Since its launch in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa Scheme has become the most popular residence-by-investment program in Europe. Created to encourage international investors to bring their capital to Portugal, the program has generated investments totaling several billion euros, with thousands of family applications processed each year.

The scheme has attracted interest from many nationalities, including Chinese, Russian, and American investors. South African citizens, in particular, are increasingly drawn to the program, enticed by Portugal’s favorable climate, affordable living costs, and prime location. In this article, we will guide you through the process of applying for the Portugal Golden Visa as a South African citizen.

Portugal Golden Visa Last Updates

Five Years Naturalization Period

The recent amendment introduces a major shift in the calculation of the mandatory legal residency period required for citizenship. Now, the time from the submission of the temporary residency permit application until its final approval is included.

These changes are designed to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the Portuguese citizenship acquisition process through naturalization. The main goal is to address the significant issue of long waiting periods, representing a positive move towards a more streamlined and accessible route to citizenship.

Real Estate Investments are not Eligible

Effective October 2023, substantial modifications have been implemented in the Portugal Golden Visa program, especially concerning qualifying investments. Specifically, property purchases and investments in real estate-related funds have been removed from the list of eligible investment options.

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Portuguese Citizenship through the Golden Visa

Both Portugal and South Africa permit dual citizenship, allowing individuals to acquire Portuguese citizenship without giving up their South African citizenship. However, obtaining Portuguese citizenship requires holding the Golden Visa for a minimum of five years and maintaining the necessary investment.

Initially, the Portugal Golden Visa grants a two-year temporary residency permit, which can be renewed for an additional three years. It’s important to note that continuous residency in Portugal is not mandatory during this period; maintaining your status only requires visiting Portugal for an average of seven days per year.

To qualify for citizenship, you must meet the five-year residency requirement and pass a basic Portuguese language exam.

Investment Types for Portugal Golden Visa

The initial step toward obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa involves making an investment in Portugal. Several investment options are available, including:

  • Purchasing a property valued at €500,000 or aged over 30 years, and requiring renovation (no longer eligible)
  • Purchasing property in a low-density area with a minimum investment of €280,000 (no longer eligible)
  • Subscribing to a qualifying investment fund in Portugal for €500,000
  • Making a capital transfer of €1.5 million to Portugal (no longer eligible)
  • Establishing a company that generates a minimum of ten jobs for Portuguese citizens
  • Investing €250,000 in arts or national heritage refurbishment projects in Portugal.

The Benefits of a Golden Visa in Portugal for South Africans Citizens

Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa Program for South Africans

Bring Your Family Along

The program allows you to include your family members, ensuring they can all enjoy the benefits of residency in Portugal.

Live, Work, and Study in Portugal

Golden Visa holders have the freedom to live, work, and access educational opportunities in Portugal.

Obtain EU Citizenship

Upon fulfilling the residency requirements, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship, which grants you EU citizenship and all its associated benefits.

Cost-Effective Living

Portugal boasts a relatively low cost of living compared to other European nations, making it a favorable choice for South Africans. 

Travel Freely Within Europe

With Portuguese residency, you can enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, giving you access to numerous European countries.

Numerous International Schools

For those with children, Portugal has several international schools that provide quality education in English and other languages.

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How to get the Golden Visa for South Africans

Portugal Golden Visa Requirements for South Africans

To be eligible for the Golden Visa program, the main applicant must:

  • Be a citizen of a country outside the EU, Switzerland, and the EEA
  • Show proof of a dependable income source to meet the minimum investment criteria
  • Have a clean criminal background
  • Stay in Portugal for an average of at least 7 days per year
  • Retain the specified investment in Portugal throughout the five-year period

Golden Visa documents

The documentation required for the Portugal Golden Visa may vary and is subject to change at the discretion of the Portuguese Immigration Authorities. Below are the typical documents needed:

  • Golden Visa application form
  • Valid passport and, if applicable, a valid Schengen visa, for each applicant
  • Criminal record certificate
  • Applicant’s authorization for AIMA  to access their Portuguese criminal record
  • Valid health insurance coverage in Portugal
  • Proof of professional occupation, such as an employer-issued letter
  • Documentary evidence of family members’ eligibility for the visa
  • Certificate of no debts from Portuguese tax and insurance authorities
  • Signed statement confirming commitment to meet investment requirements
  • Evidence of the minimum investment
  • Letter from a local bank confirming funds transfer

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa

Step 1 – Familiarize with the Program Requirements

Start by understanding the key prerequisites of the Golden Visa program, including eligibility criteria and required documentation. Gather all necessary paperwork, such as a valid passport, a clean criminal record certificate, and any other supporting documents.

Step 2 – Set Up Your Fiscal Presence

To begin the Portugal Golden Visa process, obtain a Portuguese Tax Number (NIF) and appoint a fiscal representative. The NIF is essential for tax identification purposes. Additionally, you can open a bank account remotely for convenience.

Step 3 – Meet Your Investment Requirements

Choose an eligible investment option, such as purchasing real estate, transferring capital, creating jobs, investing in funds, or supporting scientific research. Complete the investment according to the guidelines for your chosen option.

Step 4 – Submit Your Application Online

Complete your Golden Visa application and submit it electronically via the Agency for Integration, Migration, and Asylum (AIMA) website. Ensure all required information is accurate, necessary documents are uploaded, and the application fee is paid.

