What is the Golden Visa in Portugal?
The Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment program aimed at non-EU/EEA citizens seeking permanent residency.
The Portuguese government launched the Golden Visa program in October 2012 to boost the country’s economy by driving foreign investment. Today, the program is one of the most popular of its kind in the world and has raised over €6 billion.
With a range of investment options from real estate property to capital transfers, the program grants you a residency permit to live, work and study in Portugal. The country offers a high quality of life and affordable living costs. Those who qualify also benefit from greater freedom of movement, with visa-free access to 188 countries, including European Union countries in the Schengen Area.
The program also offers long-term benefits. Applicants can apply for Portuguese citizenship, permanent residence and an EU passport after holding residency status for five years. Portugal citizenship by investment is becoming increasingly popular due to the high standards of living that Portuguese residents enjoy.
Why is Portugal a popular citizenship by investment location?
The Portuguese Golden Visa program has helped thousands of families successfully relocate to Portugal, allowing them to enjoy a high quality of life and rich culture.
Portugal is the westernmost European country. Its colonies extended across Africa, Brazil, Persia, Indochina and the Malay Peninsula, creating one of the world’s most globalised and peaceful nations. Portugal is considered very safe and has a low crime rate. Although Portuguese is the official language, English is widely spoken in tourist regions.
Portugal is a member of the Schengen area and began using the Euro as its currency in 2002. While Portugal is shifting towards offering business-oriented services, a third of its economy remains in manufacturing. It is the world’s largest supplier of cork and enjoys the benefits of a strong tourism industry.
Portugal is renowned for its culture and architecture, which has had a widespread impact on most of the western world. Of course, Portuguese cuisine has huge appeal with many fish and pastry dishes, too. And we can’t fail to mention Portugal’s love of football.
The Portugal residency by investment programme allows you to be a permanent resident of this beautiful Mediterranean country. Here are some facts on the ‘land of Fado’ — Portugal’s renowned folk music known for its distinctive expressive nature. Also named as the world’s best place to retire.
Portugal has a population of just over 10 million, over an area of 92,212 km². The European country has one of the highest life expectancy rates at 81 years old.
The euro is the official currency of Portugal. After the US dollar, the euro is the second-largest and second-most traded currency in the world.
The capital city of Portugal is Lisbon. The capital is also Portugal’s largest city with an estimated population of 504,718.
Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. Over a quarter of the population speak English (27%). Spanish (10%) and French (15%) are also spoken in Portugal.
Portugal generally enjoys hot summers and wet winters.
As of 2018, the GDP of Portugal stood at nearly 238 billion dollars (US), with YoY growth for 2019 and 2020 estimated at 2% and 1.7% respectively, indicating a positive upward trend for the Mediterranean nation. The country’s GDP accounts for 0.38% of the total world economy.
How to Obtain a Golden Visa
A capital transfer of at least €500,000 in research activities can be made, or €250,000 in preserving national heritage in Portugal.
Capital transfer of at least €500,000 for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital funds for the capitalisation of companies whose maturity at the time of the investment is at least 5 years, and at least 60% of the value of investments will be realised in commercial companies based in Portugal.
€500,000 constitution of a commercial society with head office in Portugal and creation of 5 permanent working jobs.
€1,500,000 capital transfer to a Portuguese bank.
Invest in Property
Invest in residential property valued at €500,000 or more within designated interior areas of Portugal. Commercial property can be purchased anywhere in the country, as long as it is valued at €500,000 or more.
Invest in property valued at €350,000 or more for properties built before 1990, or located in urban regeneration areas designated for refurbishing. This applies to both residential and commercial properties.
Purchase of property fitting any of the above requirements with 20% reduction on the minumum amount of investment, if purchased in a low density population area (€400,000 or €280,000).
Create a minimum of 10 new job places. This requirement may be reduced to 8 job positions, provided the investment is made in sparsely populated territories (NUT III level with less than 100 inhabitants per sq.km, or with GDP per head less than 75% of national average).
Create 5 permanent jobs and invest €500,000 into a Portuguese business.
What are the benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa?
The Portugal Golden Visa remains one of the world’s most sought-after residency by investment programs due to the benefits it offers applicants and their families.
Some of the main benefits of the Portuguese Visa include:
Portugal offers a favourable tax regime, allowing foreign investors to become non-habitual tax residents.
After five years, you can begin your application to become a Portuguese citizen and obtain a permanent residence permit. As a citizen you can obtain a Portuguese passport, granting visa-free access to over 180 countries, as well as a Schengen Visa to access those countries along with the rest of the European Union.
