Golden visa, property and donations
Portugal offers a dream home and a laid back lifestyle for expats keen to take the plunge and make an investment to potentially gain Portuguese citizenship. Learn more about whatPortugal Golden Visa is and alternative investment options.
British expatriates can apply for a golden visa to stay in Portugal as settlers outside the European Union by investing around € 250,000.
Portugal is in the top 10 expat destinations in Europe for the British. This is because Great Britain and Portugal have long been allies and the people are friendly and welcoming.
Portugal can offer the best of both worlds: beautiful historic towns steeped in history and culture or expansive sandy beaches with world-class golf courses.
From the ARI – Residence permit for investment purposes launched in 2012, around 10,000 families have obtained a golden visa and are enjoying a new life in the sun.
The seafood cuisine, the affordable cost of living, the relaxed pace of life, and the incredible scenery are all great reasons to move to Portugal – but is it easy to get a Golden Visa?
In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know, including:
- Minimum values of donations
- Residence conditions
- Alternative investment options
Portuguese citizenship: what does the Portugal Golden Visa offer?
With so many different ways to invest, it’s critical to determine which investment path is right for you, now and for the long term.
Once you have made an eligible investment and fulfilled the Golden Visa residency requirements, there are several advantages to having Portuguese citizenship and passport.
- The investment thresholds (from € 280,000 in real estate) are among the lowest in Europe.
- Successful applicants must stay in the country an average of seven days per year and do not need to live permanently in Portugal if they do not wish to do so.
- After five years, applicants can apply for citizenship or permanent residence and collect their second passport – one of the EU’s shortest deadlines.
- Portuguese citizens can travel visa-free to 188 countries.
- Full-time residents have access to all public services, including health care and education, although medical insurance is compulsory.
- Golden visa holders can work anywhere in the EU or start a new business in Portugal.
For British expats, especially those with European businesses, the significant advantage of Portuguese residency is that you can travel throughout the Schengen area without the need for a visa.
After holding the visa for five years, you can apply for Portuguese nationality.
You can take advantage of ten years of favorable tax rates if you move to Portugal through the Non-Habitual Residence Program (NHR). In short, you are exempt from income tax for the first decade living in the country.
However, this excludes retirees, who pay a standard tax on pension income.
Please read our guide to healthcare in Portugal before moving to the country.
Invest in a Golden Visa Portugal
There is no set amount that you have to invest to obtain citizenship.
Real estate investment in Portugal
The first and perhaps the best investment for a gold visa for many expats is buying a home.
Usually, the expected expense is around € 500,000 – but this can decrease significantly under certain circumstances:
- Minimum real estate investment in sparsely populated areas drops by 20% to € 400,000
- Houses to renovate and those over 30 in urban redevelopment regions are eligible for an investment of € 350,000
- The same renovation project in a sparsely populated area is eligible if it costs € 280,000 or more.
Real estate investment regulations are reasonably flexible, so an expat can invest in several smaller properties to achieve the minimum value – while still remaining eligible.
Foreign nationals can also share the cost of a real estate purchase between them.
For example, if an unmarried couple bought a house worth € 1 million together, they would both be eligible, having invested € 500,000 each.
For Portuguese citizens planning to obtain permanent residence in the UK, check out the Level 1 investor visa guide.
Alternative investments to the Portuguese Golden Visa
Investing in real estate is not the only way to qualify for a golden visa, and here are some routes followed by expats:
- Transfer of one million euros to Portugal.
- Invest in a Portuguese fund for € 350,000 or more.
- Create ten new full-time jobs by starting a business.
- Create eight new full-time positions in a Portuguese company in a sparsely populated area
- Invest € 350,000 in an existing Portuguese business, creating five new full-time jobs for three years or more.
- Donate € 250,000 for preservation Portuguese national heritage.
- Invest € 350,000 in a research and development company.
Remember to have money to invest in the bank and not to borrow from a Portuguese bank to top up your cash.
Qualify for the Portuguese Citizenship Program by Investment
To qualify for citizenship, you will need to keep your residence permit for five years after obtaining your golden visa.
- Do not pay tax in Portugal.
- Have a clean criminal record in Portugal and the United Kingdom.
- Take a basic Portuguese language test.
- Be at least 18 years old
- Invest funds from outside Portugal.
The future of Portugal’s golden visas
While the Golden Visa program offers a host of benefits, the Portuguese government has signaled that the program will soon change.
Amendments to minimum real estate investments, for example, were designed to attract foreign investment to less popular areas, support cultural heritage and help create new jobs.
Most investors have chosen to buy property in Lisbon and Porto, but from January 1, 2022, the government will exclude both locations.
The changes mean:
- Expats can only buy property in the Azores or Madeira.
- The minimum investment will increase to € 500,000
- The cash placement will decrease from 1 million euros to 1.5 million euros.
Expats have until the end of 2021 to take advantage of the lower thresholds and the urgent opportunity to purchase a qualifying property.
How much does a Portuguese golden visa cost?
Golden visa applications incur a processing and application fee as follows:
|Load||Frequency||€ value||£ value|
|Processing fee||At the time of the first request and at each renewal thereafter||€ 533 plus € 83.30 per dependent||£ 455 plus £ 71 per dependent|
|Application fees||Once on the initial request||€ 5,325 per candidate||£ 4,545 per applicant|
|Renewal fees||Each renewal||€ 2,663 per candidate||£ 2,273 per applicant|
Other costs to consider include obtaining Portuguese citizenship
- Legal fees, generally between € 10,000 and up to € 30,000 for large families
- Stamp duty and IMI transfer tax, charged at 0.8 percent and 4.58 percent respectively on a real estate investment.
- Notary fees of around € 1,000
Concerned about the cost, check out the cost of living in Portugal guide.
FAQ on citizenship by investment in Portugal
There are several steps in the process before getting a second Portuguese passport, but the process is not particularly complex if you are methodical.
• Submit your application with supporting documents to the Serviço de Fronteiras e Estrangeiros (SEF), the immigration service in Portugal.
• If your initial application is approved, they may request an interview. Expats can apply at any SEF office. However, avoid the Lisbon office as it has the longest wait times.
• Appointments typically take up to six months to be arranged in other locations, as the FLS must create a biometric verification profile.
• Following the interview, candidates receive a Golden Visa residence card
Golden visas are valid for two years and you must spend at least seven days in Portugal each year. You will need to renew between 30 and 90 days before expiration.
The second residence permit is valid for three years, with a requirement of 21 days to stay in Portugal.
After the fifth year, you can apply for permanent residence, citizenship or decide to remain temporary resident with a golden visa.
Residency and tax residency are two different things, and you don’t automatically become a tax resident because you have a golden visa.
However, you will pay taxes on your Portuguese investment income if your contribution generates returns.
If you want to live in Portugal and become a tax resident, you will need to live in the country for 183 days per year.
Please read our guide to paying taxes in Portugal.
Golden Portugal visa applicants may include family members and dependents on their documents, including:
• A spouse.
• Children under 18.
• Dependent children under 26, provided they are unmarried and in full-time studies.
• Parents over 65.
For the first two years of Golden Visa residency, you will need to spend an average of seven days in the country. Then in years three to five, it drops to 21 days in total.
Citizenship or permanent residence becomes available after five years.
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