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The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular and successful residency-by-investment programs in the world, but from 1 January 2022, there will be a significant Portugal Golden Visa change to the program coming into play.

Since kicking off in 2012, thousands of families have navigated the scheme and relocated to Portugal. The program is a five-year residency-by-investment scheme for non-EU nationals and is part of Portugal’s drive to welcome investors to the country, boosting the nation’s economy and attracting foreign investments to drive developments. One of the major attractions of the program for non-EU investors is that it provides an entryway to the EU, allowing family members the right to live, work, and study in Portugal and enjoy free movement in Europe’s Schengen Area. 

After five years, it is possible to become a permanent resident of Portugal and to apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided that the qualifying investment is maintained for at least five years. In addition, you must meet all the additional criteria from the immigration office, and respect all nationality laws.

 Since 1 January 2022, there are Portugal Golden Visa new rules which have significantly changed the program. We’ll cover the new changes in this article. For example, for the real estate route, the Lisbon Golden Visa is no longer an option. In this article, we’ll provide you with everything that you will need to know about the Golden Visa program in Portugal and the all-important changes to the scheme.

In this article, we’ll run over:

  • A history of the Portugal Golden Visa
  • What’s going to change?
  • Where can I invest with the Portugal Golden Visa?
  • What’s not going to change?
  • Will it impact the existing investment?
  • How we can help you
  • FAQs

 

A history of the Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa program was launched in 2012 and has fast become one of the most popular residency-by-investment schemes in Europe. The program allows non-EU investors and their families to obtain residency permits for themselves and their families,  in exchange for a qualifying investment, whether it is real estate, a fund investment, a donation to scientific research and development, or other options.

Since 2012, there have been 9,389 investors and 16050 family members that have benefitted from the program, showing that it has been a roaring success. Portugal’s Golden Visa statistics highlight that, as of 2018, Portugal was positioned third in the world in terms of the best residency-by-investment programs in the world, with only Spain and Quebec out in front. 

While there are many reasons why the program is such a success, one of the most important reasons is that Portugal is an excellent country for expats, is the fourth safest country in the world, and the Portuguese people are exceptionally welcoming. This is without mentioning the excellent weather, personal freedoms, and entryway into the EU, where you are able to have free access to countries in the Schengen area. After five years, it is also possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship, providing you with access to live, work and study in the EU. 

The program also offers several attractive investment routes that suit any investor profile. This includes buying real estate, investing in venture capital, research, arts, or in an existing business.

 

What’s going to change

The Portugal Golden Visa changes are already in place, having come into force on 1 January 2022. The changes largely relate to real estate and capital transfer investment options. Golden Visa applicants are now blocked from buying property in parts of Portugal that are not designated “interior” areas. This blocks off the property in Lisbon, Porto, and many coastal areas including much of the Algarve, the Silver Coast, and Setúbal.

In terms of capital transfer, the amount that is required to invest in the Golden Visa scheme will increase from  €1 million to €1,5 million. 

Requirements for the investment fund, investment into research, and investments into an existing Portuguese-registered business will increase from €350,000 to €500,000.

 

Portugal Golden Visa change: Real estate changes

The Portuguese government has explained that these changes have been put in place to instigate foreign investments in other parts of the country. While Lisbon and Porto real estate is thriving, the focus is now on developing the property market in Portugal’s interior areas. If you are looking to invest in Portugal real estate, take note of these important changes. 

The real estate investment for the Golden Visa are the following:

  • Investors are not able to invest in residential property in popular urban areas, including Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algarve, in addition to coastal towns such as Setúbal and the Silver Coast. 
  • Investors can only purchase residential real estate in designated interior areas of Portugal worth €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the residential property is situated in a designated “low-density” area, a 20% discount is applied. 
  • Investors can buy commercial real estate anywhere in the country that is worth at least  €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a commercial rehabilitation project). If the commercial property is situated in a designated “low-density” area, then a 20% discount will apply.
  • Investors are able to purchase residential and commercial real estate anywhere in Portugal’s autonomous islands of Madeira and the Azores, which is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). 

 

Portugal Golden Visa change: Capital transfers changes

  • The capital transfer amount requirement increased from €1 mil to €1.5 mil.
  • The minimum investment fund subscription increased from €350,000 to €500,000.
  • Investment in scientific research and development increased from €350,000 to €500,000.
  • Investment into an existing business registered in Portugal increased from €350,000 to €500,000.

 

Where can I invest in the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portuguese government is looking to boost investments into the interior of the county. Therefore, there are designated interior areas where you will be able to make a residential real estate investment and qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa. For commercial real estate, there are no location restrictions 

If the interior area also lies in a “low-density” area, then a 20% discount applies. Low-density areas are defined as territorial units (NUTS III) that have fewer than 100 inhabitants per square km or a GDP per capita that is less than 75% of the national average. 

You can see our article here, which provides clear information on the differences between interior and low-density areas, including providing you with maps to understand where you can invest.

 

Portugal Golden Visa change 2022: Best places to invest in:Portugal Golden Visa change

Although the Portugal Golden Visa change in 2022 can be seen to restrict investments into the country, it will likely diversify the investment portfolio. Indeed, there is an abundance of beautiful areas off the beaten track to be uncovered, including some that are promising areas to develop eco-tourism, wellness, innovation, and luxury projects such as Peneda-Gerês, the Douro Valley, and the Alentejo.

If you are looking to make the most out of the 20% discount that applies to properties that are categorized as being in both an “interior” area and a “low-density” area, there are some good options worth considering. These include Aljezur, Odeceixe, and Sagres, which are fabulous locations in the Algarve and where you can most surely get your sunshine fix. 

