IMPORTANT: Portugal has ended its Golden Visa Program as of February 2023. The country will no longer grant residence permits when individuals invest in property under this scheme. The following article is old information and is no longer relevant.
Retirees, entrepreneurs, and wealthy individuals have the opportunity to claim permanent residency and even citizenship with the Portugal Golden Visa.
This unique visa opportunity allows third-country nationals to invest in specific projects, funds, and real estate to obtain residency in Portugal. This is perfect for retirees and people looking to diversify their assets.
As one of the more affordable countries in Europe with a gorgeous coastline, exquisite cuisine, and beautiful cities, Portugal welcomes newcomers with open arms to the country. With well-known destinations such as Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, foreigners are quickly realizing the true potential and high-quality life that Portugal has to offer.
Launched in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa program is officially known as the residence permit for investment activity (ARI). Over the years, thousands of visas and residence permits have been granted to non-EU citizens to live in Portugal.
Overall the application process takes a little over six months to complete. The initial residence permit is valid for two years, which you can renew for another three years. After five years of holding Portuguese residency, you may apply for permanent residency or citizenship.
By the end of this article, you’ll know the benefits of obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa, the investment requirements, and how to submit your application. Plus, we’re sharing the number one secret on how to submit your application quickly and efficiently.
What is a Golden Visa?
Before jumping into the details about the Portugal Golden Visa, we should first determine what exactly a Golden Visa is.
A Golden Visa is a program that allows foreign nationals to obtain residency and sometimes even citizenship by making a government-approved investment. These investments can be real estate, businesses, bonds, and other government programs.
These visas are excellent for retirees and wealthy individuals who want to diversify their assets and residencies.
Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa
There are so many more benefits to obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa other than having the chance to live full-time or part-time in a beautiful European country.
While there are excellent lifestyle benefits, there are also great professional and financial rewards when you get the Portugal Golden Visa.
Renewable Residency Permit
When your Portugal Golden Visa is approved, you will receive a residence permit for two years initially. You may then renew the permit for an additional three years if you still hold your approved investment.
There is a minimum stay requirement to keep your residence permit valid. During the first two years, you must be present in Portugal for at least 14 days. When you renew it for the additional three years, you must spend at least 21 days in Portugal during that time.
Compared to other Golden Visas, these requirements are considered very lenient and “low-stay.”
After holding Portuguese residency for a total of five years, you may apply for permanent residency. This means you will no longer have to renew your permit as you are considered a permanent resident of Portugal.
Path to Citizenship
One of the major benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa is the opportunity to obtain Portuguese citizenship. After five years of legally living in the country, you may apply to become a Portuguese citizen.
To be eligible for citizenship you must meet the following requirements:
- Have held Portuguese residency for five years
- No outstanding taxes owed to Portugal
- Clean criminal record from your home country and Portugal
- Passed a Portuguese language test at an A2 level
Obtaining a second passport can be extremely beneficial, especially if it is stronger than your first passport.
Visa-Free Travel in Schengen Area
When you hold residency in Portugal, thanks to the Golden Visa, you will get to take advantage of visa-free travel through Schengen countries.
This means you don’t have to go through border control or checks when crossing into member countries.
When you apply for the Portugal Golden Visa, you may also bring your immediate family members with you.
These family members include your spouse, dependents, and parents. They will also obtain a Portuguese residence permit and can take advantage of all these benefits too.
Favorable Tax Rates
There are favorable tax schemes that Portugal Golden Visa holders can take advantage of.
If you are present in Portugal for less than 183 days out of the year, then you are not liable for paying taxes to the country.
However, if you choose to relocate to Portugal full-time, you can be exempted from income tax for ten years with the non-habitual residency program (NHR).
When you invest in real estate to obtain your Portugal Golden Visa, you can expect your property tax rate to be between 0.3% and 0.5% per year. However, if you own property in a rural area, this could increase to 0.8%.
Minimal Time Required in Portugal
As previously mentioned, there is a low-stay requirement for holders of a residence permit from the Portugal Golden Visa.
