Second Citizenship
February 9, 2024
Reading Time: 10 min

Portugal Golden Visa through purchasing shares of investment funds: a practical guide

Investors can get a Portugal Golden Visa if they invest a minimum of €500,000 in investment fund units. The holding period is at least 5 years.

The Portugal Golden Visa is a residence permit obtained in exchange for investing in the country’s economy. It will allow the applicant’s entire family to live and work in the EU and, after 5 years, to apply for citizenship.

What are the conditions and advantages of investing in funds, and how to choose them? Let’s find out the answers to those questions.

Alina Mishurenko
Alina Mishurenko

Explains how to choose a Portuguese fund and become the country’s resident

Portugal golden visa investment fund

Portugal Golden Visa through purchasing shares of investment funds: a practical guide

What is an investment fund?

An investment fund is a financial services company whose mission is to attract investors and increase capital. The fund collects investors' money and puts it into selected assets: residential or commercial real estate, Portuguese companies, industrial facilities or the European stock market. After receiving a profit, the fund distributes it among investors minus its commission.

Some of the Portuguese-specific acronyms used in the investment fund industry:

  • QIF — Qualified Investment Fund;

  • FCR — “Fundo de Capital de Risco” — Private Equity Fund;

  • UP — Unidade de Participação;

  • PU — Participation Unit in English, is the equivalent of stocks or shares;

  • SCR — Sociedade de Capital de Risco — Venture Capital Fund;

  • RG — Regulamento de Gestão;

  • SEC — Securities and Exchange Commission

The investment model of the fund is spelt out in the contract and constituent documents. The fund can invest only within the framework of the chosen strategy. For example, if the fund was created for investment in residential real estate, the management company can not invest part of the investors' money in commercial real estate or business.

Compliance with the investment strategy is monitored by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM, Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobil), which regulates the activities of all funds in the country.

What funds are suitable for Portuguese Golden visa investment?

The Portugal Golden Visa can be obtained by investment in funds. This is the best way for applicants who do not intend to live permanently in Portugal or do not want to invest in business to get a residence permit card.

The minimum investment in funds is €500,000. One needs to invest for at least five years, but the money is often returned after 6 to 10 years.

The strategy of such funds is to minimise risk while conserving capital. Often, they help with the process of obtaining a residence permit. Therefore, they often invest in real estate with the payment of minimum annual dividends. Such a fund will most likely suit the applicant for a Golden Visa.

Only about fifty funds are suitable for Golden Visa applicants — of two hundred Portuguese investment funds registered with the Commission for the Securities Market.

Funds for participation in the residence permit program in Portugal are subject to additional requirements for the distribution of capital and the maturity of shares.

Requirements for funds for investment under the residence permit program in Portugal:

  1. Registration with the Portuguese Securities Commission.

  2. Investment of at least 60% of the capital in Portuguese companies or real estate.

  3. The maturity of shares is at least 5 years.

Immigrant Invest selects only those funds that best meet the investors’ wishes — in terms of risk and return.

Discover the benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa and a unique way to EU citizenship

How investment funds differ from each other

Portugal Golden Visa Investment funds differ in the type of assets in the portfolio, the size of commissions and fees, the frequency of dividend payments — annually or at the end of the term, profitability and investment model.

According to the type of assets in the portfolio and an investment strategy, funds can be divided into those that invest in:

  • residential real estate in Lisbon and resort towns;

  • commercial real estate like hotels, shopping centres, and office premises;

  • commercial enterprises like manufactories, IT startups, and wineries;

  • several types of assets at once; for example, a fund can invest 50% in industrial facilities, 25% in agricultural land and 25% in commercial premises.

Mixed funds are rare: about 10% are on the market. The rest are represented approximately equally.

According to the degree of diversification, funds can be divided into those that invest in one object or several sectors of the economy. A fund can invest in only one property, one company, or several at once, all in Portuguese properties or partly in European or American ones.