The beautiful islands of Madeira and the Azores are also very good options for investors. Although you will not be able to secure a discount (they are considered “high-density”), they are interior areas and will make an excellent investment option for prospective investors interested in the scheme. Indeed, in the coming years, both islands look set to become very popular, as each provides beautiful properties with spectacular waterfront views and nature galore.

 

Portugal’s low-density areas: 280K investment option

For an investment of €280.000, investors are able to purchase property in low-density areas in Portugal, allowing them to have all the benefits of EU residency in their hands through the Golden Visa. 

To be eligible for this option and obtain the 20% discount, investors must:

  • Invest in a commercial rehabilitation project that is located in a designated low-density area, or; 
  • Invest in a residential rehabilitation project that is situated in a designated low-density area AND that is also classified as “interior”.

 

Portugal Golden Visa changeAdvantages of investing in low-density areas

The €280.000 investment option is attractive for an array of reasons, from its relative affordability to the beauty of the areas themselves, there are several reasons why low-density areas make the perfect investment. Here, we’ll run over some of the key benefits of this investment route.

  • A low investment threshold, with the opportunity to earn high rental returns on your investment. 
  • Very affordable in comparison to other Portuguese Golden Visa options. 
  • In low-density areas in Portugal, there are bigger and better properties with 2-3 units to rent. 
  • Profitability is around €12.000 per year each year, which makes the case for owning several units attractive. 
  • The investment amount is relatively low, so applicants have more freedom for other business opportunities and investments. 
  • Away from the crowds, low-density areas have an undiscovered ambiance and allow for an excellent quality of life in tune with nature.
  • Cities in the interior of Portugal are becoming popular for students. As the young population grows in these cities, the demand for housing intensifies. 
  • European and local investors buy in these areas. 
  • The annual growth rate is 5%. 
  • Promising areas to develop eco-tourism, wellness, innovation, and luxury projects. 
  • If you invest in Portugal, you are putting your money in a stable socio-economic and political country, that frequently ranks highly in quality of life ranking and was named the fourth safest country in the world in 2021

 

What’s not going to change?

If you invest in Portugal, the Golden Visa investment options that will not change are the following:

  • The donation to the arts or in the reconstruction of national heritage will remain the same, with a required investment of €250,000. 
  • To kickstart a company in Portugal and employ at least ten local employees.

 

Will it impact the existing investment?

If you are currently in the process of purchasing a property in an urban area, then the Golden Visa changes will not impact you or your investment.

 

How can we help you?

Goldcrest is a local buyer’s agent, based in Lisbon. We provide up-to-date information on the real estate market, providing strategic advice on the best investment opportunities tailored to your needs. From scouting the best properties to property acquisition, we are here to help you secure the property of your dreams.

You can book a call with us today to discuss your options.

You can explore the following articles for further information or for some location gems that are a little off the beaten track. 

If you are looking to secure a second passport or are interested in residency-by-investment schemes, you can also get in touch with our residency and citizenship division, Global Citizen Solutions.

Global Citizen Solutions is a multidisciplinary firm that provides bespoke residence and solutions in Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean. By matching you with your ideal investment, Golden Visa program, or tax benefit, Global Citizen Solutions helps investors successfully uproot their lives and become global citizens. 

Frequently asked questions about the Portugal Golden Visa change for 2022

1. What is the Portugal Golden Visa change for 2022?

Golden Visa applicants that are interested in the real estate route are blocked from buying property in parts of Portugal that are not designated “interior areas”. This stops investors from purchasing property in Lisbon, Porto, and many coastal areas, including much of the Algarve, the Silver Coast, and Setúbal

The minimum amount for a capital transfer investment will increase from €1 million to €1,5 million. 

Requirements for the investment fund, investment into research, and investments into an existing Portuguese-registered business will increase from €350,000 to €500,000.

2. What do Portugal Golden Visa new rules mean for my investment options?

The Portugal Golden Visa new rules mean that if you are looking to purchase residential real estate, you will no longer be able to do so in areas that are not designated “interior” areas. You will, however, still be able to purchase commercial real estate across the country. 

When it comes to residential properties, this means that you will no longer be able to buy property in Lisbon, Porto, and many coastal areas, including much of the Algarve, the Silver Coast, and Setúbal, under the scheme. However, there are several excellent opportunities in interior areas, such as Peneda-Gerês, the Douro Valley, and the Alentejo.

For capital transfer investments, the minimum required investment will increase from €1 million to €1,5 million and for donations to Investment Funds, investments into research, and investments into an existing Portuguese-registered business, the minimum threshold will increase from €350,000 to €500,000.

3. Will The Portugal Golden Visa program be canceled?

No, the Portugal Golden Visa Program will not be canceled. From 1 January 2022 the only suspension is related to the ability to apply to the program by purchasing property that is located in urban areas, such as Lisbon and Porto, and many coastal areas. In addition to this, most investment options will become more expensive. 

5. Will all types of real estate acquisition be affected by the changes?

Yes, if you are looking to invest in Portugal residential real estate, you will no longer be able to buy property in Lisbon, Porto, and many coastal areas, including much of the Algarve, the Silver Coast, and Setúbal, under the scheme. However, there are several excellent opportunities in interior areas, such as Peneda-Gerês, the Douro Valley, and the Alentejo. You are also free to buy commercial property anywhere in Portugal, with no location restrictions.

If you are looking to buy real estate in the Algarve, you will still be able to do so in Aljezur, Odeceixe, and Sagres. 

6. When are the changes going to take place?

The Portugal Golden Visa change is already in place, as of 1 January 2022.

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