What is the Portuguese Golden Visa Program
The Portugal Golden Visa Program allows its participants to get residence permits in Portugal by investment. The program has been in operation for ten years, and more than ten thousand residence permits have been issued for investors by far. They have brought more than six billion euros to the Portuguese economy.
The Portuguese investment program is so attractive because it does not require moving to Portugal to maintain the status and qualify for citizenship in the future or taking language and history tests. Portugal Golden Visa holders are allowed to work and run a business in the country.
According to Portuguese Golden Visa statistics, the program is most popular among investors from China, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Most applicants have preferred to invest in real estate.
Benefits of getting the Golden Visa in Portugal
Visa-free travel to Europe. You can visit all 26 Schengen states without visas on a Portuguese residence permit. It works as an alternative to a Schengen visa: the allowed period of stay in Schengen is 90 days each half a year. Yet, the rule does not apply to Portugal itself: here, your stay is unlimited.
Cyprus, Croatia and Romania are visa-free as well.
Ability to live and work in an EU country. Portuguese Golden Visa holders can move to Portugal, thus settling in the EU. Yet, it is an opportunity, not a must.
Living in Portugal, investors are not prohibited from earning income in the country regardless of the way: they can be employed, self-employed as well as conduct a business.
Low costs of living. Portugal is a popular destination among expats from all over the world because it combines high quality of life and safety levels with relatively low living costs.
Expats from developed countries feel comfortable living in Portugal as they do not lose in their living standards, and their purchasing power increases. Expats from developing countries improve the quality of their lives without a significant rise in living expenses.
According to Numbeo, the Quality of Life Index in Portugal and, for example, France are almost the same: 162 and 152, respectively. But the Cost of Living Index in Portugal is 1.5 times less than in France: 42 vs 66.
Access to Portuguese healthcare and education. For Portugal residents, state-provided healthcare is free. Their children can enter not only private but public kindergartens, schools and universities. The quality of healthcare and education in Portugal meets all the EU standards.
According to QS World University Rankings, four Portuguese universities are in the top 500. The University of Porto is recognized as the best one in the country.
Tax benefits. Those Portugal Golden Visa holders who spend more than 183 days a year in the country automatically change tax residency to Portuguese. For the first 10 years after the change, they can switch to a special tax regime called Non-Habitual Residency and optimise their tax liabilities.
Non-Habitual Residents pay income tax at a flat rate of 20% instead of a progressive scale of up to 48%. And only their income earned in Portugal is taxed.
Opportunity to get a Portuguese passport in 5 years. If you have maintained Portuguese residency for five years, you qualify for Portugal citizenship or permanent residency. Unlike in many other countries, obtaining permanent residence before citizenship is not compulsory in Portugal.
To obtain Portugal citizenship, applicants must have no criminal records and prove basic knowledge of Portuguese at the A2 level. Portuguese Golden Visa holders are not required to move to the country to apply for citizenship.
Affordable investment options. The minimum investment amount required to get residency in Portugal is €250,000. Investments in real estate start from €280,000 and are returnable. To obtain residency in neighbouring Spain, you must invest twice as much: from €500,000.
Short stay requirement. To maintain the status of a Portuguese resident, Portugal Golden Visa holders must spend only 7 days per annum in the country. In comparison, holders of other types of residency are required to stay for at least 183 days in Portugal.
Investment options for a Portugal Investor Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa Program offers six investment options to choose from. You can invest in real estate, business, securities, culture and science or open a bank deposit.
If an investment goes to a low-density territory, its amount can be reduced by 20%. Low-density territories are defined as regions where there are fewer than 100 people per square kilometre or GDP per capita is less than 75% of the national average.
Below, the investment options are listed from the most popular one to the least.
1. Real estate investment. You can get Portuguese residency by buying a property in Portugal. The amount of money you must invest in real estate depends on its type, age and location.
Residential real estate can be purchased only in Portugal's inner regions, Madeira or the Azores. No geographical restrictions apply to commercial properties. You can buy them in coastal areas, popular tourist destinations and populated cities as well.
