If you are considering obtaining an EU residence permit, you should pay attention to the so-called “golden visa” of Portugal, which, for some reason, is rarely mentioned. This is one of the most straightforward ways to get a residence permit in the Old World. You can live and work in Portugal, travel freely throughout the Schengen area, and bring your family here legally with it.
In addition, in just 5 years, you will be able to obtain Portuguese citizenship, which, in addition to free travel around Europe, will allow you to enter Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, the United States of America, and several other countries without a visa. After all, the Portuguese passport ranks 6th in the world (2020) regarding the level of freedom it gives.
At the same time, the requirements for investors are pretty loyal. So let's see what is needed and who can get a "golden visa". And in our other article, you can find out the benefits of the "Golden Visa of Portugal from 280,000 euros" program from the Mercan Group of companies.
- New program rules from February 12, 2021
- What is a “golden visa”
- Investment options for the “investor visa” of Portugal
- What does a “golden visa” give?
- The price of an “investor visa” in Portugal
- Required documents
- The “golden visa” obtaining process
- How to simplify the process
- Golden visa for family members
- Extension of a visa
- Obtaining Portuguese citizenship with a golden visa
- Program disadvantages
- Why choose Portugal
- Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)
Addition to the article about the “golden visa” dated March 25, 2021
Portuguese legislation does not stand still, and recently more and more laws in the country are undergoing significant changes. This fate also affected the legislation regarding the "golden visas" program, which was the subject of our article below. So, what has changed in the rules, and what should those investors who were just planning to apply for this type of investor visa prepare for?
A law was issued on February 12, 2021 (Decreto-Lei n.º 14/2021), which regulates the new rules for issuing golden visas, which will come into force on January 1, 2022.
The main objectives of these amendments are to direct foreign investment mainly to the country's interior regions. The good news is that the golden visa program has not ceased to exist, but the requirements for investors have become more stringent.
Here are the main changes effective January 1, 2022:
For real estate investment:
- The minimum amount of investment in residential real estate of 500,000 euros will only be allowed in the interior regions of Portugal and the Azores, and Madeira. Thus, investors were deprived of a beautiful opportunity to invest money in the areas of Lisbon, Porto and coastal regions. In such places, there is always an increased demand for real estate. What regions and cities belong to the “internal” parts of the country? You can find the complete list of inland regions in this official document. However, there are projects in Portugal that allow you to get a Golden Visa by investing a sum of a minimum of 280,000 euros. Read about such a project here.
For capital transfer investments:
- The transfer of capital for golden visas must be at a minimum investment of 1.5 million euros (previously the minimum was 1 million);
- The minimum amount of capital investment for use in research activities carried out by public or private research institutions integrated into the national scientific and technical system is now 500,000 euros (previously it was 350,000 euros);
- The minimum amount of capital transfer for acquiring shares of investment and venture funds intended for the capitalization of national companies is now 500,000 euros (previously - 350,000 euros). Read a detailed article about obtaining a golden visa through investment in funds here;
- The minimum amount of transfer of capital intended to establish a company in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs in such a company or strengthening the share capital of an existing Portuguese company, is now 500,000 euros (previously - 350,000 euros).
As we can see, the Portuguese government has decided to “raise the bar” for foreign investors by increasing the minimum investment amount. But, at the same time, there is a desire to promote the interior regions of the country and the island's autonomous regions, which in recent years have faded significantly compared to the zones of Lisbon and Porto. By the way, Francisco David, a real estate agent who speaks many languages, works in Lisbon and whom we recommend to all our clients.
What to consider if you are going to apply for the Portuguese “golden visa” in 2022?
Restrictions on investment in real estate will only apply to properties intended for residential purposes, which means that foreign investors will be able to continue to invest throughout the country even after January 1, 2022, including Lisbon, Porto, and coastal areas, but only those in properties the purpose of which is different from residential purposes (for example, commercial real estate for trade, etc.);
The proposed changes do not affect the possibility of extending a residence permit or granting a residence permit for family reunification if a residence permit for an investor with a “golden visa” was granted following the previous law.
