What a Portugal golden visa is
The Portugal golden visa is actually a special type of Portuguese residence permit. There are several differences between usual and golden visas to Portugal:
- Form. A golden visa is not like any other visa that can be stamped on your passport. If you get a Portugal golden visa, you obtain a separate document: a residence permit card.
- Function. Usual visas’ main function is to let you enter Portugal and stay there for a certain period. Golden visas provide more opportunities. Portuguese golden visa holders get official status in the country, together with certain rights and responsibilities. For example, they can now turn to public hospitals and enter state schools and universities.
- Validity. Usual visas to Portugal allow its holders either stay for up to 90 days each half a year or 120 days in a row. A golden visa is issued for at least a year and lets you stay in the country for this entire period.
- Way of obtaining. A Portugal golden visa can be obtained only by investment in the country’s economy. €250,000 is the least possible amount to invest.
The Portugal golden visa program was launched in 2012. For ten years, 10 thousand investors and 17 thousand members of their families have become participants in the program.
In the first quarter of 2022, Portugal issued 538 golden visas. 75% of investors chose to invest in property, 22% — in fund shares. Because of geographical restrictions on the purchase of residential properties, the option of fund share purchase is becoming more and more popular.
Portuguese golden visa benefits: why to invest in Portugal
Investment in Portugal’s economy and obtaining a Portuguese residency permit may be beneficial in many ways.
Travelling to the Schengen Area. A Portugal golden visa eliminates the necessity to get a Schengen visa. Portuguese residence permit holders may spend 90 days out of 180 in other Schengen countries. The stay in Portugal is not taken into account, so it is different from travelling with a Portugal Schengen visa.
|Golden visa to Portugal||Schengen visa to Portugal|
|If you spend 3 months in Portugal, you can right away go and spend two months in France and another one in Italy, for example.||If you spend 3 months in Portugal, you need to leave the Schengen Area and wait for another 3 months to enter it again.|
EU citizenship prospect. A Portugal golden visa is the first step to EU citizenship, and it is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get it by naturalisation. Portuguese residents can apply for citizenship after 5 years of maintaining the status. And they can get it without moving to Portugal.
In none of the EU countries, you can obtain citizenship by naturalisation earlier than five years. The period is the same in some of them, but the terms are less attractive.
EU citizenship after 5 years of residence
|Portugal||7 days a year|
Applicable only for Portugal golden visa holders
|Sweden||46 of 52 weeks a year|
|Belgium||4 out of 5 years|
No more than 6 months of consecutive absence
For children born in Portugal, the terms are even better. A child can acquire Portuguese citizenship by birthright if at least one of his parents has held a residence permit in Portugal for more than a year. In all the other EU countries, the terms are stricter.
Moving to Portugal. As soon as you get a Portuguese residence permit, you can move to Portugal. Or not to move: it is just a matter of personal choice, not a mandate. Moving to Portugal, one gets access to quality European education, healthcare and food.
Why foreigners may like living in Portugal
|Low prices||“In Lisbon, a meal in a restaurant for two costs €20, while in Madrid, it costs at least €40.”|
|Quality education for children||“If for some reason a child needs special attention, for example, they do not speak Portuguese, they will receive this attention. Teachers are tactful and calm, and conflicts in the classroom are extremely rare.”|
|Friendly attitude towards foreigners||“In Portugal, there are no special districts for foreigners like Chinatowns or Brighton Beach. Newcomers get integrated into Portuguese society. The locals are sympathetic and friendly people who are always ready to help.”|
|Safety||“Living in Portugal, it is not scary to let the children go out alone and return home late at night.”|
|Warm climate||“Summers are hot, and winters are mild. The sun shines almost every day. There are only about five cloudy days a month.”|
|Opportunities for recreation and entertainment||“One day, you can ride a yacht and then admire the azulejo tiles on the houses of old Porto. The next day you go surfing, then take a ride with the children in the cable car. In Portugal, one can never be bored.”|
Tax optimization. If one spends more than 183 days a year in Portugal, they become a Portuguese tax resident. New tax residents can apply for the preferential tax regime and get Non-Habitual Resident tax status for 10 years.
