Portugal Golden Visa: Comprehensive Guide in 2024

Looking to gain residency in Portugal through investment? The Portugal Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment scheme designed for non-EU individuals.
Dot
January 11, 2024
Ana Fankhauser
January 11, 2024
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Looking to gain residency in Portugal through investment? The Portugal Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment scheme designed for non-EU individuals. It offers key advantages like visa-free travel in Schengen countries and the opportunity for permanent residency or citizenship. With an investment starting at €250,000, you are able to secure not only your own residency rights but also those of your family. This guide walks you through the necessary steps, requirements, and investment options to efficiently plan your application for the Golden Visa.

Key Takeaways

  • Portugal’s Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment scheme that offers benefits such as visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, access to high-quality education and healthcare, and the ability to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years.
  • The Golden Visa application process is complex, involving steps like consultation, document preparation, and legal assistance, and requires a minimum of €500,000 investment in options like real estate, investment funds, or job creation.
  • Recent legislative changes have impacted investment routes within the Golden Visa program, notably excluding real estate acquisitions from the eligible investments, prompting prospective applicants to consider alternative investment options.

Exploring the Portugal Golden Visa Program

Illustration of a Portuguese Golden Visa document

Initiated by Portugal, the Portuguese Golden Visa program is a five-year residency-by-investment scheme specifically crafted for non-EU nationals. This program facilitates access to life in the European Union, offering a chance to travel within its boundaries, pursue residency, or even acquire citizenship. The criteria for eligibility are quite clear: be at least 18 years of age, have a clean criminal record, and be ready to invest in Portugal. The investment options are diverse, ranging from real estate acquisition and capital investment to job creation.

Since its establishment, the program has issued over 20,000 visas, reflecting a diverse group of non-EU nationals’ interests, including a significant number of US citizens seeking a residence permit in Portugal. The Golden Visa offers numerous advantages, including:

  • a reduced investment threshold of €250,000
  • the potential to attain permanent residency or citizenship in Portugal within five years
  • the possibility of expedited citizenship for those encountering delays.

The Genesis of Portugal's Golden Visa

Photo of Lisbon cityscape

Launched in October 2012, Portugal’s Golden Visa program was designed with a clear vision: to stimulate foreign investment and contribute to the growth of the Portuguese economy. The program has indeed fulfilled its promise. Since its inception, the program has raised over €7 billion, demonstrating its significant impact on the economy.

The program’s popularity has soared over the years, with more than 27,000 applicants being granted a Golden Visa since the program’s initiation. The benefits of holding a Golden Visa include:

  • Visa-free travel within the Schengen Area
  • The ability to live and work in Portugal
  • Access to high-quality education and healthcare
  • The opportunity to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years

The combination of diverse investment pathways and these benefits has rendered the program attractive to global investors.

Navigating the Application Process for a Golden Visa in Portugal

The application process for the Golden Visa involves several steps, starting from initial consultation and onboarding to finally receiving the Golden Visa residence cards. Proper organization and preparation of necessary documents can help streamline the process. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Initial consultation and onboarding
  2. Gathering and organizing all required documents
  3. Translation of all documents into Portuguese by a certified translator
  4. Legalizing the documents through an Apostille Stamp or the nearest Portuguese Embassy
  5. Submitting the application with all the necessary documents

By following these steps and ensuring that all documents are properly translated and legalized, you can make the Golden Visa application process smoother and more efficient.

Investors finalize their investment once they have set up their bank account and tax number, which are integral components of the initial steps in the Golden Visa process. The application process includes government fees and takes between 12 to 18 months to be finalized. Next, we will examine more detailed aspects of the application process.

Choosing the Right Investment Fund

Selecting the appropriate investment fund constitutes a critical decision in your Golden Visa journey. The minimum investment required for a Golden Visa through an investment fund is €500,000, which should be maintained for five years. The golden visa investment options are diverse, offering opportunities in sectors including energy, industry, and technology.

The Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM) has accredited fund managers who oversee the management of the funds. While the tax rate for the investment fund is 14% for tax-residents, it’s important to note that the risk, return, and investment duration can vary, so it’s advisable to conduct thorough research or seek professional advice before making a decision.

Opening a Portuguese Bank Account

Establishing a Portuguese bank account is a significant step in the Golden Visa application process. You must first obtain a NIF number, which a lawyer can assist with through a power of attorney. A fiscal representative will then act on your behalf to acquire this tax identification number.

Once you have your NIF number, you can initiate the bank account opening process. Having a bank account in Portugal is a prerequisite for finalizing your investment, and it can be set up with the help of an English-speaking banker before your arrival in the country. The entire process of obtaining a NIF number and opening a bank account can typically be completed within half a day, helping to streamline the initial stages of the application process.

Legal Representation and Government Fees

The legal aspects of the Golden Visa application process can be intricate to navigate. For this reason, it’s necessary to engage with a Portugal Golden Visa lawyer who can offer expert guidance. Legal representation costs typically range from €5,000 to €8,000 for individual applicants and can vary based on factors like the law firm selected, the complexity of the case, and the nature of the investment.

Selecting a dependable lawyer is vital for the success of your application. Look for a professional who specializes in Golden Visa applications and has a proven track record of success with Golden Visa applicants. Aside from legal fees, applicants are also required to pay an application fee of €5,340 per person, in addition to other government fees. The processing time for the application typically takes between 12 and 18 months.

Investment Paths to the Portuguese Golden Visa

Illustration of investment paths

The Golden Visa program provides a variety of investment paths, each with unique benefits and considerations. The options encompass:

  • Real estate acquisitions
  • Venture capital fund subscriptions
  • Investing in national heritage through arts and culture
  • Setting up or investing in a Portuguese business

Despite the wide range of these investment options, real estate acquisition and investment fund subscriptions have been the most popular choices among applicants. Other alternatives, like donations to research or cultural heritage, have not gained as much traction. Let’s explore the two main paths in more detail.

Capital Transfer Alternatives

One of the investment paths to acquiring a Golden Visa involves a capital transfer. The minimum capital transfer required is €1.5 million. This capital can be used to either establish or raise the share capital of a company in Portugal or facilitate research activities. Additionally, specific investment funds that fulfill specified criteria are eligible for the capital transfer route.

Recent changes to the program have led to new processes for capital transfer. Applicants are now required to provide evidence of bank transfer deposits to Portugal from an international account. From the previous minimum of €1 million to the current minimum of €1.5 million, there has been a €500,000 increase in the minimum required capital transfer.

Creating Employment Opportunities

Another pathway to a Golden Visa lies in creating employment opportunities in Portugal. Investors must create a minimum of ten full-time jobs to meet the eligibility criteria for the program. These jobs can be created within a Portuguese business owned by the applicant, or by initiating a business in Portugal and generating at least ten job positions.

This path not only helps investors gain a Golden Visa but also contributes positively to the Portuguese economy by creating jobs and stimulating economic growth. It’s a win-win situation that benefits both the investor and the host country.

The Benefits of Holding a Portuguese Golden Visa

Photo of a European Union flag

The Portugal Golden Visa offers an array of benefits. Holders of the visa enjoy permanent free movement throughout the Schengen Area, encompassing 27 European countries, providing exceptional travel mobility. In addition, the program offers preferential tax treatment through the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax Program. This tax regime enables substantial tax savings, including exemptions on worldwide income and reduced taxes on income earned in Portugal, for a duration of up to ten years.

The Golden Visa benefits not only the holder but also their immediate family members. Under the family reunification provision, dependent children and parents of the Golden Visa holder are eligible for the same benefits, including the privilege to reside and work within the European Union. Let’s delve deeper into these benefits.

Visa-Free Access Across Europe

Visa-free access to the Schengen Area is one of the most substantial benefits of holding a Golden Visa. This area consists of 27 European countries that have eliminated internal borders, establishing a unified territory without border controls. This facilitates seamless travel, business activities, and leisure exploration without the necessity of obtaining multiple visas.

