Updated: May 22, 2024

Since its inception in October 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa program has become one of the most popular residency by investment programs of its kind, with more than 10,000 applicants benefitting from the scheme.

In this ultimate guide to the Portugal Golden Visa, we’ll arm you with everything you need to know about the residency-by-investment scheme, guiding you through the following:

  • Benefits
  • Eligibility
  • Updates
  • Investment options
  • Golden Visa requirements
  • Golden Visa process
  • Timeline
  • Portugal Golden Visa cost
  • FAQs
  • Plus much more!

 

March 2024 Update: Portugal Announces Residency Waiting Time Will Now Countr Towards Nationality

In January 2024, the Portuguese government approved changes to its nationality law, bringing relief to thousands of applicants affected by delays in the processing of residency applications by SEF, now AIMI (Agency for Migration and Asylum Integration). The significant revision addresses the required waiting period required for Portuguese nationality applications.

The law was published on 5 March 2024 and will come into force on April 2024.

What are the changes to the nationality law?

Previously, under Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the nationality law, individuals seeking to secure Portuguese naturalization were required to hold residency in Portugal for a minimum of five years, amongst other requirements. The initiation of the five-year period for the nationality application was contingent upon the issuance of the initial residency permit.

The new legislative development, the amended Article 15, explicitly states that the time between the submission of the temporary residency permit application and its final approval will now be taken into account when the required legal residency period for nationality is calculated, provided the residency permit is granted.

A welcome development for Portugal Golden Visa applicants

The change to Portugal’s nationality law is a welcome development for Golden Visa applicants. Before this new change in legislation, applicants faced a stringent requirement of a minimum five-year residency period beginning from the issuance of the initial residency permit. This often caused lengthy waiting times, with candidates experiencing delays attributed to processing backlogs at SEF, the former immigration department.

The new change in the law means that those who have experienced delays in residency approvals will now have their waiting period considered, allowing them to apply for Portuguese citizenship sooner. For example, individuals wishing to apply for Portuguese residency in 2024 would fulfil the five-year residency requirement for Portuguese citizenship by 2029, irrespective of any delays in the processing of their residency application. This development is an important step in enhancing the experience of individuals looking to move to Portugal and secure Portuguese citizenship by naturalization,

For more information on the new legislation, you can consult this article by our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions: Portugal Nationality Law: All the Changes and Updates in 2024.

 

Is the Portugal Golden Visa ending?

On 16 February 2023, the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, announced that the Portugal Golden Visa was ending. The announcement came in the wake of the rising cost of rental and housing in Portugal.

However, the Portugal Golden Visa will not be coming to an end. On 19 July 2023, the Portuguese parliament approved a restructuring of the program, and new legislation came into play on 7 October 2023. From this date onwards, it is no longer possible to invest in real estate and qualify for the Golden Visa program.

Head to our article, Portugal is Ending its Golden Visa Program, to learn more.

 

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portugal Golden Visa, also referred to as the Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI), is a Portuguese residency by investment program for non-EU nationals. The government launched the program in October 2012 with the main objective being to attract foreign talent and international capital into Portugal. Given the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis, in which Portugal was greatly impacted, the program generated over €7 billion since October 2012. 

Portugal is, in many ways, the perfect country to call home, with spectacular landscapes, pristine beaches, more than 300 days of sunshine per year, and a very high quality of life. The country also has a very good education system, the healthcare system is one of the best in the world and is one of the most affordable countries to live in Europe. 

Through the Portuguese Golden Visa program, successful applicants will have the opportunity to secure permanent residency after five years, provided that they hold their investment for the duration of this time. Subsequently, there is the possibility to apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided you meet all the requirements under Portuguese Nationality Law. 

 

Portugal Golden Visa: Benefits

Below we have outlined some of the key benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa program. 

