Golden Visa in Portugal: An Ultimate Guide

If you are a non-EU citizen looking to invest in Europe, move to Europe, or just hold a residence permit in Europe as a security measure, the Portugal Golden Visa program makes all of these possible.

Residence and citizenship by investment programs are quite popular these days.  Although the Golden Visa Portugal is a residence by investment program, indirectly it leads to Portugal citizenship by investment.  That is why it is one of the most popular programs in Europe.

What is the Golden Visa?

Golden Visa is a temporary residence permit program in Portugal, granted to third country citizens, who are not European Union citizens, in exchange for making a certain type of investment in the country.  How?

An individual wants to get residence permit in Portugal for himself/herself and her family, without having to live in Portugal full time.  He or she makes a qualifying investment in Portugal and becomes eligible to apply for the Golden Visa for himself/herself and her family members.  A list of qualifying investments can be found later on in this page.

Individuals, who do not have a European Union nationality, but intend to live in Portugal and become tax residents, may also make use of the Golden Visa residence by investment program to obtain valid residence permits.

What are the main benefits of the Golden Visa Program?

The Golden Visa Portugal provides its applicants with the following advantages:

  • The right to enter and stay in Portugal with no additional travel visa,
  • The right to live and work in Portugal
  • The freedom to travel across the Schengen Area without an additional travel visa,
  • The right to benefit from family reunification and add family members to the Golden Visa program
  • The right to apply for a permanent residence or for citizenship after five years

What are the qualifying investments to get Golden Visa Portugal?

The program requires the applicant to make an investment in Portugal directly and maintain it as long as they want to keep the Golden Visa.  It cannot be any investment, it needs to be either one of the below qualifying investments to have the right to apply for a Golden Visa:

  • Acquisition of a real estate property in Portugal in the amount of 500,000 EUR or more:
    • One or more properties, provided that the total amount exceeds 500,000 EUR,
    • Any type of real estate property including commercial, residential, agricultural, etc
    • Any amount up to 500,000 EUR per applicant needs to come directly from the investor’s account outside of Portugal into his or her account in Portugal; any amount that exceeds the 500,000 EUR can be taken as a mortgage from a Portuguese bank,
    • If there are more than one main applicants, the investment can also be a larger one, qualifying multiple main applicants; example: one property in the value of 1,000,000 EUR would satisfy the Golden Visa application of two investors,
    • If the acquired property is located in a low-density population area in Portugal, then the minimum investment amount is reduced 20% to 400,000 EUR,
  • Acquisition of a real estate property in Portugal, which is over 30 years old, or located in an urban rehabilitation area with additional retrofit works, in the amount of 350,000 EUR or more:
    • If the acquired property fits the above requirements and is located in a low-density population area in Portugal, then the minimum investment amount is reduced 20% to 280,000 EUR,
  • Investment in the amount of 350,000 EUR or more in a qualifying investment fund in Portugal,
  • Capital transfer in the amount of 1,000,000 EUR or more,
  • Creation of a minimum of ten new full time jobs in Portugal,
  • Investment of a minimum of 350,000 EUR in research and development activities,
  • Investment of a minimum of 250,000 EUR in artistic production, recovery, or maintenance of national cultural heritage.

What requirements does the investor need to fulfill?

The Golden Visa program in Portugal has very few requirements from the investor.  The program makes sure that as long as the investor complies with the investment requirements, he/she and his/her family gets the residence permit in Portugal.

All Golden Visa investors must comply with the following requirements:

  • Keep the investment for a minimum period of five years*
  • Investment funds must come from the main applicant’s account outside of Portugal
  • Initial entry into Portugal with a valid Schengen Visa
  • Absence of any previous red flags in the Portuguese Immigration Service and the Schengen Area countries
  • Clean criminal record
  • Minimum stay in Portugal: fourteen days per each two-year period that the permit is granted for

* At the end of the five year period, the investor may choose to continue with permanent residence or citizenship, at which point, the investment can be liquidated. 

You can read our article on the preferred investment types for Portugal Golden Visa

How long is the Golden Visa valid?

The Golden Visa is issued as two year residence permits at a time.  After each two year period, the residence permit needs to be renewed.  For the initial issuance and each renewal, the Golden Visa holders need to get an appointment at SEF and physically go in to share biometrics data.

Is it possible to extend the Golden Visa to family members?

Yes, absolutely.  The Golden Visa Portugal program allows the main applicant to extend the Golden Visa residence permits to his or her family members.  The right that corresponds to this is called “family reunification”.  Which family members are eligible for the Golden Visa?  Well, the main applicant’s spouse, and dependent family members.  These include children under the age of 18, children over the age of 18, but that are full time students, single, and financially dependent on the main applicant.  The financially dependent parents of the main applicant can also be added to the program.

