Portugal Visas

Portugal Golden Visa: Everything You Need to Know

By
Ana Fankhauser
June 9, 2021

With its sunny coastline, laid-back lifestyle, and nice people, Portugal is a destination many people dream of. If you are not a citizen of an EU country, you may be unsure how to stay in the country long-term.

The Portugal Golden Visa is the opportunity you are looking for. You may be looking to move to Portugal full time or you may simply want a stronger passport for travel purposes. Either way, the Portugal Golden Visa can provide a relatively simple way to an EU country passport.

In this Portugal Golden Visa Guide, you will find the answers to the following questions.

  1. What is a Golden Visa?
  2. What is the Portugal Golden Visa?
  3. What are the benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa?
  4. What are my investment options?
  5. How does this visa compare to other golden visas?
  6. Who is eligible for this visa?
  7. How do I complete the application and what is the timeline for citizenship?
  8. How will taxes work with my Portuguese citizenship?
  9. Why would I want to move to Portugal?
  10. How will the Portugal Golden Visa change in 2022?

Are you interested in this guide to the Portugal Golden Visa for beginners? Keep reading to learn more!

What Is a Golden Visa?

“Golden Visa” is the nickname often used for Immigrant Investor Programs around the world. Many countries offer golden visas, and these visas basically allow you to “buy” citizenship or permanent residency in a country.

A person will invest a specific amount of money into a country’s economy (normally in business dealings or real estate). This provides an economic boost for the host country, and it provides travel and tax benefits for the investor.

Golden Visas are offered in the following countries:

  • Montenegro
  • Germany
  • Portugal
  • Ireland
  • St. Kitts
  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • Vanuatu
  • Spain
  • United States of America
  • Grenada
  • Cyprus
  • St. Lucia
  • Dominica
  • Malta
  • Cayman Islands
  • Anguilla
  • Moldova
  • Bulgaria
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Thailand

Of all of these countries, Portugal’s Golden Visa Program often comes out on top. While the Portuguese program has only been around for a decade, it has shown great success.

With free movement within the EU, multiple investment options, and low residency requirements, Portugal is a great place to invest your money if you are looking to gain a new passport.

What Is the Portugal Golden Visa?

If there are so many golden visas out there, why should you choose Portugal? What is this visa?

The History of the Portugal Golden Visa

The Portuguese government started the Portugal Golden Visa Program in 2012. Since its inception, it has helped over 6,500 foreign investors gain citizenship in Portugal.

This program has also brought in almost five billion euros into the country, with the government and investors often investing that money in low-density areas and historic preservation funds. This has paved the way for artistic and scientific advancements, increased employment opportunities for Portuguese citizens, and the revitalizations of rural areas and low-income urban areas.

While it is not the oldest Golden Visa program in the world, or even in Europe, it is one of the most successful. This program shows how Residence for Investment Activity programs can be beneficial both to the applicants and to the host country.

How Long Is This Visa Valid?

The Portugal Golden Visa allows someone to attain a residence permit through investment activity, then a permanent residence visa or citizenship.

This visa allows you to stay in the country for two years. You will then be eligible to apply for a three-year residency permit. After five years, you will be able to apply for citizenship. If you do not want citizenship or permanent residency, you can renew your two-year residency permit indefinitely.

What Are the Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa?

There are many benefits to the Portugal Golden Visa. Depending on your work or family situation, you may be interested in certain benefits over others.

You Get an EU Passport

One of the biggest benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa is the ability to obtain an EU passport. This will allow you to travel and work in any EU country without having to get a work permit or abide by the limitations of a tourist visa.

If you are looking to broaden your professional horizons and your career has a lot of opportunities in Europe, then getting citizenship in an EU country may be worth the investment!

The Portuguese passport ranks number six in the world and allows you to travel around the globe without a visa. However, even before you receive your new passport, your new visa allows you to freely work and travel in the EU with your residency permit.

Residency and Citizenship Extends to Your Family

If you are looking to get European citizenship for your entire family, the Portugal Golden Visa is a great option. You can extend these benefits to all of your dependents under 18, dependents under 26 who are not married, parents over the age of 65, and the applicant’s spouse.

Depending on what country you are moving to Portugal from, this can mean that your elderly family members will receive good public healthcare and other retirement benefits. Your descendants will also be Portuguese citizens at birth.

Many European universities require much cheaper tuition/fees from EU citizens, so your children (or you, if you want to attend university) can attend some of the best universities in the world at a fraction of the original cost. The UK and Germany in particular have top-notch higher education programs.

