Recent changes to the Portugal residency law mean that Golden Visa holders can obtain Portuguese permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship and Portuguese passports after just five years of applying for their temporary residence permit.

In this article, we’ll delve into the Portugal residency law changes and provide you with vital information about the Portugal Golden Visa, including:

  • Changes to the Portugal residency law (officially the Portuguese Nationality Law and often known as the Portuguese citizenship law)
  • Portugal citizenship by investment precedence
  • Benefits of Portugal residency by investment
  • How to apply for Portugal residency by investment
  • How to get a Portuguese passport through investment
  • Investment options for the Portugal Golden Visa

Portuguese Residency Law: Obtaining Portuguese Citizenship by Investment

To provide you with some context, the Portuguese government introduced the Portugal Golden Visa program in 2012. Since then, the scheme has become one of the most popular programs of its kind in the world. For a minimum qualifying investment you can be eligible for a Portugal Golden Visa, which is effectively a residence permit. If you apply and receive approval, you need to spend an average of only seven days per year in Portugal for five years to be eligible for Portuguese citizenship.

Changes to Portuguese residency law: Positive news for Golden Visa applicants

In the past five years, the Portuguese residency law has undergone significant changes, which is good news for Golden Visa applicants who intend to become Portuguese citizens, as it streamlines the process for obtaining Portuguese citizenship.

2024 changes to the Portuguese citizenship law

In 2024, an amendment to the Portuguese Nationality Law, Organic Law 1/2024 of March 5th received formal approval and was published in the national gazette. It was implemented by the Portuguese parliament in April 2024. The impact of the new law is that the legal residence period required for obtaining Portuguese citizenship begins from the time that you apply for a temporary residence permit rather than the time elapsed since your temporary residence permit was issued.

This is positive news, as it means that administrative delays at AIMA in processing temporary residence permit applications will not impact the legal residence period. To give you an example of the difference this will make, if you applied for a Golden Visa in March 2023 and you are still waiting for a biometric data appointment or to receive your residency permit, you would be able to submit your Portuguese nationality application in March 2028.

This new amendment follows changes to the Portuguese citizenship law in 2018.

2018 changes to the Portuguese citizenship law

When the Portuguese Golden Visa program was first launched, the Portuguese citizenship law stated that residents could make a citizenship application after six years of residence. However, in 2018, the Portuguese citizenship law was amended, with the number of years dropping to a five-year requirement.

Portugal Golden Visa holders can obtain Portuguese citizenship and a Portuguese passport after fulfilling the 35-day stay requirement over five years. Before this change in legislation, Golden Visa permit holders had to be residents in Portugal for a sixth year before applying for a Portuguese passport.

2019 was a landmark year for Portugal’s Golden Visa program, as was the first year since the program’s introduction that Golden Visa investors were obtaining Portuguese citizenship.


The Portugal Golden Visa program has recently undergone substantial changes. The new legislation, which took effect in October 2023, eliminated the purchase of real estate and real-estate-related funds as qualifying investment options for the program. 

However, several attractive investment routes still maintain their eligibility for the program. To learn more, please refer to our comprehensive guide: Portugal Golden Visa

Portuguese Residency Law: Portugal Citizenship by Investment Precedence

An important question to ask when it comes to the Portugal Golden Visa program is, has anyone become a Portuguese citizen through the Golden Visa Program?

As the Portugal Golden Visa program was only implemented in 2012, and six years of legal residence in Portugal was required to apply for Portuguese citizenship, this was tricky to answer in the first few years. However, since 2019, many families have become Portuguese citizens, with the Portuguese residency law changes making it easier for applicants to secure citizenship.

Benefits of Portugal Residency by Investment

The Portuguese Golden Visa program is one of the most successful in Europe, attracting investors from all over the world. Here, we’ll provide you with some of the key benefits of Portuguese residency by investment. 

Low “stay requirement”

Portugal’s low “stay requirement” (the number of days you have to spend in the country in order to maintain legal residency) is one of the main reasons why the program has remained consistently popular in comparison to similar schemes in Europe.

Golden Visa investors don’t have to relocate

Whereas most European citizenship-by-investment programs require applicants to maintain their investment as well as spend the majority of the year in the country, the Portuguese Golden Visa program has a stay requirement of just seven days in the first year and 35 days in total.

Inexpensive investment options

One of the other factors that have made the Portuguese residency-by-investment program one of the most popular in Europe is the inexpensive investment options. 

Investments for the Portuguese Golden Visa can be made starting at just €250,000, and there are a number of different options to choose from.

High returns for investment

The strength of the Portuguese economy also means that investors can expect higher returns for their investments than in other similar programs, particularly via the investment fund option.

Social Security

The social security system in Portugal covers employees and self-employed individuals. It offers them benefits, including: 

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Pension benefits
  • Occupational disease benefits
  • Invalidity benefits
  • Maternity benefits
  • Death benefits


As a Portuguese citizen, you will get access to Portugal’s healthcare system. Public healthcare is very good, and there are only a few exceptions that are not covered. These include visiting the doctor or emergency room, where a fee of €5-20 is required.

Portugal Golden Visa Guide: Explore your options for residency by investment

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How to apply for Portugal residency-by-investment

Our team at Global Citizen Solutions has a 100% success rate with Golden Visa applications.

