Golden Visa Spain vs Portugal: Benefits Comparison for Investors

If you’re torn between the golden visa options, our no-nonsense guide on “Golden Visa Spain vs Portugal” lays out what you need to know.
April 5, 2024
Dean Fankhauser
April 5, 2024

If you’re torn between the golden visa options, our no-nonsense guide on “Golden Visa Spain vs Portugal” lays out what you need to know. We directly compare the critical variables: investment routes, benefits for families, paths to citizenship, and fiscal responsibilities. Herein lie the practical insights to discern which Golden Visa can bring the best returns on your investment and lifestyle aspirations.

Key Takeaways

  • Spain’s Golden Visa program is heavily bent towards real estate and business development with a minimum investment requirement of €500,000, while Portugal’s program, after recent legislative changes, offers more diverse investment options starting at €250,000, including contributions to culture, art, or national heritage.
  • Both the Spain and Portugal Golden Visa programs provide paths to residency and citizenship for investors and their families, with Portugal providing a faster route to citizenship (often in five years) with minimal physical presence requirements, compared to Spain’s ten-year residency requirement.
  • Investors must consider the tax implications of the Golden Visas, where Spain provides a tax benefit through various pension schemes and a slightly lower income tax rate for high-income individuals, while Portugal offers the Non-Habitual Resident status, which grants tax benefits for new residents, including a flat income tax rate and possible exemptions on foreign income.

Understanding the Golden Visa: Spain vs Portugal

Illustration comparing Spain and Portugal for Golden Visa programs

Non-EU investors find the Golden Visa a compelling opportunity. Spain and Portugal, both renowned for their robust economies and attractive lifestyle offerings, have each tailored their Golden Visa programs to cater to a diverse range of investors. However, the investment focus varies between the two countries. Spain’s Golden Visa leans towards real estate and business development, with a particular attraction to capital transfers. On the other hand, Portugal’s Golden Visa program casts a wider net, accepting an array of investments, including job creation and research contributions.

These programs, such as golden visas, have had a significant impact on the economies of both Spain and Portugal. In Spain, the Golden Visa grants up to 90 days visa-free access to the Schengen zone, simultaneously attracting substantial foreign investment into the Spanish economy, with investment specifics starting from €500,000.

Comparatively, the Portugal Golden Visa program, despite the recent legislative updates, continues to draw investors with its diverse investment options and potential for significant economic contribution through Portugal Golden Visa programs.

Investment Thresholds: Spain vs Portugal

Illustration of investment thresholds in Spain and Portugal

Distinct differences are evident between the Spanish and Portuguese Golden Visa programs when considering investment thresholds. Spain, for instance, sets a minimum investment requirement of €500,000 in real estate. This figure can seem daunting, but it is a strategic move designed to bolster the country’s real estate sector.

Portugal, on the other hand, has shifted its focus from real estate due to legislative updates implemented in 2024. Now, the minimum investment required has shifted to options such as a €250,000 contribution to culture, art, or national heritage. Despite the changes, Portugal’s Golden Visa program continues to offer an attractive and more affordable minimum investment threshold compared to Spain.

Starting from €250,000, the program offers options such as an investment fund, which presents a diversified risk profile, and lower investment amounts compared to the capital transfer option. This diversity and flexibility in investment options have contributed to the popularity of Portugal’s Golden Visa among global investors.

Real Estate Ventures: Comparing Costs and Benefits

Despite Portugal’s shift away from real estate investment, a comprehensive comparison necessitates an examination of the costs and benefits of real estate ventures in both countries. In Spain, the price per square foot to buy an apartment is 5.4% higher in the city centers compared to Portugal. However, for properties located outside city centers, Spain offers a 5.7% lower purchase price per square foot than Portugal.

Despite the higher real estate costs in city centers, Spain offers an 8.0% lower average rent price compared to Portugal. For Golden Visa holders, this presents a unique opportunity to profit from rental income. Some advantages of investing in rental properties in Spain and Portugal include:

  • Well-developed tourism sectors in both countries
  • High demand for short-term rentals from tourists
  • Potential for high rental yields
  • Favorable tax regulations for rental income

Consider these factors when deciding where to invest in rental properties, as purchasing real estate can be a complex process.

Alternative Investments: Venture Capital Fund and Government Bonds

Aside from real estate, investment funds, including venture capital funds, serve as alternative investment options in both Spain and Portugal. This caters to investors seeking a different kind of investment opportunity. However, the minimum investment requirement differs between the two countries. In Spain, a minimum investment of 1 million euros in investment or venture capital funds incorporated in Spain is required for Golden Visa eligibility. In contrast, Portugal requires an investment of at least 500,000 euros, with the stipulation that the funds have a maturity of at least five years and that 60% of their capital is invested in Portuguese companies.

