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Golden Visa Guide For Portugal

The Portuguese Golden Visa program is one of the most popular of its kind in both Europe and the rest of the world and for good reason. The Portugal Golden Visa program is a residency by investment scheme designed for non-EU citizens and began in 2012. The reason for putting this scheme into place was to attract overseas capital into Portugal as the economic crisis of 2018 significantly impacted the economy.

The Golden Visa program has proved to be a great success and has been incredibly lucrative, raising €5.5 billion in just over eight years and giving expats the opportunity to live their dream overseas in sunny Portugal.

Portugal provides a beautiful setting to live in. With its stunning coastlines, fantastic cuisine and excellent climate, it's very easy to see why this is such an appealing destination to so many expats. As much as the sun and sea, it is for many as much about the lifestyle and the overall quality of life in Portugal.

With this in mind, having the freedom to live and work here, is a great privilege for many and not something to be taken lightly. Furthermore, the Portugal Golden Visa program provides the opportunity to become a permanent resident or a citizen in Portugal in only five years.

There are plenty of useful things to know about the Golden Visa, including a few on-going changes to how it works. So, with this in mind, we talk you through what you need to know about the Golden Visa in our comprehensive guide.

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portuguese Golden Visa programme is the name for Portugal’s real estate led residency programme. This program allows non-EU nationals and as well as their families the ability to travel to countries within the Schengen zone. After a period of five years, it is possible for them to apply for a Portuguese passport as well as a European residency.

What are some of the main benefits of the Golden Visa:

  • Portugal has the lowest investment threshold in Europe at €280,000.
  • You don’t need to permanently be based in Portugal in order to maintain your residency permit. You can remain eligible by staying in Portugal for up to seven days out of the year.
  • You are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship within five years. This is one of the fastest in Europe.
  • Once you are a Portuguese citizen, you receive visa-free access to 188 countries.

Who is eligible for a Golden Visa?

The scheme itself can be utilised by any individual who does not have a criminal record who is not a Portuguese, EU or EFTA citizen. The Portuguese Golden Visa is especially popular with investors who are based in China. Chinese nationals actually account for more than 50% of visa applicants.

As an investor or applicant, you might also want to include qualifying family members in their applications. This could be a marital partner, children, dependent parents or parent in-laws.

Obtaining a Golden Visa

The eligibility for a Golden Visa does differ from country to country, but in Portugal, you will need to provide the following:

  • That you own the money intended for investment.
  • Evidence that the money was acquired legally.
  • No history of criminal records.

How does the Golden Visa impact work and study?

The Portuguese Golden Visa permits you to not only live but also work and or study in Portugal. If you are planning to reside in Portugal continually with the Golden Visa, you will need to apply for medical insurance. This enables you to have access to all public services including healthcare and education.

State schools adhere to the Portuguese curriculum. Despite this, there are still plenty of options for you as there are plenty of international schools as well! Having a work permit means that you will be able to work anywhere or even start your own business in Portugal.

Extending the Golden Visa to family members

As previously mentioned, if you are the main applicant for a Golden Visa, you are going to be in a position to extend it to family members. Commonly, the following members of the family members tend to apply along with the main applicant:

  • A spouse
  • Children (under the age of 18 years old)
  • Dependent children under the age of 26, provided that they are full-time students and not in a married relationship
  • Parents of the applicant (over the age of 65 years old).

Tax considerations

A Golden Visa is not going to give you any tax responsibility unless you spend more than 183 days of the year in Portugal. If this was the case, you’d need to then register to be a tax resident of Portugal.

In Portugal, with the non-habitual residency (NHR) program, the country provides certain exemptions from income tax over the first ten years of residence. This changed slightly in 2020, exempting foreign pensioners from getting tax breaks because of their pension income.

Applying via real estate investment

There are several ways to apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa, but the most popular method is through a real estate investment. This is done via the following method:

  • Plan a visit in person - invest in a property at a minimum of €280,000.
  • Get your Portuguese tax number and open a bank account. You’ll need to carry out, powers of attorney and investment declarations.
  • Submit all your documents. This would include: a valid passport, property documentation, medical insurance, tax details from your country of residence as well as Portugal and a criminal record.
  • You need to be able to prove the proof of transfer of funds.
  • Schedule an appointment with immigration authorities (SEF) to get your final approval.
  • Get a temporary residency card - this can be up to 1 month after approval.

Are there any other requirements?

Applicants have to maintain the investment for at least five years and stay in Portugal for seven days per year until they apply for full citizenship or residency.

Can you receive a loan for a Golden Visa?

The short answer is no, you cannot. If you plan to invest in property as a way of ensuring residency, you will have to ensure that the money that is being invested is in your name. Factoring this in, no loans are permitted.

How is the Golden Visa set to change?

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme is going to change in January 2022. While the changes are yet to come into effect, there has been much discussion about how the Golden Visa program is going to change in light of this.

While it has been confirmed that no changes will happen until the beginning of 2022, there are a few changes likely to happen. It’s become apparent that all benefits will remain the same but it will no longer be possible to combine a golden Visa application with a property purchase in Porto, Lisbon and other coastal areas in Portugal.

The Azores, Madeira, Comporta are going to be unaffected by this. As well as this, the minimum fund investment will also rise up to €500,000. There are other areas in Portugal, however, that certainly do provide a huge amount of appeal in terms of investment. This includes the Douro Valley, Aljezur, Peneda-Gerês, and Madeira.

The bottom line

As previously mentioned, in order for you to qualify for a Golden Visa, individuals will need to invest a minimum €500,000 in real estate. However, it is worth noting that individuals only have to invest €350,000 in a property which is older than 30 years old which is planned for refurbishment. Or an investment of €280,000 if that same property is also based in a low-density location.

If you happen to be interested in starting a new life in Portugal and buying property in one of these locations, it's certainly advised you consider doing so sooner rather than later and before the changes come into effect in January 2022.

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