Non-Habitual tax residents are exempt from paying taxes on global income, and their income earned in Portugal is taxed at a flat rate of 20% instead of being levied on a progressive scale up to 48%.
Portugal has valid tax treaties with 78 countries. This means that the tax will not have to be paid twice in many cases. For more information read our “Portugal tax guide”.
Investment profit. Some kinds of investments are fully refundable and may even become profitable. By investing in fund shares, one can get an annual yield of 3 to 10%.
By investing in real estate, one can profit from renting it out and then when selling it. Real estate prices in Portugal are growing faster than the average for the European Union: they have increased by 1.5 times in five years. For example, a house of 100,000 m2 that cost €85,500 five years ago today is sold for €125,000.
Requirements for the investor and family members: who is eligible for a Portugal golden visa
The investor can participate in the Portugal golden visa program alone or with their family. The main applicant needs to be at least 18 years old. A spouse is eligible for participation without an age limit. Their children younger than 26 can also be included in the application. Parents can take part if they are financially dependent on the investor or older than 65. Other relatives cannot join the investor.
|Investor||From 18 years old|
|Spouse||No age limit|
|Children||Younger than 26 years old|
|Parents||Financially dependent on the investor if younger than 65 years old|
The investor must have legal income, valid health insurance, no debts in Portugal and no criminal records. Money for investment must be earned outside Portugal and transferred from abroad.
Children under 18 are included without conditions, while children 18 to 26 should be financially dependent on the main applicant, as well as live with them or study at a university.
Michael’s parents obtained a residence permit in Portugal together with their son. But Charlotte’s parents did not meet the age requirements of the Portugal golden visa program and were financially independent, so they were not included in the application.
However, a year later, all the family of six reunited in Portugal and have lived together since then.
- How to add parents to the original application
- What documents are needed
- How much it costs, and how long it takes
Portuguese golden visa investment options: what to invest in Portugal
Portugal offers different investment options. To get a residency permit in Portugal, one can invest in real estate, equities, business, science and culture. Or open a deposit account in a Portuguese bank. The amount of minimum investment varies from option to option.
Most popular investment options
Property. Not any property can be bought under the Portugal golden visa investment program: there are some restrictions and peculiarities.
Investors are allowed to buy both commercial and residential property. The property may be of two types: renovation property and the rest. Property-to-renovate requires less money, yet the investor is obliged to conduct the renovation.
Commercial real estate can be purchased in any region of Portugal, while housing is to be bought only in Portuguese islands and inner regions. These restrictions are applicable for both renovation and any other residential property in Portugal.
Places to buy residential property for Portugal golden visa
|Lisbon, the capital of Portugal||Madeira archipelago|
|Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal||The Azores islands|
|Lagos, a town on the coastline in the southern region||Evora, an inner landlocked town with a low population density|
|Big, populous cities;|
Popular tourist destinations;
Most coastal areas of mainland Portugal
Landlock towns in the interior;
Low population density areas
The cost of commercial real estate depends on its geographical location, while the cost of residential property does not. The initial prices for property-to-renovate start from €350,000 and €500,000 for any other. Yet, if you buy commercial real estate in a low population density territory, you can get 20% off and pay €280,000 for property under renovation and €400,000 in the other case.
Investors can lease their properties and get income. When investors get a permanent residence in Portugal or a Portuguese passport, they can sell their properties to return the investment: it becomes possible after five years of being a resident.
One of our clients, Kayin, chose to buy a share in a commercial real estate project instead of a physical object. The investor did not need to renovate the object himself, and he has had no maintenance expenses. Yet, Kayin managed to save €70,000 on participation in the program.
Properties suitable for Portugal residency by investment
Purchase of fund shares is another option to get Portugal residency by investment. The minimum possible amount is €500,000. The annual yield of Portuguese funds suitable for investors is 3 to 10%. Investments can be withdrawn from the fund after receiving permanent residence or citizenship or when the fund closes. Funds’ lifespan is usually about 10 years.
One of our clients, Banele, owns a furniture factory. He wanted to travel to European countries visa-free to visit the suppliers on time and save his business. For investment, he chose the Blue Crow fund with an annual yield of 5% and the possibility of an early exit and got a residence permit in Portugal.
