Portugal is famous to the world for its amazing weather and port wine. What most people do not know is that Portugal is also famous for its golden visa program.
Established in 2012, Portugal’s golden residence permit program makes it possible for citizens of non-EU/EEA member states to get special residence permits if they choose to make a 5-year investment in Portugal. The best part is that you can obtain citizenship in Portugal a few years later if you meet the eligibility criteria.
Here is everything you need to know about the Portugal gold visa and how you can get an EU residency for you and your family.
The history of the Portugal golden visas
Before the great recession, Portugal was not always open to allowing foreign investors into their country. The recessions crippled the economy, forcing the government to look outwards for a solution to the crisis. In October 2012, the first golden visa program to Portugal was introduced. This was done to attract foreign investors to boost the economy and grow the Portugal real estate market. Almost a decade later, the golden visa program can be termed as a success.
Since the first program in 2012, the Portuguese golden visa program has attracted more than 7500 investors, injecting more than 5 billion dollars into the economy. In January of 2019, the program managed to collect €85 million from more than 145 investors. At least 90% of applicants prefer to obtain their residency in Portugal through investing in the Portugal real estate market.
Requirements for obtaining the golden visa to Portugal
The golden visa program is open to anyone who is not a citizen of the EU/EFTA member states, including Portugal. The only requirement is to make a substantial investment in Portugal and meet the eligibility criteria. The investment can be made by an individual or as part of a legal entity, provided it meets specific requirements. One is also required to meet the minimum stay requirements.
- Maintaining investment in Portugal for up to 5 years
- Spending at least 7 days in Portugal annually for the first year, and no less than 14 days in the subsequent 2-year periods.
Investment options for the golden visa program
Generally, there are three investment options for the Portugal gold visa program. You can choose to invest either in real estate, capital contributions, or through business. Even though real estate if the most popular, business and capital contributions are open options to anyone interested in starting a company in Portugal and creating employment for Portuguese workers. This is one of the best ways to make financial contributions to businesses or institutions in Portugal.
Any of these three investments qualify you for a Portuguese residence permit, which can be renewed twice during the first five years of investing in Portugal. After the first five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
The real estate investment golden visa to Portugal
If you choose to invest in the Portugal real estate market, the government offers three investment options to gold visa for investors in real estate.
You can choose to invest in any property in Portugal worth at least €500,000 or $570,000. This amount can be invested in one property or a few properties, provided the investment total the minimum-amount requirement. It is ideal to spread your investment into several properties to ensure you acquire a residential property and investment property. Most investors who choose this real estate investment option buy property in Porto, Lisbon, and along the coastline.
This second real estate investment option allows you to invest in rehabilitating old properties. For this option, you only need to invest at least €350.000 or $398,000. The property you choose can be located anywhere within the urban rehabilitation areas, should be a renovation project, and must be at least 30 years old. The new golden visa changes will direct most investors to these types of investments for the residence visa.
This real estate option targets investments in the countryside in Portugal. This is the most affordable option, as it only requires you to invest at least €280,000 or $319,000 in rural area real estate properties. These property options are common in no man’s land between Portugal and Spain. You can purchase any of this property and turn it into a hotel to make money and improve the locality.
If you choose to go the real estate route, you should not expect to make a significant return on your investment. The real estate prices in Portugal have gone up while the yields have reduced. However, it is one of the best ways to gain EU citizenship in a short time.
The entrepreneur golden visa to Portugal
This option is most overlooked in the golden visa program. Qualifying for this category ensures you do not need to spend €500,000 in real estate. As an entrepreneur, you will need to create at least 10 jobs in Portugal and ensure each of the employees is registered in the Portuguese Social Security System.
Regardless of the number of employees you have, your company will be expected to pay 23.75% of the gross wage to social security while the employees are required to pay 11% of their salary. For you to qualify for the golden visa program, your company must meet these two requirements. This visa program comes with other personal and corporate taxes at 48% and 21%, respectively.
The entrepreneur route is ideal for business owners looking to grow their business and create bases in different parts of the world. If you want to hire workers from Europe, Portugal offers a prime location for content creators, salespersons, back-office workers, and web developers, among other professionals.
With this scheme, you will not need to live full time in Portugal, as the golden visa program only requires you to be in Portugal 7 days per year. This scheme is best suited for investors with large, growing businesses that can sustain at least 10 employees for at least 6 years.
Capital contributions golden visa to Portugal
Apart from real estate and entrepreneur investments, you can also get the Portugal residence visa through capital contributions options. With the program’s current budget proposals, this remains one of the most attractive options due to its simplicity.