Your spouse and adult dependents can work wherever they want without an additional work visa after the move, as well.

Increased Safety and Mobility for Some

If you come from a country that does not have a strong passport, meaning you are required to apply for visas to travel to most countries, then having a Portuguese passport can greatly affect your ability to travel and conduct business internationally.

People from some countries face discrimination when traveling abroad due to stereotypes. In this situation, a passport from Portugal can help open doors.

Additionally, if you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community or another minority group, and you are living in a country that does not provide protection and rights to you, then you may want to consider a move to Portugal. The country is very progressive socially and legally.

Portugal, like much of western Europe, is very LGBTQ+ friendly and can provide you with greater social and legal protection. Also, your same-sex partner is eligible to be included in your Golden Visa Application just like any other family member/spouse.

You Don’t Actually Have to Move to Portugal

If you aren’t interested in moving to Portugal to live year-round, or even in spending the summers there, you don’t have to! As long as you spend around 14 days a year in Portugal for the first two years, and 21 days in the next three years, you are eligible for citizenship.

If you are just looking to gain a second passport for travel purposes, you do not have to uproot your life to gain Portuguese citizenship.

What Are My Investment Options?

A golden visa is a residency based on investment activity. So what kinds of investments can you make? Portugal has more options than almost any other country.

Donations

You can invest a minimum of 250,000 euros into the preservation of Portuguese national heritage. Alternatively, you can invest 350,000 euros into some sort of research and development program in the country.

If you are really looking to make a difference in Portugal through your path to citizenship, then this is a great opportunity. There are many small, Medieval villages outside of the main economic centers like Lisbon that could use the money for historical preservation.

If you are interested in having a more personal impact with your investment, donations towards historic preservation and art projects are a great choice. You can visit the sites being restored and see how your investment is being used.

National Funds

You can purchase a 350,000 euro subscription to a Portuguese fund that qualifies for this program. These funds are normally set up to help with the economic development of the country. They can also revitalize low-income areas.

Entrepreneurship

This is a great way to make the investment needed for citizenship while also making connections within the country.

If you create a company that hires 10 full-time employees (eight if you are in a low-density area of the country), then you have met your investment requirements.

If you have been saving up for starting your own business, but you also want to gain dual citizenship, then this is a good option for you. Portugal is a great base of operations for your business because of its proximity to all of Europe and to Northern Africa! You will have a large market to sell to.

Capital Transfer

Transferring one million euros of capital into Portugal is a simple (but expensive) way to meet the investment requirement of the Golden Visa. Please see the 2022 Updates Section for more information about this kind of investment.

Real Estate

Real estate is probably the most common form of investment for the Portugal Golden Visa Program. If you are moving to Portugal full time, you will need a place to live anyway! So why not buy property and get citizenship with one purchase?

You can buy a newer property that is worth 500,000 euros in a high-density area. Or you can buy a 400,000 euro property in a low-density area. OR you can buy a 30-year old property in a low-density area and renovate it for a total investment of 350,000 euros.

Buying a property will probably mean more trips and time spent in Portugal during your application process because you will need to tour houses, speak with realtors, and choose contractors.

A Focus On Community Investment

As you can see in many of these investment options, you can save money by focusing your money or entrepreneurial efforts on low-density areas.

This means that money and jobs from Golden Visa applicants are being put directly into rural areas in Portugal. These are areas that are often less well-off than the denser city centers and will benefit greatly from these investments.

How Does This Visa Compare to Other Golden Visas?

Of all of the countries mentioned above, Portugal is often seen as having the best Golden Visa Program. But how does it compare to other countries on the list?

Ireland

In order to get the Ireland Golden Visa, you must invest one million euros into an investment fund. You can remove the funds after five years. This amount is much higher than the Portugal Golden Visa, but there are a couple of benefits.

If you are not interested in citizenship, and only in a residency permit that allows you to move and work anywhere in the EU, you only have to spend one day a year in Ireland.

While Ireland is a part of the EU, it also shares a Common Travel Area with the UK. This means that you get access to a country that other EU passports can’t give you access to. If you have professional dealings in the UK or you are interested in spending part of your year there, then an Irish Golden Visa might be a good choice.

Tip: If your family immigrated from Ireland but you were born in another country, you may be eligible for Irish citizenship without an investment!

Greece

This program may be the most similar to Portugal’s.

Like Portugal, Greece offers a relatively low-cost option for an EU Golden Visa. With a 250,000 euro investment (buy a nice villa!), you and your family can get Greek citizenship. This includes your children, spouse, parents, and parents-in-law.

