Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa: Which Program Should You Pick?

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

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visas: An Overview

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

The Golden Visa programs offer legal residency through investment in their respective nation, often through real estate property investments. Provided that all program requirements are met, non-EEA, non-Swiss, and non-EU nationals can typically obtain permanent residency, and citizenship in the long run, with full access to the European Union (EU).

While both Spain and Portugal offer Golden Visas, the program requirements and conditions differ. In our Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa guide, we’ll 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 instability or political unrest Plan B to put your mind at ease in times of economic instability or political unrest
Easy application renewal process Easy application renewal process

Application Processing Time

PORTUGAL

At least 18 months after online submission

SPAIN

20 business days

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

Portugal’s Golden Visa processing time is comparably slower, as it takes at least 18 months after the online submission.

Timeline to citizenship

PORTUGAL

After five years

SPAIN

After ten year

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

Nationals from these countries can fast-track their citizenship applications, and receive passports within two short years, provided the short stay requirements are met. These requirements include traveling every two and a half months to three months – or eight 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 three consecutive months.

Suppose you’re not a national from these former Spanish colonies. In that case, the regular 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 have lived in the country for ten years.

While the Portuguese Golden Visa scheme also doesn’t grant you citizenship straight away, acquiring PR and citizenship is less complicated and faster. You can apply for PR after five years without living in Portugal. You’re eligible for citizenship after the fifth year. Portugal has a policy of offering automatic citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews. To learn more, check out our article: Portuguese citizenship for Sephardic Jews.

Golden Visa Requirements

GENERAL REQUIREMENT

PORTUGAL

SPAIN

Applicant must be over 18

Hold a clean criminal record

Hold valid medical insurance & health certificate

Show proof of sufficient funds to sustain your residency in the country

Not on the list of undesirables

Not have been previously refused visas or entry into the Schengen Zone

Make the qualifying investment and maintain it for five years

Golden Visa residence rules

PORTUGAL

Seven days in the first year, and 14 days every two years after that

SPAIN

Visit Spain once every year

The Spain Golden Visa program 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 seven-day requirement in the first year, then no less than 14 days every two years after that.

Family eligibility

PORTUGAL

Spouse and dependent children under 18, or children still completing studies, dependent parents

SPAIN

Spouse, dependent parents, and children under the age of 18

For Spain, the primary applicant’s spouse, children under 18, and dependent parents can all be included in the same Golden Visa application.

The Portugal Golden Visa allows the spouse and dependent children – under 18 or still completing studies – to be included under the ‘family reunion’ application. Parents of either spouse, if over 66 years old (or 55 and dependent), can also be included in the application.

Golden Visa Portugal vs. Spain: Investment Comparison

GOLDEN VISA INVESTMENT

PORTUGAL

SPAIN

Most affordable investment program route

€250,000 arts donation

Buy real estate that’s worth at least €500,000 

Investment options

Real estate, renovations, business startup, research, private equity funds, capital transfer, national heritage funds

Real estate, business shares, government bonds, bank deposits

Analysis

More 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

PORTUGAL

NHR Tax Regime – up to ten years

SPAIN

24% on income derived in the country

Portugal’s Golden Visa program offers the ultimate tax resident advantage. Foreign investors who intend to live in Portugal can benefit from the Non-Habitual Residence (NHR) Portugal Tax Regime, which allows tax exemptions for its holders for up to ten years.

Exemptions include income obtained from pensions, dependent and independent work, real estate income, capital gains, and intellectual or industrial property. Portugal’s property transfer tax is also highly beneficial for foreign investors looking to set up a home in Portugal, since expats end up paying the same tax rates as 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% on income derived in the country, such as rental income.

Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Application Costs to Consider

GOLDEN VISA INVESTMENT

PORTUGAL

SPAIN

Initial government application fee

Around €533 per applicant

About €250 per applicant

Approval fee

Around €5,857 per visa holder

€8,000 per visa holder

First visa renewal fee

€1,000 to €2,500 per visa holder

€2,500 per visa holder

Second visa renewal fee

€1,000 to €2,500 per visa holder

€2,500 per visa holder

Kindly note that visa fees are subject to change depending on the respective government’s decision.

Which Golden Visa is better, Spain or Portugal?

Regarding having a ‘Golden Visa Europe comparison’ between Spain and Portugal, it’s best to determine what option is better for you by speaking with experts in the field to guide you on your most suitable route to European residency. Also, consider whether you would like to move to Spain or Portugal, as each country is entirely different from the other and will have its pros and cons.

Regarding costs, the Portuguese Golden Visa Program has a lower investment requirement than Spain. Investments start from €250,000 for art donations. However, most investors buy property at or exceeding €280,000 or €500,000, depending on the property’s location. The minimum investment option for Spain’s Golden Visa is to purchase property at or exceeding €500,000.

Suppose you are considering gaining European Union citizenship. In that case, Portugal offers the quickest route, whereby you can apply for permanent residence and citizenship after maintaining your residency in the country for five years. For Spain, it will take ten years to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

Both Golden Visa programs will have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is best to speak with an expert in the field to discuss your options.

How can Global Citizen Solutions help me?

Investors can encounter many difficulties when applying for citizenship or residency, which is why it is beneficial to have an expert on hand to provide you with personalized assistance throughout the process.

A specialist can help you with the following:

  • Minimize the visits you have to make to the designated country
  • Have someone who works solely on your behalf
  • Reduce the hassle associated with putting your application together
  • Acquire insider knowledge from someone with years of experience in the market

Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to obtain European residency and citizenship by naturalization. Contact us by filling out the contact form below.

Need more information on Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Programs?

Take a look at our Spain Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Watch our Spain and Portugal comparison video

Frequently Asked Questions about Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa Programs

What is Portugal's Golden Visa program?

Portugal’s Golden Visa program fast-tracks Portuguese residency in exchange for a qualifying investment in the nation. The initial Golden Visa grants holders a temporary Golden Visa residence permit for a year, with options for renewal for up to 5 years, leading to citizenship.

What is Spain's Golden Visa program?

Spain’s Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment scheme that grants non-EU foreigners residency rights in exchange for a qualifying investment. Successful applicants and their family members are issued a residency visa that leads to permanent residency after five years, and Spanish citizenship after ten years.

Is Portugal's Golden Visa cheaper than the Spanish Golden Visa?

Depending on the route of investment. Most investors choose to buy Portuguese property at or exceeding €280,000 or €500,000 depending on its location. The minimum investment option for the Spanish Golden Visa is to purchase property at or exceeding €500,000.

Which program is quicker: Spain vs. Portugal Golden Visa?

The Spanish Golden Visa program grants applicants a temporary residence permit in as little as two months. In contrast, getting a Portugal Golden Visa can take up to six months since the application approval time is slower.

Is it cheaper to live in Portugal or Spain?

According to Numbeo, consumer prices – including rent – in Spain are 7.49% higher than in Portugal.

Which country is best for a Golden Visa?

One Golden Visa program may be more advantageous depending on your personal, financial, and business goals. However, if a quick route to EU citizenship is what you seek, Portugal may be the better option after you make a Golden Visa comparison.

Is it easier to get residency in Portugal or Spain?

Spain’s Golden Visa program has a faster processing time, whereby you could receive your residency within 20 days after lodging your application. However, Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme provides a lower investment threshold.

Which EU country has the cheapest Golden Visa?

Out of the two programs, you could say that Portugal offers the cheapest route to European residency and citizenship by naturalization, with the Portugal Golden Visa €280,000 real estate option.

How long can I stay in Spain with a Golden Visa?

You can stay in Spain for as long as possible with a Golden Visa, provided you maintain your investment and abide by the government’s requirements and criteria. You become eligible for Spanish citizenship after maintaining your residency for ten years.


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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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