Opening a bank deposit is the option that requires the least risk and engagement but demands the most considerable amount of investment. Holding money in the deposit account in a Portuguese bank, you do not have to pay any taxes, maintain and renovate a property, or manage a company. This option better suits those who do not plan to move to Portugal. The minimum investment amount is 1.5 million euros.
One of our clients, Ali, wanted to ensure his children and grandchildren would have good chances to succeed in life. He obtained a Portugal golden visa for himself and his family by opening a deposit at Millennium BCP Bank. When they get citizenship, Ali plans to withdraw his money and spend it on the education of his grandchildren.
Business investment. There are two options connected to business investing. The first one requires €500,000 of investment in a new or existing Portuguese company together with the creation of at least five jobs. The other option demands opening a company and creating at least 10 jobs, while the investment amount is not defined.
Investment in science and culture. If investors choose to support culture and art, they need to invest €250,000. This is the minimum possible investment amount under the Portugal golden visa program but the least popular. It is unclear whether it is possible to return the money, and choosing a suitable project is also a big deal.
If investors choose to support research projects, they need to invest twice as much: €500,000. This option is also rarely chosen due to its complexity and expansiveness.
Besides the Portugal golden visa program, there is another way to get a Portuguese residency permit for wealthy people: obtaining a residence visa of the D7 category, then a residence permit for financially independent persons.
This way does not require any investments: one just needs to prove sufficient income or funds on their account. Yet, to maintain the status, one needs to spend more than 183 days a year in Portugal.
Government fees and other expenses under the Portuguese program
Besides direct investments, there are other cost items, notwithstanding which investment option is chosen.
|Application fee||€533 for each family member|
|Residence permit card issuance||€5,340 for each family member|
|Medical insurance||€400+ for each family member|
|Bank account maintenance fees and other commissions||Depends on the bank|
|Taxes and commissions||Under the property option: |
How to apply for a golden visa in Portugal
Getting Portugal residency by investment is complicated and lasts for 6—8 months. Investors are recommended to turn for legal support. There are legal companies that directly specialise in helping obtain a Portugal golden visa, and Immigrant Invest is one of them.
The procedure of obtaining a residence permit varies depending on the option chosen. However, some steps are mandatory for all applicants. Most actions can be performed on the investor’s behalf by the lawyers through a power of attorney.
1. The preliminary check helps to reduce the risks of failure to 1%. It is conducted by our certified Anti Money Laundering Officers. Immigrant Invest does not sign an agreement with the investor until the check is passed, and both the lawyers and the investor are aware of the chances and risks.
2. Selection of an investment object. Depending on the option, the investor needs to choose a property, a fund, a company, a bank, or a project. It is possible to do it remotely with the help of our lawyers: they can send photos, videos, reports and other information needed.
3. Trip to Portugal. Some steps can be performed only in person. On their trip to Portugal, the investor needs to open a bank account, get an individual taxpayer number and draw up a power of attorney for their lawyer.
4. The fulfilment of the investment: the investor transfers the money and signs necessary contracts. For example, in the case of a property purchase, the investor closes the deal and receives the ownership certificate.
5. Collection of documents. The investor gets an individual list of documents from the lawyers to collect. Then, the applicant has the relevant state form filled out and documents translated and certified.
The main set of documents includes:
- A completed application form.
- Originals and copies of valid passports of all the applicants.
- A main applicant’s biography.
- A confirmation of investment.
- Disclosure of origin and proof of the legality of investment funds.
- A certificate of no criminal record for the main applicant and their spouse.
- A marriage certificate.
- A birth certificate.
- Medical insurance for the whole family.
6. Submission of the application. Electronic copies of the documents are sent for consideration to the SEF, the Portuguese Immigration Office.
7. Submission of biometric data. The investor and their family come to Portugal to submit original documents and their biometric data for residence permit cards. When it is done, SEF starts the Due Diligence check and issues a confirmation document that can be used to live in Portugal until the residence permit cards are issued. The documents’ processing time is 4—6 months.
8. Obtaining residence permit cards. When approval is received, the investor pays the fee for the residence permit cards. They are prepared within two weeks and issued personally to the investor or their lawyer by proxy.