Greece also has the option of investing 400,000 euros in shares of private equity with headquarters in Greece or government bonds.

One downside is that Greece has had massive economic upheaval over the past decade, so you should do extensive research before you make an investment. However, you will get the benefits of having EU citizenship in a country with beautiful beaches and islands and ancient history around every corner.

Spain

Spain has multiple investment options like Portugal, however, the amounts needed are typically higher. Your options are:

  1. Buying real estate at 500,000 euros or more
  2. Investing more than two million euros in Spanish public debt
  3. Depositing one million euros into a Spanish bank
  4. Investing in a new business that will hire Spanish citizens and foster technological and economic advancements in the country

Spain is much more strict with its residency requirements than Portugal. You must spend six months out of the year in Spain every year for 10 years in order to be eligible for Spanish citizenship.

If you were planning to move to Spain anyway, then this will not impact your life very much. However, if you are looking for a second passport for increased ease of travel, then Spain is not a good option because you will have to uproot your life.

Germany

If you make a 360,000 investment in Germany, you can be awarded a three-year residency permit. After that, you can apply for permanent residence (family members must wait five years).

Once you have been a resident for eight years and you have learned enough German to pass the language test, you can apply for German citizenship.

Malta

With 12 months of residency and an investment of 750,000 euros (with an additional 50,000 for each family member) into a national development fund, you can have Maltese citizenship.

This is one of the fastest paths to citizenship in the world! If you have the funds and you need quick citizenship, Malta is a good choice. If you are interested in going for business purposes, Malta may not be as good of an option as Portugal because it is geographically separated from the rest of the continent.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts has the oldest Golden Visa in the world, and it has an option for donation and an option for investment. If you are looking to donate, you can give $150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund. For investments, you can invest $400,000 in real estate.

St. Kitts does not tax overseas income. Additionally, dependent children up to 30 and parents as young as 55 can be brought onto your citizenship application with you.

Vanuatu

If you are looking to move to the Pacific, Vanuatu is one of your only options for Citizenship through Investment programs. By investing $130,000 into a local development fund, you can become a citizen of a country made up of 80 islands!

There are no income, wealth, or inheritance taxes. Additionally, your family can be brought onto your citizenship application.

Finally, you don’t actually have to spend any time in the country to earn or keep your citizenship. However, if you do want to move to Vanuatu, it is a great jumping-off point to visit other Pacific Islands such as Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji.

Thailand

The Thai program does not actually result in citizenship, making it very different from most other Golden Visa programs. For a one-time fee of about $19,000, you can get an extended, 20-year, multi-entry visa.

Additionally, you can receive benefits like government concierge and airport services. However, it does not in any way offer citizenship like the Portugal Golden Visa program.

Who Is Eligible?

The eligibility requirements are not particularly difficult, but you need to make sure you are eligible before you hire a lawyer and make multiple trips to Europe.

There are several requirements for applying for a Portugal Golden Visa.

  1. You must be a legal adult to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa for yourself
  2. You must have a clean criminal record both in your home country and in Portugal
  3. You have to make a significant investment that will have a beneficial impact on the country of Portugal
  4. You must maintain your investment for five years until you are granted citizenship in Portugal

Items Needed for a Portugal Golden Visa Application

Assembling all of your documents and researching your fees can make your visa application process much easier and less stressful. Here are the items you need to complete your Portugal Golden Visa application!

Proper Documentation

Make sure you have all of the documents needed for your application. Not having everything prepared can extend your wait time for your residency permit. If you are renewing your permit, not having the proper documentation can result in your permit expiring before a new one can be issued!

For your application, you will need the following documents.

  1. A valid passport
  2. Two passport-sized pictures
  3. The official Portugal Visa Application form
  4. Proof that you have no criminal record (this needs to be translated into Portuguese)
  5. Proof of valid, Portuguese health insurance
  6. A receipt for your payment through the ARI portal
  7. A statement swearing that you will maintain your investment in Portugal for five years
  8. Any documents connected to your chosen type of investment

If you have chosen to invest through real estate, you will need the following documents.

  1. All applicable certificates, records, and endorsements that show you are the owner of a valid property for the visa
  2. A statement from a financial institution that is authorized to conduct business in Portugal to confirm that there has been sufficient transfer of international funds into Portugal
  3. The deed to the property
  4. If you are purchasing a cheaper property for the purpose of renovation, you will need to show proof that the property is located in a regeneration area

If you have chosen to invest through capital transfer, you will need the following documents.

