Officially called “ARI” (“Autorização de Residência para Actividade de Investimento”), the Golden Visa in Portugal is Europe’s most successful residency-by-investment program.

Under this program, a person not from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, can make a qualifying investment in Portugal and be granted a Portuguese residence permit for themselves and immediate family members.

This guide will take you through:

Your guide to the Golden Visa program in Portugal

Table of Contents

In this ultimate guide, we aim to provide you with practical and up-to-date information on the program’s benefits, requirements, and application process. We hope you find it useful.

The SEF spokesperson in Portugal has recently stated that:

About 1,300 requests from investors at a national level are pending, many of which are due to a lack of essential documents or the need to clarify or update them.

With almost a decade of experience, we at Global Citizen Solutions have a 100% success rate in Golden Visa applications.

Get in touch with our specialists for more information.

What is the Golden Visa Portugal and what benefits does it hold?

The Golden Visa Portugal is a form of a residency-by-investment program. If the potential investor fulfills a set of requirements he may gain residency in Portugal through the means of investing in Portugal.

Here are the Golden Visa program’s main benefits:

  • You have permanent free entry and movement throughout the Schengen Area (26 European countries)
  • After five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship
  • Your dependent children and dependent parents will also qualify for the same benefits as you
  • You only need to spend seven days in the first year and 14 days in the subsequent years in Portugal (consecutively or non-consecutively)
  • The program is not blacklisted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), unlike many other Golden Visa programs
  • You have the option to become a non-habitual resident of Portugal and pay little or no tax for 10 years
  • You can choose from a range of relatively affordable investment options
  • You have the security of a second residence in a safe and stable country
  • You have freedom of opportunities for you and your family

The Golden Visa program in Portugal was first created in 2012 to attract foreign investment to the country and, as of today, it has brought over €4.7 billion in direct investment into Portugal until July 2019. Since the introduction of the program, more than 7,700 investors have benefited from the program along with more than 13,000 family members.

OCTOBER 2019 UPDATE: According to the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), in 2019 has already been a total of €470.5 million invested in just seven months. Investment by Brazilian nationals under the same scheme was up by almost 42% in 2019. From January to August 296 permits were assigned to Chinese citizens, down from 348 in the same period of 2018. Countries with most investors for the programme include China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia and Turkey. 2019 is set to be the most successful year ever for the programme. At Global Citizen Solutions, we have recently received an influx of Hong Kong Golden Visa inquiries, with many Hong Kong residents looking for a second citizenship in Europe to provide security against the ongoing unrest.

Access to Schengen Area and Portuguese passport

With your Golden Visa permit, you will be registered with the Schengen Area central system which will enable you to enter all European countries without the need for an additional visa.

With your application, your dependent children and dependent parents will also qualify for the same benefits as you.

After five years, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship. The Portuguese passport is a top-notch travel document allowing visa-free travel to 182 countries.

familia-portugal

Who is eligible for the Golden Visa in Portugal?

Any non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who makes a qualifying investment in Portugal is eligible for a Golden Visa and residency in Portugal.

The Portuguese Golden Visa program has proven to be one of the most popular programs in Europe. Getting the Golden Visa in Portugal is easy, fast and cheaper than other EU citizenship programs.

Golden Visa minimum investment

The program generally requires a minimum investment of €250,000 and you can choose from a range of investment routes. Most investors choose the Real Estate investment option (we will list the options below).

One key advantage of the Golden Visa in Portugal is its very low ‘stay requirement’. In order for you to maintain your Golden Visa residency, you will only need to spend seven days in the first year and 14 days in the subsequent years (consecutively or non-consecutively) in Portugal. This makes the program particularly suitable if you do not intend to live permanently in Portugal, but wish to access the benefits of having EU residency and, eventually, citizenship.

Which nationalities apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa?

Currently, the top five nationalities of investors are from:

  • China
  • Brazil
  • Turkey
  • South Africa
  • Russia

Americans applications for the Portugal Golden Visa

Global Citizen Solutions assists many US citizens looking to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa. The Portuguese Golden Visa is a particularly good option for American citizens looking to invest, as foreign-owned real estate is not a reportable financial asset in the US.

American business owners can also qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa program by expanding their existing businesses to Portugal.