For properties built earlier than 30 years ago, the minimum price is €400,000. If a real estate is older or located within a rehabilitation area, the purchase price starts at €280,000, but it also needs to be renovated. If you acquire a private house, these costs and arrangements fall on you. In case you buy a share in a commercial project, rehabilitation works are managed and paid for by the developer.
More than ten thousand applicants have chosen this option, and our clients are among them. You may want to look up at their stories:
- Alejandro bought an apartment in Cascais;
- Eldar and Zara chose a villa with a vineyard in northern Portugal;
- Kayin purchased a share in a hotel for renovation.
Examples of investment properties in Portugal
2. Capital transfer. Getting a Portugal Golden Visa is possible by transferring a capital of at least €1,500,000 to Portugal. The most straightforward way to fulfil such an investment is to hold this capital in a bank deposit. But investors can also acquire transferable, bearer or nominative securities as well as public debt instruments, such as government bonds, savings certificates or treasury bills.
A bit more than five hundred applicants have preferred this option, and among them is our client Ali, who transferred his capital to a Portuguese bank.
3. Fund investment. You can buy units of investment or venture funds for at least €500,000. Fund maturity must be of at least five years, and 60% of the investments must be realised in commercial companies with head offices in the national territory. The annual yield of Portuguese funds is 3—10%.
About 250 applicants have chosen this option by far, but after the 2022 changes to the Portugal Golden Visa program, its popularity has risen sharply.
4. Business investment & job creation. There are two business investment options under the Portugal residency by investment program, and they both require the creation of jobs.
Under the first option, you should open a company and create employment for at least eight workers. The investment program does not define the minimum company’s capital, so it is determined by general conditions for opening a company in Portugal. For example, for an open joint-stock company with limited liability, it is €50,000 and only €1 for a closed one.
Under the second option, you can invest in a new or existing company. It is required to transfer at least €500,000 to the share capital and create or keep at least five jobs.
22 investors have preferred the first option, among whom is our client from India, and only 6 applicants have taken the second path.
Job creation options
5. Arts & national heritage investment. If you choose this option, you must invest €250,000 in activities pursuing artistic output, support of arts, restoration or maintenance of the national cultural heritage. For investments to low-density territories, the amount is €200,000.
Despite this option being the least expensive, only 4 investors have chosen it since the launch of the Portuguese investment program.
6. Scientific and technological research investment. Investing in research activities will cost you €500,000. These activities can be developed by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technological system.
This is the least popular option under the Portugal residence by investment program, and only 1 applicant has obtained a Golden Visa via the research investment.
Who is eligible for this type of visa
Nationalities. Portuguese, EU and EEA nationals are not eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa program. Citizens of other countries can participate in the investment program without restrictions.
Family members. Investors can get Portuguese residency alone or together with their families. Only close relatives can be included in the application: spouses, children, parents and siblings. The investment amount does not depend on the number of family members participating.
Requirements for the main applicant and their family
|Main applicant||Over 18|
|Spouse||Of the opposite or same sex|
If over 18, live with the main applicant or study at a university, financially depend on the main applicant
|Parents||Generally over 65|
If under 65, more proof of principal dependance on the main applicant is required
|Siblings||Under 26 and in the main applicant’s custody|
All family members need to take out insurance. All over 16 must provide proof of no criminal records.
The main applicant has to provide evidence of no tax arrears and the legality of their funds. The money for investment must be earned outside Portugal.
The mandatory Portugal Golden Visa requirements
Applicants must make their investments from accounts in Portuguese banks. So, before applying, they need to open one and transfer the required money there. But you can’t open a bank account in Portugal without providing your Portuguese tax identification number, or NIF, so you first need to obtain this document.
What is a NIF, and how to get it. Portugal Golden Visa applicants can get NIFs only through tax representatives in Portugal. It can be done remotely or during a visit to Portugal.
How to open a bank account in Portugal. In most cases, foreigners can open current accounts only after a personal visit to a bank branch. They need to provide their passport, NIF and confirmation of their income legality.
Making and maintaining a qualified investment. Applicants must fulfil their investments before submitting an application. After getting a status of a Portuguese resident, the investment should be maintained so as not to lose a residence permit. Having obtained Portugal citizenship or permanent residence, investors can return their money: sell the property, close the bank deposit, etc.
Proof of a qualified investment must be included in the package of documents along with other required papers.