  1. A statement from a financial institution that is authorized to conduct business in Portugal stating that at least 1 million euros have been transferred into the country without prolonged issues

If you have chosen to invest through entrepreneurship, you will need the following documents.

  1. Employment contracts between each individual employee and their employer
  2. A statement from a financial institution that is authorized to conduct business in Portugal stating that the necessary deposits have been made

If you have chosen to invest through programs that support the arts or research, you will need the following documents.

  1. A statement from the Portuguese Strategy, Planning, and Cultural Assessment Office (if you are investing in the arts) or a private scientific research institution showing that you have made the required investment
  2. A statement from a financial institution that is authorized to conduct business in Portugal stating that the necessary investments and transfers have been made

Related Fees

You will need to pay an initial processing fee of 532.70 euros with your application. If you are applying with your family members, it will be an additional 83.10 euros per person.

After you have been approved, you will need to pay an approval fee of 5274.40 euros for each applicant.

As stated below in the application timeline, these fees will be repeated when you renew your visa at the halfway mark to citizenship.

Additionally, you will have the fees you pay to your lawyer and visa assistance service. When you are budgeting for the Portugal Golden Visa, make sure you factor in the costs of all related fees, not just the cost of the initial investment.

Bank Number

Opening a bank account as a foreigner in Portugal is relatively easy compared to other countries. You will need:

  1. Your passport and travel documents
  2. A Portuguese phone number
  3. Proof of your address in your home country
  4. Proof of income/sufficient funds
  5. Your NIF number (see the next section for information on getting your NIF number)

All you will need to do is visit a branch of the bank you have chosen and open an account.

If you are working with a lawyer or a visa assistance service, you will most likely be able to get bank recommendations from them.

NIF Number

The NIF is your Portuguese fiscal number and it is necessary to have one before you can open a bank account. It does not take long and it is not complicated.

You will need a representative for the Portuguese tax authorities because at this point in the application process you do not have a permanent address in Portugal. There are visa assistance services that can help you get an NIF number and a bank account without having to go to Portugal.

Portuguese Citizenship Timeline

It is good to know what to expect as you move forward with your application. Make sure that you, your family, and your lawyer are all on the same page in terms of the timelines and expectations for residency and citizenship.

Here is the timeline for your journey towards Portuguese citizenship through the Portugal Golden Visa.

Initial Application

Before you can start your application, you need to choose your investment type. Around 90% of Portugal Golden Visa investors invest through real estate, but you are welcome to invest through capital transfer or other means.

The longer this program is around, the more streamlined it becomes. Currently, you can submit your application (with the above documents) online to the Serviço de Fronteiras e Estrangeiros (SEF).

Once you have submitted your application, you will need to go to Portugal for an interview. This interview can be done in any part of Portugal, not just the district in which you will be investing your funds.

It is recommended that you complete your application through the services of a lawyer. This will uncomplicate the process for you and bring you better chances of success. Your application should be approved within 6 months.

You will need to pay the processing fees mentioned above with your application. If approved, you will need to pay an approval fee for yourself and all other applicants. You must pay these fees before you can enter the country on your residency visa.

Arrival in Portugal

While you have most likely visited Portugal a few times at this point, if you are moving to Portugal there will be one big trip after your application is approved.

Upon arrival in Portugal, you will need SIM cards for your phones, electricity and gas access in your home, and broadband internet (especially if you work from home).

Just as you hired a lawyer or service to help with your NIF and your visa, you can also hire a service to help set up your living essentials before you even arrive in the country.

This will ease the transition for you and your family, especially if you have decided to live in Portugal year-round or for several months at a time.

Years One and Two

The most important thing to remember about your initial Golden Visa is that you must spend 14 days per year in Portugal. As long as you do this, you will be eligible for a three-year permanent residency permit.

In these first two years, you can enjoy the benefits of your Golden Visa. You may be renovating a new house in the Portuguese countryside, getting your new business off the ground, or traveling without restriction through Europe!

Around 90 days before your initial Golden Visa expires, you will need to apply for a renewal to receive a three-year permanent residency permit. For this renewal, you will need to do the following:

  1. Pay the processing fee for yourself (532.70 euros) and for each family member (83.10 euros)
  2. Pay the approval fee for each applicant (2637.20 euros)
  3. Retake biometric indicators such as fingerprints
  4. Supply the Portuguese government with confirmation that you still have a clean, up-to-date criminal record

Be sure to begin the renewal process early enough and consult with a lawyer or visa assistance service to ensure the continued success of your application. You do not want your old residency permit to expire before your new one can be issued to you.

