The Portugal Golden Visa remains one of the most attractive options for those seeking to obtain Portuguese citizenship, gain free access to the Schengen Area, and have the opportunity to hold a Portuguese passport.

October 2023 latest changes

The new law came into effect on Saturday, October 7, and real estate investments are no longer accepted as a qualifying investment for the Portugal Golden Visa. However, the good news is that there are several alternative ways of applying for the Golden Visa program.

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Golden Visa program in Portugal, also known as the Residence Permit Program, is an investment immigration program that grants residency and citizenship rights to foreign investors who make a significant economic contribution to the country. It was introduced in 2012 to attract foreign investment and stimulate the Portuguese economy.

The Golden Visa program in Portugal provides an expedited pathway for individuals to obtain Portuguese citizenship by investment, thereby granting them a Portuguese passport. With this passport, individuals gain the freedom to live and work in any European Union country.

Who is eligible for the Golden Visa?

All non-EU citizens who conduct an investment activity, as an individual business person or through a company set up in Portugal or in another EU Member State may apply for a Residence Permit for Investment. Portuguese, EU and EEE nationals are not eligible for the ARI / Golden Visa scheme.

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Portuguese Golden Visa Investment Options

1. Investment funds

Contribution of €500,000 or higher, for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds under the Portuguese legislation, whose maturity, at the moment of the investment, is, at least, of five years and, at least, 60% of the investments is realized in commercial companies with head office in national territory.

2. Business Investment

Minimum investment of €500,000 for constitution of a company in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent working jobs, or for the reinforcement of the share capital of a company already existing in Portugal, with the creation or keeping of minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years. If the investment is located in a ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

3. Scientific research

Capital transfer with a value equal to or above €500,000 for investing in research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technologic system. If the investment is located in a designated ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

4. Cultural heritage contribution

Known as the Cultural Golden Visa, donation of a minimum of €250,000 for investing in artistic output or supporting the arts, for reconstruction or refurbishment of the national heritage, through the local and central authorities, public institutions or, private foundations of public interest. If the investment takes place in a ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

5. Job Creation

Incorporating a company and creation of at least, ten jobs positions. If the investment is located in a designated ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.

Portugal Golden Visa Low Density Areas

Low-density territories, as per the stipulations of Ordinance No. 208/2017, enacted on July 13th, 2017, are geographic regions characterized by specific demographic and economic criteria. 

These criteria include having a population density of fewer than 100 inhabitants per square kilometer, signifying that these areas are sparsely populated. Or, a low-density territory is identified as one where the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) falls below 75% of the national average

Benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa

Mobility

Portugal’s Golden Visa allows you visa-free entry and circulation through the Schengen Area.

Live, Work, Study

Once you become a resident in Portugal you are entitled to conduct any professional activity as an independent professional and you gain access to the National Education Service, schools, and vocational training.

Short stay requirement

One of Portugal’s Golden Visa requirements is a minimum stay of seven days during the initial year, followed by an additional requirement of 14 days for each subsequent two-year period.

Flexible Investment

Flexible and affordable investment options starting at €280,000

Family Reunion

You are entitled to bring your family members who are already in Portugal or who will be joining you in Portugal. You may request family reunification in SEF at the same time as your visa application, or after you have received your visa.

The following is the list of family members that may qualify for family reunification under the Golden Visa:

  • Your spouse or partner.
  • Your children under 18 years of age or incapacitated children of the couple or of one of their spouses/partners.
  • Children over 18 years of age who are dependent on you or your spouse which means that they are single and studying.
  • Your parents or your spouse/partner’s parents if they are dependent on you.
  • You minor siblings.

Path to Citizenship

After five years of legal residency, you may apply for permanent residency or to citizenship. However, in this case you’ll have to pass a Portuguese language test.

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Portuguese Golden Visa Tax Benefits

If you decide to become a Portugal tax resident you gain access to a special tax regime known as NHR (non-habitual resident). 

Under this program, you are exempt from or pay very little taxes on any foreign-sources income. The benefits of non-habitual resident Portugal includes:

  • Special individual tax treatment on incomes for a period of 10 years
  • Differentiation between Portuguese-sourced and foreign-sourced income
  • Trend for exemption on the foreign-sourced passive income
  • Flat rate (20%) for high value-added activities
  • Tax residency within the EU in a white-listed country
  • Exemption of tax on gifts or inheritance to family members
  • No wealth tax
  • Free cash remittance to Portugal

Here you can find a detailed guide for the NHR Portugal Tax regime.

