Are you seeking to acquire EU residency and wondering which program to pick? You might have heard of the famous Greece and Portugal Golden Visa programs.
There are several common aspects to both Portugal and Greece Golden Visa programs. First, the two are offered by two stunning and safe European countries, each with sunny Mediterranean climates and low living costs. With delicious food, beautiful beaches, and rich culture, no wonder why so many tourists visit these countries every year.
Tailored for non-EU citizens, the two Golden Visas offer a variety of qualifying investment options, which allow applicants and their families to obtain EU residency in a few months. Both programs eventually lead to the possibility of getting an EU passport, which grants holders attractive benefits such as visa free travel to several countries worldwide.
So, how do you pick, you might ask? In this guide, we help you differentiate the Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa program in order to make an informed decision which one to choose.
Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa Programs: An Overview
About the Greek Golden Visa Program
Introduced in 2014 by the Greek government to bolster the economy, the Greece Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment scheme. It allows non-EU/EEA nationals and their families to obtain permanent residence permits in Greece.
The program is considered one of Europe’s most successful investment initiatives.
To be eligible, applicants must have a clean criminal history and invest a minimum of €500,000 in real estate in Greece.
The primary applicant and a large number of family dependents (including dependent children under the age of 21 and both spouses’ parents) can qualify for a Greek residence visa. There is also no necessity to spend any time in Greece.
About the Portugal Golden Visa Program
The Portugal Golden Visa, or residence permit for investment activity (ARI), is a five-year residency program in Portugal for non-EU nationals who invest in the country.
Introduced in 2012 to boost foreign investment, it has become one of the most popular schemes globally. Over 20,000 families have received Portuguese Golden Visas, raising over €4 billion.
This program allows investors and their families to live, work, and study in Portugal and travel freely in the Schengen Area.
Investment options for the Portuguese Golden Visa include cultural donations, investment funds, job creation, and scientific research.
After keeping their investment in Portugal for five years, they can apply to get a permanent residency and become a European Union citizen
Greece and Portugal Golden Visas Benefits
Invest and get residency in Europe
Freedom of mobility in the Schengen area
Entire family is eligible for the program
Attractive investment opportunities
Ability to receive an
Greece and Portugal Golden Visa Comparison
Greece Golden Visa
Portugal Golden Visa
One to two months
Global Passport Index ranking
Time to citizenship
Minimum investment of €250,000
Minimum investment of €250,000
Income tax starts at a rate of 22 percent. Non-dom tax regime allows tax exemption on foreign income for a fixed annual fee of €100,000
NHR Tax Regime allows tax exemption for up to 10 years
Seven-day requirement the first year and 14 days every two years after
Ability to work
No, unless you set up your own business
Spouse, children (under 21 years old), and parents of the main applicant and spouse
Spouse and dependent children (under 18 years old or currently completing studies)
Portugal vs Greece Golden Visa: Waiting Period and Validity
The waiting time for the EU Golden Visa varies depending on the country and how busy the immigration office is. The typical wait times after making an investment and applying for the Golden Visa differ: For the Portugal Golden Visa, the waiting time is 18 months, and for the Greece Golden Visa, it is three months.
Remember, this presumes you have no travel limitations to the hosting country and can visit the proper immigration offices to deliver your biometric data on time. At the time of your application, it is necessary to get an update from your law agency on the most recent wait times.
How long is your Golden Visa card good once you receive it? The current validity periods of the two separate residences by investment schemes are listed below:
- Greece: Permits are valid for five years at a time.
- Portugal: The first permit is valid for one year, however, due to a legal amendment related to COVID-19, they began issuing the first card with a validity duration of two years in 2020. The other permits are valid for two years.
Portugal vs Greece Golden Visa: Investment Options
You must make an investment to apply for the Golden Visa. Each country has a list of qualified investments for its residence by investment schemes. The following are the qualifying investments for the two Golden Visa schemes.
Greek Golden Visa investment options
Qualifying investments for the Greece Golden Visa:
- Investment in Greek real estate for a minimum of €250,000*
- A €400,000 capital contribution to a Greek Government Bond
*It is important to note that the current minimum investment of €250,000 in real estate will increase to €500,000 on 31 July 2023. This change will only apply to real estate investments in northern and central provinces, the South Athens Attica region, and the municipalities of Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini.