Holders of the Golden Visa enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel and the ability to work in any country within the Schengen Area. Nevertheless, keep in mind that if you plan to stay in Portugal for longer than three months at a time, a visa will be required, which should be taken into account when planning extended stays.

Taxation and Worldwide Income

The beneficial taxation system serves as another significant attraction of the Portugal Golden Visa program. It offers:

  • Exemptions on gifts for family members
  • Unrestricted remittance of funds to Portugal
  • Zero tax on foreign-sourced income
  • A flat 20% tax on domestic income for up to ten years.

Golden Visa holders in Portugal can enjoy an exemption from worldwide income tax, as long as they do not physically move to Portugal and declare it as their primary residence. However, tax liability may arise if an individual spends over 183 days in Portugal during the year.

Securing Family Futures: Including Relatives in Your Golden Visa Application

Illustration of a family with a Golden Visa permit

The Portugal Golden Visa program places emphasis on family. The program allows the inclusion of immediate family members, including spouses, partners, and dependent children, in the application. This means that the benefits of the Golden Visa extend to your loved ones, securing their future alongside yours.

Dependent children and parents of the Golden Visa holder are eligible for the same benefits, including the privilege to reside and work within the European Union. Therefore, the Golden Visa not only secures a promising future for the main applicant but also their family.

Maintaining Residency: Stay Requirements and Renewal Procedures

Maintaining the Golden Visa involves meeting certain stay requirements in Portugal. The individual is required to spend a minimum of 7 days in Portugal during the first year and 14 days during each subsequent two-year period. The visa renewal process is automated and conducted online, managed by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), eliminating the need to re-submit documents that were already provided during the initial application.

The initial Portugal Golden Visa has a validity of two years, with the option for renewal for additional two-year periods. These requirements are applicable to all Golden Visa cardholders, including the main applicant and their dependents.

Transitioning to Permanent Residency and Portuguese Citizenship

Following five years of holding a Golden Visa and sustaining the investment, individuals can qualify to apply for permanent residency or citizenship in Portugal. This process involves successfully passing a language test, after which individuals are eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

Acquiring Portuguese citizenship allows individuals to avail a plethora of benefits, including a Portuguese passport, which grants:

  • The ability to reside and work in any EU member state
  • Visa-free entry to 188 countries
  • Having the indefinite right to live and work in Portugal
  • Visa-free travel within the EU

Real Estate Investments: Understanding the Current Status

Previously, acquiring real estate was a favoured investment choice for the Portugal Golden Visa program. However, recent changes have removed real estate acquisitions and associated funds as eligible investment choices. The present eligibility for real estate investments within the Golden Visa program is limited to residential properties in the Azores and Madeira, as well as interior territories of Portugal.

These changes do not impact individuals who currently hold a Golden Visa. All existing rights, including renewals, family reunification, and applications for permanent residency, will continue to be honored. This will ensure that individuals can maintain their status and pursue their long-term residence goals. Despite the changes, real estate was a lucrative investment option, with the initial investment amounts for real estate set at €500,000, or €400,000 in low-density areas.

The Impact of the Golden Visa on the Portuguese Economy

The Golden Visa program has significantly impacted the Portuguese economy. It has resulted in a total investment of €1.92 billion, of which €1.73 billion was allocated to property. The program’s investment prerequisites necessitate participants to generate at least 10 new full-time jobs in Portugal, thereby stimulating job creation and contributing to economic growth.

The real estate sector has been the primary beneficiary of the Golden Visa program, with a substantial portion of the investments channeled into property acquisitions. This has not only brought revenue to the government but also contributed to boosting the Portuguese economy.