It appears that the legislation regarding golden visas for investors will continue to undergo numerous changes over the next few years as it is already clear that the Portuguese government wants to use foreign investment as a tool for developing the economy of certain regions.
What is a “golden visa”
“Investor visa”, “golden visa” or, in Portuguese Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento (ARI), is the right to legal residence in Portugal to carry out investment activities on its territory.
Since 2020, residences for investors have been issued immediately for 2 years, and then the residence permit will need to be extended for 2 years. That means that before obtaining coveted citizenship, you will need to obtain 3 residence permits (each of them will be issued for 2 years).
Below we will list all the investment options that give the right to live in Portugal legally and over time - to obtain citizenship in this country.
Investment options for the “investor visa” of Portugal
To obtain a "golden visa" in Portugal, you can choose one of the following investment options:
- Transfer capital to the country in the amount of at least 1.5 million euros (starting from January 1, 2022);
- Create at least 10 jobs (or 8 in sparsely populated areas);
- Buy real estate worth at least 500,000 euros (you can buy several properties valued at half a million euros). From January 1, 2022, 500,000 euros can be invested in residential real estate only in the interior regions of Portugal, as well as in the Azores and Madeira;
- Buy a property completed 30 years or more ago or is located in areas undergoing urban regeneration. The minimum amount of the value of such property and the cost of its rehabilitation must be at least 350,000 euros. At the same time, following Portuguese law, the amount of investment for the “golden visa” can be reduced by 20% for cities with low population density, so the minimum investment amount can already be 280,000 euros (which is 80% of 350 thousand).
The most often chosen articles for obtaining an “investor visa” in Portugal are above. More specific cases are described below:
- If you are going to invest in research activities carried out by institutions integrated into the national scientific and technical system, then the minimum capital transferred to Portugal for a golden visa must be at least 500,000 euros starting from January 1, 2022;
- For investments or assistance aimed at preserving cultural heritage and art, 250,000 euros is enough. However, in this case, investments must pass through state institutions, various associations, and public or publicly recognized private funds;
- Transfer to a Portuguese account from 500,000 euros to buy shares of investment or venture funds intended for the capitalization of national companies. In this case, the minimum capitalization period is 5 years, and 60% of the investment must be in a company registered in Portugal.
- Invest at least 500,000 euros in a commercial organization (newly created or already existing) registered in Portugal. At the same time, at least 5 permanent jobs must be created (or maintained) for 3 years or more.
In addition to the above, you must meet the following requirements:
- Stay in Portugal for at least 7 days in the first year after receiving the golden visa and 14 days in subsequent two-year periods;
- Do not have a criminal record under articles that are punishable by imprisonment for a term of 1 year or more in Portugal;
- Have not previously had legal problems that would have prevented you from entering the EU;
- Do not pose a threat to public order.
What does a “golden visa” give?
So what are the advantages of Portugal's "investor visa"?
- The right to arrange legal relocation for the whole family;
- Free movement throughout the Schengen area; The opportunity to live, work or study without the need to obtain a residence permit;
- The possibility of obtaining a permanent residence permit (Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento Permanente);
- The possibility of obtaining Portuguese citizenship in 5 years, that means you get the 6th most free to move passport in the world;
- Modest requirements for the mandatory period of stay in the country (from 7 days in the first year and from 14 days in subsequent periods of two years);
- Children born in Portugal to parents who have legally resided in the country for more than 2 years acquire Portuguese citizenship at birth.
The price of an “investor visa” in Portugal
When submitting documents, 533.90 euros are paid for the process analysis. In case of a positive answer, it will be necessary to pay 5.336.40 euros for each person. That is only about 6,000 euros for an adult and 50% for a child under 18.
In addition, municipal property tax, property and health insurance, and a minimum of 1 residential visit to Portugal for about a week in the first year.
Don't forget about transfer tax, stamp duty, registration, notary services, and a lawyer who will handle the process.
Below is the approximate cost of obtaining a golden visa in the first year for property investment of more than 500,000 euros, as this is the most popular option.
