Updated April 2023
Living in Portugal is an exciting prospect for many. The country is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, steeped in a rich and fascinating history, offering a high quality of life with affordable living costs, excellent healthcare and education systems, and a vibrant and welcoming culture.
The popularity of gaining citizenship via investment has been growing steadily over the years. Hopping on this trend, Portugal also offered a Golden Visa program that grants residency to non-European Union citizens who invest in Portugal. However, this scheme has been recently discontinued.
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Portugal Golden Visa news
Portugal announced the end of its successful golden visa program after a decade, which had greatly contributed to the growth of the national economy by billions. Local reports indicate that any new applications for golden visas submitted after February 16 will not be accepted, although the residence permits granted for investment will continue to be valid.
The previous golden visa holders will now receive standard residence permits, as per the national law, to ensure equality among foreign citizens. Nonetheless, foreign entrepreneurs who wish to launch projects in entrepreneurship in Portugal will still have access to the golden visa program.
Portugal Golden Visa 2023
The Portugal Golden Visa is a residence visa issued to non-EU nationals who have made a significant investment in Portugal, such as purchasing real estate, making a capital investment, or creating employment opportunities. It is a fast-track process for obtaining permanent residence and citizenship in an EU country – via the Golden Visa, you can become eligible for Portuguese citizenship in as little as five years.
If you receive a Golden Visa, you become eligible for citizenship after five years. Unlike other countries, you do not actually need to live in Portugal during that period to acquire citizenship via the Golden Visa route. You only need to spend seven to fourteen days per year in the country. However, you will have to prove you have accommodation in Portugal, a steady income, as well as knowledge of the Portuguese language, at least on a basic level.
Portugal Golden Visa requirements
To acquire a Golden Visa in Portugal, you must make one of the following investments:
- purchase a property worth at least EUR 500,000. If you purchase in a low-density area, the investment amount is EUR 400,000
- Invest EUR 350,000 in a property in a Portuguese urban regeneration area. If you invest in a low-density area, the investment amount is EUR 280,000. The project should qualify for investment by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service – SEF
- invest at least EUR 350,000 in a qualifying Investment Fund. The investment options are regulated by the Portuguese CMVM (Securities Market Commission), and usually include venture capital investment in real estate or start-up tech companies
- make a capital transfer of at least €1 million in a Portuguese bank account
- purchase company shares worth at least EUR 1 million
- invest at least EUR 1 million in a company
- create at least ten jobs for Portuguese nationals
- invest at least EUR 350,000 for the creation of a commercial company or to reinforce the share capital of a commercial company, through which you create at least five full-time jobs
- make a capital transfer of at least EUR 350,000 for research activities in science or technology by either public or private scientific research institutions
- make a capital transfer of at least €250,000 to support the arts or reconstruction of national heritage
Portugal Golden Visa eligibility
To be eligible for a Portugal Golden Visa, you have to fulfil the following requirements:
- you must be over the age of 18
- you must make a significant investment that is beneficial to the Portuguese economy
- you must have no history of criminal records
- you must own the money you seek to invest
- you must commit to maintaining the investment for at least another five years
Portugal Golden Visa required documents
When submitting the Portugal Golden Visa application, you must have the following documents:
- the official Portugal Visa Application Form
- valid passport
- two passport-size pictures, which are in line with Portugal visa photo requirements
- proof of having obtained health insurance valid in Portugal
- proof of having no previous criminal records. You need a certificate from any country in which you have lived longer than one year. The certificate has to be issued by the relevant authorities within the previous three months and translated into Portuguese
- sworn Statement that you will maintain your investment for a minimum period of five years
- payment receipt from the ARI portal
Purchasing real estate property worth at least EUR 500,000:
- acquisition deed of the property or the pre-contract agreement
- declaration from a financial institution authorised or registered in Portugal, which proves the effective international transfer of the assets
- the Land Register Certificate along with the records, endorsements, and registration in force, attests to the ownership of the property
- the legal description of the property, if applicable
Investment of EUR 350,000 in a property in a Portuguese urban regeneration area:
- the above-mentioned documents
- declaration from a competent entity proving that the property is in a regeneration area
Capital transfer of at least EUR 1 million in a bank account:
- declaration from a financial institution that is registered in Portugal, attesting to the deposit. The transfer must be free from any charges and obligations
Creation of at least ten job positions:
- declaration from a financial institution that is registered in Portugal, attesting to the required deposit
- individual employment contracts between the employer and the employees
- if you are a shareholder in a company: Extract from the register of companies
Investment in the arts
- a declaration issued by the Portuguese Strategy, Planning and Cultural Assessment Office, stating they have consulted with the competent authorities in the sector and attesting your investment in the support of the arts or restoration and maintenance of the national cultural heritage
- a declaration from a financial institution in Portugal attesting the transfer of the assets
Investment in research activities
- a declaration from the public or private scientific research institution, attesting the investment
- a declaration from a financial institution in Portugal attesting the transfer of the assets
Portugal Golden Visa application process
The process of obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa is divided as follows:
Step 1: Visit Portugal and choose investment
You (or your lawyers) should arrange a prior trip to Portugal so you can see your options and kickstart the process of investment. Suppose you are interested in investing in real estate, during your initial visit. In that case, you will visit properties, meet with lawyers, and (if it is your preference) grant power of attorney to a representative.