Years Three and Four

This time period is much like the first two years. Enjoy your travel privileges, keep your criminal record clean, and make sure you stay in the country for 14 days.

Depending on when you apply, your renewed residence permit may be valid for two years or three years. If it is only valid for two years, then at the end of Year Four, be sure to apply for one more renewal. If it is valid for three years, you will be able to simply wait until the end of Year Five to apply for permanent residency or citizenship.

Year Five and Beyond

Once you have had a residency card in Portugal for five years, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. Be sure to consult with a lawyer or visa assistance service for this final step of the process.

If you, for whatever reason, are not interested in getting permanent residency or citizenship, you may renew your two-year residence permit indefinitely.

Portuguese Tax Information

Just because you become a Portugal Golden Visa recipient does not mean that you are a tax resident of Portugal. You will need to pay taxes on your investment in Portugal, but unless you spend 183 days or more in the country, you will not be considered a tax resident.

Real Estate Taxes

You will need to pay a local, annual tax of 0.3 to 0.8 percent depending on the age and location of your property (also called the Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis or the IMI). If you rent out your property, you will face a rental tax of 28 percent.

Be sure to factor these taxes into your budget for your move. If you are planning to make money through property rental, then you need to know that you will be taxed 28 percent!

Non-Habitual Resident Tax Program

If you are a part of a qualifying profession, you may be eligible for tax breaks if you become a tax resident of Portugal. Some retirees may also qualify for this program.

More than 30,000 foreign nationals have joined the non-habitual resident tax program so far.

Golden Visa Changes in 2022

Starting on January 1, 2022, you will no longer be able to make real estate investments in Lisbon, Porto, and most of Algarve. If you are interested in investing in these coastal and metropolitan areas in order to gain Portuguese citizenship, then you will need to begin this process in 2021 to be grandfathered in when the new year starts.

Additionally, the minimum for a capital transfer investment will be increasing from one million euros to one and a half million euros.

Make sure to stay up to date on all immigration reforms as you work through your application. You do not want to be denied residency because of a rule change.

Why Move to Portugal?

There are many reasons to take advantage of the Portugal Golden Visa and move to Portugal. Whether you are in it for financial reasons, health reasons, or you just want to eat custard tarts and walk on the beach--there is something for everyone.

Amazing Weather and Landscape

Portugal has some of the best weather in Europe. The hot summers and moderate winters allow for lots of beach days and beautiful flower gardens. If you are looking to leave a colder climate for health reasons (or just for your own happiness), then Portugal is a great option.

Portugal is home to the westernmost point of Europe, and the coast of Portugal is varied and interesting. Take advantage of the warm summers to visit the countless sandy beaches and stunning cliffs that line the coast.

Affordability

If you find yourself wanting to save a bit of money after making your investment to procure your golden visa, then you will enjoy Portugal’s low cost of living.

There is a variety of affordable housing options, cheap (and delicious) produce, and low utility costs. Is one of the cheapest countries in Europe. It is an affordable alternative to more expensive European countries like Switzerland, France, or England.

Amazing People

Portugal is full of wonderful people who lead a very laid-back lifestyle. If you want to live life a little slower and eat dinner a little later, Portugal is a good move to make.

If you don’t speak Portuguese yet and you are worried about making friends, don’t be. Many people in Portugal speak English. Also, there is a large ex-pat community, both retirees and younger digital nomads.

No matter your age, language abilities, or location, you won’t have any trouble finding a group of friends to spend your time with.

A Center for History and Culture

From the seafood festival in Algarve to the Medieval village of Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal is full of history and culture.

With the emphasis on low-density-area investment, you will have the opportunity to explore Portugal beyond the beaten path. Being a citizen and spending time in the country will allow you to connect to the place in a way you never could as a tourist.

Moving to Portugal on the Portugal Golden Visa means that you can spend more than just 90 days exploring this country. You can trip down the cobblestone streets of Lisbon, surf on the sunny coast, and attend festivals and holiday celebrations all year round.

Are You Ready to Make the Move to Portugal?

If you are seriously considering moving to Portugal, now is the time! With the changes coming in 2022, getting your application in this year can save you anywhere from 50,000 to half a million euros!

Applying for citizenship to any country is a long process, so make sure you hire a visa assistance service you can trust to help you through it all. You can focus on yourself and your family as you prepare for your move.

Are you ready to move to Portugal with the Portugal Golden Visa? Check out our FAQ section for answers to your questions and information about our services to help you on your move to Portugal!

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