Preparing for Success: Tips for a Smooth Golden Visa Application

Having covered the intricacies of the Portugal Golden Visa program, we will now discuss some strategies for a successful application. The required documents for the application include:

  • The Golden Visa application form
  • A copy of a valid passport and travel documents
  • The acquired property deed or pre-contract agreement
  • Proof of asset transfer to a financial institution
  • Two passport-size pictures

Selecting appropriate legal representation is vital for a streamlined application process. Hire a Portuguese immigration lawyer with specialized expertise in Golden Visa applications and a strong track record in this field. A proficient agent can be beneficial as it streamlines the process for the applicants and their families, serving as a liaison between investors and the Portuguese government.

Navigating Legal and Financial Aspects of the Golden Visa Journey

In terms of legal requirements, applicants for a Golden Visa must be at least 18 years old, maintain a clean criminal record, and make a qualifying investment within Portugal. On the financial front, a minimum investment of €500,000 in real estate, or a reduced amount of €350,000 when investing in real estate located in specific areas or a Portuguese investment fund, is required.

In addition to the investment, there are also government fees associated with the application and renewal process. The anticipated government fee for the Golden Visa application amounts to €5,325 EUR per family member. Renewal fees are calculated at 50% of the initial approval fee.

The Future Landscape of Portugal's Golden Visa Scheme

The scenario of the Portugal Golden Visa scheme is evolving. Recent legislative changes have redefined the investment pathways for eligibility. The Portuguese government announced alterations to the Golden Visa program on February 16th, 2024, with the aim of tackling the housing crisis in the nation.

These modifications took effect on January 1, 2022. However, despite the changes, numerous alternative investment options will remain valid, enabling investors to explore different pathways to secure the Golden Visa, which continues to be an attractive program drawing interest from worldwide investors.

Navigating Changes and Updates in Portugal's Golden Visa Program

As the Portugal Golden Visa program continues to evolve, staying updated with the latest changes and developments is crucial. The program has seen significant changes, with real estate acquisitions no longer being considered as qualifying investments since October 2023.

These changes have implications for future applicants, as they are no longer able to opt for real estate purchases and real estate-related funds as a method to acquire residency through this scheme. However, several alternative investment options will remain valid, enabling investors to explore different pathways to secure the Golden Visa.

Summary

The Portugal Golden Visa program offers a path to a brighter future in the heart of Europe. The program provides a myriad of benefits, including visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, preferential tax treatment, and the opportunity to include family members in the application.

Despite recent changes to the program, the Portugal Golden Visa remains an attractive proposition for non-EU nationals looking to secure their future in the European Union. With numerous investment paths and a streamlined application process, the Golden Visa program continues to draw the attention of investors worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who qualifies for Golden Visa in Portugal?

Any non-EU/EEA/Swiss national aged 18 or older with a clean criminal record qualifies for the Portugal Golden Visa, and the investment funds must originate from outside Portugal.

Is Portugal stopping the Golden Visa?

No, the Portugal Golden Visa program is not ending, but it has undergone significant changes. As of 7 October 2023, investing in real estate is no longer a qualifying option, and the capital transfer option is also unavailable.

How much does a Golden Visa cost in Portugal?

The cost of a Golden Visa in Portugal varies based on the type of application. Legal fees for single applicants range from €5,000 to €8,000, with dependents under 18 included free of charge and those 18 and older incurring additional fees ranging from €500 to €2,000. Additionally, purchasing property in Portugal for a Golden Visa can have a minimum spending requirement of €400,000 in low-density areas.

Is the Portugal Golden Visa worth it?

Yes, the Portugal Golden Visa is worth it due to the right to live and work in Portugal, the favorable tax regime, and free travel within the European Schengen visa zone.

How long does it take to process the Golden Visa application?

The processing time for the Golden Visa application typically takes between 12 to 18 months. Therefore, it requires patience and planning to apply for the Golden Visa.

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Ana Fankhauser

Ana has worked in many startups and moved to a few countries, which led her to create MovingTo. She believes that remote work is a growing trend that is here to stay and that digital nomads will move to countries that have more to offer than the ones you were born into. She mostly writes opinion pieces for MovingTo.

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