d2 visa versus golden visa portugal which is bestIn Portugal, there are two distinct programs that stand out for foreigners seeking to live in the country: The Golden Visa and the D2 Visa.

These two programs serve divergent purposes and have specific eligibility criteria.

Portugal’s Golden Visa primarily revolves around investments, allowing individuals to obtain Portuguese residency by making substantial financial commitments, such as cultural and artistic donations, capital funds, and more.

On the other hand, the D2 Visa, also known as the Entrepreneur Visa and the Startup Visa, targets aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners, enabling them to establish or expand their ventures in Portugal.

Both residency visas allow the holder to seek permanent residency or citizenship in Portugal after five years, but their set of requirements is different.

This article offers a comparative analysis between the D2 visa vs Portugal Golden Visa, outlining their fundamental differences to help you choose which one aligns better with your specific goals and circumstances. Have a look below to learn more these two residency visas.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: PORTUGAL GOLDEN VISA 2023

The Portugal Golden Visa program has recently undergone substantial changes. The new legislation, which took effect in October 2023, eliminated the purchase of real estate and real-estate-related funds as qualifying investment options for the program. 

However, several attractive investment routes still maintain their eligibility for the program. To learn more, please refer to our comprehensive guide: Portugal Golden Visa

D2 vs Portugal Golden Visa: An Overview

About the D2 Visa

What is the D2 Visa

Also known as the Immigrant Entrepreneur Visa or the Freelancer Visa, the Portugal D2 Visa is designed for non-European Union (non-EU) citizens seeking to either start a new business in Portugal or extend their existing business to the country.

This residency visa was created by the Portuguese government to raise external resources and investments to boost the country’s economy. 

With the D2 Visa and residency permit, you can also choose to invest in an existing business in Portugal.

Portugal’s D2 Visa has two distinct categories: The entrepreneur route and the independent service provider route. The entrepreneur route is suitable for those wishing to either start a new business or extend an existing one into Portugal. In contrast, the independent service provider route is designed for those offering services to local or global clients.

Issued for

You might be eligible to apply for a Portuguese Entrepreneur Visa if you’re a non-EU/EEA/Switzerland freelancer, entrepreneur, or independent service provider.

Key benefits

Entrepreneurial opportunities

Travel within the Schengen Area

Family
reunification

Pathway to citizenship

Residency
rights

  • Entrepreneurial opportunities: With the D2 Visa, you can start a new business in Portugal, invest in existing businesses, or engage in entrepreneurial activities in the country.
  • Travel within the Schengen Area: D2 Visa holders have the same travel rights as European Citizens. They can freely enter and travel within the Schengen Area’s 27 countries without needing an additional visa.
  • Family reunification: The D2 Visa often allows for family reunification, meaning your family, including your partner, children, parents, or dependent siblings, can join you in Portugal.
  • Pathway to permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship: After five years of being a legal resident in Portugal, you may become eligible to apply for permanent residency. You can even become a Portuguese citizen, also after five years, provided you meet the necessary requirements.
  • Residency rights and access to services: With the temporary residency permit, you and your family will have access to Portuguese state healthcare, and your children can enroll in the public education system, ensuring essential services for your family’s well-being.

About the Golden Visa program

What is the Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa allows non-EU citizens to obtain a residence permit in Portugal by making a qualifying investment in the country.

Also regarded as the Residence Permit Program, the Portuguese Golden Visa was created in 2012 to attract foreign investment during their economic recovery from the subprime crisis.

The Golden Visa grants qualifying investors and their family members the right to live, work, and study in Portugal.

Issued for

The Portugal Golden Visa is for non-EU citizens who are interested in obtaining temporary residency in Portugal through significant investments in the country.

