Statistics on the residence permit programme in Portugal: How much and in what invested the most in 2020

January 11, 2021
Residence permits in Portugal for investment: programme statistics for 2020
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Portugal’s investment-based residence permit programme brought in around 647 million euros. We tell you which options are most popular with investors and which countries received the most “golden visas” last year.

The Portuguese Migration Service regularly publishes statistics on the programme. The reports on the official website of the service can be used to track the dynamics of demand for residence permits for investment.

The coronavirus pandemic also affected the outcome of the programme in 2020. Under its terms, the investor needs to come to Portugal in person to take biometrics. Fingerprints are needed to produce a residence permit card.

Participants in the programme who want to invest in real estate also prefer to inspect properties in person. But because of the closed borders, many foreigners have not been able to come to the country. This explains the difference in monthly income from the programme.

Programme income by month in 2020 in millions of euros

Доход от программы ВНЖ в Португалии в 2020 году
Source: SEF, 2021

Portugal received the biggest income from the programme in May. In one month, investors invested around €146 million – as much as in the previous four months combined. In doing so, the programme department-approved 270 applications. We told you about it in the article “Portugal: May 2020 – a record-breaking number of golden visas”.

The surge in demand is explained by the fact that Portugal opened the border to foreigners at the beginning of May. And the fall since September 2020 is due to the worsening epidemic situation in the world: due to the second wave of the coronavirus, Portugal has again restricted entry into the country.

How many golden visas foreigners received in 2020

During the year, the programme department approved 1,182 investor applications. In addition to the main applicants, 2,043 family members also received residence permit cards.

3225 people

received a residence permit in Portugal for an investment in 2020

Chinese nationals ranked first in the number of participants in the programme. They accounted for about 25% of approved applications for the year.

Top 5 countries whose nationals obtained residence permits in Portugal in 2020

Country Number of approved applications
China 296
Brazil 126
UAE 75
South Africa 74
Turkey 72

Portugal’s residence permit programme is also in demand among investors from Russia. In 2020, the department approved 63 applications from Russians – a 15% increase on the year before.

Since the programme’s inception, 359 applicants from Russia have received “golden visas”. This makes the Russians the fifth-highest number of approved applications since 2012.

Which option was most often chosen by investors in 2020

Portugal’s residence permit programme offers investors eight options to choose from. A participant in the programme can buy real estate, put money on deposit in a bank, buy shares in a venture capital fund, invest in scientific research or cultural projects, start a business or invest in existing companies.

The purchase of real estate has traditionally been the most sought-after by investors. In this case, the participant has a choice of two options: to buy any property for €500,000 or a historic building under renovation for €350,000.

In 2020, 91% of investors took advantage of real estate options. Real estate transactions brought in some 588 million euros to the country. According to the experience of Immigrant Invest, participants in the programme most often buy properties in Lisbon, Porto and resort towns such as Cascais.

91% of investors

have bought a property in order to obtain a residence permit in Portugal

None of the applicants chose the options of investing in scientific research, cultural projects and the creation of 10 or more jobs. The option to invest in an existing business from €350,000 was in low demand – only two investors chose it.

Investor choice by programme options for 2020

Выбор опций по программе ВНЖ в Португалии в 2020 году
Source: SEF, 2021

The future of the residence permit programme in Portugal

According to Immigrant Invest, demand for the programme will increase in the first half of 2021 for two reasons.

The terms of the programme will change on 1 July 2021. Under the new rules, investors will not be able to buy property in major cities and resort areas under the €500,000 option. In this way, the Portuguese government aims to redistribute investment and attract more investment in venture capital funds, science and culture.

We talked about the future changes in the article “Lisbon and Porto real estate will be excluded from the residence permit programme in Portugal. But there is still time to apply under the old rules”.

Investors will prefer to buy property before prices rise. Experts from leading credit agencies predict stable growth in Portugal’s economy in 2021. For example, we reported on Fitch’s assessment in “Should investors consider Malta and Portugal: The credit ratings of the states”.

Along with the economy, real estate prices will start to rise. Foreigners will be able to come to the country to choose properties and complete transactions. With the resumption of tourism, rental prices will also rise, so now is a good time to buy properties in resort areas.

Immigrant Invest recommends thinking about buying property now, while investors are not limited in their choice of properties and prices are rising slowly due to the pandemic.

Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of real estate: example of a flat in Lisbon

Apartment in a modern apartment complex in the centre of Lisbon.
Price from 588 000 €

Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of real estate: example of a flat in Faro

Apartment in a five-star hotel complex by the ocean in Faro.
Price from €250,000

Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of a property: an example of a villa in Horta

Detached villa with plot of land in Horta.
Price - 600 000 €

Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of real estate: example of a flat in Lisbon
Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of real estate: example of a flat in Faro
Residence permit in Portugal for the purchase of a property: an example of a villa in Horta

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent of the residence permit programme in Portugal. If you want to become a resident of an EU member state, contact the investment programme experts for advice.

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