Portugal Golden Visa Healthcare Benefits

After obtaining your Golden Visa and if you become a resident in Portugal (spending more than 183 days in the country) you gain access to the National Healthcare, also called SNS (Serviço Nacional de Saúde) that covers primary and secondary healthcare needs. 

To access healthcare services in Portugal, it is necessary to register at your local health center (Centro de Saúde). If you are not a resident in Portugal, it is recommended to have private health insurance that provides coverage in Portugal.

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Golden Visa minimum stay requirement

The Portugal Golden Visa program requires a minimum stay of seven days during the initial year, followed by an additional requirement of 14 days for each subsequent two-year period.

When applying for visa renewals, the Portuguese border agency may request evidence of your compliance with the minimum stay requirements. This evidence can be provided in the form of passport stamps, flight tickets, and proof of accommodation.

It is important to note that your eligibility for permanent residency or citizenship after five years is not affected by the actual duration of your stays in Portugal under this investment visa program, as long as you meet the minimum stay requirements.

Portugal Golden Visa Costs

Government Fees

When submitting your application, please take into account the Immigration Office (SEF) fees, which encompass both the permit fees and biometrics/application fees. These fees are applicable per person and it is important to note that they are subject to annual revisions. 

Consultancy Fees

While the specific services offered by consultancy firms for the Portugal Golden Visa program may vary, here are some common consultancy services that are typically provided:

Investment Guidance: expert advice and guidance on the various investment options available for the Portugal Golden Visa program, helping applicants select the most suitable investment route.

Due Diligence: conducting thorough due diligence on the chosen investment opportunity to verify its legitimacy and compliance with program requirements.

Documentation Preparation: assistance in the preparation and review of the required application documents, ensuring they meet the regulatory requirements.

Application Submission: submission and processing of the Golden Visa application on behalf of the applicant and liaising with relevant authorities

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Portugal Golden Visa application process

Step 1 – General Requirements

Familiarize yourself with the general requirements of the Golden Visa program, including eligibility criteria and necessary documentation. Prepare the required paperwork, such as a valid passport, criminal record certificate, and other supporting documents.

Step 2 – Setup your NIF and Bank Account

To apply for the Portugal Golden Visa, you need to obtain a Portuguese Tax Number (NIF) and appoint a fiscal representative. The NIF is a unique identification number that is required for tax purposes. Opening a bank account can be done remotely.

Step 3 – Complete your investment

Choose an eligible investment option, such as real estate, capital transfer, job creation, investment funds, or scientific research. Make the required investment according to the specific criteria of your chosen option.

Step 4 – Online application

Submit your Golden Visa application online through the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) website. Provide all the required information, upload the necessary documents, and pay the application fee.

Step 5 – Biometrics in Portugal

Once your application is submitted, schedule an appointment with SEF in Portugal to provide your biometric data, including fingerprints and a photograph. This step typically requires your physical presence in Portugal.

Step 6 – Golden Visa approval

After completing the biometric appointment, the SEF will review your application. If all requirements are met and the application is approved, you will receive a residency permit (Golden Visa) valid for an initial period.

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Portuguese Golden Visa timeline

Although the execution timings are the responsibility of the immigration authorities, here’s a summary of the Golden Visa timeline.

Tmeline Portugal Golden Visa

Portugal Golden Visa Renewals

The Golden Visa residency permits have an initial validity of 2 years and are subsequently renewed every 2 years. The first renewal occurs at the conclusion of the second year, following the issuance of the residency card, while the second renewal takes place at the end of the fourth year. 

Golden Visa Renewals Requirements

  • Investors and their family members are required to adhere to a minimum stay of 14 days in Portuguese territory within each residence card’s validity period.
  • Renewals necessitate the submission of the same documents and the maintenance of all initial application conditions.
  • Every two years, all investment options must undergo an evaluation regarding their contributions to scientific and cultural activities, as well as their role in promoting foreign direct investment and job creation.
  • Throughout the Golden Visa period, investors are obligated to maintain their investments free from encumbrances and financial burdens.

Documents Required for Portugal Golden Visa

The documentation required for the Portugal Golden Visa and listed below can be subject to change at the discretion of the Portuguese Immigration Authorities.