Spain takes it a step further with its Spain Golden Visa Program by offering the additional option of investing at least 2 million euros in Spanish public debt securities for Golden Visa eligibility. This option is not available in the Portuguese program, demonstrating a unique advantage for Spain when it comes to diversifying investment options in Spanish Golden Visa Programs.

Pathway to Residency and Citizenship

Comparison of residency and citizenship pathways in Spain and Portugal

The Golden Visa programs in both Spain and Portugal offer valuable rewards in the form of residency and citizenship. Both programs serve as stepping stones to gaining permanent residency, allowing investors to reside, work, and study in the respective countries. However, the journey to obtain these benefits varies between the two countries. In Spain, after the initial one-year visa, investors can apply for a two-year residency permit. In contrast, the initial Golden Visa in Portugal is valid for two years and can be renewed for subsequent two-year periods.

An essential difference surfaces when it comes to achieving permanent residency. In Spain, investors must reside in the country, while in Portugal, investors can obtain permanent residency without having to relocate. This flexibility is a key advantage of the Portuguese Golden Visa program, making it a more attractive option for investors who wish to maintain their current residence.

The Road to Permanent Residency

Different requirements and procedures are involved in the journey to permanent residency in Spain and Portugal. In Spain, the initial Golden Visa is granted for one year and can be renewed every five years, provided the investment is maintained. Interestingly, there are no residential stay requirements to renew the Golden Visa. However, applicants must travel to Spain for the renewal process.

Portugal, on the other hand, requires Golden Visa holders to:

  • Spend an average of 7 days per year in the country
  • Renew the temporary Golden Visa residence permit for five-year increments if the investment and minimum stay requirements are met
  • Maintain the investment and meet the minimum residency requirements for permanent residency, including passing a basic Portuguese language test and having a clear tax and criminal record.

Citizenship Aspirations: Eligibility and Requirements

Portugal provides a quicker path to citizenship. After five years of residency, investors may apply for citizenship, requiring a minimal physical presence of seven days per year in Portugal. In contrast, Spain demands a ten-year residency, with the requirement of residing in Spain for at least six months each year.

Spain offers a fast-track citizenship option for nationals from former Spanish colonies, who can obtain citizenship within two years if they travel to Spain at least eight times within that period. However, Portugal provides a unique path to citizenship without the requirement of full-time residency or tax payment in the country, making it a more flexible and attractive option for many investors.

Family Inclusion Criteria: A Comparative Look

Many investors also critically consider family inclusion. The Spain Golden Visa allows the inclusion of the applicant’s spouse, children under 18, and dependent adult children or parents. Portugal extends its Golden Visa benefits to a wider range of family members, including siblings under legal guardianship. This means that investors in Portugal can secure a brighter future for a larger portion of their family, enhancing the attractiveness of Portugal’s Golden Visa program.

In Portugal, dependent children under 26 and parents over the age of 66, or dependent parents over 55, are eligible. Siblings under the age of 18 can also be included. In Spain, adult children over 18 and parents are allowed if they are economically dependent on the main applicant. While both countries offer family inclusion, it is clear that Portugal provides a more inclusive and extensive opportunity for family members of the investor.

Tax Implications for Golden Visa Investors

Tax implications comparison for Golden Visa investors in Spain and Portugal

Investors find it crucial to navigate the tax implications of the Golden Visa. In Portugal, high-income individuals are subject to an income tax rate of 48%, while in Spain, the rate is slightly lower at 47%. However, Portugal offers the Non-Habitual Resident status, which presents tax benefits for new residents. Spain also presents tax benefits in the form of multiple pension schemes that could be beneficial for retirees.

However, Golden Visa investors in Spain must also consider the Wealth Tax and Property Tax (IBI), which vary by autonomous community and can significantly influence the total tax burden. These tax implications are integral to consider when deciding between the Spanish and Portuguese Golden Visa programs.

Income Tax and Worldwide Income Considerations

Considerations of income tax and worldwide income are equally important. In Spain, Golden Visa holders are only required to pay taxes on their worldwide income if they reside more than 183 days per year in the country. In contrast, in Portugal, Golden Visa holders do not become liable for income tax unless they are registered as tax residents and their main place of residence is Portugal.

Regardless of residency status in Spain, Golden Visa investors are taxed on investment income such as rental income, dividends, and gains from selling Spanish assets. Capital gains from the sale of Spanish properties by non-residents are taxed at a rate of 24%. Investors should factor in these considerations when choosing between the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal.

Special Tax Regimes and Exemptions

In addition to income tax, special tax regimes and exemptions should also be considered. For instance, Portugal’s Golden Visa investors can benefit from a Non-Habitual Resident status, offering a flat income tax rate and possible exemptions on foreign income. On the other hand, Spain provides tax incentives, such as exemption from wealth tax and inheritance tax, for new residents. This makes the country an attractive option for those looking to relocate..