Key benefits

Family
reunification

Attractive investment options

Travel within the Schengen Area

Pathway to citizenship

Low physical presence needed

  • Family reunification: A major benefit of the Golden Visa is that your dependent family can be included in the application. This means your family can also enjoy the same freedom of opportunities and a second residence in Portugal.
  • Attractive investment options: The Golden Visa program offers several attractive investment options, including donations, capital transfer, job creation, and research activities. Investors can choose the option that best suits their financial goals and preferences, including affordable investments starting from €250,000.
  • Free movement within the Schengen Area: Golden Visa holders can freely enter and move within the Schengen Area’s 27 countries without needing an additional visa.
  • Pathway to permanent residence permit and Portuguese citizenship: After five years of being a legal resident in Portugal, you may become eligible to apply for permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship, whereby you can get a Portuguese passport.
  • Low physical presence requirement: The Golden Visa program typically has a low minimum stay requirement in Portugal (14 days every two years), making it accessible to investors who do not want to live in the country full-time.

Note: Is Portugal’s Golden Visa Program ending?

No, the program is not ending. On 19 July 2023, the Portuguese parliament voted to restructure the program, so there will simply be changes to what type of investment will qualify for the scheme.

On 7 October 2023, the law came into force, and the Golden Visa by real estate investment and capital transfer are no longer  eligible for the program. So, in short, you can still apply for the program.

For more information, including continuous updates on this visa category, please refer to our articles: Portugal Golden Visa Ending: Everything We Know So Far and Golden Visa Changes.

D2 Visa vs Golden Visa Portugal: Main Differences

Purpose

The main difference between the D2 and Portugal Golden Visa is the purpose. The Portugal D2 Visa is primarily intended for individuals who want to engage in entrepreneurial activities in Portugal. It is designed for those who wish to start a new business, expand their existing business, or invest in entrepreneurial ventures within the country.

The Portugal Golden Visa is an investment-based residency program. It is designed for foreign citizens who wish to obtain temporary residency in Portugal by making investments in the country.

Eligibility criteria

portugal d2 visa elegibility criteriaThe Portugal D2 Visa requirements are:

  • The acquisition of a Portuguese company
  • Having a pre-existing company abroad
  • Intending to open a branch in Portugal or proposing a comprehensive business plan for a new company in Portugal

The applicant of the Freelancer Visa will be required to demonstrate their business’s potential economic and social contributions to Portugal.

To be eligible for the Portuguese Golden Visa, individuals must:

  • Be either non-EU, non-Swiss, or non-EEA nationals
  • Be able to prove the source of their investment funds (there’s a minimum investment of €250,000)
  • Have a criminal record proving the absence of conviction in a crime punishable in Portugal for 1 year or more
  • Spend a minimum of 14 days in Portugal for each two-year period (this is called the stay requirement)

Required time spent in Portugal

The D2 Visa requires you to live in Portugal for most of the year.

The Golden Visa Program, on the other hand, has more lenient stay requirements compared to the D2 Visa, making it attractive to individuals who do not wish to live in Portugal full-time. Holders of the Golden Visa must spend 14 days in Portugal for each two-year period.

However, it’s important to note that while there are no stringent stay requirements, you must maintain your investments in Portugal and meet the program’s renewal criteria to keep your residency status valid.

So, when choosing between a D2 Visa and Portugal’s Golden Visa, it’s essential to factor in your travel needs. Opting for the Golden Visa allows you the convenience of a mere seven consecutive days of stay in the country. In contrast, if your business demands frequent travel, the D2 Visa might be the better fit since it mandates a continuous presence in Portugal. Your decision should ultimately align with your unique situation and the purpose of your stay.

Investment requirements

The D2 Visa doesn’t have a minimum investment amount. But, to qualify, the applicant must have a solid business plan and be able to demonstrate “proof of means of subsistence.” Usually, this implies having sufficient funds for at least 12 months, equivalent to the Portuguese minimum wage. This income needs to come from a business you started yourself or a business you buy.

