Portugal Golden Visa Delays 2021 & COVID-19 Updates

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Portugal was initially lauded for its efficient response to slowing down the virus spread. At first, Portugal recorded approximately a tenth of the number of cases with a mortality rate of just 3% compared with over 10% in Spain, Italy, and the UK. With regards to Coronavirus and the Portugal Golden Visa, initial disruptions to the program included pausing face-to-face biometric visits before resuming operations in July 2020. Other than that, it’s been business as usual for Portugal’s esteemed residency by investment initiative.

In this Portugal Golden Visa delays and COVID-19 update article, we cover the following:

  • Program updates in relation to COVID-19-related disruptions
  • Coronavirus and Portugal Golden Visa delays and program changes
  • COVID-19 mobility restrictions

**Click here for the LATEST travel updates related to COVID-19**

COVID-19 and Portugal Golden Visa delays – Program Operation Status

  • The Portugal Golden Visa program is operating as usual. 
  • The application, including NIF (tax number) issuance, the initial SEF application, the opening of a bank account, and Notary, are open as usual.
  • Face-to-face interviews for biometrics have been resumed, but you must book an appointment beforehand. 
  • All documents related to the Portugal Golden Visa application are now submitted online. After the request is approved, you must appear in person for a biometric interview.

COVID-19 and Portugal Golden Visa program changes

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Portuguese government’s proposed Golden Visa scheme changes, which were to block investors from purchasing property in Portugal’s urban centers from 2021, were initially suspended. However, the government has recently ratified the legislation, which is set to roll out on 1 July 2021. 

What this means is, investors will no longer be able to snap up €500K properties in Portugal’s populated cities including the Silver Coast, coastal areas of the Algarve, Porto and Lisbon. All other investment routes to a Golden Visa will remain open. 

In fact, industry experts predict that this new legislation will even out gaps in the property sector, and drive more investment in Portugal’s low-density areas. According to the Portuguese foreign authority, SEF, Portugal Golden Visa statistics have shown an increase in investors choosing the Portugal investment fund golden visa route to residency.

Check out the latest changes to the Portugal Golden Visa Program here.

Latest COVID-19 related travel updates

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe, the Portuguese government has implemented travel measures to minimize the spread of the virus within Portugal. These measures are in effect under Portugal’s State of Emergency and are updated every 15 days.

Generally speaking, as of late, COVID-19 cases and death rates have been dropping nationwide and the situation appears to be improving. At the time of writing, Portugal is in a State of Calamity, due to be reviewed on 27 June 2021.

July 2021 travel updates: Entry and Exit Requirements

Air traffic to and from mainland Portugal is authorized for:

  • Flights to and from Portugal to and from countries that are part of the European Union and Schengen Area (Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland), to and from the United Kingdom, as well as to and from the United States of America;
  • Flights to and from Albania, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand, the Republic of North Macedonia, the People’s Republic of China, Serbia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, subject to reciprocity being confirmed;
  • Flights to and from Portugal to and from countries that are not part of the European Union or countries associated to the Schengen Area, exclusively for essential trips (namely, trips for professional, study, family reunion, health or humanitarian reasons);
  • Flights to allow national citizens or foreign citizens holding a residence permit in Portugal to return to Portugal and flights to allow foreign citizens who are in Portugal to return to their countries, provided they are promoted by the competent authorities of these countries.

All passengers whose flight has a destination or stopover in Portugal must present, at the moment of departure, laboratory evidence of a negative result from the nucleic acid amplification test (NAT) or rapid antigen test (RAT)1 for SARS-CoV-2 infection, carried out within the last 72 or 24 hours before boarding, respectively, with the exception of children under 12 years of age, under penalty of being denied boarding (including Portuguese citizens, residents in Portugal and their family members),

The presentation of the EU COVID Digital Certificate waives the need to perform screening tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection for travel reasons.

Passengers coming from South Africa, Brazil, India and Nepal and United Kingdom must, after entering mainland Portugal, comply with a prophylactic isolation period of 14 days, at home or at a place indicated by the health authorities, and an airport stopover in any of those countries is not considered as origin, and it is also necessary to fill in a pre-registration form.
Regardless of the origin of the flight, prophylactic isolation for 14 days upon arrival in Portugal is also mandatory for passengers who present a passport with an exit record from South Africa, Brazil, India or Nepal in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Portugal.
The prophylactic isolation does not apply to passengers whose stay in Portugal is less than 48 hours and to those who travel exclusively for the practice of sports activities integrated in international professional competitions.
Passengers from the United Kingdom are also exempt from prophylactic isolation if they have proof of vaccination carried out in that country and that proves the complete vaccination scheme of the respective holder, for at least 14 days, with a vaccine against COVID-19.
Presentation of an EU COVID Digital Certificate of vaccination or recovery exempts travel quarantine or isolation.

