The leader of the Ismaili branch of Shiite Islam, Aga Khan, moved the Aga Khan Foundation’s branch from Aiglemont, France to Lisbon. As a result of the location shift, Portugal has attracted other Ismail/Khoja people from across the world and the Aga Khan Portugal community is nowadays well established in the country.
Indeed, Lisbon has become a popular place with the Ismaili community, where they often visit and have created a natural bond with the country.
Along with the Aga Khan community, there is increased interest in Portugal from the Middle East. Each year, SEF (the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service) releases Golden Visa statistics. These show that between 2012 and 2021, a total of 10,170 individuals from all around the world received residence permits in the country. Amongst these, more than 90% of the investors opt for the real estate route to gain their residency permits, indicating its the most popular route for foreign investors to secure residency in Portugal.
In this article, we’ll provide you with information on the following:
- The property market in Portugal
- The Portugal Golden Visa
- Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa
- Demand for properties and business in Lisbon
- Tax reliefs
- Future of the real estate market in Portugal
Plus so much more!
The Aga Khan in Portugal
As mentioned previously, in 2015, Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shiite Islam, moved the Ismail Inamate’s Secretariat from Aiglemont, France, to Lisbon. The Aga Khan Foundation or AKF was established in 1967 and, since then, it aims to bring together human, financial, and technical resources to face the challenges that the most marginalized and poorest countries in the world experience. It specifically targets investing in human potential, expanding opportunities, and in improving the overall quality of life for these persons and communities.
The relocation has had a profound effect on the Portuguese real estate market, considering the numbers of the Ismailis community. The Ismailis live in over 25 countries, mainly in the Middle East, Africa, Central, and South Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia, and numbering approximately 20 million spread across the world. Portugal has become the new “home” for the Imamate of Aga Khan.
The relocation of the Secretariat also means strong relations and cooperation between Portugal and the Ismaili Imamat community in improving people’s quality of life, both in Portugal and across the world.
The Aga Khan Foundation Portugal was established 35 years ago, with the aim to foster social cohesion shaped by migration. The Aga Khan Foundation addresses development challenges through all age groups, from early childhood to senior wellbeing. The primary goal is to improve quality of life through creating and strengthening cultural, social, and economic inclusion. Indeed, the foundation seeks to foster a pluralistic society with a cosmopolitan ethic that benefits all members of society.
This can be seen in the president and Aga Khan’s respective speeches. When Aga Khan visited Portugal in 2016, the President of Portugal, de Sousa stated that “what really brings us together is a joint commitment to defend and apply the principles and values that honor the ethical importance of human life, pluralism of societies and respect for the dignity of human beings”. Aga Khan responded as stating that “the values of your civil society are the same values that we defend. We have therefore great commonality in the work we do, not only here in Europe, ut in Africa, Asia and elsewhere”.
You can see more about the Aga Khan Foundation here.
Property Market in Portugal
The Aga Khan Portugal and the Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa Program, one of the most popular residency by investment schemes in the world, has such excellent benefits that the number of applicants to the scheme increases each year.
The Portugal Golden Visa allows non-EU investors to secure residency, and ultimately citizenship through naturlaization. There are different routes to secure the residence permit, including through capital transfer, investment funds, and donations into the arts. However, investment into real estate is the most popular route, as investors consider property purchases as an investment for the future.
Investment routes for the Portugal Golden Visa
The following investment options provide a brief overview of the Portugal Golden Visa options open to you:
- Residential real estate: Buy residential real estate in a designated interior area of Portugal that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the residential property is located in a designated low-density area, then there is a 20% discount that will apply.
- Commercial real estate: Buy commercial real estate anywhere in the country that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project). If the commercial property is located in a designated low-density area, then there is a 20% discount that will apply.
- Buy real estate in Maderia or the Azores: Buy residential or commercial property anywhere on Portugal’s autonomous islands of Madeira and Azores that is worth are least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project).
- Fund subscription: Make a contribution in an investment qualified fund that is worth at least €500,000 (or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project).
- Capital transfer: Make a capital transfer of at least €1.5 million
- Scientific Research: Science or Technology research contribution of at least €500,000
- Job Creation: Company incorporation and creation of ten jobs amounting to a minimum value of €500,000
- Arts or National Heritage Donation: Support the arts or reconstruction of national heritage with a donation of at least €250,000.
In addition to this, the tax breaks and, in certain cases, tax exemptions, also attract investors. Portugal imposes no inheritance tax, wealth tax, and gift tax on expat property owners. This is a big attraction for investors and the Aga Khan Portugal community, making Portugal an excellent option for them to live.
Real estate in Portugal
To secure a residency permit in Portugal, you will need to buy residential property amounting to at least €500,000 in an interior area. Alternatively, you can invest in residential real estate rehabilitation in an interior area for a minimum of €350,000. With this, you can qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa (provided that you meet all the criteria) and will, at first, receive a temporary residence certificate. You will need to renew this every two years for five years. After this, you can apply for permanent residency and, subsequently Portuguese citizenship.
Note that to invest in commercial property for the scheme, you can invest anywhere in the country (ie. there are no location limits).