To keep your residency permit valid, you must spend at least seven days every year physically present in Portugal.
Who is Eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa?
To be eligible to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a non-EU/EA citizen
- Clean criminal record from your country of origin and in Portugal
Of course, you must also make the required investment amount with funds that come from outside Portugal.
Portugal Golden Visa Investment Requirements
There are multiple investment paths you can take to be eligible to obtain the Portugal Golden Visa. Below, we list each approved investment opportunity to help you see your options.
Purchasing an approved property according to the Portugal Golden Visa investment requirements is the most popular opportunity people take advantage of. Applicants can invest in real estate and call it their home, rent it out, or use it as a vacation home in return for Portuguese residency.
They will also reap the benefits when the home’s value increases over time.
When it comes to investing in real estate to obtain the Portugal Golden Visa, applicants must abide by certain regulations.
The real estate investment amounts are as follows:
- 500,000€ for residential or commercial property acquired in high-density areas
- 400,000€ for residential or commercial property acquired in low-density areas
- 350,000€ for residential or commercial property for a renovation that is older than 30 years and located in a high-density urban rehabilitation area
- 280,000€ for residential or commercial property for a renovation that is older than 30 years and located in a low-density urban rehabilitation area
Investors may purchase multiple properties to be eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa as long as the total investment amount meets the criteria.
Multiple people may purchase a property, and both receive the visa as well if the investment amount is met by each individual.
For example, a property worth 1€ Million may be purchased by two people for 500,000€ each. Both can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa.
There are also location restrictions as to where you can purchase an eligible property for the visa. Residential properties located in Porto, Lisbon, or coastal towns on mainland Portugal are ineligible for the Golden Visa. However, commercial property in these areas is eligible.
For entrepreneurs who are interested in applying for the Portugal Golden Visa, there are additional investment opportunities.
One of these opportunities includes opening a Portuguese business that creates ten new full-time jobs. However, if you form a business in a categorized low-density area, you only need to create eight new full-time jobs to qualify for the visa.
Another option is to invest 500,000€ in an already established Portuguese company that creates five full-time jobs for the next three years.
Applicants simply looking to invest their money to get some returns as well as the Portugal Golden Visa, they can invest 500,000€ in a qualifying investment fund.
Investors can expect to receive their returns after six to ten years. They must hold the investment for a minimum of five years, though.
Another qualifying investment is to make a capital transfer of 1.5€ million into a Portuguese bank account.
While this may be the easiest qualifying investment to make with minimal amount of research, it may not have the desired ROI many investors look for.
Additionally, investors can make donations to approved causes to receive the Portugal Golden Visa. The two options are as follows:
- 250,000€ invested to preserve national heritage and art in Portugal
- 500,000€ invested in research and development activities in Portugal
There are multiple investment options for various amounts. These opportunities are excellent for many people interested in business, real estate, heritage, and more.
How to Apply for the Portugal Golden Visa
Applying for the Portugal Golden Visa is a fairly straightforward process. However, it does take a little over six months to complete if everything goes smoothly.
It is recommended to work with a professional immigration lawyer when applying for the Portugal Golden Visa. Getting experienced assistance will ensure you make the right investment and get your visa faster.
Step 1: Decide on Your Investment
The very first thing you must do when obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa is to decide which investment you would like to make.
We recommend diving deep into the implications of each investment and how it will fit into your lifestyle.
If you decide to purchase qualifying real estate, this can tack some time onto your visa process as you will need time to find the property you wish to purchase.
Step 2: Open a Portuguese Bank Account & Obtain an NIF Number
After deciding which investment you plan to move forward with, you must open a Portuguese bank account and obtain a Portuguese tax identification number (NIF).
You will need these two things to make your qualifying investment.
First, you must obtain your NIF number, which will allow you to open a Portuguese bank account. To get your NIF number on your own, you must be present in Portugal and bring proof of address from your resident country and government ID to a Finanças office.
However, if you work with an immigration lawyer and grant them power of attorney, they can obtain the NIF number and open the bank account for you.
