Changes to Portugal’s Golden Visa Scheme Could be Suspended

The Portuguese government’s proposed Golden Visa scheme changes in February 2020, which would have blocked investors from purchasing property in central Lisbon and Porto from 2021, has reportedly been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The changes are not a priority at the moment,” a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allegedly told the media outlet Dinheiro Vivo.

The legislative amendments to Portugal’s Golden Visa program would have come into effect in 2021, limiting real estate investments to inland municipalities only, as well as the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira. The changes were proposed to drive investment in low-density zones, evenly balance out the property market and encourage foreign investment into other areas of the country, relieving pressure from metropolitan locations.

Property sector hits back at Golden Visa rule changes

Professionals from the property sector have expressed concerns that the Golden Visa scheme changes could harm the property market. 

The Government’s actual announcement has in itself put off a number of investors from investing in Portugal,” said Hugo Santos Ferreira, the Vice-President of the Portuguese Association for Developers and Real Estate Investors (APPII).

For Global Citizen Solutions Director Patricia Casaburi, the government’s bill in favour of restricting Golden Visa real estate investment in Portugal’s key cities could come “as a blow to a booming market.”

The ripple effects have started already. And coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged the world into an unprecedented recession, means that foreign investment has slowed down in Portugal, with the number of Authorisations of Residency for Investment halving in February alone.

If the government is indeed planning to halt its Golden Visa legislative changes, the move could help boost the nation’s economy during this unfolding crisis, as the Golden Visa scheme usually brings in millions of euros to Portugal’s economy. In 2019 alone, investments associated with the scheme pumped a staggering €742 million into the Portuguese economy, boosting the number of international property investors betting big on the Portuguese property market. The majority of beneficiaries usually come from China, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and Russia. 

According to Casaburi, “Perhaps the silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic is that the government might send the message that Portugal will be open and welcoming [to] business, and for certainty’s sake, hopefully they won’t put a time stamp on it.”

Whatever outcome occurs, general consensus within the property sector exists that the Golden Visa scheme could critically aid in the market’s recovery following the global pandemic

What the experts on Portugal Golden Visa have to say

The Portugal Golden Visa program is one of the most popular residency by investment schemes in Europe. Launched in 2012, investors can obtain residency permits for themselves and their families provided that they make a qualifying investment in real estate. For more information on Portugal’s golden visa scheme, visit our Golden Visa Portugal 2020 Ultimate Guide.

Latest Golden Visa application update: Due to COVID-19, the Portuguese government is temporarily suspending face-to-face interviews for biometrics for main applicants and family members. Bookings for interviews will be suspended until 1 July 2020. For all other matters related to the application process, including: NIF (tax number) issuance, the initial SEF application, the opening of a bank account and Notary, will operate as usual.