  • Golden Visa application
  • Valid passport and, if applicable, a valid Schengen visa, for each applicant.
  • Criminal record certificate 
  • Applicant’s permission for SEF to access his/her Portuguese criminal record.
  • Proof of residence, which can be in the form of a recent utility bill, or a recent bank statement
  • Proof of having obtained health insurance valid in Portugal.
  • Proof of professional occupation, such as a letter issued by the employer, should be submitted.
  • Documentary evidence of the eligibility of family member applicants
  • Certificate of no debts from the Portuguese tax and insurance offices
  • Signed statement affirming their commitment to meet the investment requirements
  • Evidence of the minimum investment
  • Letter from a local bank confirming the funds’ transfer.

Translation and Apostille Golden Visa Documents

Translation and Apostille of Golden Visa documents are crucial steps for individuals looking to participate in residency or citizenship-by-investment programs in various countries, including the highly sought-after Portugal Golden Visa. 

Translation of Golden Visa Documents

Most investment migration programs have specific requirements for the language in which documents should be submitted. In the case of the Portugal Golden Visa, many documents need to be translated into Portuguese. 

Apostille of Golden Visa Documents

The apostille process involves certifying the authenticity of legal documents. In the context of Golden Visa programs, it often means that documents issued in one country are validated for use in another. For example, if an applicant’s birth certificate or marriage certificate is from a country outside Portugal, it may need to be apostilled to confirm its legitimacy. If the country responsible for issuing the document is not part of the Hague convention then an authenticatin is needed.

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Portugal Golden Visa Statistics

According to SEF statistics, spanning from the inception of the Golden Visa program in October 2012 through April 2023, there has been a total investment of €6,994,565,457.86. 

Golden Visa Holders and Family Members

During this period, a total of 12,037 Golden Visa holders have been granted, with an additional 19,600 visas issued for family members. These figures illustrate the program’s substantial impact on investment and residency in Portugal.

Top 5 Golden Visa Nationalities

Regarding the top investors nationalities, China is leading with 5319 applicants, showcasing a substantial interest in Portugal’s residency program. Brazil follows closely behind with 1203 applicants, reflecting the growing appeal of Portugal as a destination for investment and residency. 

From across the Atlantic, the United States (USA) contributes 635 individuals to the Portugal Golden Visa program, while Turkey and South Africa also feature prominently with 571 and 532 participants, respectively.

Golden Visa issued by type of investment

Analyzing by type of investment SEF Statistics shows that real estate property purchasing is the more popular option among Golden Visa applicants, with 10,957 individuals or 91% of applicants choosing this route. In contrast, the capital transfer option has been selected by 1,058 individuals, making up 9% of the total applicants.

Why invest with Portugal Residency Advisors in Portugal?

Local Expertise

We know Portugal. Due to our extensive local knowledge, we believe that concentrating our services in a single country destination is the best way to give you the most thorough and useful information. 

Holistic Approach

One single channel of communication for the entire process. We provide you with a comprehensive service that covers all aspects of your investment and Golden Visa application. 

Transparent Service

We recommend what’s best for you based on an extensive process experience that saves time and money to clients. Our pricing is clear and competitive, and we don’t sell services that make us more money.

Simple Process

Technology plays a very important role in our company. We minimize our clients’ involvement in paperwork. We are customers ourselves and we know how to serve you.

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Frequently asked questions about the Portugal Golden Visa program

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

This program is classified as a second residence through investment initiative, whereby individuals who invest in Portugal are entitled to obtain residency status along with associated privileges, including access to education, social services, employment opportunities, and healthcare. 

Furthermore, participants in this program gain entry to the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within every 180-day period. Additionally, after a period of five years, they become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

What are the investment options available for the Portugal Golden Visa program?

After the last changes from October, 7, 2023, the main investment options include job creation, investment funds, or scientific research.

What is the minimum investment required for the Portugal Golden Visa program?

The minimum investment varies depending on the investment option chosen. For the investment in Arts and cultural heritage is €250,000.

Can family members be included in the Golden Visa application?

Yes, family members, such as a spouse, children, and dependent parents, can be included in the Golden Visa application.

What are the benefits of the Golden Visa Portugal program?