All funds offer a different combination of risk and return. Each of them may have its own advantages, e.g. annual dividends, high returns or diversification.

Venture capital funds that invest in early-stage companies are focused on maximising capital appreciation at the exit. They usually do not pay dividends, and the investment term is generally up to 10 years.

When choosing a fund, it is necessary to consider a set of criteria: investment portfolio, the experience of the management company and the team of the fund itself, commissions for management and subscription, and exit strategy.

These are the basic conditions, along with the study of the investment memorandum, legal framework and licence, and commissions for the transfer of funds, which depend on the bank of the investor and the bank of the fund itself.

Investment yield of Portuguese funds

Investment yields in the funds range from 3 to 10%, depending on the fund investment model. This return is projected based on an annual asset management fee of 0.5 to 3% of the invested amount.

Investment yield and risk in Portuguese funds

Fund type

Fund invests in residential real estate

Yield

3%

Risk

✦✧✧✧✧

Investment allocation

Housing and student dormitories: shares in projects at various construction stages and loans for renovating companies

Fund type

Fund invests in commercial real estate

Yield

4—5%

Risk

✦✦✧✧✧

Investment allocation

Land, industrial facilities, and retail; the properties are already in a long-term lease

Fund type

Green energy fund

Yield

Up to 10%

Risk

✦✦✦✧✧

Investment allocation

Clean technology and alternative energy companies. 45% of investments come from the state, and 55% — from investors

Fund type

Fund invests in business and commercial real estate

Yield

Up to 10%

Risk

✦✦✦✧✧

Investment allocation

Stocks and bonds of European stock market companies, loans to Portuguese businesses, commercial premises

When can an investor withdraw the money?

Most often, investment funds are organised legally by a limited liability company, LLC. This means one can invest in the fund only during its formation and withdraw the money without losing interest only after it is closed.

To be eligible for a Portugal Golden Visa through an investment fund, an investor must keep money in the fund for at least 6 years before obtaining citizenship.

If the investor withdraws his investments ahead of schedule, they may be deprived of his residence permit. If the investor has already received citizenship and does not want to wait for the fund to close, they can exit early if the fund conditions allow it.

The life span of investment funds is divided into three stages: a subscription, investment and divestment.

Operational stages of investment funds

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1. Subscription. During the first two years, the funds collect money from investors. If there is enough capital, the fund can immediately begin the selection of suitable properties and assets. This period is called the Subscription Period.

During the Subscription Period, investors must conclude an agreement and deposit money. After that, the fund closes the subscription and no longer accepts new investors.

The minimum investment starts at €50,000, but an applicant for a residence permit in Portugal must invest at least €500,000.

The subscription can be free, or the commission is taken from the investment amount, and then the investor only transfers the required amount to the fund. But more often, funds take a one-time commission of up to 7,5% of the money invested.

2. Investments and asset management. For the next four years, the funds actively invest investors' money, collecting a portfolio of assets as part of their investment model, which is spelt out in the contract. Some funds also pay annual dividends, while others pay only after closing.

Funds charge an annual asset management fee, ranging from 0.5 to 3% of the invested amount. But this does not entail additional costs: this money is taken from the investments or profits.

3. Divestment. After 6 years, the funds begin to sell assets to make a profit.

From profits, the funds are distributed proportionately to each investor’s share and take capital gains into account after the sale of assets. This takes 1 to 4 years. Such a long period is needed to sell the asset as profitably as possible.

If there is a crisis on the market, low demand for real estate or not quite a good market situation, managers will wait for a more favourable moment for a sale. Flexible terms allow you not to sell assets at lower prices and maximise profits.

It may turn out that the investors' money will be "frozen" for a more extended period than is necessary to obtain Portugal citizenship. But you can always clarify this point in advance when choosing a fund and stop at the most suitable option for you.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

Is it possible to withdraw money ahead of schedule?

To maintain a residence permit in Portugal and obtain citizenship, an investor can not withdraw investments earlier than after 6 years.