Furthermore, the Portugal Golden Visa program can be a good option for Americans who are looking to renounce their US citizenship, owing to the country’s generous tax incentives.

If you are a US citizen looking to relocate to Portugal, take a look at our article on what Americans should know before they move.

 

Is the Golden Visa Portugal extendable to family members?

At the same time as your own application, you may apply for the Golden Visa for the following family members:

  • Spouse or legal partner
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Dependent children under 26 as long as they are unmarried and enrolled as full-time students
  • Parents of either spouse if over the age of 66 years old (or 55 and dependent)
  • Siblings under the age of 18 years from either spouse or partner if legally responsible

If you are looking to relocate to Portugal with your children, there are a number of excellent international schools in Portugal to choose from.

What are the Golden Visa Portugal requirements?

1. Make and maintain the qualifying investment for a minimum of five years

2. Spend a minimum of seven days in Portugal for the first year, then no less than 14 days each subsequent two-year period (this is called the stay requirement)

3. Have a clean criminal record

What is ‘Stay Requirement’?

As previously mentioned, ‘Stay Requirement’ is one of the main benefits of your Portuguese residency visa.

With your Portuguese residency visa, you will need to renew your card in years one and three as well as spend a few days in Portugal each year in the following order:

  • In year one, you must spend at least seven days in Portugal; and
  • In years two through to five, you must spend at least 14 days in Portugal (whether or not they are consecutive) during each two-year period.

Non Habitual tax Regime

What are the Portuguese Golden Visa Tax considerations?

As a Golden Visa Portugal holder, you will not need to pay any additional taxes on your income produced outside of Portugal.

You may, however, wish to benefit from the generous Non-Habitual Tax Regime by setting up your fiscal residence in Portugal. This may help you maximize fiscal efficiency pertaining to your global income.

What is the Non-Habitual Tax Regime?

In summary, the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime grants qualifying individuals the possibility of becoming tax residents of a white-listed jurisdiction whilst legally minimizing income tax on certain categories of non-Portugal income for a period of 10 years.

Golden Visa holders automatically qualify for the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR).

Here is the list of types of income that may qualify for tax exemption:

  • Dividends
  • Interest
  • Real estate income
  • Capital gains from the disposal of real estate
  • Occupational pensions
  • Royalties
  • Business and self-employment profits derived from eligible occupations (but be mindful of relevant double taxation agreements in this respect)

Additionally, any Portuguese-sourced income would be taxed at a flat rate of 20% during the first 10 years and there is also the ability to pass on your wealth to a spouse or dependent without incurring inheritance or gift taxes.

You can find out more in our complete guide about Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident Tax Regime

Who can make the application for the Golden Visa in Portugal?

The application can be made in your name or through an EU company fully owned by you.

Get in touch with our specialists at Global Citizen Solutions for more information on how we can take care of the whole application process for you.

 

What are the investment options for a Golden Visa in Portugal?

An investment must be made before the Golden Visa application can be filed.

Here is the full list of qualifying investments:

  • Capital Transfer

The transfer of at least €1 million to Portugal

  • Create 10 full-time jobs

Creation of 10 new full-time jobs within a Portuguese business in the format of a single-member limited company. (Reduced to eight positions if in a low-density area);

  • Invest in €500,000 in Real Estate

Real Estate investment of at least €500,000 of any type of real estate and anywhere in Portugal. (Reduced to €400,000 if it is located in a low-density area);

  • Invest in Real Estate Rehabilitation

Real Estate and its rehabilitation, investment in eligible properties that are over 30 years of age or are located in designated areas of urban rehabilitation AND (ii) the property purchase price plus the ex-VAT value of the rehabilitation work contract of at least €350,000. (Reduced to €280,000 if located in a low-density area).

  • Investment into national heritage

Investment into the conservation of national heritage, arts and culture of at least €250,000;

  • Investment in Research

Investment in research conducted by accredited institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological system of at least €350,000;

  • Investment into an existing business

Investment into an existing Portugal-registered business, or at least €350,000 to either incorporate or increase the share capital AND create at least 5 full-time permanent jobs for a minimum period of three years; or

  • Investment into private equity funds

A Golden Visa €350,000 minimum investment can be made to a private equity fund. This can be a more convenient option for some as it avoids the hassle of looking for property and subsequent management.