You could see generous returns on your investment. Portuguese real estate investments have attractive yields of up to 7% and 5% average capital appreciation.
The Portugal Golden Visa gives you and your family greater freedom of movement. You are granted visa-free access to all 27 EU countries as a resident.
The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the more affordable programs in Europe, with investment options starting at €250,000.
Short minimum stay
You don’t need to stay in the country for too long to meet the minimum stay requirements – only a total of five weeks over five years.
Special tax regimes – Non-Habitual Residents (NHR)
The Portuguese government introduced the non-habitual resident (NHR) regime in 2009. NHR aims to attract foreign nationals by offering significant tax savings and exemptions.
For the first ten years, worldwide income is exempt from tax, and domestic earnings are taxed at a flat rate of 20%.
Portuguese income tax works on a scale system, starting at 14.5% and scaling up to 48%. However, NHRs are taxed at a flat rate of 20% on domestic income for ten years, meaning the total savings could be substantial.
Worldwide income such as capital gains, revenue earned from investment funds and rental income are all exempt from tax in Portugal.
The regime is open to anyone who meets the following residency requirements:
- Has the right to reside in Portugal
- Has not held tax residency status in the country in the last five years before applying
These favourable tax regimes are very well received by those applying for the Portugal Golden Visa.
For more information, our guide to NHR in Portugal gives a detailed breakdown of the special tax regime.
Who is eligible to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?
The following requirements must be met to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa.
To apply, you must be over the age of 18 and have a clean criminal record, both in Portugal and your country of origin and applicants must be non-EU citizens.
There are no language requirements as such. However, if you wish to become a permanent resident, you will need a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language.
As the main applicant, you can extend your Portuguese Golden Visa to family members. Eligible family members include:
- Children under 18
- Parents of the main applicant aged 65 or over
- Dependent children under 26 who are full-time students and unmarried
Family reunification in Portugal is a very popular reason why many choose the Portuguese Golden Visa as a path to residency.
The Portugal Golden Visa is open to all non-EU nationals. This includes US citizens and British nationals following Brexit.
Brexit has made UK passports limited when it comes to movement through European countries. If you are a British citizen, the Portugal Golden Visa can help restore that freedom of movement within the EU and Schengen Area.
Meet the Portuguese Golden Visa investment criteria
There is a range of different types of investments that qualify you for a Portuguese Golden Visa. Proof that the investment has been made is required, and you must own the money you intend to invest. Once the investment is made, you must commit to maintaining it for a minimum period of five years.
You must spend seven days in Portugal during the first 12 months to qualify. Then, a minimum of 14 days for each successive two-year period. This fulfils your temporary residence permit requirements before permanent residency is established.
What are the investment options for the Portugal Golden Visa?
There are several investment routes to securing a Portugal Golden Visa. Be aware that the minimum investment level is different for each option.
Remember, the Portugal Golden Visa is a temporary residence permit. One of the conditions is that you maintain your investment for the total duration you hold the golden visa. If you become a permanent resident or citizen after five years, you no longer need to keep the investment.
Below are the investment options available to secure Portuguese residency.
Real estate purchase
Investing in the local real estate market is the most popular option for those looking to secure a Portugal Golden Visa. Properties in Portugal fall into one of two categories – residential and commercial.
Residential property must be located within interior areas of the country or an autonomous region. Popular regions such as Lisbon and Porto are no longer included after the Portuguese Golden Visa changes in 2022.
The minimum investment for real estate is €500,000. If the property is in an urban regeneration area, the cost drops to €350,000.
A 20% discount applies to properties located in ‘low-density’ areas.
Unlike the previous option, commercial property can be bought anywhere in the country.
Investments start at €500,000, or €350,000 if the property is in an urban regeneration area. Again, a 20% discount is applied to properties in ‘low-density’ areas.
A minimum capital transfer totalling €1.5 million to the Portuguese government.
Contribute a minimum of €500,000 to a qualified investment fund.
Invest a minimum of €500,000 in a Portuguese company. Create a minimum of ten new full-time jobs or eight if the company is in a low-density area.
There are two donation options:
- Contribute €250,000 to approved art or national heritage project
- Donate €500,000 to scientific research institutions
What is the Portugal Golden Visa application process?
Although there are quite a few steps to obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa, the process itself is relatively straightforward.
You can complete most of the process remotely. However, some steps require you (and your family if included on your application) to be physically present. For example, you must attend a biometrics appointment to submit your fingerprints.