An early exit from the fund is often possible if the investor finds a buyer for their share. However, shares of investment funds, especially those designed for golden visa recipients, are not very liquid. Some funds buy back shares from investors at discounted prices.

Who can benefit from investing in funds?

Those who already invest in financial instruments. Funds are often chosen by investors who understand the operation of financial markets and want to preserve capital: investing in funds helps to diversify income and risks.

Those who want to get a Portugal residence permit. Buying a property was the most popular way to get a residence permit in Portugal; this option was chosen by about 95% of foreign investors. However, obtaining a residence permit through real estate investment has not been available since October 2023.

Buying units of investment funds is one of the remaining investment options, alongside business investments, supporting culture and scientific research.

Those who don’t want to invest in a Portuguese business. A foreign investor has two business options under the Golden Visa program:

  1. Invest at least €500,000 in an existing Portuguese company and create at least 5 jobs.

  2. Open a company in Portugal and create at least 10 jobs.

However, maintaining a business abroad can be challenging and doesn’t suit everyone’s goals. Besides, the return on the invested money isn’t guaranteed as it hugely depends on the project’s success and profits.

Therefore, if an investor isn’t ready to engage in some entrepreneurial activity, wishes to receive a guaranteed passive income and returns the invested money in several years, they prefer fund units to business options.

Portugal Golden Visa requirements for an investor

Investors need to meet specific requirements to obtain a residence permit in Portugal. They relate to income, health, age, and biography. Certificates and personal and financial documents confirm compliance with the requirements when applying.

An investor can take part in the residence permit program in Portugal if they:

  • are over 18 years old;

  • aren’t a citizen of Switzerland, one of the EU countries or the EEA;

  • have no criminal record;

  • have no socially dangerous diseases like tuberculosis;

  • have medical insurance with full coverage;

  • have a legal income outside of Portugal.

When applying for a Golden Visa, the investor will need a confirmation of a transfer of €500,000 to a bank account in Portugal. Also, they will provide an agreement with the fund, which specifies the amount of investment and the investment model of the fund.

The expenses related to obtaining a Portugal residence permit are the following for investors:

  • €400+ is for health insurance;

  • €582 is an application fee per person;

  • €5,812 is a fee for issuing a residence permit card per person.

Will you obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

Practical Guide

Will you obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

Portugal Golden Visa by investment: a step-by-step procedure procedure

Obtaining a Portugal Golden Visa by investment in fund units takes 8—10 months. At each stage, the investor is accompanied by Immigrant Invest lawyers in Portugal, helping to choose a fund, prepare documents, conclude a deal, and apply for a residence permit.

1

1—2 weeks

Register a taxpayer number in Portugal

A Portuguese taxpayer number is required to open a bank account, buy shares of investment funds, and apply for a residence permit. It can be obtained by visiting a tax office in Portugal or through a Portuguese tax representative by proxy.

2

1—2 months

Open an account in a Portuguese bank

Immigrant Invest lawyers help prepare the required documents and accompany an investor to the office of the desired bank. A personal visit is needed.

When a bank account is opened, the investor transfers the money to purchase fund units.

3

2—3 weeks

Pay for the purchase of units in an investment fund

Immigrant Invest assists in selecting a reliable investment fund, considering the investor’s tasks and goals. The lawyers help to close the deal and collect the documents to prove the investment for the residency application.

4

5—6 months

Apply for a Portugal Golden Visa

Immigrant Invest lawyers provide the investor with the list of documents to collect, arrange their translation to Portuguese, and notarize copies. The documents are prepared within 2—3 weeks.

When the documents are ready, the lawyers apply them to AIMA, the Portuguese Agency for Integration, Migrations and Asylum. Golden Visa applications are usually processed within 4—5 months.

5

1—2 weeks

Submit biometrics in Portugal

The investor must come to Portugal upon application approval to submit their fingerprints and original documents. The appointment with the AIMA will be booked in advance for a convenient day and time.

