UPDATE: On 16 February 2023, the Portuguese Government announced the end of the Golden Visa program as part of a series of measures involving housing conditions and real estate investments in the country. You can read more about that – and follow our updates – in the article Portugal Golden Visa Ending: What Do We Know
Would you like to get second citizenship from a European country? The Portugal Golden Visa could be the right program for you. It’s one of the most popular citizenship by investment programs in Europe.
Read through the article to find out more about the program, the requirements, and how to apply.
What is the Portugal Golden Visa?
The Portugal Golden Visa or ARI (Autorização de Residência para Actividade de Investimento) is one of the most popular citizenship by investment programs in Europe.
It allows people from outside of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to obtain residency in Portugal for themselves and their family through making an investment in the country.
What are the benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa?
Those who obtain a Golden Visa residence permit in Portugal can benefit from a number of benefits, such as:
- Freedom of movement across the Schengen Area and the EEA
- After five years (during which the original investment must be maintained) you can apply for Portuguese citizenship
- Children, partners, and dependent parents can also be included in the application and benefit from the same rights
- The stay requirement is very low (you only need to spend 7 days in Portugal in the first year in order to qualify)
- Golden Visa applicants can also benefit from the non-habitual tax regime, which allows investors to enjoy generous tax reductions and in some cases complete exemptions
- You can choose from a variety of relatively affordable investment options in the dynamic Portuguese market, which in many cases results in high returns
- The program is not blacklisted by the OECD, unlike many other schemes of its type
When was the Portuguese Golden Visa established?
The Portugal Golden Visa was first introduced in 2012 as a way to incentivize investment in the country after the financial crisis.
Subsequent governments have since expanded the scheme, and to date around €4.5 bn worth of investments have been made in Portugal. The Portuguese government has granted 7,000 residency permits to investors, and a further 12,000 to their dependents.
China leads in terms of main nationalities of investors, followed by Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and Russia. Statistics released this year by the Portuguese Border Control, SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) showed a large increase in American Golden Visa investors, as well as South Koreans.
Portugal Golden Visa requirements
- Stay requirement
Anyone who applies for the Golden Visa must spend a minimum of 7 days in the country in the first year, and 14 days in the subsequent years.
- Maintaining your investment
Golden Visa applicants must maintain their investment over a period of 5 years if they wish to apply for citizenship.
Who can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?
Anyone who is not a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland can apply so long as they make a qualifying investment.
You must also have a clean criminal record.
Golden Visa Portugal investment requirements
The Portugal Golden Visa application process generally requires a minimum investment of €250,000. This can be made in a number of different ways, though the most popular option is usually to invest in real estate.
This can be made as an individual, or in some cases through a company, so long as the correct requirements are met.
Portugal Golden Visa investment options
These are the different ways through which a Golden Visa investment can be made:
- Capital transfer of at least €1m to the Portuguese state
- Creation of at least 10 full-time jobs (8 in a low-density area)
- Investment in real estate of at least €500,000
- Investment in real estate rehabilitation of at least €350,000 in an eligible property which was constructed more than 30 years ago
- Capital transfer of at least €250,000 to national heritage
- Capital transfer of at least €350,000 into research
- Investment into an existing Portuguese registered business of at least €350,000, as well as the creation of at least 5 full-time jobs
- Make an investment of at least €350,000 into Golden Visa eligible funds
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What is the application process for the Portugal Golden Visa?
- Choose an investment option
- Get a NIF (Portuguese tax number) and open a Portuguese bank account
- Make an investment
- Translate all of the necessary documentation
- Fill out your application
- Book a Portuguese Golden Visa appointment (this can take up to 3 months)
- Attend an interview
- Receive your Golden Visa permit after 3-6 months
- After 5 years of continued investment, you can then make your application for citizenship
Any dependents included in your Golden Visa application must submit their documentation at the same time.
Required documents for a Golden Visa application
- Valid passport and copy
- Property deeds or purchase contract, with proof deposit payment
- Bank declaration confirming the transfer of funds
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of criminal record check or a certified letter from the police in your country of origin
- A completed form authorizing SEF to obtain a copy of your Portuguese criminal record
- Declaration of compliance with investment requirements
- Documents which prove compliance with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and Social Security system
- A receipt of evidence of payment of the application processing fee
Submitting a Golden Visa application
Golden Visa application fees
There is a processing fee of €527.60 (plus €82.30 for each dependent), and then an approval fee of €5274.40.