To qualify for Portugal’s Golden Visa, an investment must be made. Applicants can invest in a venture capital fund, scientific research, and Portuguse cultural projejects. These qualifying investments for the Golden Visa usually range between €250,000 and €500,000.

Tax requirements

You can be eligible to forward an application for the Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) as a holder of either the D2 or the Golden Visa.

The NHR status offers preferential tax treatment for those with income generated within Portugal.

If you’re a D2 Visa holder, you must maintain residency in Portugal and show proof of accommodation (either a rental contract or a purchased property).

It’s also recommended you hire an accountant who’s knowledgeable about the Portuguese tax system. As you’re establishing a Portuguese limited company (LDA), you’ll need to pay corporation tax every year, along with social security contributions.

Golden Visa holders are not required to live in Portugal; therefore, they won’t be seen as tax residents. If that’s the case, you will only be liable for Portuguese tax on local sources, such as real estate investments. You can choose to begin the NHR clock if, and when, you eventually choose to move to Portugal.

Important Note: As of 2024, the NHR program will no longer be available for new applicants. Read more here: Is The Portugal NHR Program Ending?

Need help with your Portugal Visa Application?
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Comparing D2 and Portugal Golden Visa Programs: Application Process

D2 Visa Portugal application process

d2 visa vs portugal golden visaTo apply for the D2 Visa, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Gathering the necessary documents
  2. Acquiring a Portugal taxpayer identification number (NIF)
  3. Opening a business bank account and transferring funds to it
  4. Securing long-term accommodation in the country through either purchasing or renting a property for a recommended minimum duration of one year, even if an early termination clause is included
  5. Submitting the application online via either VFS or the E-Visa Portal

You’ll submit your documents, including your business idea, to the Portuguese Consulate or VFS in your jurisdiction.

The Portugal D2 Visa processing time is up to 60 days. If approved, you will be issued a four-month Portugal D2 Visa to travel to Portugal to apply for a temporary residence permit.

Golden Visa application process

To apply for the Golden Visa, you’ll have to follow the steps below:

  1. Gathering the necessary documents
  2. Decide on which investment you will move forward with
  3. Acquiring a Portugal taxpayer identification number (NIF)
  4. Opening a Portuguese bank account and transferring funds to it
  5. Completing your fund investment
  6. With your qualifying investment made and your paperwork ready, you will submit your pre-application online to SEF (the immigration authorities).
  7. After analyzing your pre-application, SEF will provide you with a set of available dates for the biometrics appointment.

After your biometrics, it takes around six months for your investment visa to be approved by SEF (the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service).

Visa fees

The government fee for the D2 Visa is approximately €90.

With the Portugal Golden Visa, the investment is evidently the primary cost. However, you will also need to consider the application and processing fees, which are €581.76 and €5,812.11, respectively.

The changes and costs mentioned here are subject to change, so double-check before beginning your D2 Visa or Golden Visa application.

Permanent Citizenship Through D2 or Golden Visa Portugal

Both the D2 and the Portugal Golden Visa offer holders the possibility of obtaining permanent residence and Portuguese citizenship.

Please note that acquiring citizenship usually involves passing a basic test in Portuguese language and culture.

Portugal Golden Visa or D2: Which One to Choose?

The Portugal D2 Visa is the right choice for you if

  • You plan to start and manage a business or invest in an existing one in Portugal
  • You have a well-defined business plan outlining your investment and job creation goals
  • You are willing to reside in Portugal for a significant portion of the year to actively manage your business

The Portugal Golden Visa is the right choice for you if

  • You have a substantial amount of capital to invest in Portugal
  • You want to obtain European residency but do not necessarily plan to live in Portugal full-time. The Golden Visa allows for occasional visits.
  • You want to have a solid backup plan for your future, whether it’s for personal, financial, or geopolitical reasons, and the Golden Visa provides a stable residency option in Portugal, which is part of the European Union.

