fbpx

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
  • Investment options
  • Golden Visa requirements
  • Application process
  • Timeline
  • Costs
  • FAs
  • Plus much more!

Is the Portugal Golden Visa ending?

On 2 November 2022, the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, announced that several visa schemes that the country offers are currently being re-evaluated, including the Portugal Golden Visa program.

The announcement continues to position Portugal as having a friendly position towards immigration, but hints that the perspective may have to be adjusted in the face of the current reality. However, he highlighted the continuity of tax benefits that continue to catch the eye of foreign investors, particularly in the technological area. 

If the proposal should proceed, there is no precise indication of when it will come into effect. Changes to this type of legislation by the Portuguese government usually take some time. For example, changes made by the previous government to the Portugal Golden Visa program had an implementation schedule of 18 months. The government is also expected to consult stakeholders and social partners on the matter to determine their receptivity to potential changes. 

If you are currently going through the Portugal Golden Visa program process, then your application will not be impacted. The application is protected by law, even in the event of the proposal going ahead. 

If you are considering applying for the Portugal Golden Visa program, applications remain open as per usual. 

 

What is the Portgual 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 program was launched by the Portuguese government 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 €6 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, through the donation pathway and of €280,000, through the real estate rehabilitation pathway, if the property is located in an interior and low-density area. This is one of the lowest investment thresholds in Europe. 
  • Short-stay requirement: You don’t have to move to Portugal to retain your residence 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. 
  • Once you become a Portuguese citizen, you will have visa-free access to 172 countries. 
  • Access to 26 nations in the EU and travel access to the Schengen Area
  • A sound investment in a buoyant market that can reap real returns in your investment.
  • 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 172 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 30th position in the index, performing particularly well in the Enhanced Mobility Index (8th) and the Quality of Life Index (12th). 

Live, work, and study

Holders of the Portugal Golden Visa 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 Portuguese government has made a particular effort in encouraging 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 done 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 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 allows foreign nationals to receive significant tax benefits when living in Portugal. The program changed slightly in 2020, exempting foreign pensioners from receiving tax breaks on their pension income.

 

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 for the investment 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 real estate, an investment fund option, company formation, and a donation route. 

The Minimum investment is  €250,000, through the donation pathway. For real estate, a minimum investment of €280,000 is needed in a real estate rehabilitation project. The property will need to be located in an interior and low-density area. This is one of the lowest investment thresholds in Europe. We’ll provide you with the full list of qualifying investments later in this article. 

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 and 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 residence 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. 

Purchasing real estate has proved to be the most popular route for Portugal Golden Visa applicants, making up over 90% of the total number. 

The Golden Visa investment options are as follows: 

  • Residential real estate: 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. 
  • Commercial real estate: Buy commercial real estate anywhere in 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. 
  • Purchasing real estate on Madeira or the Azores: Buy residential or commercial real estate on the autonomous islands of Madeira or the Azores, that is worth at least €50,000, or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project. 
  • Fund subscription: Make a contribution to an investment qualified fund, that is worth at least €500,000. 
  • Capital Transfer: Make a capital transfer of at least €1.5 million
  • Scientific Research: Science or Technology research contribution of at least €500,000
  • Job Creation: Company incorporation and creation of ten jobs amounting to a minimum value of €500,000
  • Donation: Support the arts or reconstruction of national heritage with a donation of at least €250,000.

It’s important to note the Portugal Golden Visa program changes that came into force on 1 January 2022, significantly altered the program’s investment criteria. As a result of these changes, it is only possible to invest in residential real estate in interior areas of the country, ruling out Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algrave. However, concerning commercial property, there are no location restrictions. 

Portuguese Golden Visa real estate option

As mentioned buying Portugal Golden Visa properties is the most popular way to secure Portuguese residency. This is due to the fact that Portugal is regarded as a prime location among property investors, which continues to move from strength to strength. The flourishing real estate market, high rental yields, and booming tourism sector have helped boost real estate investments over the years. 

Expats have chosen to buy properties in Portugal either for tourism purposes, to have a second home, to move to the country with family, or to seek a peaceful retirement. For the Portugal Golden Visa, you can invest in new constructions in Portugal’s interior areas, starting from €500,000, or invest in real estate rehabilitation properties for €350,000.

Alternatively, as mentioned, you can purchase commercial properties anywhere in Portugal for an investment beginning at €500,000, and, for commercial real estate rehabilitation projects, an investment of €350,000 is required. 

An additional bonus for real estate investors is that if your real estate investment is located in a designated low-density area of Portugal, then a 20% discount will apply. Low-density areas are defined as having less than 100 inhabitants per square km, or a per capita GDP of less than 75% of the national average. 