Portugal Golden Visa investment options
As of 2023, real estate investment is no longer eligible for the Portugal Golden Visa Program. However, other attractive investment options are still available.
The current qualifying investments for Portugal Golden Visa are:
- Investment funds: Make a contribution to a qualified investment fund worth at least €500,000
- Investment or donation in the arts or reconstruction of national heritage with a donation of at least €250,000 (Read more: Portugal’s Cultural Production Golden Visa)
- Scientific Research: Science or Technology research contribution of at least €500,000
- Creation of ten jobs: Creation and maintenance of ten jobs during the required period
- Share capital and job creation: Incorporation of a company or reinforcement of a company’s share capital, in either case with an investment of €500,000, combined with the creation of five or maintaining ten jobs (5 of them permanent)
If unsure about investment pathways, crunch some stats here on top nationalities and investment routes to residency in our Portugal Golden Visa statistics article.
Portugal vs Greece Golden Visa: Stay Requirement
Wondering about the time to be spent in the country to obtain a Golden Visa? As for Greece, there is no minimum stay requirement.
As for Portugal, once you have obtained your Golden Visa, you must stay in the country for an average of seven days each year to maintain your Golden Visa status. If your Golden Visa is valid for two years, Portugal needs you to spend a total of 14 days in the country during that time.
Portugal vs Greece Golden Visa Program: Citizenship Requirements
A Golden Visa is a pathway to permanent residency in a country. Residency can be your road to citizenship if you fulfill the country’s unique naturalization requirements. Once you obtain a Golden Visa in Portugal and Greece, you must meet their citizenship criteria.
Citizenship requirements for Portugal
- Five years of living in Portugal with seven days of physical residence for each year
- Having no unpaid taxes in Portugal
- A2 Portuguese language test
- No criminal record in the home country
Citizenship requirements for Greece
- Seven years of living in Greece for more than 183 days each year
- The ability to speak fluent Greek
- Greek citizenship examination
- No criminal record in your home country
European residence benefits
Both Greek and Portugal Golden Visas can lead to European citizenship. However, the requirements for gaining EU resident status change from country to country. Each country has its own set of benefits to entice investors to choose it.
Nevertheless, having citizenship in one of the European nations is an attractive and advantageous offer. To back up these assertions, consider the key benefits of obtaining European citizenship:
- High living standards, a modern healthcare system, and a high-quality education system;
- Visa free travel within the area Schengen. This means EU citizens do not have to spend time or money on visa applications. Such as mobility is essential for entrepreneurs who operate with foreign partners;
- There are no conditions for residency, except in Portugal, where one must remain for at least a week in 365 days to have one’s status in the extended country;
- A spouse and children may be granted residency with the main applicant. In some jurisdictions, even parents may be included in the application
Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa Programs: Taxes
Taxation is unrelated to the Golden Visa program and is solely associated with an individual’s tax residency. You are not automatically a tax resident of those countries if you hold a Golden Visa from Portugal or Greece. And, as long as you are not a tax resident in these countries, you only owe taxes on income earned in the hosting country. You owe no taxes on your foreign earnings.
If you opt to spend most of your year in these countries and become a tax resident, you’ll have to pay taxes, as shown below.
9 percent to 44 percent
14.5 percent to 45 percent
Inheritance and Gift Tax
10 percent to 40 percent (varies by relation)
Tax incentive programs for foreigners
A 7 percent flat rate for 15 years. The non-dom tax regime allows tax exemption on foreign income for a fixed annual fee of €100,000.
Non-Habitual Residence Program (NHR). Ten-year exemption.
There is a Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) Program in Portugal, a tax policy aimed at helping foreigners become tax residents in Portugal. It is one of the most appealing tax schemes in the European Union, and a great advantage for UK citizens and Americans moving to Portugal.
Important Note: The NHR regime was eliminated in January 2024. Read more here: Is The Portugal NHR Program Ending?
Greece is working on a similar initiative that will allow foreigners wishing to migrate or retire in Greece with a flat tax rate of seven percent for the first ten years of their stay.
Portugal vs Greece Golden Visa: Application Costs
Applications for a Golden Visa require paying fees to the relevant authorities, apart from the qualifying investments. These fees are typically paid per applicant and dependent.
Below, we show how these fees differ between Greece and Portugal.
