyer or legal representative may handle this step for you. After completing the pre-registration through the website, you will need to pay the registration fee of 514.80 Euro for your application and 

    80.29 Euro for each family member. You will also have to send a copy of all the required documents at this time.

  • Step 6

    Schedule an appointment

    When you get prior approval, you can make an appointment with SEF. In Portugal’s major cities like Lisbon and Faro, it can take up to a couple of months to have an interview date. If you schedule an interview in a less populated area, it may be possible to reduce the waiting time.

    Step 6

  • Step 7

    Interview

    An immigration official will interview you and they will collect your biometric data. If you are applying with your family, it is better that you all go together with all your documents at once.

  • Step 8

    Wait for approval

    Once you are done with the appointment, you must wait three to six months for approval. After your application is approved, you must pay the licensing fee of 5,147.80 Euro per person before you can receive your Golden Visa residence card.

    Step 8

  • Step 9

    Extension

    Your initial residence permit will be valid for one year. Within that year, you are expected to spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal.  You only need to extend your residence permit at the end of the first and third year.  You are expected to spend an average of seven days per year in Portugal during this time period.

  • Step 10

    Become a Portuguese citizen

    If you have maintained your investment and minimum residency requirements, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship at the end of the five years. Just remember that you will need to know some Portuguese, so if citizenship is your goal, make sure you study the language. If all goes well, you will receive a Portuguese passport, one of the most powerful passports in the world.

    Step 10

The changes in 2020 for the Portuguese golden visa

The Parliament in Portugal has passed a proposal that aims to stop properties in Porto, Lisbon and possible other coastal municipalities from qualifying for a golden visa.

There are various other things that the proposal suggests to change. For example, the minimum investment and number of employees you need to have in a business might get increased.

So far there has been no absolute change to any of the rules. The proposal states that rules need to be changed, but it doesn’t exactly specify how. Some representatives from the Portuguese government stated that no ongoing investments should be impacted by this.

Will my existing investment be affected?

No, no existing investments will be affected by this Proposal. Portugal’s golden visa, however, has some uncertainties related to this proposal. for example, it is not currently clear what the cutoff date is for getting Portugal’s golden visa according to existing rules.

What if the cutoff date comes while I’m in the process of applying for Portugal’s golden visa?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a certain answer for this yet. Due to the recent global COVID-19 pandemic, this proposal has been put on hold. So the cutoff date probably won’t be implemented any time soon.

There are stages in the process that our professional team took an educated guess on. for example, if you have submitted your application to SEF and got the approval it’s highly likely that you’ll go through the existing rules. if you have just signed the purchase agreement you might not qualify with the existing rules.

We are currently following all the updates on this proposal and will keep updating you with news as they develop.

FAQ

What are the benefits of Portugal Golden Visa Program?

The golden visa Portugal grants the holder many benefits, such as:

    • Residence visa waiver for entering Portugal.
    • Right to live and work in Portugal.
    • Visa-free travelling right within the Schengen Area.
    • Family reunification.
    • You can apply for permanent residence at the end of 5-years.
    • You can apply for Portuguese citizenship at the end of 5-years.

Do I have to hire a lawyer to apply for a golden visa to Portugal?

It’s always encouraged to hire legal advice when venturing into a significant investment like this. Technically, you can apply for a golden visa yourself. Still, it’s smarter to hire professionals because they are familiar with all the rules and regulation and can make your golden visa application run smoother.

Can I include my family members into my Golden Visa Portugal application?

The listed family members below are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa along with your application:

    • Spouse
    • Children under the age of 18
    • Single and financially dependent adult children as long as they are full-time students
    • Parents over the age of 67 years old

How long does it take to get residency in Portugal?

The process for Portugal’s golden visa program depends on both your availability to visit Portugal, to submit your biometric data, and the number of the applications at the office to which you applied. It may take around 6-8 months to obtain your Golden Visa for Portugal considering the above variables.

Do I have to reside in Portugal to keep my residency?

Portugal Golden Visa is subject to renewal at the end of 1st, 3rd and 5th years. The minimum stay requirement is 7 or more days in the first year and 14 or more days for the subsequent periods of 2  years.

Does the Portugal golden visa program lead to citizenship?

If you meet the below conditions, you are eligible to apply for the Portuguese citizenship at the end of 5 years:

    • Clear criminal records.
    • Proof that you fulfilled the minimum stay requirement for five years.
    • Proof of no tax obligation in the country.
    • Evidence of your knowledge for basic command of the Portuguese language.

Does Portugal accept dual citizenship?

Yes, you can keep the Portuguese passport as a second citizenship if your home country allows dual citizenship.

Can I exit Portugal’s golden visa program investment at the end of five years?

There are three options for Portugal’s golden visa program at the end of five years:

    • Application to renew the Portugal Golden Visa.
    • Application to become a Permanent Residence.
    • Application for Portuguese Citizenship.

You don’t have to keep your initial investment after you obtain permanent residency or citizenship. You have to keep your initial investment as long as you renew your Golden Visas Portugal’s golden.

What’s the minimum amount I can invest in the Portugal golden visa program?

The minimum investment for the golden visa is 260,000 with many investment routes available.

If I’m in Portugal’s golden visa program, can I work there?

The Portuguese Golden Visa is technically a temporary residence permit. It allows you to live and work in Portugal.

What fees do I have to pay for the Portugal golden visa?

The legal costs of the golden visa can start from 6000 Euros, with extra charges for meeting the investment threshold. For the entire golden visa process, be prepared to spend 260,000 euros and up, depending on the investment route you choose.

Do I have to know Portuguese to apply for a golden visa?

No knowledge of Portuguese is not necessary for the golden visa program, though it is necessary to obtain citizenship.

How long does it take before I can acquire Portuguese citizenship and passport?

Acquiring citizenship through the Portuguese golden visa takes five years. At the end of five years in the program you have three options:

    • Application to renew the Portugal Golden Visa.
    • Application to become a Permanent Residence.
    • Application for Citizenship.

You don’t have to keep your initial investment after you obtain permanent residency or citizenship. You have to keep your initial investment as long as you renew your Golden Visas Portugal’s golden.

What option for investments do I have for the Portuguese golden visa?

The Portuguese golden visa offers a variety of investment options, such as:

    • Capital Transfer
    • Creation of Jobs in Portugal
    • Real Estate Investment: 500,000 Euro
    • Real Estate Investment: 350,000 Euro Rehabilitated Property
    • Portuguese Venture Capital Fund Investment
    • Scientific and Technological Research Investment
    • National Heritage Investment
    • Portuguese Business Investment

Is it a good idea to invest in Portugal’s real estate market?

Portugal’s real estate market experienced a tough period after the 2008 economic crisis. This led the real estate prices to tank in the early 2010s. With the right economic policies, the Portuguese real estate market started a recovery period beginning with 2013.

As a result of the growth in the country’s popularity, it experienced a strong come back in the real estate market. Portugal is still quite affordable by European standards. So it is a smart idea to invest in this growing market right now.