As such it is possible to secure the Portugal Golden Visa for €280,000. This is the case if the residential or commercial property is located in a low-density area. Note that residential properties will need to be located in both an interior area and a low-density area to receive the 20% discount. You can read more about this in our article on interior areas and low-density eligible areas

 

Golden Visa Requirements

Minimum residence requirement

One of the key benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa is the short-stay requirement. Portugal requires the Golden Visa residents to spend only a minimum of seven days annually on average in the country. 

 Validity periodStay requirement
Initial PGV Residence PermitTwo years14 days within the two year period
Subsequent GV Residence PermitsThree years21 days within the three year period

It’s important to mention that, as of April 2020, the initial residence permits became valid for a two-year period (before the period was one year) and that the subsequent residence permits are valid for a period of three years. This change was the result of a legislative change in the Portuguese immigration law. In case the change is permanent, it’s expected that the initial card that has a two-year validity will require the cardholder to physically spend at least 14-days in Portugal, within the two-year period. Regarding the renewal cards, which are valid for a three-year period, the application will need to spend at least 21-days in Portugal within the three years. 

Make your investment and maintain your investment for five years 

You will be required to make a qualified investment and maintain your investment for a duration of five years. You will need to provide supporting evidence that you have individually made the minimum investment. As the main applicant, the investment has to be maintained for as long as you and your dependents hold Golden Visa residency status. 

If you become a permanent resident or Portuguese citizen, you will no longer need to maintain your investment. You can then liquidate your investment.  

Documentation

Note: The following Golden Visa documents that are needed for your application are subject to change at the discretion of the Portuguese government. Additionally, all the documents will need to be submitted by Golden Visa applicants both for the initial application and for the subsequent renewal. 

The Golden Visa Portugal documents that you will need to present are the following: 

Note that the criminal record certificate or police clearance letter needs to have been issued no more than 90 days before submitting your Golden Visa application. As for all other certificates, this is extended to 180 days. 

Legalizing documents

The Portugal Golden Visa application and the Portuguese Golden Visa documents need to be legalized and translated into Portuguese by a certified translator. 

The documents for the Portugal Golden Visa can be legalized by either the Portuguese Consulate or by the Apostille of The Hague Convention. 

Translating documents

When you submit original documents as part of the application, they will need to be accompanied by a certified translation in Portuguese. There are three ways to do this. 

NIF number and bank account

The process of getting a NIF number (Portuguese as Número de Identificação Fiscal or the número de contribuinte) and opening a Portuguese bank account in the country are pretty straightforward. You NIF number is your tax identification number that is distributed by the Portuguese fiscal authorities (Finanças) and is used for all your tax purposes in the country that are needed for various transactions, such as opening a Portuguese bank account and buying property. 

You will, therefore, have to get your NIF number before opening a Portuguese bank account. As mentioned previously, you will also need to have a tax representative in Portugal to get your NIF number. 

Both getting a NIF number and opening a bank account can be done remotely. 

Here are a couple of useful links for you:

To get your NIF: https://www.getnifportugal.com/

To open a bank account: https://bankaccountportugal.com/

Portuguese Golden Visa language test

You will not be required to complete a Portuguese language test for the Golden Visa. However, if you want to secure Portuguese citizenship, following holding your investment for five years, then you will need to pass the Portuguese language test for citizenship. The test, called the CIPLE Portuguese proficiency test, is A2 level and is relatively straightforward. You will simply need to show that you have a basic understanding of the language. 

 

Portugal Golden Visa Application Process

The application for the Portugal Golden Visa is pretty straightforward. If you complete the necessary steps, in the right order, then you shouldn’t go wrong. We’ve provided you with a step-by-step guide below: 

1. Decide on your investment type

The first stage is the onboarding stage. Once you have decided on your investment type, you will need to complete all the paperwork for both yourself and for any dependents that you want to include in the application.

2. NIF and Portuguese bank account

As mentioned previously you will need to appoint a fiscal representative in order to get your NIF number in Portugal. 

3. Make the investment 

Once you have chosen which investment type is best for you, you will need to make the investment and lock in your investment in Portugal. 

4. Online application

You will need to lodge your application online. 

5. Pre-approval

Your application will be pre-approved, on the basis that you fulfill all the requirements.

6. Biometrics visit 

It will take approximately two months from the time you book your interview until you can attend a biometrics collection session in person.

7. Your Portugal Golden Visa is issued

After your biometrics visit, it will take approximately four months for your Portuguese Golden Visa to be approved by SEF. You will need to pay the government permit issue fee and then you’ll be able to collect the residence cards. 

8. Renew your Golden Visa

Your residency card will be valid for a two-year period. At the end of the validity period, you will need to renew your Golden Visa and receive a new one.