A guide to the interior areas that are eligible for buying residential real estate as part of the Portugal Golden Visa program can be found here Low density areas in Portugal / Golden Visa eligible interior areas
Benefits of Golden Visa for non-EU citizens
As previously mentioned, there are other investment options to apply for the Golden Visa, but real estate purchases are the most popular.
If you obtain Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa scheme, you have an entryway to the rest of the EU countries. Indeed, you are easily able to access the European market to conduct your business. Alongside business opportunities, the residence permit allows you to travel across the Schengen area visa-free. Additionally, your family is able to travel with you. If you obtain citizenship, you can secure a second passport (if your host country permits dual nationally, Portugal does). Armed with a Portuguese passport, you then have visa free access to 172 countries.
Demand for properties and business in Lisbon
Lisbon is a hot spot for property investments. The city attracts high net worth individuals from Turkey, India, the United Arab Emirates, amongst many others. Investors from these nations come to enjoy the many perks of Portugal. For example, Indian and Pakistan investors can enjoy better business tax laws and mortgage rates and can guarantee their future in another country.
Lisbon has also become somewhat of a global tech and startup hub, perhaps illustrated best by Websummt, the largest tech festival in the world, moving to Lisbon in 2016. Alongside this, several big companies have set up shop in Lisbon, including Amazon Web Services, Oracle, and Huawei. The exciting business sector in Portugal is another incentive for Middle East investors looking to expand their businesses.
Indeed, Lisbon is a vibrant city for finance, business, and tourism, with a thriving real estate market. The city has everything you could need and ample opportunities to increase your investment portfolio and expand your personal and financial freedoms.
In contrast to the heavy tax burdens in many other countries, Portugal offers attractive tax breaks for expats. As an example, for expat property owners there is no taxation on wealth, inheritance tax, or gift tax. For the Aga Khan Portugal community, this is a key attraction to the country.
Portugal also has signed a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with over 60 countries, which you can benefit from on both an individual and corporate level. Basically, if you pay taxes for your foreign income in your country of origin, then you will not have to pay the same tax in Portugal. You will, however, be required to prove to the Portuguese authorities that you are already paying taxes in the other country.
This is without mentioning one of Portugal’s greatest selling points for expats — the Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) program. If you opt into the program, you can benefit from the NHR for a duration of ten years. In essence, you can be exempt from taxation on most of your foreign income. Alongside this, you will be subject to a flat rate of 20% taxation on your Portuguese income.
To be eligible for the NHR program, there are some requirements. One of them is not to have been a tax resident in Portugal within the preceding five years. Secondly, you will need to have the right to residency in Portugal. Usually, EU/EEA/Swiss citizens can apply for residency and benefit from the NHR program. However, other citizens will first need to obtain residency rights in Portugal, which is why the Portugal Golden Visa program is an excellent option.
Future of the Real Estate Market in Portugal
Portugal has become a hub for real estate, tourism, business, and investment opportunities. The country’s economy is growing healthily and its capital Lisbon is the go-to location for many. The Aga Khan Portugal Community can embrace a thriving real estate market. In Lisbon, the city mixes tradition with innovation, offering excellent opportunities for investors and expats.
How GCS can help you
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. We work solely on behalf of our clients throughout the process for an easy and hassle-free journey to your desired route.
With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, get in touch today to see how we can understand your objectives and help you move towards becoming a global citizen.
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Frequently asked questions about Aga Khan in Portugal:
When did the AGa Khan community move to Portugal?
Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismaili branch of Shiite Islam, moved the Ismail Inamate’s Secretariat from Aiglemont, France, to Lisbon in 2015. Since then, Lisbon has become a popular place with the Ismaili community, where they often visit and have created a natural bond with the country. There are close relations between Portugal and the Ismaili community in improving people’s quality of life, both in Portugal and across the world.
What is the Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa program is one of the most successful residency by investment schemes in the world. There are a number of benefits to the scheme, including a short stay requirement, visa free travel to the EU and Schengen area, and increased financial freedoms. Additionally, all the family is able to enjoy the benefits of the scheme.
The Portugal Golden Visa allows non-EU investors to secure residency, and ultimately citizenship through naturlaization. There are different routes to secure the residence permit, including through government bonds, investment funds, and donations into the arts. However, investment into real estate is the most popular route, as investors consider property purchases as an investment for the future.
What are the requirements of the Portugal Golden Visa?
To secure a residency permit in Portugal through the residential real estate pathway, you will need to buy residential property amounting to at least €500,000 in an interior area. Alternatively, you can invest in residential real estate rehabilitation in an interior area for a minimum of €350,000. With this, you can qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa (provided that you meet all the criteria) and will, at first, receive a temporary residence certificate. You will need to renew this every two years for five years. After this, you can apply for permanent residency and, subsequently Portuguese citizenship.
For other pathways to the Portugal Golden Visa, you can see our complete step-by-step guide here.
Why should I invest in the Portugal Golden Visa?
The Portugal Golden Visa has many advantages. This includes a short stay requirement, visa free travel to the EU and Schengen area, and increased financial freedoms. Additionally, all the family is able to enjoy the benefits of the scheme.