How to maintain and renew Portugal residency by investment
Residence permit cards have to be renewed every two years. The procedure is similar to the initial application: you need to collect the same documents and submit them electronically, submit biometrics and originals, and obtain new cards.
To maintain a residence permit, the investor and their family members must spend at least seven days a year in Portugal. Investors also need to preserve their investments.
How to get Portugal permanent residence and citizenship
When an investor remains a golden visa holder for five years, they get the right to apply for a permanent residence and citizenship. The stage of permanent residence is not mandatory and can be skipped.
To obtain a Portugal passport, you need to prove no criminal record and have an A2 level of Portuguese. One does not have to take exams on the history or constitution of the country or take an oath of allegiance. Portugal allows dual citizenship, so foreigners do not have to renounce their first one.
Consideration of an application for citizenship usually takes about seven months. The whole process from filling out the papers to receiving Portugal ID cards takes up to a year.
To obtain permanent residence in Portugal, one needs to meet four requirements:
- have no convictions;
- confirm the ability to pay;
- rent or own housing in Portugal;
- pass the basic test on Portuguese.
The investor may consider getting permanent residence instead of citizenship if the country of their first citizenship prohibits dual citizenship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, though in 2022, the terms of the Portugal golden visa program have changed. Because of geographical restrictions on the purchase of residential properties, the option of fund share purchase is becoming more popular.
€250,000 is the minimum amount of investment needed to get a Portugal golden visa. But this amount is enough only to support cultural projects. If you want to make refundable and profitable investments, you can invest in real estate, business and securities. Depending on the option, costs vary from €280,000 to 1.5 million.
Portugal residency by investment can be obtained within 6—8 months. The procedure includes two trips to Portugal, selection of the investment object, collection of documents, consideration of the application by the Portuguese Immigration Office and issuing of the cards.
An investor and their family members: spouse, children under 26, and parents of the investor or their spouse. Children from 18 and parents under 65 must be financially dependent on the investor.
A Portugal golden visa is obtained by an investment of €250,000 to 1.5 million. The process is complicated, so investors turn to legal support to increase the chances of success. The procedure includes two trips to Portugal, selection of the investment object, collection of documents, consideration of the application by the Portuguese Immigration Office and issuing of the cards.
Among the benefits of a Portuguese golden visa are the following:
- visa-free travelling to the Schengen Area;
- EU citizenship prospect;
- opportunity to move to Portugal;
- tax optimization;
- investment profit.
Yes, Portuguese golden visa holders have a right to work and run a business in Portugal.
By purchasing real estate in Portugal, one can obtain Portugal residency by investment. You can also profit from renting it out and then when selling it. Real estate prices in Portugal are growing 1.5 times faster than the average for the European Union.
Not all property is suitable for participation in the Portugal golden visa program. Commercial real estate can be purchased in any region of Portugal, while housing is to be bought only in Portuguese islands and inner areas.
€280,000 is the minimum investment in the property to qualify for a Portuguese residence permit. With this money, one is allowed to buy commercial property-to-renovate in a low population density territory. To buy housing that does not require renovation, one needs to invest from €500,000.
To obtain permanent residence in Portugal, applicants need to hold temporary residence permits for at least five years, have no convictions, confirm the ability to pay, rent or own housing in Portugal, and pass the basic test on Portuguese.
The stage of permanent residence is not mandatory: the foreigner gets the right to apply directly for citizenship after being a temporary resident.
At least six years. Foreigners get the right to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of holding residence permits. Up to another year takes the consideration of an application and other bureaucratic procedures.
A Portugal golden passport can be acquired by naturalisation after five years of holding a Portugal golden visa. It is not allowed to get a Portuguese passport by direct investments. To obtain citizenship, one needs to prove the absence of a criminal record and an A2 level of Portuguese.
A Portugal golden passport differs from a usual one only in the way of obtaining it. Both passports provide the same opportunities.
|Golden passport of Portugal||Usual passport of Portugal|
|Obtained after holding Portugal residency by investment||Obtained after holding other types of Portugal residency|
|Can be obtained without moving to Portugal: you just need to spend 7 days a year in the country||Requires moving to Portugal: you need to spend at least 183 days a year in the country|