In Portugal, the Non-Habitual Resident status provides a favorable tax regime for a period of 10 years, including exemptions on various types of foreign income and a 20% flat tax rate for select professions. Conversely, in Spain, Golden Visa holders do not receive direct tax exemptions tied to the visa. However, they may benefit from general new resident incentives such as a wealth tax exemption for initial years and favorable rates on investment income.

Lifestyle and Living Conditions: Spain vs Portugal

Illustration depicting lifestyle and living conditions in Spain and Portugal

Golden Visa investors also critically consider the lifestyle and living conditions offered by Spain and Portugal. Portugal is recognized for its quality of life and safety, providing a conducive environment for investors seeking a stable and enjoyable lifestyle. In contrast, Spain boasts approximately 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, contributing to a quality lifestyle with pleasant temperatures year-round.

The Spain Golden Visa provides access to high-quality European healthcare and education, an attractive perk for investors who value these services for their families. Portugal also offers affordable healthcare and education systems, esteemed for their quality, which are advantageous to golden visa residents. Both countries boast rich cultures and diverse regions that enhance the living experience for golden visa investors, including job opportunities and lifestyle choices. Among these advantages, the Portugal Golden Visa benefits stand out as a great option for investors seeking a European residency.

Application Process and Timeframes

A thorough understanding of the application process and timeframes for the Golden Visa in Spain and Portugal aids investors in more effective planning. Both countries require the submission of necessary documents online and demand a valid passport, proof of investment, and long-stay visa application form. However, the procedures differ slightly. In Portugal, all non-Portuguese documents must be legalized and translated into Portuguese, and applicants must obtain a Portuguese tax number (NIF) and open a bank account in Portugal.

The processing time for Spain’s Golden Visa typically takes up to 20 business days, whereas in Portugal, applicants could face a wait of up to 18 months due to processing delays. Despite the longer waiting period, Portugal’s Golden Visa remains an attractive option for many investors due to its flexible investment options and beneficial tax regime.

Pros and Cons: Spain Golden Visa vs Portugal Golden Visa

An essential step in the decision-making process is to weigh the pros and cons of the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal. The Portugal Golden Visa offers a shorter way to citizenship, typically in 5 years, and investors can benefit from a more favorable tax regime. In contrast, Spain’s Golden Visa provides the opportunity to reside in a country with a strong economy and obtain fast residency results, albeit with a higher investment requirement.

However, investors can enroll in the Portugal Golden Visa with less capital compared to Spain. This makes Portugal’s Golden Visa program an attractive option for investors with a limited budget, as it provides a quicker path to citizenship and a broader range of investment options. On the other hand, Spain’s Golden Visa program may be more suitable for investors looking for a faster processing time and a strong economy.


The Golden Visa programs of Spain and Portugal offer unique opportunities for non-EU investors. Both programs provide a pathway to residency and citizenship, along with significant economic benefits to the respective countries. Spain’s Golden Visa program is characterized by its emphasis on real estate and business investments, while Portugal’s Golden Visa program offers a more diverse range of investment options.

In conclusion, while both programs have their unique advantages, the choice ultimately depends on the individual investor’s needs and goals. Both programs offer exceptional opportunities for investors looking to broaden their horizons, whether it be Portugal's numerous investment options and quicker path to citizenship or Spain's robust economy and quick residency results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easier to get a visa for Spain or Portugal?

It is easier to get a visa for Spain than for Portugal due to the quicker processing time, as the Spanish Golden Visa program grants a temporary residence permit in as little as two months, while the Portugal Golden Visa can take up to six months.

What are the disadvantages of the Golden Visa in Portugal?

The disadvantages of the Golden Visa in Portugal include higher taxes for long-term residents and the requirement to visit Portugal for an average of 7 days per year until citizenship is granted. These factors should be considered before opting for the Golden Visa.

Is Portugal Golden Visa being discontinued?

The Golden Visa program in Portugal is not being discontinued, but there have been changes to the types of investments that qualify, with real estate investments no longer being eligible.

What are the main differences between the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal?

The main differences between the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal lie in the investment options and residency requirements. Spain focuses on real estate and business investments, with a longer residency period for citizenship, while Portugal offers a wider range of investments and a shorter residency period for citizenship.

What is the minimum investment requirement for the Golden Visa programs in Spain and Portugal?

The minimum investment requirement for the Golden Visa program in Spain is €500,000 in real estate, while Portugal requires a minimum investment of €250,000 in culture, art, or national heritage. Choose the program that aligns with your investment preferences and budget.

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