With our extensive knowledge of the Portuguese market and legal system, we can provide you with personalized advice throughout the process, ensuring that you always make the best possible decisions with your investment.

Our pricing is competitive and transparent, which means you will always know what to expect.

Get in touch with a member of our team for a free initial consultation.

UK citizens can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. You can read our article on the Portugal Golden Visa for UK citizens for further information.

How to Get a Portuguese Passport by Investment

Portuguese citizenship investment is not possible, and you cannot buy a Portuguese passport. However, with the Portuguese Golden Visa, you can secure residency. Following this, after five years, you can apply for citizenship and a Portuguese passport. Here, you’ll find the necessary procedures and requirements to get a Portuguese passport by investment. 

Portugal citizenship residency requirements

In order to apply for Portugal citizenship by investment, applicants must:

  • Not already hold EU citizenship
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Be over 18
  • Make and maintain an investment of at least €250,000 in Portugal over a 5-year period
  • Spend at least 35 days in Portugal over 5 years
  • Pass a basic A2 Portuguese language test

Documents required:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport, ID, or Birth certificate from your country of origin
  • Clean criminal record
  • Portuguese residence permit
  • Proof of passing your Portuguese language test (CIPLE)
  • A document from SEF to prove that you have been a residency in Portugal for a time period of at least five years

Language requirements

You will need to pass the CIPLE A2 level basic Portuguese language test in order to be granted Portuguese citizenship. 

The test can be adapted for children under the age of ten years old or for individuals with a disability. Additionally, children who are between the ages of 10-18 can be exempt from taking the test, as long as they attend a Portuguese school or you can provide a declaration of proficiency. 

You can see more about the Portuguese language test in our article here

Who can apply for residency by investment in Portugal?

Any adult with a clean criminal record who is from a non-EU country can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa Program. 

How long does it take to get citizenship by investment in Portugal?

Once you have made your qualifying investment and received your Portugal Golden Visa, it will take five years to be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship and a passport. The language test can be taken at any time before the application. According to Portuguese residency law changes, you can now apply for citizenship in five years. After you apply for citizenship, it will take approximately six months to be naturalized in Portugal.

Dual Citizenship in Portugal

If you are concerned about dual citizenship, you should have no problem retaining your current passport (provided your country of origin allows for dual citizenship). Portugal allows you to obtain Portuguese nationality, without compromising your citizenship status from another country. 

Exploring Visa and Immigration Options for Portugal

If you're considering making the move to Portugal, it's essential to be informed about the various visa and residency options available. The Golden Visa Portugal program is an attractive option for many, offering residency to investors and their families. For those eyeing retirement in this beautiful country, the Retirement Visa (D7) is tailored for you. Digital nomads can take advantage of both short and long stay options with the Nomad Visa (D8). Meanwhile, the NHR - Non Habitual Tax regime provides significant tax benefits for new residents. 

For the entrepreneurial spirit, Portugal offers the Entrepreneurship/startup Visa (D2) - Start-up Visa (open company) tailored for those looking to establish their businesses in the country. Those with specialized skills can explore the Work visa for highly qualified employees (D3). Additionally, if you have Portuguese ancestry, you might be eligible for Citizenship by descent

However, moving to a new country isn't just about visas. If you're thinking of buying property, our guide on Buying Property in Portugal can offer invaluable insights. Dive deeper into the immigration process with our comprehensive Portugal immigration guide. For Americans specifically looking to relocate, we have curated information on Americans moving to Portugal. Lastly, one can't forget the importance of the NIF (Tax Registration Number), a crucial step in any relocation process. 


Why choose Global Citizen Solutions for your Immigration Visa?


  • GCS has offices located across Portugal.
  • Members of the US-Portugal and UK-Portugal Chambers of Commerce in Portugal, and the Investment Migration Council (IMC).
  • Our expert team can help you throughout your journey to secure your Visa. 


  • Our successful track record in applications provides reassurance to applicants. 
  • We have helped clients from more than 35 countries secure residency in Portugal.


  • With a single channel of communication, our approach ensures that you have complete clarity on your application. 
  • Our BeGlobal® Onboarding System allows for a total flow of information.


  • Our pricing is clear and detailed, you will not face any hidden costs.
  • All data is stored within a GDPR-compliant database on a secure SSL-encrypted server.

Frequently Asked Questions About How the Portuguese Residency Law Changes

What are the new immigration laws in Portugal?

Portugal amended its Nationality Law in 2024, with one of the most notable changes involving the method for calculating the five-year residence requirement for obtaining nationality, which will now factor in the date of residence application rather than the date of residence approval.

What is the implication of the new Nationality Law for Portuguese passport applications?

The new law regarding nationality in Portugal means the process of making a citizenship application through naturalization and applying for a Portuguese passport is streamlined.

You can now apply for citizenship five years after applying for your residence permit; the previous requirement was you had to wait five years after your residence permit was granted.

This means that administrative delays at AIMA in processing your residence permit will not impact your waiting period to apply for citienship.

Do I need to live in Portugal to maintain legal residency?

Following the Portuguese residency law changes made in 2019, for the Portuguese Golden Visa program, there is a stay requirement of just 7 days in the first year and 35 days in total over 5 years to maintain legal residency in Portugal.