Documents and paperwork
|General documents||1. Copy of a passport or other government-issued travel document.|
2. Evidence of entry and legal stay in Portugal.
3. The tax identification number of the country of residence.
4. Documents outlining good standing with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority & Social Security system.
5. Proof of healthcare coverage.
6. Criminal record of the current country of residence.
7. A completed form authorising SEF to access criminal records in Portugal.
8. Sworn Statement by which the Applicant declares to comply with all the minimum quantitative and time requirements for the investment activity in Portugal.
9. Receipt of ARI application payment.
10. Evidence of an international and effective transfer of funds for investing.
|For purchasing real estate property|
For investment in a Portuguese Urban Regeneration Area
|1. Acquisition deed of the real estate or the pre-contract agreement.|
2. Land Register Certificate with the records, endorsements and registration in force.
3. The legal description of the real estate, where legally possible.
4. Evidence of the construction of the real estate for 30 years, or
The declaration attesting the real estate is within a rehabilitation area.
5. Prior notification or request for a permit to carry out the urban rehabilitation operation, or
The contract for the carrying out of rehabilitation works on the real estate.
|For purchasing fund shares||1. The document attesting the holdership of the units of investment.|
2. The declaration issued by the holding company of the respective investment fund attesting the feasibility of the capitalization plan, the maturity of at least five years, and the application of at least 60% of the investment in commercial companies with head office in the national territory.
|For the creation of job positions|
For investment in the company’s capital
|1. Company registration certificate.|
2. Individual contracts of employment between the employer and the employees.
3. Certificates from the Office of Social Security and the Register of Employment Contracts for the employees.
4. Supporting document of the constitution of a commercial company with share capital equal to or above €500,000 and associated updated extract from the register of companies.
|For capital transfer in a bank account||The declaration of a credit institution authorised or registered in the national territory within the Bank of Portugal, attesting the holdership of deposit accounts with a balance equal to or above 1.5 million euros|
|For investment in the arts||The declaration issued by the Strategy, Planning and Cultural Assessment Office, where the culture service with competencies in the sector have been consulted, attesting its investment nature or of supporting the arts, restoring and maintenance of the national cultural heritage|
|For investment in research activities||The declaration issued by a public or private scientific research institution involved in the national scientific or technological system, attesting the effective transfer of capital for research activities|
Legalising and translating the documents. All documents must be translated into Portuguese and notarised: Immigrant Invest lawyers take this on. We also help fill out government forms in Portuguese.
Minimum residence requirement. Portugal Golden Visa holders are required to spend at least 7 days per annum in the country. The proof of stay must be provided when applying for the renewal of residence permit cards.
Portugal residence by investment application process
1. Decide on your investment type. Immigrant Invest managers will consult you and help make a decision. In case of real estate investment, we select several properties suitable to your wishes for you to choose from. You don’t even have to visit Portugal: we can go to the site and take photos and videos and then sign a sale-purchase contract by proxy.
2. Set up a Portuguese bank account and tax number. This stage requires a short trip to Portugal. Our lawyers will accompany you to the tax office and bank and help with translation and other issues.
3. Complete your investment. When the account is opened, transfer the money to it and then redirect it to investing.
4. Gather all necessary documents and submit your application. E-copies of the papers are sent for consideration to SEF, the Portuguese Immigration Office. At this stage, the application is considered for 4—6 weeks.
5. Schedule and attend your SEF appointment. We book an appointment for fingerprinting for all family members included in the application, so they all have to come to Portugal and provide their biometrics and the originals of the documents. SEF checks the papers for up to another six months.
6. Receive your Golden Visa residence cards. After approval, the investor pays the fee for issuing residence permit cards. From then, they are ready within two weeks. The investor can receive them in person or with the help of their lawyer by proxy.
7. Apply for permanent residency or citizenship. After holding residence permit cards for 5 years, investors become eligible to apply for Portuguese permanent residency or citizenship. To get the status, they must prove basic knowledge of Portuguese at the A2 level.