Once they receive the Golden Visa, family members have the same rights, as well as the requirements, as the main applicants.  So family members are eligible to apply for permanent residence and for citizenship at the end of five years.

How can the Golden Visa investor and family obtain permanent residence after five years?

Under Portuguese law, anyone with a legal Portuguese residence permit is eligible to apply for permanent residence after holding the permit for a duration of five years and fulfilling the requirements of the permit.  Golden Visa is a legal residence permit that qualifies the applicant for this law.

In order to become permanent residents in Portugal, the main applicant and family members need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Obtain clean criminal records from their country of residence and from Portugal
  • Provide proof of income or financial independence
  • Provide proof of accommodation in PortugalBasic knowledge of Portuguese; passing an A2 level language test

How can the Golden Visa investor and family obtain Portuguese citizenship?

Under Portuguese law, anyone with a legal Portuguese residence permit is eligible to apply for citizenship at the end of completing five years with the residence permit, as long as he or she fulfills all the requirements of the corresponding permit.  Golden Visa is also a legal residence permit that qualifies the applicant for this law.

In order to become Portuguese nationals, the main applicant and family members need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Obtain clean criminal records from their country of residence and from Portugal
  • Be at least 18 years of age or dependant of a qualifying parent
  • Basic knowledge of Portuguese; passing an A2 level language test

The biggest advantage of Portugal Golden Visa against the Spain Golden Visa and the Greece Golden Visa is the fact that it leads to European citizenship without the need to reside full time in the country.

Can an investor be refused for a Golden Visa at initial application or at renewal?

The investor or dependant will only be refused for the issuance or renewal of a Golden Visa if:

  • He/she has not met the minimum stay requirement in Portugal,
  • He/she has not maintained the qualifying investment,
  • He/she has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than a year,
  • He/she causes a public health hazard in accordance to the World Health Organization definitions,
  • He/she causes a national threat in Portugal in terms of safety, public health or order.

After five years, what happens to the investment?

At the end of five years, the Golden Visa holders may apply for permanent residence or citizenship.  In case they pursue either one of these, the investment can then be sold or liquidated and the corresponding investment amount no longer needs to stay in Portugal.

If the applicant decides to continue with the Golden Visa temporary residence permit and not become a permanent resident or a Portuguese national, then in that case, the investment needs to be maintained in order to continue with the Golden Visa status.

If the investor is no longer interested in keeping the Golden Visa, can he or she sell the investment at any time?

Yes, he or she can sell off the investment, as long as the Golden Visa status is no longer desired to be kept.  Without proof that the investment is maintained, the Golden Visa will not be renewed by the Porutguese government.

Does the investor need to use the property or can it be rented out?

The investor does not need to occupy the investment property, he or she can rent it out to generate rental revenue.

What documents are required to apply?

There is a set of documents needed to apply for the Golden Visa in Portugal.  Typically your law firm will be helpful with this process. You can find out more about the documents needed for the Portugal Golden Visa here.

What are the costs and taxes of purchasing real estate in Portugal?

There are three taxes related to acquiring and owning real estate in Portugal.

Acquisition taxes:

  • IMT (Municipal Tax of Real Estate Transaction) is related to the transfer of property ownership; it ranges between 2.5% to 7% depending on the acquisition price and property type
  • Stamp Duty: typically 0.8% of the purchase price

Ownership tax:

  • IMI (Municipal Property Tax): an annual tax, typically between 0.3% and 0.5% of the property value in recorded in the municipality

Note: The exact amount of taxes varies in accordance to the real value acquisition price.

Is a Golden Visa holder obliged to pay income tax in Portugal on his or her income in the rest of the world?

No.  The Golden Visa holder is only required to pay taxes on his or her income within Portugal.  He or she has no responsibility in the worldwide income, as long as he or she is not a tax resident (residing more than 183 days in Portugal within a year) in Portugal.

Even in a scenario where an investor chooses to reside full time in Portugal and become a Portuguese tax resident, the Non Habitual Residence (NHR) program provides a lot of tax benefits for foreigners

What is the rental income tax in Portugal?

Rental income and income from equity (interest, dividends, etc.) is taxed at a flat rate of 28% in Portugal.

What are the changes made to the Portugal Golden Visa in 2020?

The Portuguese government greenlit a set of changes to be implemented to the Golden Visa program in February 2020.  With that (1) the minimum investment amounts are to be raised, and (2) property options are limited to low density population areas.  This would stop real estate properties in Lisbon and Porto to qualify for the Golden Visa applications.  You can find more details in the Portugal Golden Visa Changes in 2020 article.

With the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the implementation of the changes were postponed indefinitely. 

How did the Covid-19 Pandemic affect the Golden Visa program?

The Covid-19 Coronavirus initially affected the Portugal Golden Visa applications negatively.  Though in no time, the applications started growing in size.  Check out our article on how the Covid-19 affected the Golden Visa program