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. Both immigration and investment programs grant residency to non-EU applicants in exchange for a qualifying economic investment. Affordable, attractive, and your gateway to EU residency, how to decide which one to apply to? In this guide, we help you differentiate the programs in order to make an informed decision on which program to pick.
Greece and Portugal Golden Visas benefits
Greece and Portugal Golden Visa: An overview
There are several common aspects to the Golden Visa Greece Program and Portugal Golden Visa program. First and foremost they are both offered by two stunning and safe European countries, each with sunny Mediterranean climates and low living costs. With delicious food, beautiful beaches, and a rich culture, no wonder why so many tourists visit these countries every year.
Tailored for non-EU citizens, both schemes 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. So, how to pick, you might ask?
Portugal Golden Visa: an easy path to EU citizenship
The Portuguese Golden Visa program requires Golden Visa candidates to spend an average of seven days each year in Portugal. It is quite simple to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years, which essentially grants the applicant all of the benefits of being a European Union citizen.
Greece Golden Visa: a cheap way to EU citizenship
The Golden Visa Greece program requires applicants to spend a current minimum of €250,000 on real estate in Greece, however, this sum is subject to change in the coming year, as the Greek government plans on raising the minimum requirement to €500,000. Nevertheless, the primary applicant and a large number of family dependents (including dependent children under the age of 24 and both spouses’ parents) can qualify for a Greek residence visa. There is also no necessity to spend any time in Greece.
Acquiring Greek citizenship provides you the following benefits:
- Easily visit Greece without complications (even during COVID);
- Live or remain in Greece for as long as you wish;
- Travel visa-free to the EU and Schengen nations;
- Access the world at large with Greece’s visa-waiver agreements (171 countries visa-free).
European residence benefits
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;
- The ability to travel to Schengen nations without a visa, therefore EU citizens do not have to spend time or money on visa applications. Such a mobility is especially important for entrepreneurs that operate with foreign partners;
- There are no conditions for permanent 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 and Portugal Golden Visa comparison
|Program characteristics||Greece Golden Visa||Portugal Golden Visa|
|Application time||1-2 months||3-6 months
|Passport global ranking||8th||6th|
|Time to citizenship||7 years||5 years|
|Qualifying investment||Minimum investment of €250K*.|
Investment routes: Real estate, capital contribution, capital transfer, shares, bonds, or government bond
*This current threshold is subject to change in the coming year, as the Greek government plans on raising the minimum requirement to €500,000 for property investments.
|Minimum investment of €280K.
Investment routes: Real estate, renovations, business startup, research, private equity funds, capital transfer, national heritage funds
|Taxes||Income tax starts at a rate of 22%.||NHR Tax Regime allowing tax exemption for up to 10 years|
|Residence rule||No requirement||7-day requirement the first year and 14 days every two years after.|
|Ability to work ||No, unless you set up your own business||Yes, no restriction to work|
|Family eligibility||Spouse, children (under 21 years old), and parents of the main applicant and spouse||Spouse and dependent children (under 18 years old or still completing studies)|
The European Golden Visa’s 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 seven months, for the Greece Golden Visa, it is three months.
Remember, this is presuming you have no travel limitations to the hosting country and you 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.
Which forms of investments are eligible for a Golden Visa in Europe?
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.
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.
*This current threshold is subject to change in the coming year, as the Greek government plans on raising the minimum requirement to €500,000. You may save time and effort by consulting specialists prior to placing your investment.
Qualifying investments for Portugal Golden Visa
- Investment in residential and commercial real estate in Portugal for at least €500,000. Residential real estate needs to be located in designated interior areas, while, for commercial property, there are no location restrictions.
- Investment in real estate in a low-density area of Portugal for at least €400,000.
- Investment in real estate in Portugal for a minimum of €350,000, assuming the property is at least 30 years old and will be renovated.
- Investment in real estate in a low-density area of Portugal for a minimum of €350,000, providing the property is at least 30 years old and will be rehabilitated.
- A €1.5 million capital transfer.
- Investment of at least €500,000 in R&D in Portugal.
- Investment of a minimum of €500,000 in a Portuguese Qualified Fund.
- Investment of a minimum of €250,000 in Portugal’s culture, national heritage, and arts.
- Establishing a company that employs ten (10) full-time Portuguese citizens.
Time to be spent in the country to obtain a Golden Visa
Once you have obtained your Golden Visa, you must stay in Portugal 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.
As for Greece, there is no minimum stay requirement.
The Golden Visa program as a road to citizenship in Europe
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, on average seven days a year;
- Having no unpaid taxes in Portugal;
- A2 Portuguese language exam;
- No criminal record in the home country.
Citizenship requirements for Greece:
- Seven years of living in Greece for more than 183 days each year;
- Greek citizenship examination;
- No criminal record in your home country.
Golden Visa Europe programs’ taxation
Taxation has nothing to do with a Golden Visa; it is entirely concerned with tax residence. 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 will be subject to the tax rates shown below.
|Income Tax||9% to 44%||14,5% to 45%|
|Inheritance & Gift Tax||10% to 40%|
(varies by relation)
|Tax Incentive Programs for Foreigners||The country ss discussing having one. A 7% flat rate for ten years.||Non-Habitual Residence Program (NHR). Ten-year exemption.|
There is a Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) Program in Portugal which is a tax policy aimed to help foreigners become tax residents in Portugal. It is one of the most appealing tax schemes in the European Union.
Greece is working on a similar initiative that will allow foreigners wishing to migrate or retire in Greece with a flat tax rate of 7% for the first ten years of their stay.
Europe 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 y.o.;
- €150 per family member under 21 y.o.
Portugal Golden Visa application fees:
- €533.90 for the main applicant + €83.30 per family member as an initial processing fee;
- €2,663 per person at each renewal;
- €5,325 per person for the initial application.
Now, how do you decide which program to apply to? There are definitely many similarities between the Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa 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 addition, Greece imposes an income tax rate that starts at 22% to all its residents, while Portugal offers attractive tax incentives for its foreign residents under the NHR tax regime. Real estate can also prove to be more costly in Greece than in Portugal, as property taxes are high in Greece.
In terms of Golden Visa investment routes, both countries have very attractive options — with slightly more diverse options for the Portugal Golden Visa. A major plus that Portugal has, is the ability for Portugal Golden Visa holders to apply for a Portuguese passport five years prior to obtaining residency, in opposition to the seven years needed for acquiring a Greek passport. Therefore if your ultimate goal is to obtain an EU passport, the Portugal Golden Visa scheme is highly recommended.
Overall, 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.
Frequently Asked Questions about Greece vs Portugal Golden Visa
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 €250K.
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 €280K.
Can I obtain an EU passport by applying to the Greece or Portugal Golden Visa program?
Yes, 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 to 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 to 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.