UPDATE: The Portuguese government has recently pledged to review the Golden Visa application processes with a view to redirecting investment from the real estate market to the creation of jobs. 90% of Golden Visa investment has gone into the real estate market so far, and just 17 investors out of 8,000 have chosen to invest in companies.

To find out more about obtaining a Golden Visa through investment funds, take a look at this article.

Timeline of the process for the Golden Visa in Portugal

golden-visa-timeline-steps

The first major step is to decide which investment route you will take and to gather all your documents.

The second step is to make the investment that must be made before your Golden Visa application is filed. This timing is up to you.

After filling your application, you will receive your preliminary approval by the “Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras” (SEF) and you will have to book an appointment and appear for an interview. Due to popular demand in districts like Lisbon and Faro, scheduling an interview slot can take up to three months. You may be able to reduce this waiting time by scheduling your interview in quieter districts.

When you attend the appointment, bring your family members along to so that their application can be submitted simultaneously, this can save you months on your application.

After you submit your application, it takes anywhere from three to six months for approval and issuance of your residence card.

Once your Golden Visa is issued, you will have to wait five years before you are able to apply for permanent residency and citizenship in Portugal. Find out more about SEF Portugal here.

Step-by-step guide for the Golden Visa application

  1. Decide on your investment route
  2. Start preparing and compiling your documents
  3. Get a Portuguese NIF and open a Portuguese Bank Account (which can be done remotely)
  4. Transfer the required investment amount to your Portuguese bank account
  5. Make the investment
  6. Have all documentation translated into Portuguese and legalized according to SEF’s requirements
  7. File the initial application with SEF you will be required to pay the Government application fee and provide a copy of all the required documentation
  8. Book your interview and attend a biometrics collection session
  9. Wait for final approval
  10. Upon approval of your Golden Visa, pay the Government permit issue fee
  11. Your residence certificate will be issued and it will be valid for one year
  12. Renew your residence certificate at the end of year one and three
  13. Become a permanent resident in year five and apply for Portuguese citizenship
  14. You will now receive your Portuguese passport

Most common investment route for Golden Visa Portugal

Your investment must be made before the Golden Visa Portugal application can be filed. Most investors decide on the Real Estate route.

There a few things to consider when going through this route:

  • Understanding the property market
  • Property search and selection
  • Types of investments
  • Property rehabilitation
  • Process of buying a property
  • What to look for
  • How to save on tax
  • Urban Rehabilitation Area (called an “Area de Reabilitação Urbana” or ARU)
  • Taxes for short-term rentals

 

Golden Visa Portugal documents

* Important information about your documentation
The following documents must be submitted by Golden Visa applicants both for the initial application and for each renewal:

  • Copy of a valid passport and travel documents
  • Deed or contract of the purchased property or signed promissory contract with proof of the deposit payment
  • Declaration from your bank in Portugal confirming the transfer of funds
  • Proof of Health Insurance in Portugal
  • Certified copy of the criminal certificate or a Police clearance letter from your country of origin
  • A completed form authorizing SEF to get an extract of your Portuguese criminal records
  • Declaration from you confirming compliance with the investment requirements
  • Documents showing a good standing with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority and Social Security system. These can be issued 45 days prior to your online application
  • A receipt showing that you already paid the application processing fee

Note that the certificates of criminal records or Police clearance letters must have been issued no more than 90 days before submitting your application. For all other certificates, it is 180 days.

Legalizing documents

Documents must be legalized and translated into Portuguese by means of a certified translator.

Documents can be legalized in one of the two ways:

  • By the Portuguese Consulate
  • By the Apostille of The Hague Convention

Translating documents

Original documents must be accompanied by a certified translation into Portuguese, which may be done in one of three ways:

  • By a translator who is accredited by the Portuguese Consulate
  • By anyone, if the translation is certified by a Portuguese lawyer
  • By the issuing country’s Consulate in Portugal

Getting a Portuguese NIF and opening a Portuguese bank account

These are relatively straightforward processes in Portugal and can both be done remotely.