Step 3: Make Your Investment
Before making your investment, you must fund your Portuguese bank account with funds that come from abroad.
To make your qualifying investment, the money must come from your Portuguese bank account, which is supplied with your foreign funds.
Step 4: Submit Visa Application & Documents
After finalizing your investment, you may submit your application for the Portugal Golden Visa. When working with an immigration lawyer, they will submit it for you.
Along with the application, you will need to submit the following documents:
- Copy of Passport
- Proof of the Qualifying Investment
- Declaration of Funds Transfer to a Portuguese Bank
- Health Insurance Policy with Coverage in Portugal
- Certified Criminal Record (Issued in the Last Three Months)
- Certification of Good Standing with Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority
- ARI Application Fee Receipt (533€ per applicant/83€ per dependent and 5,325€ per person)
It’s important to note that all of these documents must be translated into Portuguese and legalized with an apostille if they do not originate from Portugal.
Step 5: Attend SEF Appointment
When you submit your application, you will then schedule a SEF appointment. Usually, you will wait one to two months until your appointment.
At the SEF appointment, they will take your fingerprints. This signifies that your application is official and your residence cards will be issued.
Step 6: Collect Your Portugal Golden Visa & Residence Permits
It will take about four months to receive your official residence cards aftery the SEF biometrics appointment.
When working with an immigration lawyer, they can collect the cards for you if you are not present in Portugal.
These initial residence permits are valid for two years and can then be renewed for an additional three before you can apply for permanent residency.
Frequently Asked Questions
Obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa can be a long and sometimes complicated process. Below are some of the most asked questions concerning the process and implications of getting the visa.
How Do I Renew My Portuguese Residence Permit?
One to three months before your residence permit expires, you must renew it. To do this, schedule another appointment at SEF. You will need to provide the same documents you intially brought but updated and issued within the last three months.
The cost to renew your residence permit is 533€ per applicant/83€ per dependent plus 2,663€ per person.
Can I Get a Mortgage to Purchase Portuguese Property?
The government expects you to provide the required amount for the qualifying investment from outside of Portugal.
However, if the price of the property you’re purchasing exceeds the required investment amount, you may get a Portuguese mortgage to cover the additional cost.
Can I Take Out a Loan to Make My Investment?
If you do not have the required investment amount sitting in your bank account abroad, you may be able to take out a loan to cover the investment. However, this loan must originate from a country other than Portugal.
You must then move the funds into your Portuguese bank account in order to make your qualifying investment.
Is There a Minimum Stay Requirement in Portugal?
To keep your residence permit valid with the Portugal Golden Visa, you are required to spend seven days of every year physically in the country.
Will I Owe Taxes in Portugal?
If you spend 183 days or more in Portugal during the year, you will be obligated to pay taxes. However, if you spend less time, then you will not owe taxes.
However, if you own property or collect rent from your Portuguese property, you will owe property tax and rent income tax, which is 28%.
Can I Work and Study in Portugal with the Golden Visa?
Yes, obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa gives you and your dependents the right to work and study in Portugal as residents.
Should I Work with a Lawyer to Apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?
While it is possible to obtain the Portugal Golden Visa on your own, it can prove to be difficult and take much longer than six months.
The easiest and fastest way to apply for and get the visa is to work with a professional immigration lawyer. They can help you identify the right qualifying investment for your situation, gather documents, get a NIF, and open your bank account.
Overall, an immigration lawyer will streamline the process and ensure you are in compliance with laws and regulations pertaining the visa.
Get Personal Assistance with Your Portugal Golden Visa Application
Are you ready to diversify and invest in a Portuguese lifestyle?
When it comes to obtaining a Golden Visa, it’s always a good idea to work with a professional immigration lawyer. Since they are familiar with the process, investment rules, and how the country operates, they can get your visa faster and conflict-free.
Nomads Embassy is here to help you get started on your Portugal Golden Visa application right away!
We have hand-selected immigration lawyer partners in Portugal waiting to get you started on your investment and claim residency in the gorgeous European country.