In total, in the first year, in addition to investing in real estate, you will need to invest 50,000 - 60,000 euros.
The “golden visa” extension will cost 2,668.20 euros for each adult family member + 50% for each child.
If you are interested in the “golden visa” of Portugal, but you absolutely do not have time to understand the bureaucratic details, contact a specialist who will take care of them all, and the information below will be relevant for those who want to understand the process on their own.
To open the process for obtaining an “investor visa”, the list of required documents varies. In general, you will need to provide a package of documents confirming transfers of the necessary amount, depending on the type of investment chosen, and a declaration of an international bank transfer from your account in another country to your account in a Portuguese bank.
In addition, you will need to provide:
- Passport or other identity documents;
- Proof of legal entry and stay in Portugal;
- Medical insurance for the entire stay in the country;
- Police clearance certificate from your country;
- Permission to request a police clearance certificate in Portugal; Confirmation of the tax number from your country;
- Confirmation of the absence of debt to social security and tax Portugal;
- Proof of payment of the process review fee; Statement of readiness to fulfil the necessary investment requirements for 5 years.
In any case, to obtain resident status, you will need a tax representative residing in Portugal. Therefore, it is better if it is an experienced specialist and a professional in immigration.
The “golden visa” obtaining process
It is necessary to collect the above documents from your country, translate them and certify them at the consulate of Portugal. In addition, you also need to make an investment and obtain mandatory certificates from Portugal (this can be done online).
If you contact a specialist, then he requests all the documents himself.
Your presence in Portugal is not required at this stage. The application is submitted online, along with all the necessary documents. The waiting time for a decision is from several months to 1 year, most often 3-4 months.
If successful, you will need to visit the country to be fingerprinted. After that, the resident card is sent by mail. In the first year, you will need to spend at least 7 days in Portugal.
After 24 months, it is possible to extend the investor status for another 2 years. However, to maintain the right to residency, 14 days will need to be spent in Portugal in subsequent bienniums
Extension of investor status for another 2 years
If all requirements are met, after 5 years in the status of a resident investor, it will be possible to apply for a permanent residence permit or Portuguese citizenship
How to simplify the process
You can independently handle the process of obtaining a “golden visa”. By clicking on this link, you will find a list of all requirements, documents, and deadlines, including a version in English.
However, if you want to simplify your life and act with more confidence, it is possible to turn to a specialist who has the necessary knowledge, experience and can “guide” you through the entire process from initial consultation and selection of real estate to obtaining a visa and its extension. Furthermore, such specialists will also help you with translation and can organize a study tour throughout Portugal to select the most comfortable area for living.
Golden visa for family members
If you would like to move to Portugal with your family, then the “investor visa” allows you to do this for:
- Minor or incapacitated children in the care of a couple or one of the spouses;
- Adopted minor children, if the country of origin recognizes them as equal to their own children;
- Adult unmarried children who attend an educational institution, regardless of which country, and are in the care of their parents;
- The parents of the investor or his wife, if they are in their care;
- Minor brothers and sisters, if they are in the care of a resident if the country of origin and Portuguese law permits to do that.
Extension of a visa
Since 2020, residences for investors have been issued immediately for 2 years. That is, before obtaining the coveted citizenship, you will need to obtain 3 residence permits (each of which will be issued for 2 years).
You will need to pay a fee, which is 2,668.20 euros for each adult family member and 50% of this amount for each child to do this.
At the same time, he must strictly comply with all obligations that the investor has undertaken to the state. That is, you will need to provide a valid passport and insurance policy, certificates of good conduct from the tax office, and documents confirming the fulfillment of investment obligations. The list varies depending on the chosen investment object.
In addition, the applicant is required to stay in the country for 7 days in the first year and 14 days in subsequent bienniums.
Obtaining Portuguese citizenship
And now let's talk about, perhaps, the most significant advantage of the “investor visa” in Portugal, namely citizenship, which can be requested after 5 years of legal stay in the country, including an investor's status. Please note, having lived in the country for at least 35 days in 5 years. It sounds like a fantasy, don't you think so?
