Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa: Which Program To Pick?

In our guide to Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa, we compare the two country programs so you can make an informed decision about which residency by investment program to seek.

Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa: an overview

With golden beaches, enticing foods, and excellent weather, both Spain and Portugal offer safe and stable lifestyles in the heart of Europe. To encourage foreign investment and boost the state economy, both nations have adopted the popular Golden Visa scheme in Europe — attracting hundreds of investors each year.

The Golden Visa program offers legal residence through investment — often property investment — in the nation. Provided that all program requirements are met, non-EU nationals can typically obtain permanent residency or citizenship in the long run, with full access to the EU.

While both Spain and Portugal offer golden visas, the program requirements and conditions differ. So in our guide to Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa, we tell you everything there is to know about both programs.

Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa benefits

Portugal and Spain both offer fantastic benefits when it comes to the Golden Visa.

Visa-free travel to 26 EU nations as part of the Schengen zone Visa-free travel to 26 EU nations as part of the Schengen zone
The right to live, work and study in the country The right to live, work and study in the country
Immediate family eligible for residency Immediate family eligible for residency
Plan B to put your mind at ease in times of economic or political instability Plan B to put your mind at ease in times of economic or political instability
Easy application renewal process Easy application renewal process

Application time


3-6 months20 business days

Spain’s Golden Visa application processing time is fast and efficient. Once the paperwork is submitted, it usually takes 20 business days for the visa to be approved. 

Portugal’s Golden Visa processing time is comparably slower, taking between 3-6 months for the golden visa to be approved. 

Citizenship timeline


After 5 yearsAfter 10 year

Spain’s Golden Visa scheme doesn’t automatically grant you citizenship unless you’re a national from one of Spain’s former colonies. These nations include Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Philippines, Cuba, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Panama, and Paraguay.

Nationals from these countries enjoy fast-track to citizenship privileges, with passports being granted in 2 short years, provided that the short stay requirements are met. These requirements include the need to travel every 2 and a half months to 3 months or 8 times in total to Spain within the two-year period. These residency requirements for citizenship are made possible with a multiple exits Golden Visa, as long as none of the trips last longer than 3 consecutive months.

If you’re not a national from these former Spanish colonies, the normal Golden Visa route lets you first live as a temporary resident in Spain, with an opportunity to become a permanent resident (PR) after the first five-year period. To become a PR, you must physically reside in Spain for 183 days per year. You can only apply for Spanish citizenship after you live in the country for ten years.

While Portugal’s Golden Visa program also doesn’t grant you citizenship straight away, the process of acquiring PR and citizenship is less complicated and faster. You can apply for PR after five years, without the need to live in Portugal. You’re eligible for citizenship after the fifth year. Note that Portugal has a policy of offering automatic citizenship to individuals of Sephardic jew descendency. To learn more, check out our Portuguese citizenship for Sephardic jews guide here.

Golden Visa general requirements

Applicant must be over 18
Clean criminal record
Hold valid medical insurance & health certificate
Enough funds to live in the country
Not on the list of undesirables
Not have been previously refused visas or entry in Schengen zone
Make qualifying investment and maintain it for 5 years

Golden Visa residence rules


7-day first year
(14 days every two years after.)
Visit Spain once every year

Spain’s Golden Visa requirements are flexible. There is no residency requirement to maintain the Golden Visa. You must only visit Spain once in the first year for your biometrics collections session, and once each time the permit is renewed. 

Meanwhile, Portugal has a minimum 7-day requirement in the first year, then no less than 14 days every two years after.

Family eligibility 


Spouse and dependent children
(under 18 years old or still completing studies)
Spouse, dependent parents and children under the age of 18

For Spain, the investor’s spouse, children under the age of 18, as well as parents can be included as dependents on an application.

Portugal’s Golden Visa allows a spouse and dependent children (under 18 years old or still completing studies) to be included under the ‘family reunion’ application, however, not parents.

Golden Visa Portugal vs Spain investment comparison


Most affordable investment route€250,000 arts donationBuy real estate that’s at least worth €500,000 
Investment optionsReal estate, renovations, business startup, research, private equity funds, capital transfer, national heritage fundsReal estate, business shares, government bonds
AnalysisMore competitive investment options and lower investment thresholds than Spain.While Spain has fewer investment options and is more expensive, its real estate market is just as dynamic and strong as Portugal’s. 

Tax Advantages


NHR Tax Regime
(10 years)
24.75% on income derived in the country

Portugal’s Golden Visa program offers the ultimate tax advantage. Foreign investors who intend to live in Portugal can benefit from the NHR Portugal Tax Scheme, which allows tax-exemptions for its holders for up to ten years. Exemptions include income obtained from pensions, dependent, independent work, capital, real estate income, capital gains, intellectual or industrial property. Portugal’s property transfer tax is also extremely beneficial for foreign investors looking to set up a home in Portugal since expats end up paying the same tax rates as local residents.

In Spain, investors are taxed on their worldwide income if they live in Spain for over 183 days per year. For non-resident individuals, tax is charged at 24.75% on income derived in the country, like rental income. 

Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa application costs to consider

Initial government application fee€80 per applicant€70 per applicant
Approval fee€5,857 per visa holder€5,000 per visa holder
First visa renewal fee€3,195.20 per visa holder€3,000 per visa holder
Second visa renewal fee€3,195 per applicant€3,000 per visa holder

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Frequently asked questions about Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa

What is Portugal’s Golden Visa program?

Portugal’s Golden Visa program, commonly referred to as the Resident Permit for Investment, is a program that fast-tracks Portuguese residency in exchange for a qualifying investment. The initial Golden Visa grants its holders a temporary residence permit for a year, with options for renewal up to 5 years. Afterward, investors can apply for permanent residency and even Portuguese citizenship.

What is Spain’s Golden Visa program?

Spain’s Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment visa program, allowing non-EU foreigners to become residents in exchange for making a qualifying investment in the country. Qualified applicants and immediate family members are issued with a residency visa, with possible pathways to permanent residency after five years, and Spanish citizenship after ten years

Is Portugal’s Golden Visa cheaper than Spain’s Golden Visa?

Portugal’s Golden Visa Program does have a lower investment requirement than Spain. Investments start from €250,000 arts donation, however, most investors choose to buy property at the value of or exceeding €500,000. For Spain’s Golden Visa, the minimum investment option is to buy property at the value of or exceeding €500,000.

Which program is quicker: Spain vs Portugal Golden Visa?

Spain’s Golden Visa program lets you obtain a temporary residence permit in as little as 2 months. In contrast, to get a Portugal Golden Visa, it can take up to six months since the application approval time is slower.

Our commitment to you

At Global Citizen Solutions, we work solely on your behalf. We are dedicated to providing a specialized service to each of our clients with the knowledge that comes with years of expertise, as well as access to a proprietary database of market information. We give the insight and data analysis to allow our clients to make investments with confidence.

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