Greece Golden Visa application fees
- €2,000 for the main applicant
- €500 per family member older than 21
- €150 per family member under 21
Portugal Golden Visa application fees
- Online application submission – € 773.74
- Granting the permit – € 7730.10 (Approval fee)
- Per renewal – €3.865.7
Which One to Choose?
Now, how do you decide which program to apply to? There are definitely many similarities between the Greece versus Portugal Golden Visa Program in terms of application time, passport ranking, minimum investment requirement, and family eligibility.
However, it is important to keep in mind that Greece applies more economic restrictions to its foreign residents than Portugal. While Golden Visa holders are able to work without restrictions in Portugal, this is not the case in Greece, where Golden Visa holders are allowed to live but not work (unless they create their own business).
In terms of Golden Visa investment routes, both countries have very attractive options — with slightly more diverse options for the Portugal Golden Visa Program. A major plus that Portugal has is the ability for Portugal Golden Visa holders to apply for a Portuguese passport five years after obtaining residency, in comparison to the seven years needed to acquire a Greek passport. Greek citizenship by naturalization also required a minimum of 183 physical residency, the ability to speak fluent Greek, and passing a Greek citizenship test.
Therefore if your ultimate goal is to obtain an EU passport, the Portugal Golden Visa program is highly recommended. On the other hand, for those eager to get the process to permanent EU residency over and done with, the Greece Golden Visa offers a fast processing time, and without the burdensome bureaucracy infamous to Portugal.
While Greece offers cheap investment options and no residency requirements, Portugal has been recognized as one of the best countries to live in for expats. With many attractive and affordable Golden Visa investment options, it is definitely the best Golden Visa program available in Europe in terms of stability, quality of life, and opportunities for foreigners.
Take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa Programs
What is Greece’s Golden Visa?
The Greece Golden Visa is an immigration and investment visa launched in 2013 by the Greek government, giving investors and their families Greek residency in exchange for a current minimum investment of €250,000.
What is Portugal’s Golden Visa?
The Portugal Golden Visa is an immigration and investment visa launched in 2012 by the Portuguese government which offers non-EU investors and their families Portuguese residency, with an eventual pathway to Portuguese citizenship allowed in exchange for a minimum qualifying investment of €280,000.
Can I obtain an EU passport by applying to the Greece or Portugal Golden Visa program?
You can obtain an EU passport by applying for the Greece or Portugal Golden Visa program. The main difference is that you’ll be able to acquire a Portuguese passport after five years of residency, while it’ll take seven years to obtain a Greek passport.
Greece or Portugal Golden Visa: Which program should I pick?
We recommend applying for the Portugal Golden Visa as it has more investment options, offers great tax benefits to foreign residents, gives its holders the ability to work in Portugal, and ultimately is a faster route to acquiring EU citizenship.
How do I immigrate to Greece?
Greece has several visa programs that enable non-EU citizens to obtain residency status in the country. Some of them require a substantial investment to be placed in the Greek economy in exchange for permanent residency status, while others require a smaller investment in exchange for a shorter residency period.
The Greek Visa for Financially Independent People (FIP) allows third-country citizens to acquire a two-year residency permit in Greece provided they have at least €2,000 monthly income. They must first apply for a long-term VISA (D) at the Greek Consulate or Embassy in their home country and prove that they can cover their living expenses in Greece without engaging in any economic activity – or work – within Greece.
Is it better to live in Greece or Portugal?
Deciding between Portugal vs Greece hinges on personal preferences and investment goals. Both countries offer Golden Visa programs for long-term residency, along with visa-free travel within the EU Schengen area. There are also great tax benefits for those holding a tax residence permit in either country.
Which Golden Visa is better Greece or Portugal?
In a comparison between Greece and Portugal Golden Visa programs it depends on what you are looking for. If your objective is to obtain an EU passport as quickly as possible, then the Portuguese Golden visa may be the one. It also offers a more diverse range of investment routes and offers great tax benefits to foreign residents. However, a benefit of the Greece Golden visa program is the no minimum stay requirement and cheaper investment options.
Is property investment available for the Portugal Golden Visa?
No, real estate investment is no longer an eligible investment for the Portuguese Golden Visa Program. However, other attractive options remain, such as investment funds, cultural and art donations, and job creation.