If you want to invest in one of the other options, your lawyer will help you set up the necessary meetings and documents for the transfer. If you are from a country with visa requirements, you may need a Portuguese Schengen visa to visit Portugal for this short initial trip.
Step 2: Set up a Portuguese bank account and tax number
Before you can finalise your investment, you will need a Portuguese tax number and bank account.
You can obtain a tax number, also known as a NIF number (Número de Identificação Fiscal) at the local office for Tax and Customs Authority (the Taxpayer Registration Services). There will be a set of forms you must complete (provided by the tax office) and documents to submit regarding your need for a Portuguese tax number.
You can set up a bank account with any trusted financial institution in Portugal. The process is pretty straightforward, the same as anywhere else in the world – you just visit the bank and ask to have a bank account set up.
For both these processes, you must have documents proving your income, home address, and identification document.
Step 3: Complete your investment
Once you have set up your bank account and the tax number, you can finally complete your investment. The investment can take months to be finalised; you cannot apply for the Golden Visa until you have the necessary documents proving you have secured it.
Step 4: Apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa
Once your investment has been completed, you can finally submit the application for a Portuguese Golden Visa at the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). The process is as follows:
- register with the ARI Portal (Residence Permits for Investment Activities) here. ARI is the SEF’s online portal for handling Golden Visa Applications. You can register yourself or a legal representative may do it on your behalf
- attach electronic copies of the required documents (in PDF, and no bigger than 4MB)
- pay all the relevant fees
- wait for confirmation from the SEF
- schedule an appointment to submit your Golden Visa application at a local branch of the SEF
If you do not wish to apply for the visa in person, you can give Power of Attorney (POA) to a legal representative to apply on your behalf, such as golden visas experts at La Vida. Your legal representative can then submit the visa application for you and your family members, as well as help you perform your investment.]
Step 5: Receive your Portuguese residence permit
After you submit your application, it can take from three to six months to receive your residence permit card. The card is valid for one year initially and can be renewed for a maximum of five years.
With your Portuguese residence permit card, you can live and work in Portugal freely and enjoy the same benefits as all other Portuguese citizens and residents.
Step 6: Apply for permanent residency or citizenship
Five years after making your investment, you become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship or permanent residency. At this point, you will need to demonstrate that you have ties to Portugal and pass a general knowledge test. The test proves that you can speak Portuguese at least an A2 level (conversational) and you have general knowledge of Portuguese society and laws. There are no residency requirements.
The documents you submit for the Portuguese Golden visa application should be translated either into English or Portuguese, as requested. Translations should be done by a certified translator.
Some documents, such as civil status documents, must also be legalised through an Apostille Stamp.
Portugal Golden Visa costs
In addition to the main investment (e.g. EUR 500,000 in real estate), you also have to pay the following government fees:
- processing fee: EUR 533 for each family member
- Portugal Golden Visa issuance fee: EUR 5,325 for each family member
- residence permit renewal fee: €2,663 for each family member on each renewal
Additionally, depending on the investment you make, you will likely hire lawyers, consultants, or other professionals to assist you along the process; you also have to pay for their services and guidance.
You should also take into account the translation, legalisation (Apostille Stamp) or issuance of documents.
Portugal Golden Visa validity
The Portugal Golden Visa is initially valid for one year. You can then continue to renew it for two-year periods, provided that you have maintained your investment. After five years (1+2+2) you become eligible for permanent residence or citizenship.
Obtaining a Portuguese passport gives you access to EU citizen rights, such as freedom of movement and access to the European market.
Please note that to maintain your Portugal Golden Visa, you have to stay in the country for at least 7 days in the first year and then fourteen days in the following two-year periods.
Unlike other types of investment visas, you do not have to live in Portugal permanently in order to renew your Golden Visa or to receive permanent residence or citizenship.
Portugal Golden Visa benefits
The Golden Visa for Portugal is a desirable visa for wealthy investors because it offers numerous benefits to both investor and their family members. These benefits include the ability to reside and work in an EU country, which can lead to a Portuguese passport and full EU nationality, providing access to the EU single market and the freedom to live in a stable, prosperous, and secure community.
Additionally, Portuguese residents or citizens have access to national services such as healthcare and education, which are of high quality. Portugal has a lower cost of living compared to other Western European countries, and it is ranked highly as a top destination for expats.
With a Portuguese Golden Visa, an individual can travel freely throughout the EU and over 100 other countries with a Portuguese passport. Obtaining a Portuguese passport is relatively easy, taking only five years, and the residency requirements are lenient, requiring only seven days of residency in the first year and 14 days in the following two-year periods.