Compared to other investment options, making a direct capital contribution ensures you do not waste time looking through property deals and filing paperwork to get approvals. The golden visa for investors allows you to invest in the following ways:
- Make a capital transfer with a value of at least €1,000,000 ($1,139,000).
- Invest €350,000 ($398,700) in an existing company in Portugal while creating five permanent jobs for at least three years.
- Invest €350,000 ($398,700) in a Portuguese company venture capital fund. The company should be at least five years old and should have a head office in Portugal.
- Invest €250,000 ($284,800) to support the arts, culture, or maintenance of the Portuguese cultural heritage.
- Invest €350,000 ($398,700) in scientific research by a private or public institution that is a member of Portugal’s technological or scientific systems.
Apart from the option that requires you to create five employments for a minimum of three years, all other investment options in this category should be sustained for the first five years of your residence permit. You may need to maintain them longer if you plan on applying for Portuguese citizenship.
Investment funds setup for gold visa investors have a short fund term of 6 to 7 years. They also have power yields and less risk than other traditional funds that come with longer fund terms and higher returns.
The personal eligibility criteria for the gold visa program
For you and your family to qualify for the golden visa program, there are specific requirements you must meet.
Be a national of a third country
This means that any applicant for the gold visa program should not be an EU or EFTA national. So far, most of the applicants have been people from China, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and South Africa, among other countries. In 2019, the number of applicants from other countries grew to over 20%, showing the gold visa program’s growing popularity.
Maintain a qualified investment for at least five years
To qualify for the gold visa program to Portugal, you need to be able to make and maintain any of the investments mentioned above for at least five years.
Fulfill minimum residency requirements
You need to spend at least 7 days in Portugal in the first year of your residence permit. You need to ensure you renew the permit every 2 years and spend at least 14 days in Portugal every two years after the first one.
Avail proper documents
The paperwork process in Portugal is more straightforward when compared to other gold visa programs. You will be required to do the paperwork for your Portugal gold visa in Portugal. Being there physically eliminates the distance factor, which ensures faster processing of documents.
For the application process, you will need to submit personal documents and proof of investments. The documents required include:
- Valid travel ID or passport
- Proof that you legally entered Portugal (a short-stay Schengen visa)
- Copy of background check certificate from your country issues within 90 days of your application.
- Health insurance proof
- Proof of payment for the Portuguese gold visa fees
- A completed permission form to authorize SEF to access your Portuguese criminal record
- Declaration showing your compliance with the investment requirements
- Proof of cooperation with the social security system in Portugal and the tax and customs.
- Bank statement confirming the transfer of funds
All documents must be valid at least 180 days before submitting your application. Apart from submitting these documents, you need to show proof of commitment to maintain the investment for at least 5 years. Proof required include:
- Deeds of purchase for your real estate investments
- A bank statement to prove your capital contributions
- Employment contracts for jobs created within the country through your company
Ensure all your documents are translated to Portuguese. A Portuguese notary or consulate in your country of origin can do this.
Pay the required fees
On top of your investment in Portugal, you will also be required to meet the fee requirements. When planning to invest for citizenship, there are hefty fees involved. You need to show proof that you can afford to pay all filing fees to be eligible for the program.
You can generally expect to pay €5,147.80 ($5,860.00) in fees for yourself and each of your dependents. You will also pay 50% of the total fees when renewing your visas after every 2 years. There is also a processing fee of €514.80 ($590.00) for you and an extra €80.29 ($92.00) for each of your dependents. These additional fees are required to be submitted when making the initial application payment and with each renewal.
Qualified dependents include spouses and children under eighteen years of age. Children over 18 years can qualify if they are unmarried and still in school. Parents in the retirement age also qualify for a visa.
Getting legal help for the Portugal Golden Visa
Even though the citizenship investment visa to Portugal comes with less paperwork than other investment immigration processes, it is always best to get professional help. This will ensure all your paperwork is done correctly and helps when dealing with the country’s bureaucracy.
For your Portugal golden visa program application, lawyer fees can cost anywhere between €4,000 and €5,000 ($4,500 – $5,700). When you choose the real estate route, you should factor in stamp duty, taxes, and other fees. Depending on the investment route you take to get the Portuguese golden visa, you should expect to pay at least 9% of your investment in fees.
The Portugal golden visa program gives you the opportunity to acquire EU nationality without going through the strenuous process of living in an EU country for many years to do so. If you are looking for an EU passport that will open the door for you in terms of travel, you should consider investing in the Portuguese golden visa program.