  • Minimum investment of  €250,000
  • Short-stay requirement: You don’t have to move to Portugal to retain your Golden Visa residency permit. Staying in Portugal for seven days a year on average will be sufficient. 
  • You can be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years, one of the quickest routes to European citizenship and access to the European Union. 
  • Once you become a Portuguese citizen, you will have visa-free access to 174 countries. 
  • Access to 26 nations in the European Union and travel access to the Schengen Area
  • The option to become a non-habitual resident and receive significant tax benefits for ten years. 

Visa-free access

The Portugal Golden Visa program allows you to travel freely across the EU and Schengen Area.

After five years, you can be eligible to apply for a Portuguese passport, provided you meet all the criteria. Armed with a Portuguese passport, you will have visa-free travel to 174 countries.

The Portuguese passport is one of the most powerful in the world. Our Residency and Citiznehsip division, Global Citizen Solutions, created an innovative Global Passport Index that measures the strength of a passport, not only on visa-free access but also takes into account investment opportunities and quality of life, using three standalone indexes that together generate the overall ranking. Portugal ranks in 31th position in the index, performing particularly well in the Enhanced Mobility Index (13th) and the Quality of Life Index (13th). 

Live, work, and study.

Golden Visa holders can live, work, and study in Portugal. Note that if you opt to live in Portugal full-time, then you will need to have medical insurance. However, you will have full access to all the public services in the country, which include healthcare and education. 

Public schools follow the Portuguese curriculum, although there are many private British and American international schools available. You will also find German and French international schools in the country. 

You’ll be able to work in Portugal without any issues, including starting or running your own business in the country. 

The government of Portugal has made a particular effort to encourage foreign businesses to relocate to Portugal, attracting top talent, digital nomads, tech companies, and startups. This can be seen with Websummit, the biggest tech festival in the world, moving to Portugal in 2016. 

Family reunification

As the primary applicant, you’ll be able to extend your Golden Visa to your family members. The application can be made simultaneously for the main applicant and the dependents. 

The following family members are eligible to apply alongside the primary applicant:

  • Spouse,
  • Children under 18 years old,
  • Dependent children under 26 years old. Dependent children need to be full-time students and not be married,
  • Parents of the main applicant, if they are over 65 years old.

Portuguese citizenship

After five years of securing your Golden Visa and holding your Portugal Golden Visa investment, you may apply for citizenship in Portugal. To qualify for Portuguese citizenship, you must have the following:

  • No outstanding tax payments in Portugal, 
  • Clean criminal records in both Portugal and your home country, 
  • Completed the CIPLE Portuguese language A2 exam. We’ll provide you with more details on the language test later in this article. 

Tax benefits

You will not have any tax responsibility as a Golden Visa holder unless you spend more than 183 days in the country per year. If you do, then you become a Portuguese tax resident. However, the country has a very favorable tax regime in place for foreign nationals. 

The Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) scheme allowed foreign nationals to receive significant tax benefits when living in Portugal.

 

Is the NHR ending?

The State Budget Law for 2024 stated the end of the popular Non-Habitual Resident) NHR tax regime from 1 January 2024. With this said, certain individuals can still apply up until 31 March 2025, and the scheme will be replaced by the Tax Incentive for Scientific Research and Innovation, which is anticipated to be implemented later in 2024. To learn more, please refer to: NHR Program Portugal: All You Need to Know

 

Eligibility Requirements

In this part of our ultimate guide, we’ll provide you with all-important information on the eligibility requirements for the Portugal Golden Visa scheme.

Nationalities 

If you are a non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss national, then you can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa.

Pre-requisites

You will need to be at least 18 years old and have a clean criminal record in both your home country and Portugal. The funds to invest in Portugal should be from outside Portugal. 

Minimum investment 

To qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa, you will need to make a minimum investment into the country. There are several options to choose from, including the investment fund option, company formation, and a donation route. 

The minimum investment is  €250,000 through the cultural investment pathway, further reduced to €200,000 if the project is located in a low-density area. 

Family members

As mentioned, you can extend the Golden Visa to the rest of your family members under family reunification. 