6

Up to several months

Get a residence permit card

AIMA checks the investor’s original documents and decides on the residency application. After that, the investor pays a fee for issuing a residence permit card and collects it in person or through a lawyer by proxy.

5 advantages of obtaining a Portugal Golden Visa through funds

There are several advantages to obtaining a residence permit in Portugal by investing in funds that are unavailable with other options.

1. Greater diversification than buying one or more individual real estate properties.

2. Professionals manage investments: an applicant does not need to search for investment projects, deal with contractors or get involved in the fund operations. The investor can generally forget about investments until the time the fund closes.

3. Returning the investment money is possible in 6—10 years. In comparison, there is no guarantee to return business investments as they depend on the company’s profits and success.

4. Tax optimisation. Dividends and capital gains aren’t taxed if the investor has a Portugal Golden Visa and is not a Portuguese tax resident.

5. Safety. The funds are registered with the Securities Market Commission (CMVM). Their activities are also regulated by the country’s Central Bank and the fund’s management company. The tax service also carries out regular audits. This allows investors to be completely confident in compliance with all legal norms and adhering to the chosen investment strategy.

Banele, 34

Furniture factory owner

Portugal Golden Visa for purchasing investment fund units

Banele owns a furniture factory. His company buys fittings in Germany and Italy. In 2020, there were problems with supplies due to the pandemic; customers left, and production was idle.

The investor wanted to obtain a status allowing him to visit European countries without visas. He hoped to get EU citizenship for himself and his family so the children would grow up cosmopolitan.

We helped Banele and his family get a residence permit in Portugal. For investment, he chose the Blue Crow fund with an annual yield of 5% and the possibility of an early exit.

Learn a case

Risks of investing in Portuguese funds

The fund collects money from investors and signs an agreement with them as with a Limited Partner. This means that the investor only risks the amount of his investment and is not liable for the fund’s obligations.

Since funds primarily invest in assets such as real estate, land or commercial companies, the risks are associated only with a decrease in value when sold. But even in this case, the funds have 1 to 3 years to sell off assets, so they are not forced to take a loss during a falling market.

How to choose a fund for investment

To choose an investment fund, you need to consider many factors: investment conditions, profitability, return on investment, commissions and experience of the management company.

We have done this work for you and carried out the Due Diligence of each fund. We assessed the risks, strategy, investment projects, available reporting, and the experience of fund managers and past results and met with fund teams. As a result, 15 funds that meet the requirements for applying for a golden visa and provide an optimal ratio of risk and return were selected.

We provide clients with all the information about the selected funds, visually compare the main conditions and help them choose a specific investment fund. The final investment decision is yours to make.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

Will you obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

Practical Guide

Will you obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much does it cost to invest in Portugal for residency?

    It depends on the investment option. There are five, with the least expensive one supporting culture and arts with at least €250,0000. Investors can also buy investment fund units and invest in research projects of at least €500,000, open companies, and create jobs in Portugal.

  • What is the minimum investment for a Golden Visa in Portugal?

    €250,000 is the minimum investment for supporting culture and art. However, it’s not in demand among foreign investors, who prefer purchasing investment fund units for €500,000.

  • What is the Portugal Golden Visa investment fund?

    An investment fund is a financial institution that pools funds from investors to assets like real estate, Portuguese companies, and European stocks. It distributes profits to investors after taking a commission.

    There are specific requirements for an investment fund to be suitable for the Portugal Golden Visa. Nowadays, about 50 out of 200 funds registered with the Portuguese Commission for the Securities Market qualify for Golden Visa applicants.

  • Can I invest in several Portuguese investment funds?

    Yes. You may invest in as many funds as you want. As long as you invest at least €500,000, you qualify to apply for a Portugal Golden Visa. Legal fees will increase the more funds you use.

  • What is a Passive Foreign Investment Company?

    A passive foreign investment company — PFIC, is a non-US entity earning 75% or more of its gross income from non-business operational activities. Or if at least 50% of its assets are held for generating passive income.