Portugal Golden Visa costs and fees
|Status||Cost item||Amount to be paid|
|Temporary residence||Submitting and processing an application||€540|
|Card issuance||€5,392 per adult|
€2,696 per child under 18
|Permanent residence||Submitting and processing an application||€108|
|Citizenship||Submitting and processing an application||€250|
About Portuguese tax system
Tax implications for visa holders. If Portugal Golden Visa holders spend less than 183 days in Portugal, they are not considered tax residents, so only income they earn in Portugal is taxed in the country. Otherwise, the tax is levied on worldwide income.
Portuguese tax residents pay income tax on a progressive scale from 14.5 to 48%. Non-residents are charged at a flat rate of 25%. To lessen their tax burden, Portugal resident permit holders can switch to the preferential tax regime for highly-qualified professionals.
The non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax Program is available for new tax residents of Portugal. Under this regime, income from professional activities is charged at a flat rate of 20%. And a 10% rate applies to pensions. A global income is not taxed in Portugal.
The maximum period of using this regime is 10 years.
Real estate tax. All who buy, own or sell property in Portugal must pay taxes.
Property transfer tax, or IMT, is paid once when buying real estate. For residential real estate, It is calculated according to the progressive scale from 0 to 7.5% of the property value. Commercial properties are taxed at a flat rate of 6.5%. Stamp duty of 0.8% of the property value should also be paid.
Annual property tax, or IMI, ranges from 0.3% to 0.8% of the real estate value.
Tax for capital gain can be charged when selling a property. Its rate is 28%. If the seller is a Portuguese tax resident, only half of their profit from the transaction is taxed.
Total Portugal Golden Visa investment costs calculated
Let us make a sample calculation for the most common situation. A family of four — husband, wife and children of 10 and 18 — are getting a Portugal Golden Visa by real estate investment. They have preferred the least expensive option for €280,000, commercial property for renovation in a low-density area.
Portugal investor visa costs for a family of four
|Property transfer tax||€18,200 (the rate is 6.5% of the property value)|
|Stamp duty||€2,240 (the rate is 0.8% of the property value)|
|Fee for submitting and processing an application||€2,160|
|Fee for issuing residence permit cards||€18,872|
Portugal Investment Visa timeline
Year 1—2. After getting Portuguese residence, it must be renewed every two years before acquiring citizenship or permanent residency. To be eligible for renewal, Portugal Golden Visa holders must respect the following terms:
- keep investments;
- spend a week per annum in the country;
- pay taxes, if applicable;
- stay with a clear police record;
- have insurance;
- be registered in Portugal, that is, own or rent housing.
To renew the Golden Visa, investors recollect the documents and resubmit biometric data. The application for extension of the status must be filed 1—3 months before it’s expired. It will be considered for 3 weeks.
The application is submitted along with the following documents:
- A Portuguese residence permit card.
- A passport.
- Two photos.
- Evidence of a residential address in Portugal.
- Proof of financial solvency.
- A completed form authorising SEF to access criminal records in Portugal.
- Tax payment information.
Year 3—4. No difference from the previous stage.
Year 5+. After five years of being a Portuguese resident, you get the right to apply for citizenship. You can file an application in person or by mail. Applying in person, you sign the application form in the presence of a responsible officer of the Portuguese Migration Service. Applying by mail, you sign the form in the presence of a notary beforehand.
To apply for citizenship, you need a minimum of documents:
- An application form filed out in the Portuguese language.
- A Portuguese residence permit card.
- A copy of the birth certificate apostilled at the Portuguese Consulate and its notarized translation into Portuguese.
- Certificates of no criminal records from all countries the applicant has lived since 14.
- A certificate of proficiency in Portuguese.
The process of obtaining citizenship takes up to a year.
Portugal Golden Visa new rules from 2022
Required investment amounts. Since the beginning of 2022, four investment options have risen in price by up to 1.5 times. The minimum investment amount in real estate and arts has remained the same.
|Fund share purchase||€350,000||€500,000|
|Business investment with the creation of 5 jobs||€350,000||€500,000|
Real estate investment route locations. Now, geographical restrictions apply to the purchase of residential properties. To get a Portugal Golden Visa, investors can buy a house only in the country’s inner regions, on Madeira or the Azores islands. If you purchase housing in Lisbon, Porto or other popular tourist destinations, you won’t qualify for Portuguese residence by investment.