The visa renewal fee at the end of year 1 and year 3 is €2,637.20 for each visa holder, as well as a renewal fee in the other years of €527.60 (plus €82.30 for each dependent).
How does the renewal process for the Portugal Golden Visa work?
A Golden Visa residence permit can be renewed each year, so long as the initial investment is maintained. There is a renewal process at the end of years 1 and 3, which requires each applicant to resubmit biometric data and provide up-to-date criminal record checks.
At the end of year 5, applicants can then apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Portuguese Golden Visa
What are the advantages of the Portugal Golden Visa?
Some of the main advantages of the Portugal Golden Visa include:
- Freedom of movement throughout the Schengen Area
- Right to live and work in an EU country with no restrictions
- You can bring your family with you and they will benefit from the same rights
- Obtain a Portuguese passport after 5 years
- Increased opportunities and access to quality healthcare and education
What is the best Golden Visa investment option?
The most popular Golden Visa investment option is real estate. The vast majority of investments since the Portugal Golden Visa program was established have been in real estate, and for good reason. The Portuguese real estate market is diverse and offers many investment opportunities with lucrative returns.
Is now a good time to invest in Portugal?
The Portuguese economy has fully recovered from the financial crisis and unemployment has been steadily decreasing over the past decade, with levels currently at their lowest for 15 years.
The Portuguese property market also makes for a very stable investment, with some of the highest rental yields in western Europe, owing to the increase in tourism in recent years. The capital city of Lisbon is in very high demand for short- and long-term rentals, and property in the Algarve and Porto also make very good investments.
How much does it cost to obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa?
The Portuguese Golden Visa fees are as follows:
Processing fee: €527.60 (plus €82.30 for each dependent)
Approval fee: €5,274.40
Year 1 and 3 renewal fees: €2,637.20 for each visa holder
Renewal fees for other years: €527.60 (plus €82.30 for each dependent)
Do I need legal assistance to obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa?
It is not obligatory to solicit legal assistance for your Golden Visa application, but it certainly helps. Portuguese law can be difficult to navigate, especially for those who do not speak Portuguese.
If you would like to make a Golden Visa application, it can help to enlist the help of an expert.
There are many different companies in Portugal that specialize in Golden Visa assistance. Global Citizen Solutions is one of these companies and can help you with your application process from start to finish.
They offer a free 15-minute consultation to discuss your options.
Should I hire a lawyer to help me with my Golden Visa application?
You can hire a lawyer to help you with your Portugal Golden Visa application, however, a better idea is to enlist the services of a specialist company that deals specifically with Golden Visa applications.
This way you will receive assistance from the beginning of the process until the end, and have access to valuable insider market knowledge, enabling you to make the best Golden Visa investment choices.
Should I avoid certain firms offering Golden Visa services?
Yes, there are currently many firms offering Golden Visa services, and not all of them have the required experience and expertise to ensure that your application is successful.
Can I bring my family with me?
Yes, it is possible to bring dependents with you when you apply for the Portugal Golden Visa. You can bring your partner as well as your children, as long as they are either under 18 or in full-time education. Documentation for dependents must be included with that of the main applicant when they begin the process.
Does all supporting documentation need to be translated into Portuguese?
Yes, it is important that you have a Portuguese translation of all of the relevant documentation for your Golden Visa application.
What are the Portugal Golden Visa tax requirements?
As a Golden Visa applicant, you do not necessarily have to be a tax resident in Portugal or pay tax on your income from outside of Portugal.
Golden Visa applicants can also become tax residents in Portugal and benefit from the non-habitual resident tax regime (NHR), which can greatly economize your taxes.
For more information about the NHR tax regime, click here.
Will I have to pay Social Security contributions in Portugal?
Golden Visa Portugal healthcare requirements depend entirely on you, and it is not necessary in most cases for you to pay social security contributions.
If you would like to have access to Portuguese healthcare then you should pay social security contributions, however, you can also just buy private healthcare insurance.
How long does it take to get the Portuguese Golden Visa?
It usually takes between 3-6 months to complete the entire process.
How long does it take before I can obtain Portuguese citizenship and a passport?
It takes 5 years of continued investment and renewal of your Golden Visa permit to be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Is it possible to make the investment through a limited company?
Yes, in certain circumstances you can make your investment through a limited company. Check with a specialist to verify your options.