The requirements for future citizens are quite loyal. It is necessary:
- 5 years legally reside in Portugal;
- Provide proof of knowledge of the Portuguese language (diploma from a language school or exam results);
- Not be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 3 years or more;
- Do not pose a threat to peace and order in Portugal.
Probably, the main problem with the Portuguese "golden visa" was that the 90-day deadline set in the law for making a decision on granting the status of an investor was not always respected. The Foreigners Supervision Service and Borders Authority have been rocked by corruption scandals and allegations that the sources of investment brought into Portugal through this program are illegal. Because of this, the issuance of "golden visas" was suspended. In addition, employees went on strike from time to time, dragging out all the processes they had under consideration. But the state is doing everything to speed up the analysis of candidates, and now the waiting time for a decision is about 3-4 months.
The requirements set by Portugal for applicants for an "investor visa" seem to other EU countries to be so low that they would gladly force Portugal to cancel this program.
In addition, a special commission of the European Union published a report advising that this method of attracting foreign capital be phased out, arguing that the risks associated with security, money laundering, and tax evasion do not compensate for the benefits received.
The opinions of the Portuguese deputies were divided. Some agree with the commission's conclusions and propose to gradually “cover up” the program, while others insist on the need to strengthen control, drawing attention to the economic benefits for the country that the infusion of foreign capital brings.
In 2019, the state decided to stop issuing “golden visas” for those who purchase property in Porto, Lisbon, or on the coast, that is, in the country's most attractive areas. These changes are effective from January 2022. In this way, the state is trying to attract investment to the Azores, Madeira, and inland areas with low population density.
Why choose Portugal
Many people who visit Portugal for the first time fall in love with it forever. Some are even eager to move to this tiny country, previously eclipsed by neighboring Spain. So what are the main advantages of Portugal?
The subtropical climate attracts many without sharp temperature fluctuations. Although Portugal is a relatively small country, it is striking in various landscapes and territories with different weather conditions. There are mountains, forests, desert plains, islands, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and the ocean. The closer to the Atlantic, the cooler it will be in summer. For example, in Porto, the temperature rarely exceeds 27ºC, while in the Alentejo region or even in the Douro Valley, it can be hellishly hot on the same day. For lovers of a beach holiday, the southern part of the Algarve is suitable, where the Germans and the British swim even in winter and wear T-shirts all year round. Each person here will find for themselves a zone with a comfortable microclimate.
In 3 hours, you can drive from Lisbon to Porto, and in 6 you can cross the country diagonally along high-quality highways. A flight within the country takes a maximum of a couple of hours. In addition, the leading European capitals are also within a 2-3 hour radius by plane.
Many foreigners note the exceptional taste of fresh seafood and the variety of wines in Portugal. Locals who love good food often accompany dinners even on weekdays with a glass of wine, not to mention festive feasts.
An additional bonus for someone may be that it is not prohibited to drink alcohol while driving if its blood content is less than 0.5 ppm for experienced drivers or 0.2 ppm for drivers with less than 3 years of experience.
In Portugal, the regularity with which the Portuguese do everything is striking. There is no Spanish siesta here, but the locals prefer a relaxed rhythm of life with the obligatory observance of certain rituals, such as enjoying a cup of coffee on the ocean, having a leisurely lunch, or spending a day off with the family. Those who choose to move to Portugal soon become accustomed to a leisurely life where there is always room for pleasure.
Portugal has excellent ecology and many beaches marked with blue flags, which confirm the high quality of the water. In addition, the state is implementing many programs to develop environmentally friendly production methods and reduce the negative impact on the environment.
The average lifespan in Portugal has already exceeded 81 years: it is more than in the United States (78 years) but lower than in Japan (84 years), which is the best indicator of the quality of life in this country.