No restrictions apply to commercial properties, including commercial apartments.
Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa: which one offers more benefits
At first glance, Spanish and Portuguese investment programs offer the same benefits: visa-free travel to Schengen, residence in an EU country, the prospect of EU citizenship and the possibility to return the investment in five years. But there are some essential differences.
A Spain Golden Visa is a perfect choice for those who wish to move to the country for permanent residence. Spain requires commitment. If you want to refund your investment, you must move to Spain. If you wish to obtain Spanish citizenship, you have to renounce your first one.
A Portugal Golden Visa is a universal solution: it suits not only those who wish to relocate to Portugal. The investment path to Portuguese citizenship is shorter and less demanding. Investors can get Portugal passports without moving to the country or renouncing their first citizenship.
Comparison of Spain and Portugal Golden Visa Programs’ terms
|Comparison criteria||Spain Golden Visa||Portugal Golden Visa|
|Minimum investment amount||€500,000||€200,000 if non-refundable|
€280,000 if refundable
|Obtaining period||2—3 months||6—16 months|
|Stay in the country to maintain the status||Not required||7 days per annum|
|Refunding the investment||In 5 years|
Relocation to Spain is required
|In 5 years|
Relocation to Portugal is NOT required
|Obtaining citizenship||In 10 years|
Living for Spain all 10 years in a row is required
Renouncing the first citizenship is required
|In 5 years|
Living in Portugal is not required: it’s enough to spend 35 days in total
Renouncing the first citizenship is NOT required
|Preferential tax regime after relocation||6 years|
The income tax rate is 24%
The income tax rate is 20%
Frequently Asked Questions
Portuguese Golden Visa costs depend on which investment option the applicant chooses. The minimum investment amount is €200,000. This amount must be invested in supporting arts or restoring cultural heritage in a low-density territory and is non-refundable.
The most popular option is real estate investment. The minimum property price can be from €280,000 to €500,000, depending on its type, age and location. In 5 years, the real estate can be sold.
The option that requires the least involvement is opening a bank deposit. It requires €1,500,000.
It takes 6 to 16 months to obtain a Portugal Golden Visa. The time depends on:
- how fast investors prepare documents and fulfil investment conditions;
- whether there are queues for submitting biometrics;
- how thoroughly prepared the application and whether Migration officers need to make additional requests to answer the questions about the investor’s biography or business.
A spouse, children, parents and siblings can be included in the application by an investor under certain conditions. All family members but a spouse must be financially dependent on the investor. The investor’s children and siblings can’t be over 25.
According to the investment program’s terms, grandchildren can’t participate. But there are exceptions to every rule. Immigrant Invest has a personalised approach for each client, and once, we helped the investor include his grandson in the application.
Same-sex couples can apply for Portuguese residency by investment if they are officially married. If their country of origin prohibits same-sex marriages, they can get married in Portugal before applying for residence. It’s possible to register a marriage remotely. The fee for registering a marriage is €120.
Opposite-sex couples can participate in the Portugal investment program without the official registration of their marriage. A partnership is recognized when partners live together for more than two years.
No. Obtaining a Portugal Golden Visa does not require passing the language test. Yet, if you want to apply for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residency in the future, you will need to get a certificate in the Portuguese language at an A2 level.
It depends. If you spend more than 183 days a year in Portugal, you become a tax resident and must pay the tax on a worldwide income in the country. If not, you must pay tax only on income earned in Portugal, for example, from renting out a property. Income tax rates for residents vary from 14.5 to 48%, and for non-residents, the rate is 25%.
If you own a property, you must pay annual tax at 0.3—0.8% of its value. If you own a company, its profit is taxed at 21%.
Yes. The real estate investment can be made through a shareholder limited liability company of which the applicant is the shareholder. In this case, you need to add an extract from the register of companies to the package of documents.
No, but you can buy an old villa and refurbish it to your taste.
Yes, no one can guarantee that your application will be accepted. If an agent of the investment program gives assurances of 100% success, be aware: probably, they are fraudsters or unqualified specialists.
Immigrant Invest always conducts a preliminary Due Diligence check and creates a personalised plan for each client. Such measures significantly improve the odds of success and reduce the rejection risk to 1%.