Get your Portuguese NIF

The NIF (“Número de Identificação Fiscal”), also known as “Número de Contribuinte” is your tax identification number used for tax purposes that are needed to carry out various transactions including opening a Portuguese bank account and buying the property. For more information, check out this article from bePortugal on NIF number in Portugal.

Open a Portuguese bank account

We can introduce you to a competent English speaking banker in Portugal that can open a bank account even before you go to Portugal. Get in touch with our specialists at Global Citizen Solutions.

What are the Government fees and legal costs for a Golden Visa in Portugal?

The Portuguese government charges the following fees in respect of the Golden Visa:

  • Initial application fee of €527.60 (€82.30 for each investor’s family member)
  • Approval fee per Golden Visa of €5,274.40 per visa holder
  • A visa renewal fee at the end of years one and three of €2,637.20 per visa holder
  • A renewal fee for the following years of €527.60 (€82.30 for each investor’s family member)

Legal costs are normally around €5,000 per family for the initial application and €1,500 for each renewal.

sunset Algarve

Frequently Asked Questions about the Portuguese Golden Visa

What are the advantages of the Golden Visa?

  • Easy and transparent process.
  • Free circulation in the Schengen Area
  • Clear path to European Citizenship
  • Cheaper than other European alternatives
  • Your immediate family will also qualify
  • Very short Stay Requirement in Portugal
  • Option to maximize efficiency in your tax affairs for 10 years
  • Security of a second residency in a safe and stable country
  • Have the freedom of opportunity for you and your family

Who in my family also benefits from my Golden Visa?

Dependent children up to the age of 18 and parents can be included if over 66 years old (or 55 years and dependent).

Can same-sex couples also apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?

Yes, LGBT couples in Portugal can apply for the Golden Visa, and have all the same rights as heterosexual couples. The children of gay couples are also eligible for residents as dependents.

Is Portugal LGBT-friendly?

Yes, Portugal is very LGBT-friendly, and was even selected in 2019 as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world alongside Canada and Sweden.

To find out more about life for LGBT expats in Portugal, take a look at this article.

How much does the process of obtaining the Portuguese Golden Visa cost?

  • Initial application fee of €527.60 (€82.30 for each investor’s family member)
  • Approval fee per Golden Visa of €5,274.40 per visa holder
  • A visa renewal fee at the end of years one and three of €2,637.20 per visa holder
  • A renewal fee for the following years of €527.60 (€82.30 for each investor’s family member)

How long is the processing time for the Golden Visa in Portugal?

The maximum processing time provided by law is three months, but in practice, it takes closer to six months.

Should all documents be translated to Portuguese?

Yes, all documents must be legalized and translated into Portuguese according to the requirements.

Can you make the investment through a limited company?

Yes, the application can be made in your name or through an EU company fully owned by you.

Can I take a mortgage to make my investment?

No, you must pay for the amount in full.

What are the Portugal Golden Visa Tax considerations?

You will not have to pay tax in Portugal. Golden Visa holders automatically qualify for the Non-Habitual Tax Regime.

What are the Portugal Non-Habitual Tax Regime eligible occupations?

  • Archaeologists
  • Architects
  • Auditors
  • Biologists
  • Computer Programmers
  • Data Processing and Hosting Specialists
  • Dentists
  • Designers
  • Engineers
  • Geologists
  • Investors (directors and managers of companies)
  • IT Consultants
  • IT Professionals
  • IT specialists (other)
  • Life Sciences Specialists
  • Medical Doctors
  • Musicians
  • Painters
  • Psychologists
  • Sculptors
  • Senior Managers (except Company Directors)
  • Singers
  • Tax Consultants
  • Theatre, ballet, cinema, radio and TV professionals
  • University Teachers
  • Web Developers and Designers

Can I live in other countries?

Yes, you can live in any country you wish. The only requirement is to spend an average of seven days a year in Portugal to maintain your Golden Visa status.

Can I use cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?

You cannot use cryptocurrency to buy property in Portugal. However, you can exchange bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies tax-free in Portugal.

Portugal offers a number of benefits for cryptocurrency traders, including tax-free trading and exchange of cryptocurrency.

Find out more in our article on cryptocurrency trading in Portugal.

Can Americans apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?

Yes, Americans applying for the Golden Visa in Portugal have surged this year, and in the first quarter of 2019, there were more applications from the US than from Russians and South Africans.