Step 5 – Biometric Enrollment in Portugal

After submitting your application, schedule an appointment with AIMA in Portugal for biometric enrollment, including fingerprinting and a photograph. This step usually requires your physical presence in Portugal.

Step 6 – Wait for Golden Visa Approval

Once you have completed the biometric enrollment process, AIMA will review your application. If all criteria are satisfied and your application is approved, you will receive a residency permit (Golden Visa) valid for an initial period.

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Best cities in Portugal for South Africans


  • Vibrant Capital: Lisbon offers a dynamic cultural scene, bustling nightlife, and numerous job opportunities.
  • Expats Community: A large and welcoming expat community makes integration easier.
  • Educational Institutions: High-quality international schools and universities.


  • Charming Atmosphere: Known for its historic architecture and scenic Douro River views.
  • Cost of Living: Generally more affordable than Lisbon, while still offering urban amenities.
  • Cultural Richness: Renowned for its wine production and vibrant arts scene.


  • Coastal Living: Beautiful beaches and a relaxed lifestyle.
  • Proximity to Lisbon: Close to the capital, offering easy access to its amenities.
  • High Quality of Life: Excellent schools, healthcare, and safety.

Algarve (Faro, Lagos, Albufeira)

  • Sunny Climate: Enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year.
  • Resort Living: Known for its stunning beaches, golf courses, and luxury resorts.
  • Tourism Industry: Strong tourism sector offers various business and job opportunities.


  • Academic Hub: Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, providing a youthful and intellectual vibe.
  • Affordable Living: Lower cost of living compared to Lisbon and Porto.
  • Historic Charm: Rich in history and cultural heritage.

Madeira (Funchal)

  • Island Paradise: Subtropical climate and stunning natural beauty.
  • Quality of Life: High standard of living with excellent healthcare and safety.
  • Outdoor Activities: Perfect for hiking, diving, and other outdoor pursuits.
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Why to work with us?

Expertise in Portugal 

With our in-depth understanding of Portugal, we focus solely on this destination to provide you with the most detailed and relevant information.

Comprehensive Approach 

Experience a seamless process with one central point of contact for all your needs. Our service covers every aspect of your investment journey and Golden Visa application.

Transparency at Every Step 

Benefit from our honest recommendations, tailored to your best interests. Our pricing is transparent and competitive, and we prioritize efficiency to save you time and money.

Streamlined Process 

Harnessing the power of technology, we simplify paperwork and minimize your involvement. As clients ourselves, we understand your needs and strive to provide a hassle-free experience.

Frequently asked questions about the Portugal Golden visa for South Africans

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portugal Golden Visa is a residence-by-investment program that allows non-EU nationals to obtain a residency permit in Portugal by making a qualifying investment.

What are the benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa for South Africans?

  • Residency for Family: The visa extends to family members, including spouse, children, and dependent parents.
  • Travel Freedom: Visa-free travel within the Schengen Area.
  • Path to Citizenship: Eligibility to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years.
  • Quality of Life: Access to Portugal’s high standard of living, healthcare, and education.
  • Investment Opportunities: Various investment options, including real estate and business ventures.

Can family members of South Africans be included in the application?

Yes, the Golden Visa program allows for family reunification. You can include your spouse, children under 18, dependent children over 18 who are studying, and dependent parents.

What are the eligibility criteria for South Africans?

  • Non-EU Nationality: Must be a citizen of a country outside the EU, EEA, and Switzerland.
  • Investment: Make a qualifying investment in Portugal (e.g., real estate, capital transfer, job creation).
  • Clean Criminal Record: Provide a certificate of no criminal record.
  • Stay Requirement: Spend an average of at least 7 days per year in Portugal.

Do i need to live in Portugal holding a Golden Visa?

No, continuous residency in Portugal is not required. You need to stay in Portugal for an average of at least 7 days per year.

What happens after five years holding a Golden Visa?

After holding the Golden Visa for five years and meeting the residency requirements, you can apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship. This includes passing a basic Portuguese language test.

Can i live in Portugal only with a South African passport?

No, you cannot live in Portugal permanently with just a South African passport. South Africans need a visa or residency permit to stay in Portugal for an extended period. Short visits for up to 90 days within a 180-day period are allowed without a visa, but for longer stays, you need to apply for an appropriate visa, such as the D7 Visa or the Golden Visa, depending on your situation.

Can South Africans retire in Portugal?

Yes, South Africans can retire in Portugal. The most common visa for retirees is the D7 Visa, also known as the Retirement Visa or Passive Income Visa. This visa is designed for individuals who have a stable income from pensions, investments, or other sources and wish to live in Portugal. The D7 Visa allows retirees to enjoy Portugal’s favorable climate, affordable cost of living, and high quality of life.

What's the difference between the Portugal D7 Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa?

Income vs. Investment: The D7 Visa is based on having a stable passive income, while the Golden Visa requires a significant financial investment.

Residency: The D7 Visa has stricter residency requirements compared to the Golden Visa, which requires only minimal presence in Portugal.

Target Audience: The D7 Visa is ideal for retirees and those with independent means, whereas the Golden Visa is suited for investors seeking residency through investment.