According to the famous Global Peace Index in 2021, Portugal ranks fourth among the safest countries in the world, behind only Iceland, New Zealand, and Denmark. And in 2020, Portugal was ranked second in this ranking, so there is a clear trend that this small country manages to maintain its position in the top 5 safest countries in the world from year to year.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)
“Golden Visa”, “Investor Visa” or “Golden Visa” is a simplified name for a Portuguese program that was founded in 2012 to attract foreign investment to the country. Participants of the golden visa program, as well as their family members, receive the right to legal residence in Portugal, and after 5 years, the opportunity to apply for European citizenship in exchange for investments in the country's economy, which must meet the requirements and conditions of the program.
The main advantages of the Portuguese “golden visa” are:
- There is no need to reside in Portugal permanently. It will be enough for an investor and his family members to be in the country only 7 days a year.
- Opportunity to use the benefits of visa-free entry to other Schengen countries.
- The ability to enjoy various tax benefits, such as not paying taxes in Portugal on income received in other countries.
- There are relatively loyal requirements for investments and their size. In other EU countries, the requirements are much stricter.
- The right to obtain Portuguese citizenship after 5 years. In neighboring Spain, the minimum period of being in investor status for obtaining citizenship is 2 times longer, that is, 10 years.
- Possibility to obtain a residence permit in Portugal for the investor's family members.
It all depends on the chosen investment object and other factors, but if we are talking about buying real estate in the amount of 500,000 euros, then in addition to the necessary capital for investment, in the first year you will need to pay about 50,000 - 60,000 euros for tax-related expenses, insurance, services of a notary and a lawyer, etc. That is why it is essential to consider these additional costs when planning your initial investment.
How long is a residence permit issued to investors and their family members who have applied for the “golden visa” program?
Since 2020, residences for investors have been issued immediately for 2 years. That is, before obtaining the coveted citizenship, you will need to obtain 3 residence permits (each will be issued for 2 years).
We advise you to contact only licensed lawyers or real estate agencies, especially if you are going to invest quite large sums. In addition to the fact that they have the right to be your tax representatives and represent you in various government organizations, working with them does not carry the same risks that you take when working with unlicensed individuals and consultants.
Yes, you can make various combinations of several properties, the total value of which must meet the requirements of the “golden visa” program.
The answer to this question will depend on many factors, real estate objects, market situation, etc. Nevertheless, one cannot ignore the enormous costs and expenses (in the form of taxes, duties, etc.), which we, among other things, wrote about in this article. Therefore, the "golden visa" program can definitely be considered a perfect option for obtaining European citizenship in a reasonably short time (compared to other European countries). However, it is also not worth believing in the proposals of some agencies about a 10-20% increase in investments. At a minimum, you should be able to recoup all the costs associated with the program, and at the maximum, you can expect some profit and capital gains.
Yes, you will not have to pay taxes on your income from abroad if you do not stay in the country for more than 183 days a year. That is, you will not be a tax resident. At the same time, you will always have the opportunity to apply the benefits of RNH preferential treatment at the same time as having your investor residence, or the so-called "golden visa".
Yes and no. You can apply for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of having a Portuguese residence permit, but keep in mind that this process in Portugal can take several years. So in 5 years, it will be possible to apply for citizenship, and it will most likely be obtained only after 6-7 years.
No, it is not necessary to know the Portuguese language either to participate in the program or to obtain a residence permit subsequently. However, you will need to prove your knowledge of the Portuguese language (by passing an exam or providing an official certificate) only at the moment when you apply for Portuguese citizenship, that is, after 5 years.
I don't want to get Portuguese citizenship because this is not allowed by my current citizenship country. What are the alternatives in this case?
In this case, you can apply for permanent residence or, as it is also called "permanent residence" for 5 years. This is an excellent alternative for those who do not want to acquire Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of holding a residence permit as an investor.
Investors and their family members must stay in Portugal for at least 7 days in the first year after receiving the Golden Visa and 14 days in subsequent two-year periods. This is a significant advantage of the Portuguese Golden Visa program compared to other countries.
How much does it cost to apply for a "golden visa" for an investor and his family members, with its subsequent renewal?