If you’re American and considering moving to Portugal, take a look at our article on everything Americans need to know before they move.

Can people from Hong Kong apply for the Portugal Golden Visa?

Yes, there has been a marked increase in inquiries from Hong Kong on the Portuguese Golden Visa.

Should I avoid certain firms offering Golden Visa services?

Yes. Portugal has been receiving about 100 Golden Visa applications per month on average and currently, SEF has about 1,300 applications that are pending for misfiled or missing documentation. Like with everything in life it is important to be diligent and to partner with people that are experienced and that have your interests at heart.

At Global Citizen Solutions, we pride ourselves on the fact that our clients have had a 100% success rate with their Golden Visa applications.

Additionally, it’s been well reported that some unscrupulous firms have been advising clients to buy properties that meet the minimum investment requirement, however, this advice is targeted at unknowing overseas buyers who fail to notice that the properties are over-valued.

We work exclusively for the buyer as we aim to redress the imbalance that exists in many property transactions.

Professionalism, transparency, and independence are at the heart of what we do. Get in touch with our specialists at Global Citizen Solutions.

How do I find good real estate investment opportunities in Portugal?

Familiarise yourself with the market and different regions in the country. Decide what cities and what neighborhoods you are considering. The property value can fluctuate significantly from one area to the next, from one side of the street to the other, or even between floors in apartment blocks.

Start by looking at the main Real Estate agencies such as:

Also look at aggregator sites like Imovirtual and Casa Sapo to familiarise yourself with the overall market, prices, and trends.

If possible, speak to an independent broker. Traditional brokers in Portugal get paid directly by the seller and therefore are incentivized to sell properties for as much money as possible.

The Portuguese property market is particularly intricate and dynamic, therefore seeking a source of impartial advice is paramount. And always keep your personal goals in mind.

If you are looking for professional help, our consultants at Global Citizen Solutions have years of combined experience in the Portuguese property market. We find properties from many sources, often before they ever come onto the open market, allowing our clients access to the very best selection. We are also assertive negotiators, often saving our clients far more money than they anticipated.

What’s the best way to get a Golden Visa Portugal?

Real Estate is the most popular option of investment for the Golden Visa Portugal program with over 92% of applicants selecting this route. The minimum investment is €500,000, which must be made on any type of property or in any number of properties and anywhere in the Portuguese territory. As an investor, you have a number of options from off-plant developments, new-builds, used residential property as well as commercial office space.

There may also be opportunities for renovation projects. This Golden Visa route requires an investment of €350,000 into a ‘renovation project’ (that is a building that is more than 30 years old or in an area of urban redevelopment). These projects are harder to come by due to stringent legislation and high demand, however, they make incredible investment opportunities. Note that all planning permissions and permits must be in place before a property can qualify under this Golden Visa investment route.

Each option has a particular investment profile and market research is required to source a property that will be suitable for you.

golden-visa-documents

Can I do the Golden Visa Portugal process on my own?

Yes, you can. It is possible and it has been done before, but usually harder and the success rate of the application will decrease dramatically.

How can Global Citizen Solutions help me?

Our specialist team at Global Citizen Solutions can help you by giving you access to an extensive network of connections in the industry and providing suitable investment opportunities ahead of the competition.

The Lisbon area property market is becoming increasingly competitive, so having early access is crucial.

We find property from many sources, including off-market, pre-market, direct from developers, and in certain cases, private approaches. Our team can provide you with expert advice on the locations most appropriate for your investment requirements, guiding you on how rental yields and capital values vary from area to area.

Get in touch with our specialists at Global Citizen Solutions. We are confident that our comprehensive range of services and our unequaled experience will give you that crucial advantage and deliver a successful investment property for you and a clear path to European citizenship.

WE WORK FOR THE BUYER

It is well known that real estate agents work exclusively for the vendor of the property and are incentivized to achieve the highest price for their clients. Without seeking a source of impartial advice elsewhere, buyers have little way of knowing whether they are getting a good deal or are making a sound investment.

At Global Citizen Solutions, we work for the buyer and aim to change the imbalance that exists in many property transactions. You can contact us for more information on how we can help you with your Golden Visa Portugal needs.

 

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