Category

D2 Visa

Golden Visa

Intended for

Entrepreneurs

Investors

Minimum investment requirement

No minimum investment amounts

€250,00

Criteria to be eligible

Be a non-EU/EEA/Switzerland freelancer, entrepreneur, or independent service provider

Make a qualifying investment in Portugal

Visa Fees

Approximately €90

€ 773,74  (online application submission), € 7730,10 (granting the permit), € 3.865,79 (per renewal)

Permanent residency

After 5 years of uninterrupted living in Portugal

After 5 years

Stay requirement

Requires you to live in Portugal

Minimum of 14 days every 2 years

Rights

Live, work, study, healthcare

Live, work, study, healthcare

Family members

Yes, through the family reunification process

Yes

Visa free movement

Schengen Area and certain EU countries

Schengen Area and certain EU countries

Why Choose Us

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique residency and citizenship-by-investment company focused on finding the right investment, citizenship, or residency program for individuals across the world.

With offices across the globe and over 50 years of combined experience in immigration, law, and investment, Global Citizen Solutions delivers unmatched guidance for getting the D2 and the Golden Visa.

Global Citizen Solutions also reduces the hassle and stress of attaining your visa. The process is supported by our innovative Be System®, which provides real-time visa updates. In addition, our trusted legal experts ensure your application goes through smoothly.

Our experienced lawyers navigate the entire process, handling bureaucratic intricacies and legal matters. We also have a locally rooted real estate division, ensuring a seamless transition to your new home.

Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can understand your objectives and help you move towards becoming a global citizen.

Frequently Asked Questions about the D2 Visa vs Portugal Golden Visa

What are Golden Visas?

Golden Visas, also known as investor visas or residency by investment programs, are immigration programs offered by various countries to attract foreign investors, entrepreneurs, and high-net-worth individuals. These programs typically grant residency or citizenship to individuals who make substantial financial investments in the host country.

What are the alternatives to the Golden Visa for Portugal?

Portugal offers alternatives to the Golden Visa program for individuals seeking to obtain residency or citizenship in the country. The D7 Visa (Passive Income Visa), for instance, allows non-EU nationals of any age to live in Portugal on their own passive income. There’s also the D2 Visa, designed for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and independent service providers seeking to open a company in the Portuguese territory or open a branch of their already existing company in the country.

What are the investment options for the Portuguese Golden Visa

The Portuguese Golden Visa program offers various investment options. Some of the most common are donations, investment funds, real estate (property purchases, hotel redevelopment schemes, investment in a hotel or commercial property that’s being redeveloped), investing in a business with job creation, and stocks, among others.

Is Portugal getting rid of the Golden Visa?

The Portugal Golden Visa program is not ending. However, certain investment types, such as real estate investment, will no longer be available.

Can I work in Portugal with a D2 Visa?

Yes, you can live, run a business, and work in Portugal after getting a residence permit based on the D2 Visa.

What is the D2 Visa Portugal minimum investment?

There’s no minimum investment capital set for the D2 Visa.

Is there an income requirement for the D2 Visa?

The financial requirement for the D2 Visa typically involves demonstrating that you have the necessary capital to establish or invest in a business, as well as sufficient financial means to cover your living expenses in Portugal.

What is the difference between the D2 Visa and the D7 Visa in Portugal?

The D2 Visa, also known as the Freelancer Visa or Startup Visa, is designed for non-EU citizens seeking to either start a new business in Portugal or extend their existing business to the country. The D7 Visa, also known as the Passive Income Visa or Retirement Visa, is for allows non-EU nationals to live in Portugal provided they have a source of stable passive income.

What are the alternatives to the D2 Visa?

One alternative to the D2 Visa is the D7 Visa. Also known as the Passive Income Visa, it allows non-EU citizens to apply for residency in Portugal, provided that they have a reasonable passive income. To qualify, you need to meet minimum passive income requirements of earning a sufficient passive income above the Portuguese minimum wage (€820 per month).

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