US citizens applying for the Portugal Golden Visa scheme

US citizens can apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa. Indeed, many American citizens are heading to Portugal due to the affordable cost of living, high-quality life, excellent healthcare and education, and progressive legislation. This is without mentioning the fact that English is widely spoken in Portugal, and the climate is sensational. 

UK Citizens

As Brexit has come to pass, UK citizens have seen some changes to their freedom of movement around the world. The Portuguese Golden Visa is now available to UK citizens. Armed with the Golden Visa, they can have the ability to travel freely across the EU and potentially secure citizenship after five years through naturalization, provided they meet all the requirements. A high quality of life increased travel freedoms, and a favorable climate are some of the key reasons why British nationals have their sights set on Portugal. 

 

Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options

The Portuguese economy is stable, offers a wide array of investment options, and has great potential to receive strong returns on your investment. The booming startup and tech scene has made it a top location in Europe for companies looking to relocate to Europe, and the real estate market has proved to be one of the key factors in the country’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, alongside the booming tourism sector, that continues to move from strength to strength. 

To secure a residency permit in Portugal, a significant investment must be made before the application can be filed. In this section, we’ll provide you with an overview of the qualifying investments on the table. 

Note that, as of 7 October 2023, it is no longer possible to invest in real estate and qualify for the Golden Visa program. 

The Golden Visa investment options are as follows: 

  • Fund subscription: Make a contribution to a qualified investment fund worth at least €500,000
  • Artistic production or reconstruction of national heritage: Make an investment of at least €250,000
  • Scientific research activities: Science or Technology research contribution of at least €500,000
  • Creation of jobs: Creation and maintenance of ten jobs during the required period
  • Share capital and job creation: Incorporation of a company or reinforcement of a company’s share capital, in either case with an investment of €500,000, combined with the creation of five or maintaining ten jobs (five of them permanent)

Golden Visa Portugal real estate option

As of 7 October, it is no longer possible to invest in real estate and qualify for the Golden Visa. This includes both residential and commercial real estate.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Portugal Golden Visa:

Portugal’s Golden Visa is a residency by investment scheme that allows non-EU, non-EEA, and non-Swiss investors the right to live in Portugal. There are several investment options to choose from, including placing your money in an investment fund, investment into cultural production, national heritage, scientific research, capital transfer, and job creation.

If you are a non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss national then you can apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa. You will need to be at least 18 years old and hold a clean criminal record in your home country and in Portugal. You will need to make a qualifying investment in the country.

You can see our article on how to get Portuguese residency for other options to secure a residence permit in the country and move to Portugal.

The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the best residency-by-investment schemes in the world and has seen investors from across the world successfully secure residency in Portugal. 

The minimum investment is  €250,000, through the cultural production pathway.

The Golden Visa program will not come to an end and is still available. From 7 October 2023, it is no longer possible to invest in real estate or make a capital transfer and qualify for the program.

The Golden Visa program will not come to an end. However, from 7 October 2023, it is no longer possible to invest in real estate or make a capital transfer and qualify for the program.

Golden Visas are an investment-based route to residency that is offered by many countries around the world. In exchange for an investment into the country, you can secure residency.

Portugal’s Golden Visa program is not a direct route to citizenship. However, if you hold your investment for five years and fulfill all the requirements under Portuguese nationality law, you can apply for citizenship and get a Portuguese passport. Requirements include having a clean criminal records and passing an A2 Portuguese language test.

After successfully applying for the Portugal Golden Visa and maintaining your residency for a period of five years, you can then apply for permanent residency, provided you meet all the requirements. After five years of securing your Golden Visa, you can also apply for Portuguese citizenship. This provided you with visa-free access to 174 countries, plus many other benefits, including being able to live, work, and study in any European Union member country.

To apply for the Golden Visa, there are various options open to you, such as investment funds and job creation.

The Minimum investment is  €250,000 through the cultural investment pathway, further reduced to €200,000 if the project is located in a low-density area.