Updated: March 30, 2023
Buying property in Portugal has become one of the most popular options in Europe for both investment purposes and those who want to relocate permanently. For those wishing to gain residency in Europe, buying a property in Portugal has become somewhat of a golden ticket. While not directly, there is the potential to buy property in Portugal and obtain citizenship, should you complete five years of residency in Portugal and apply for a Portuguese passport through naturalization.
There are various investment programs in Europe that entitle non-EU citizens to residency and ultimately European citizenship. Most of these programs involve investment in the country whether that may be in property, enterprise, or in government bonds. In Portugal, the Golden Visa program is a residency by investment scheme in which most people choose to purchase property to fulfill the minimum investment requirements.
The Portugal Golden Visa program has gained immense popularity and attention partly due to the attractiveness of Portugal’s real estate market and in part because of the flexible stay requirements during the residency period. Since the program began back in 2012, over €6 459 984 421,99 in funds was invested for the Portugal Golden Visa (as of July 2022).
How To Buy Property in Portugal and Get Residency
To buy property in Portugal and obtain residency, and ultimately potential citizenship, there is more than one route to the desired outcome. Whichever pathway is chosen, however, there is a certain order that the steps must be carried out in, and a certain protocol that must be rigidly adhered to. We would suggest using a buyer’s agent to assist you in purchasing property and getting citizenship.
Buy property and get a D7
If you are looking to buy a property in Portugal to permanently relocate and eventually get Portugal citizenship, then it’s probably best to opt for a D7 Visa. With this option, after five years of residence, Portuguese citizenship can be applied for, providing that you have lived in Portugal for the majority of this time.
These types of visas must be applied for in your home country at the Portuguese consulate, where you will get a temporary visa. Following this, you will then have an appointment with SEF in Portugal (the Portuguese Immigration Foreigners and Border Service) to get the D7 Visa. Buying real estate will give you a registered address, which is required under these visas. However, you can also rent a property and supply this address as your registered address for this visa type. After five years, you can gain permanent residency and apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Buy property and get a Golden Visa
If you are looking to purchase property but are not ready to commit to five years living in Portugal, then the flexibility of the Golden Visa might be the best option for you. Portuguese citizenship can be attained after five years if the investment made to qualify is still held. Do note that certain property investment restrictions apply. Namely from January 2022, investors are no longer be able to buy a property in populated urban centers of Portugal like Lisbon, Porto, or the coastal strip of towns in the Algarve. Instead, investors must buy property in Portugal’s interior areas. If you’re wondering about whether your real estate purchase applies for the Portugal Golden Visa, it’s best to consult with a specialist first.
You don’t need to live in Portugal during the five-year period before you can apply for citizenship, you need only to spend an average of 14 days every two years in Portugal.
There are also certain steps that need to be followed to get a golden visa including transferring funds to a bank account in your name in Portugal to make the qualifying property purchase. Make sure to seek the help of trusted professionals before making any investments that you want to be counted towards a Golden Visa since this will minimize the risk of your application getting rejected.
The HQA Visa
The Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa was launched in 2019 and is essentially a hybrid visa that requires two core components: Portuguese business formation and an investment in high-value research and development activities. This visa type is ideal for entrepreneurs and startup founders who are looking to start seeding a future business in Europe, in addition to existing business owners who are looking to expand their operations or are targeting the European market.
While targeting qualified professionals, the HQA Visa is not only for entrepreneurs as the program can also be used for prospective Golden Visa property buyers who would rather not use up so much capital for five years and would rather invest in a research-driven business idea that they are passionate about. The cost and low presence requirements are very attractive, whereby the total cost with the HQA Visa is around €175,000.
The Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa Program is a five-year residency by investment scheme for non-EU nationals. The visa allows its holder and their families to live, work, and study in Portugal and have complete freedom of movement in the Schengen zone. After a five-year period has elapsed, the opportunity to get Portuguese citizenship is open if the given investment is still held by the golden visa holder.
There are certain minimum investment conditions that must be met in order to qualify for the Golden Visa. As mentioned above, certain property investment restrictions apply.
To get a golden visa, various investments can be made. Most people opt for real estate investments as they are comfortable with brick and mortar investments, but the option to invest in funds has become increasingly popular over the last few years.
Below is a brief summary of the different qualifying investments related to the real estate pathway following the Golden Visa changes that came into play on January 1, 2022.
- Buy residential real estate in a designated interior area of Portugal that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the residential property is located in a designated “low density” area, then a 20% discount will apply.
- Buy commercial property anywhere in the country that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the commercial property is located in a designated “low density” area, then a 20% discount will apply.
- Buy residential and commercial real estate anywhere in the autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores, that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). The entire islands of Madeira and the Azores are classified as high density, so a discount is not applicable when investing in the islands.
To understand the differences in interior and low-density areas, you can see our article Why Invest in Portugal Low-Density Areas?
Portugal Golden Visa Residential Real Estate Investment Options
- Invest in a newly built property in interior areas- €500K
Investments in new properties start from €500,000 in interior areas.
- Invest in property rehabilitation in interior areas- €350k
Invest in used property starting from €350,000. The respective property must have been built more than 30 years ago and be located in an interior area.