The program grants residency rights, allows visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, and provides access to healthcare (in case of tax resident) and education systems. After five years, it may lead to permanent residency or citizenship.

Do I need to learn Portuguese to apply for the Golden Visa?

No, there is no language requirement for the Portugal Golden Visa application.

Can I work in Portugal with a Golden Visa?

Yes, Golden Visa holders have the right to work and live in Portugal. They can also establish and manage businesses.

Can I apply for citizenship in Portugal through the Golden Visa program?

Yes, after five years of holding a Golden Visa and meeting certain requirements, it is possible to apply for Portuguese citizenship by investment.

Can I include my children who are over 18 years old in the Golden Visa application?

Yes, dependent children who are over 18 years old and financially dependent on the main applicant can be included in the application.

Can I sell the property I purchased for the Golden Visa after obtaining the residency permit?

Yes, you can sell the property after obtaining the residency permit. However, you will need to maintain the investment requirement for the required period.

Are there any tax obligations for Golden Visa holders in Portugal?

Yes, as a resident in Portugal, you will have tax obligations. It is important to consult with a tax advisor to understand your specific tax liabilities and obligations.

Can I include other family members, such as grandparents or siblings, in the Golden Visa application?

No, the Golden Visa program only allows for the inclusion of a spouse, dependent children, and dependent parents in the application.

Is the Golden Visa Program still in force?

Yes, the program was established back in 2012 and has undergone recent revisions, resulting in the removal of certain investment options tied to the real estate sector. This updated legislation has been in effect since October 2023.

Is it mandatory for me to live in Portugal with the Golden Visa?

No, Golden Visa holders are required to spend a minimum of 14 days in Portugal every two years. Therefore, the Golden Visa typically does not have an immediate tax impact on a personal level unless the applicant chooses to make Portugal their permanent residence.

What are the current available options of investment?

i) Creation of minimum of 10 job positions. 

ii) Transferring a minimum capital of €500,000, allocated to research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions integrated into the national scientific and technological system. 

iii) Transferring a minimum capital of €250,000, earmarked for investment in or support of artistic production, restoration, or preservation of the national cultural heritage, in collaboration with accredited public entities or private foundations with public utility status. 

iv) Transferring a minimum capital of €500,000, intended for the acquisition of shares in non-real estate collective investment entities established under Portuguese law, with a minimum maturity of five years at the time of investment, and where at least 60% of the investments’ value is directed toward companies based in Portugal. 

v) Transferring a minimum capital of €500,000, either for establishing a company headquartered in Portugal while creating a minimum of 5 permanent job positions or for increasing the social capital of an already established company in Portugal, with the creation of at least 5 permanent jobs or the preservation of at least 10 jobs, including a minimum of 5 permanent employees, for a minimum period of 3 years.

Are there any advantages to investing in Portugal's interior regions?

Indeed, the Job Creation, Cultural, and Scientific investment options offer a 20% reduction in the minimum investment requirement when situated within municipalities and parishes designated as “interior territories” with fewer than 100 inhabitants per square kilometer or a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) below 75% of the national average.

Is any type of real estate investment eligible?

No, recent revisions to the law have prohibited all forms of real estate investment, whether direct or indirect, regardless of the chosen investment option.

It is obligatory to open a Portuguese bank account?

No, there is no mandatory requirement. Nevertheless, the law does stipulate the need for a declaration issued by a bank authorized to operate in Portugal, verifying the utilization of foreign capital in the investment. Therefore, it is strongly advisable for each investor to establish a bank account.

Does the Golden Visa require renewals?

Yes, Golden Visa residency permits have an initial validity of 2 years and are subsequently renewed every 2 years. The updated legislation does not impede the renewal of existing cases, including those granted based on investment options that have since been revoked.

What is the current processing time?

At present, applications may require between 18 to 24 months for processing. The processing authority, SEF, is currently undergoing restructuring, and a new entity is expected to take over administrative processing of residence applications in 2023. This transition could potentially have a substantial impact on processing times.

What is the cost of a Golden Visa?

The government fees are subject to annual adjustments. Presently, there is an analysis fee of €581.76 per person, €5,817.60 per person for each initial card, and half of this amount for card renewals.

Will the Portugal NHR end?

The Portuguese Prime Minister has recently announced that the NHR (Non-Habitual Resident) program will undergo a review in 2024 and could potentially be terminated.