Trips to the Madeira Islands 

One of the following options must be presented:

1. Submit a negative test to COVID-19;
2. Present a medical document certifying that the holder has recovered from COVID-19 at the time of landing, issued within the last 90 days;
3. Present a vaccination certificate against COVID-19, respecting the period of activation of the immune system foreseen in the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC);
4. Perform a test on arrival and await the result in prophylactic isolation;
5. Perform voluntary isolation, for a period of 14 days, at home or in a hotel accommodation.
On direct flights to Madeira, a questionnaire must be completed in advance.
More information at www.visitmadeira.pt

Passengers flying to the Azores archipelago :

  • To visit the Azores, the SARS-CoV-2 screening test is MANDATORY, with a NEGATIVE result, making explicit reference to the identification of the person tested, the laboratory, the date of the test and the signature of the person responsible for its performance, which must be presented prior to boarding, in digital or paper support, without which boarding will be refused.
  • If the stay is longer than seven days, on the 6th and 12th day from the date SARS-CoV-2 first test was performed, the passenger must contact the health services of the county where they are staying so that a second test can be performed.
    In the case of direct flights to the Azores, completion of the epidemiological survey is compulsory.
    More information at www.visitazores.com

Flights to and from the European Union and Schengen Area

Air routes are subject to each individual European country’s decision, so it’s always better to check the border restrictions of each respective country before traveling. A good start is to check out Europa’s travel updates in relation to each country in the EU and Schengen Area.

Note that for the purposes of the recommendation, residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican should be considered residents of the European Union.

Without exceptions, you must present proof of a COVID-19 test at the time of departure, with a negative result, carried out in the last 72 hours, or a valid EU digital certificate.

Rules for countries outside the EU

Non-essential travels from and to the United States of America is allowed, provided that US citizens are fully vaccinated and can provide proof as such.

Flights to and from other countries (which are not members of the European Union or which are not countries associated with the Schengen Area) for “essential travel” only;

Flights intended to allow the return to Portugal of nationals or foreign citizens holding a residence permit in Portugal and flights intended to allow the return to their countries of foreign citizens who are in Portugal, provided that they are promoted by the competent authorities of those countries.

Exceptions apply, namely:

  • Passengers in Portugal on essential travel, where the return ticket doesn’t exceed 48 hours
  • Any individuals traveling in international professional competitions. This is stipulated in Annex IV of the official government document Despacho nº 3838-A/2021 (in Portuguese);
  • Passengers traveling as part of foreign delegations to participate in meetings within the scope of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

What are the rules for passengers entering Portugal?

If you’re traveling to Portugal, you must fill out SEF’s travel questionnaire.

Furthermore, all passengers, whether national or foreign, who travel from countries outside the EU and the Schengen area must present proof of test to COVID-19 at the time of departure, with a negative result, carried out in the last 72 hours.

To view the list of countries in the European Union and the Schengen area who belong to a travel restriction list, check out ECDC’s updated information here.

To view global travel rules related to COVID-19, check out the IATA world site here.

Benefits of having second residency or citizenship

While the coronavirus pandemic has brought on social uncertainty and economic instability across the globe, it has simultaneously demonstrated the value of having a plan B in life. In times of such a global mobility crisis, citizenship or residency by investment gives people the freedom of choice to start over in a new country and build a future for themselves and their families. It further protects one’s personal, professional and financial interests.

There are numerous advantages to holding another citizenship or being able to operate and reside in another country.

These benefits include:

Property ownership opportunities

Property ownership opportunities

Freedom of travel, with visa-free restrictions in 100+ countries

Freedom of travel, with visa-free restrictions in 100+ countries

Fiscal and asset protection back-up-plan

Fiscal and asset protection back-up-plan

Tax residency privileges

Tax residency privileges

Optimal social systems such as school and healthcare

Optimal social systems such as school and healthcare

How we can help you today

We understand that everyone is feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether directly or indirectly. With all travel and relocation plans paused, our way of living and social norms are being challenged.

Whether the Portuguese Golden Visa, the Spain Golden Visa program or another scheme, we understand that it can be a time-consuming affair as well as a stressful experience to reach a big decision like applying for residency in a foreign country. But in the face of this global pandemic, with many international borders shut to foreigners, time now is of the essence.

As consultants in investment migration, we can help you apply for several residency-by-investment programs. Our step-by-step strategy, tailor-made to each unique client, means we are there for you every step of the way.


For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please book a call with a Global Citizen Solutions expert or get in touch with us by filling out the form below.

Frequently asked questions about Coronavirus and Portugal Golden Visa

How has COVID-19 impacted applications for the Portugal Golden Visa?

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese government and SEF have continued to run the Portugal Golden Visa program, accepting applications on a rolling basis. The only difference is that applications are now digital, including the issuance of a Portuguese Tax File Number (NIF).

Can applicants still apply for the Portugal Golden Visa this year?

Recent Portugal Golden Visa data shows that the program is as popular as ever. In fact, in December 2020, 49 residence permits were issued, with a whopping €27 737 718,69 pouring in investments. So despite COVID-19, the Golden Visa program is still going strong.

What trips to and from Portugal are considered strictly as essential travel?

Essential journeys are those intended to allow the transit, entry, or departure from Portugal of:

  • European Union nationals, nationals of States associated with the Schengen Area, and members of their families
  • Third-country nationals legally residing in a Member State of the European Union
  • Third-country nationals traveling for professional, study, family reunion, health, or humanitarian reasons

What are the rules for travelers transiting in Portugal?

As long as you don’t leave the airport space, you can move around freely and don’t need to present a COVID-19 test.

I live outside of Portugal and have taken two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still have to present a negative test when entering Portugal?

At present, it is still mandatory to present the COVID-19 test (RT-PCR) on arrival in Portugal, with no exceptions.

How can I stay on top of travel updates related to the Portugal Golden Visa?

For the latest travel updates related to entering Portugal, please consult the Portugal SEF page.