9. Become a Portuguese citizen

After five years after you have been issued your Golden Visa, you can apply for permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship. You will need to have maintained your investment during this period and will have to meet all the requirements, such as passing the Portuguese language citizenship test. 

 

Portugal Golden Visa: Timeline

The initial application along with the supporting documents are submitted online to SEF. Once they have approved the application, you will then need to visit SEF for an interview. 

There are several SEF offices across Portugal and you can apply to any, regardless of where you made the investment. This way, you can avoid districts that have very long waitlists, such as the SEF office in Lisbon. It can take a while for SEF to approve and provide you with a biometrics appointment.  

As the primary applicant, you and your dependents can book the SEF appointment at the same time. After the in-person interview, you will then receive your Golden Visa cards. It will usually take around four months to receive these residence permit cards. 

Your residence clock starts ticking on the day that your Golden Visa is issued. Five years from then, provided you maintain your investment and fulfill all the additional criteria, you will be able to apply for citizenship. 

Year one and two

Your initial Golden Visa residence card will be valid for two years. During these first two years, you will need to spend a total of 14 days in Portugal. 

After two years, you will need to renew your residence permit. 30-90 days prior to the expiration date of your card, you will need to repeat the above SEF appointment. To renew your card, you need to re-submit the up-to-date documentation, such as criminal records, biometrics, and the required application processing fee. 

Years three-five

Your renewed Golden Visa residence permit will be valid for three years. Within these three years, you will need to spend a minimum of 21 days in Portugal. 

Year five

After five years of having residence in Portugal and holding your investment in the country, there are three options open to you:

  1. Apply for permanent residency in Portugal
  2. Apply for citizenship in Portugal
  3. Continue with the Golden Visa temporary residence program

If you opt to become a permanent resident or a citizen in Portugal, you will no longer be required to maintain your Golden Visa investment. 

 

Portuguese Golden Visa Costs

Alongside the minimum qualifying investment, there are other fees and costs that you will need to take into account. In this part of our Portugal Golden Visa guide, we’ll inform you of the costs that you will need to bear in mind. 

Note that if you are following the real estate pathway, there will be property taxes to take into consideration. You can see our article on property taxes in Portugal for further information. 

Government fees

 Time of paymentRequired amount
Processing feeOnce at the beginning; at each renewal€533 (+ €83 /dependent)
Initial application feeOnce at the beginning€5,325 per person
Renewal application feeAt each renewal€2,663 per person

Legal fees

The legal fees will depend on the law firm that you opt to work with. The Portugal Golden Visa requires quite a significant investment, so it is best to work with an experienced law firm to take care of the due diligence, in addition to the application and renewal process. The legal costs can add up to a significant amount, but it is better to be sure that everything is in order. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Portugal Golden Visa:

Who qualifies for Golden Visa in Portugal?

If you are a non-EU, non-EEA, or non-Swiss national then you can apply for the Portugal 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, and there are several options to choose from, including real estate, investment funds, and capital transfer. 

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.

Is Golden visa Portugal worth it?

The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the best residency-by-investment schemes in the world. Since its inception, 11,060 foreign investors and 18,193 family members have benefited from the Portugal Golden Visa (as of September 2022), who can enjoy an excellent quality of life, low cost of living, increased travel freedoms, and greater security. You can also apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years, provided you meet all the requirements under Portugal nationality law. 

How much does Portugal's golden visa cost?

The Minimum investment is  €250,000, through the donation pathway. For real estate, a minimum investment of €280,000 is needed in a real estate rehabilitation project. The property will need to be located in an interior and low-density area. This is one of the lowest investment thresholds in Europe. 

Is the Portugal golden visa still available?

Yes, the Portugal Golden Visa program is still available. Some changes came into force on 1 January 2022, significantly altering the program’s investment criteria. As a result of Portugal Golden Visa changes, it is only possible to invest in residential real estate in interior areas of the country, ruling out Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algrave. However, concerning commercial real estate, there are no location restrictions. 

Is the Portugal Golden Visa ending?

The Prime Minister of Portugal stated on 2 November 2022 that several visa schemes, including the Portugal Golden Visa, were under review. However, nothing further has been announced. Golden Visa applications will not be impacted and are protected by law. In addition, new applications remain open as per usual.

What are Golden Visa programs?

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. Many EU countries offer some form of Golden Visa program.

Can Portugal's Golden Visa get me citizenship?

Portugal’s Golden Visa 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.

Related Articles
How to Find a Real Estate Agent in Faro
Read More
Living in Algarve – An Ultimate Guide
Read More
All You Need to Know About Lisbon Tourist Attractions
Read More
More Info