The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular and successful residency-by-investment programs in the world. However, from 1 January 2022, some significant Portugal Golden Visa changes came into play.
Since kicking off in 2012, thousands of investors have navigated the scheme and relocated to Portugal. The program is a five-year residency-by-investment scheme for non-EU nationals. It is part of Portugal’s drive to welcome investors to the country, boosting its 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 European Union (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 apply for Portuguese citizenship, provided 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, the Portugal Golden Visa’s new rules have significantly changed the program.
We’ll cover the latest changes in this article. For example, it is no longer possible to invest in residential real estate in the hotspot locations of Portugal, including Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algarve. We will provide you with everything you 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 the following:
- A history of the Portugal Golden Visa
- When did the new rules of the Portugal Golden Visa come into effect?
- What’s changed?
- Where can I invest with the Portugal Golden Visa?
- What has not changed?
- The digitalization of the Portugal Golden Visa
- Will it impact existing investments?
- How we can help you
A History of the Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa program was launched in 2012 and quickly became one of Europe’s most popular residency-by-investment schemes. 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, 11,263 investors and 18,479 family members have benefitted from the program, showing that it has been a roaring success. There are many reasons why the program is such a success. Portugal ranks in 6th position in the 2022 Global Peace Index, is regarded as a top country for expats, and has excellent healthcare and education systems.
Portuguese people are also exceptionally welcoming, going out of their way to make foreigners feel at home in their country. This is without mentioning the superb weather, personal freedoms, and entryway into the EU, where you can 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 Portugal Golden Visa program also offers several attractive investment routes that suit any investor profile. This includes buying real estate, investing in venture capital, research, arts, or an existing business.
When did the Portugal Golden Visa’s new rules come into effect?
These are the changes that came into effect on 1 January 2022.
2021 Minimum Amount Required 2022 Minimum Amount
Capital Transfer €1 m €1.5 m Real Estate €500,000 / €350,000 (urban renovation) Amounts remain the same; there will be geographical restrictions. Residential properties in Lisbon,
Porto, or along the coast won’t qualify
Investment Funds €350,000 €500,000 Job Creation €350,000 incorporation amount €500,000 incorporation amount Science and Research €350,000 €500,000
The Portugal Golden Visa changes are already in place, coming into force on 1 January 2022. The changes primarily relate to real estate and capital transfer investment options, although many investment pathways have become more expensive. Golden Visa applicants are now blocked from buying residential property in parts of Portugal that are not designated interior areas. This blocks off property in Lisbon, Porto, and many coastal regions, including much of the Algarve, the Silver Coast, and Setúbal.
In terms of capital transfer, the amount required to invest in the Golden Visa scheme increased from €1 m to €1.5 m.
The Portugal Golden Visa requirements for the investment fund, investment into research, and investments into an existing Portuguese-registered business increased from €350,000 to €500,000.
Portugal Golden Visa changes: Real estate changes
The Portuguese government has explained that these changes were implemented to instigate foreign investments in other parts of the country. While Lisbon and Porto’s real estate is thriving, the focus is now on developing the property market in Portugal’s interior areas. If you want to invest in Portugal real estate, take note of these essential changes.
Real estate investment for the Golden Visa is as follows:
- Investors cannot invest in residential property in popular urban areas such as Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algarve, and 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 percent discount is applied.
- Investors can buy commercial real estate anywhere in the country 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 percent discount will apply.
- Investors can 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 changes: Capital transfers changes
- The capital transfer requirement increased from €1 m to €1.5 m.
- 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 with the Portugal Golden Visa?
The Portuguese government is looking to boost investments in the county’s interior. Therefore, designated interior areas allow you 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 percent discount applies. Low-density areas are defined as territorial units (NUTS III) with fewer than 100 inhabitants per square km or a GDP per capita less than 75 percent of the national average.
Our article about Low Density & Interior Eligible Areas for the Portugal Golden Visa 2022 provides clear information on the differences between interior and low-density areas, including maps to help you understand where you can invest.
Portugal Golden Visa changes 2022: Best places to invest in:
Although the Portugal Golden Visa changes 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 promising regions to develop eco-tourism, wellness, innovation, and luxury projects — such as Peneda-Gerês, the Douro Valley, and the Alentejo.
Let’s suppose you want to make the most out of the 20 percent discount that applies to properties categorized as being in both an interior area and a low-density area. In this case, there are some excellent options worth considering. These include Aljezur, Odeceixe, and Sagres, fabulous locations in the Algarve where you can definitely get your sunshine fix.
The beautiful Madeira and Azores islands are also excellent options for investors. Although you will not be able to secure a discount (as they are considered high-density), the islands are considered interior areas. They will make an excellent investment option for prospective investors interested in the Golden Visa program. 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: €280,000 investment option
For an investment of €280,000, investors can purchase property in low-density areas in Portugal, allowing them to have all the benefits of EU residency through the Golden Visa.
To be eligible for this option and obtain the 20 percent 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 situated in a designated low-density area, and that is also classified as an interior.
Advantages 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, there are several reasons why low-density areas make the perfect investment. Here, we’ll run over some of the critical 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 annually, which makes a 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 provide an excellent quality of life in tune with nature.
- Cities in the interior of Portugal are becoming popular with 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 percent.
- 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 is considered one of the safest in the world.
What has not changed?
If you invest in Portugal, the Golden Visa investment options that have not changed are the following:
- The donation to the arts or the reconstruction of national heritage remained 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 purchasing a property in an urban area, the Golden Visa changes have not impacted your investment.
Will the Portugal Golden Visa changes impact existing investments in Porto and Lisbon?
You won’t be impacted by the Portugal Golden Visa changes if you are in the process of buying a home in a thriving urban area. But, as of 1 January 2022, you can only buy commercial property—not residential—in Lisbon, Porto, or many areas of the Algarve.
Portugal Digitalizes Golden Visa Applications
Additionally, the Portuguese government announced that Golden Visa applications will now be submitted digitally. Every document, including the document issuing the Portuguese Individual Tax Number, must be filed digitally. The change will allow a quicker application procedure for Golden Visas.
These are the main steps to get your Golden Visa in Portugal online:
- Speak to Goldcrest and decide what type of investment to choose
- Gather the necessary documents
- Get a NIF and open a bank account
- Submit an online application
- Finalize the investment
- Submit pre-application
- Schedule and attend your SEF appointment
- Get your Golden Visa
- Become a Portuguese Citizen
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.
The following articles may also be of interest to you:
- How to Get Portuguese Residency?
- Braga – Luxury Real Estate in the North
- The Silver Coast
- Living in Portugal as an American
If you want to secure a second passport or are interested in residency-by-investment schemes, you can contact 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.