It usually takes three to six months for your residence card to be approved and issued. Be aware that the processing time can vary.
Below is a general overview of the process.
Portugal Golden Visa Stats
Since its launch in October 2012, 10,748 main applicants have been granted a Golden Visa. Of those, 17,752 family members have joined them, enjoying the benefits the scheme offers. Their investments have added over €6 billion ($6.3 billion) to the Portuguese economy.*
The graphic below gives a detailed breakdown of the Portugal Golden Visa statistics.
*Figures between October 2012 and May 2022
The first step is to pick an investment option that works for you. The real estate option makes up a significant portion of applications, often providing a stable ROI.
You will also need to gather the original documents ready to submit. A specialist can help you with this step to ensure all your documentation is correct before submitting your application.
NIF and open a Portuguese bank account
You will need to obtain a Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF), otherwise known as a tax identification number. Once you have this, you must open a bank account in Portugal. You do not need to be physically present for this step; your legal representative can carry it out for you through a Portuguese bank.
Make your investment
You will need to finalise your investment and pay the required sum at this stage.
Complete your online application
Once your investment is finalised and the paperwork is ready, your pre-application is submitted online.
Get your pre-approval
Your paperwork will be reviewed, and your application will be pre-approved as long as the requirements are met.
You will be provided with available dates for your biometrics appointment. Once you pick one that works for you, you will need to attend in person, along with any dependents included on your application.
Get your Portugal Golden Visa
You are your dependents will receive their Portuguese residence cards. Remember, this is a temporary residence card lasting two years. After two years, you will need to go through a renewal process to renew the card for another two years.
After completing a total of five years, you will become eligible to apply for either permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship and get your EU valid passport. The Portuguese citizenship application often takes around one year. At this point, you are no longer obligated to maintain your original investment.
Get a Portuguese Golden Visa with Holborn Pass
Holborn Pass offers global migration solutions to an international client base.
Our specialists work with some of the world’s most established and popular visa programs, law firms, developers, and financial institutions. This allows us to provide clients with a complete end-to-end service.
Our clients benefit from a bespoke service and comprehensive solutions, helping them secure dual citizenship and residency based on their needs. We’ve written a guide all about moving to Portugal, which could help you further understand why Portugal is such a popular destination for second citizenship.
Contact one of our citizenship and residency experts to find out how we can help you secure your Golden Visa in Portugal.
Portugal Golden Visa – Frequently Asked Questions
How much does the Portugal Golden Visa cost?
The minimum investment amount for the Portuguese Golden Visa is €250,000 ($300,000) if you invest in property.
Be aware that other costs such as government application fees and legal processing fees also apply. One of our specialists will discuss this with you in more detail, so you are aware of all costs upfront.
Do I need to live in Portugal with the Golden Visa?
No. You do not have to live permanently in Portugal to renew your Portugal Golden Visa or receive permanent residence or citizenship.
The minimum stay requirements for the Portugal Golden Visa are that you must stay in the country for at least seven days in the first year. You must remain in the country for 14 days for the following two-year period. Over the course of five years, this works out to five weeks in Portugal to get your permanent residence permit.
What is the Portugal Golden Visa process?
The initial Portuguese Golden Visa grants temporary residence for two years after the initial application. You can renew your temporary residence visa for two successive periods of two years at a time, as long as you continue to meet the requirements.
Obtaining a Golden Visa and citizenship in Portugal takes approximately five years.
What is the criteria for the Portuguese Golden Visa?
The requirements for the Golden Visa are quite simple:
- You and your immediate family have a clean criminal record
- You aren’t currently a citizen of an EU country (this applies if you are from the United Kingdom following Brexit, meaning UK citizens can apply for Portugal citizenship by investment program.)
- You have the required investment amount – the amount will change depending on the type of investment you choose.
As long as you meet the criteria above, we can start your application.
Portugal Golden Visa Application Process
The initial Golden Visa grants temporary residence for two years. The visa can be renewed for successive periods of two years at a time, providing that the requirements are met. The process of obtaining a Golden Visa and citizenship in Portugal takes approximately five years.
1-3 MonthsYour investment is secured, and your application is submitted
Month 6Golden Visa application is approved
Month 10Golden Visa cards are issued for a 2 year period.
Year 2Your Golden Visa is renewed for two years, providing that all the requirements have been met
Year 4Your Golden Visa is renewed for another two years, providing that all the requirements have been met
Year 5Application for citizenship is submitted
Year 6Citizenship is obtained and EU passports are granted