When submitting documents, you must pay a fee of (as of April 2021) 533 euros for processing your application. Then, in case of a positive answer, it will be necessary to pay 5,325 euros for each family member and 50% of this amount for a child under 18 years of age. The "golden visa" extension after the expiration of the 2-year residence permit will cost 2,663 euros for each adult family member + 50% for each minor child.
Can I participate in the “golden visa” program if I have the citizenship of another European country?
No, you cannot, as the “golden visa” program does not apply to citizens of Portugal and citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area.
Can I, as an investor or a member of an investor`s family, with a residence permit obtained under the "golden visa" program, live in Portugal permanently, study, work as an employee, etc.?
Yes, participation in the “golden visa” program does not impose any restrictions on your activities in Portugal. You and your family members can live in the country permanently, study and work here.
The advantage of the Portuguese “golden visa” program is that you can apply for a residence permit at the Portuguese immigration service SEF at the same time as your entire family. So both the investor and his whole family can get a residence permit simultaneously.
An investor who has received a "golden visa" can sell the acquired objects after 5 years since one of the documents for obtaining a visa is a statement of readiness to fulfill the necessary investment requirements for 5 years.
What will be the consequences if an investor decides to sell the objects acquired under the Golden Visa program earlier than 5 years?
Naturally, it may happen that, for certain reasons, investments planned for a period of 5 years need to be interrupted for various reasons. In this case (and, of course, if you want to acquire Portuguese citizenship after 5 years), you can switch to any other type of residence permit, for example, a residence permit for study, work as an employee, work as an individual or ordinary entrepreneur. The only significant change, in this case, will be that you will need to live in Portugal for most of the year, that is, at least 183 days a year.
Can I buy property in Lisbon, Porto, or coastal areas in 2022 to participate in the Portuguese "golden visa" program?
Yes, you can, but this can only be done if it is commercial property under the new rules.
I have already planned to buy warehouse space in Lisbon and Porto in 2022. So it turns out now it will not be possible to apply for a "golden visa"?
The new law, which came into force on January 1, 2022, only applies to residential premises in the country's major cities and coastal areas. This means that investors can continue to invest throughout the country even after January 1, 2022, including Lisbon, Porto, and the coastal regions, but only in properties whose purpose is different from residential purposes, including warehouses.
I heard that starting from 2022 for participating in the "golden visa" program in Portugal, it will be possible to purchase housing only in the interior regions of the country and on the islands. How to understand what exactly is included in the "internal regions"?
That's right, on February 12, 2021, a law was issued that regulates the new rules for issuing golden visas, which came into force on January 1, 2022. A list of Portuguese regions classified as "inland" can be found here in this document and on this interactive (unofficial) map.
Here is a list of the main official documents and websites:
- You can find the official law n.º 138/2012 of 2021 here.
- Amendments to this law of 2021 (Decreto-Lei n.º 14/2021), which regulates the new rules for issuing "golden visas", which come into force on January 1, 2022, can be found here.
In addition, here are two official pages (page 1 and page 2) of the SEF portal, where you can find the most up-to-date information on the rules, fees, and the application process for issuing golden visas and the corresponding residence permit for investment activities.
Do the ongoing changes to Portugal's golden visa program mean that it is likely to be shut down altogether soon?
There can be no exact answer to this question. The changes we are seeing now mean that the government has decided to “raise the level” for foreign investors by raising the minimum investment amount. At the same time, the intention to promote the internal regions of the country and the island's autonomous regions is obvious, which is absolutely logical and understandable.
Over what period are investments for golden visas taken into account? For example, can a person invest from 2012 to 2022 in different property types so that the total investment amount is 500 thousand euros?
There is no direct prohibition in the law. But if we look at the norm of the law, there are two main conditions for investors: investing a certain amount and maintaining investments for 5 years. In addition, the investor must submit a declaration on the international transfer of funds that were used to buy real estate. In theory, if each purchase is carried out according to the correct procedure, you can eventually collect the necessary documents. At the same time, the investor must expect that, in fact, the investment will need to be maintained for much longer than 5 years. In practice, we have not seen a single such case.
No. Only the investment amount without taxes, fees, duties, etc. will be considered to apply for a “golden visa”.