The Complete Guide to the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme 2021

Since launching in 2012, 9,389 investors and a further 16,050  qualifying family members of international investors have obtained residency through the Portugal Golden Visa programme. This has made it one of the most popular Golden Visa programmes of its kind in Europe. So far €5.63bn has been invested into this programme and investing in Golden Visa-eligible property is the most popular way to apply for a Golden Visa, accounting for around 94% of the total revenue. 

Though 2020 was not a record-breaking year for the Golden Visa programme overall, May saw the highest ever volume of applications made in a single month and 2020 was the best year for the investment fund route on record with 48 visas granted. Indeed, only 55 visas have been granted this way since records began. It will be interesting to see what 2021 brings as UK citizens are now eligible for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme and it has been confirmed that the scheme is set to change in July 2021.

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme is set to change in July 2021

It has been announced that the Golden Visa programme, in its current form, is set to change on 1st July 2021. Though the precise details of the changes are yet to be confirmed, across the industry it is expected that the changes will be based on those put forward at the beginning of 2020, meaning that after 1st July, it will no longer be possible to combine a Golden Visa application with property investment in coastal areas like Lisbon or Porto.

Alongside our legal contacts in Portugal, we are keeping a close eye on the situation and will continue to update this page when we have more information.

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What is the Portugal Golden Visa programme?

The Portuguese Golden Visa programme is the adopted name for Portugal’s largely real estate-led residency programme which grants non-EU nationals and their families the ability to travel freely to countries within the Schengen zone. After five years, it is then possible to apply for a Portuguese passport and European residency.

The key benefits of the Portuguese Golden Visa:

  • Instant free travel across the 27 Schengen countries
  • Obtain the Portuguese Passport and EU residency  after 5 years
  • Only a minimum real estate investment of €500,000 is required
  • Access to Portuguese education and healthcare
  • One application only is required for the investor and his/her direct family
  • The Golden visa process takes only 4-6 months to receive residency cards, allowing applicants to work, live and study in Portugal
  • No relocation required (low requirement for staying in the country during and after the application process)

Who can apply for a Portugal Golden Visa?

The Golden Visa scheme is open to anyone who is not a Portuguese, EU or EFTA citizen. The scheme is particularly popular with investors from China who account for more than 50% of visa applicants.

How to apply for a Golden Visa via real estate investment

Golden Visa Application

There are several ways to apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa, but the most popular method is through a real estate investment of €500,000 or more. 90% of Golden Visas are awarded this way.

  • Plan a visit in person — purchase a property (minimum €500,000), obtain a Portuguese tax number (NIF), open a bank account and complete necessary documentation (powers of attorney, investment declarations, etc.)
  • Submit all your documents online — a valid passport, property documentation, valid medical insurance, tax numbers from your country of residence and Portugal, criminal record.
  • Present the proof of transfer of funds — and a declaration confirming compliance with the visa’s investment requirements.
  • Book an appointment — with the immigration authorities (SEF) to obtain final answer/approval – Up to 6 months.
  • Obtain a temporary residency card — up to 1 month after approval.
  • Are there any other requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa?

In addition, applicants will need to maintain the investment for at least five years and stay in Portugal for seven days per year until you apply for full citizenship or residency.

How much does a Portugal Golden Visa cost?

In addition to your €500,000+ real estate investment, there are some are administration fees which you will need to take into consideration. The application fee during the petition phase costs €533.90 per applicant. During the granting phase, all applicants will need to pay €5,336.40 each for their initial residency permit. You can expect to renew your visa twice after your 1st and 3rd year as a resident. This renewal process costs €2,668.20 per applicant.

The path to European citizenship

Guide to buying property in Lisbon Golden visa process

While obtaining a temporary residency permit is almost immediate (around 1 year), full citizenship is possible after 5 years. Additional requirements for citizenship include passing an A2 Portuguese test, having a clear criminal record, paying all relevant taxes and showing a decent connection to living in the country.

FAQ about the Portugal Golden Visa

Can UK citizens apply for a Portugal Golden Visa?

Yes. Following the UK’s departure from the EU, UK citizens can now apply for Portuguese Golden Visas for themselves and immediate family members.

What properties are eligible for a Portuguese Golden Visa?

Properties can be either commercial or residential. Off-plan properties are eligible for the Golden Visa scheme too.

Where can I buy a property in Portugal in order to be eligible for a Golden Visa?

At the moment, there are no geographical restrictions on the Golden Visa programme. However, the government has proposed no longer offering this incentive to those who invest in properties in coastal areas, like Lisbon or Porto, in order to funnel foreign investment into the centre of the country and to the islands.

When will the Golden Visa programme change?

The Golden Visa programme is set to change on 1st July 2021. The exact details are yet to be confirmed but it is generally expected that the changes will mirror those proposed in 2020, meaning it will no longer to combine a Golden Visa application with a real estate investment in Lisbon or Porto beyond this date.

Can I purchase multiple properties less than €500,000 to apply for a Golden Visa?

Yes, as long as the total amount invested is €500,000 or more.

Can I apply for the Golden Visa through co-ownership?

Yes, but all individuals must invest at least €500,000 each to be eligible for the visa.

Do I need to pay taxes in Portugal if I have a Golden Visa?

You do not necessarily need to become a Portuguese tax resident if you apply for a Golden Visa. However, it might be advantageous to become a tax resident as Portugal has a lucrative Non-Habitual Residential tax scheme. Providing that certain conditions are met, the NHR scheme can significantly reduce your taxes during the first 10 years of residency.

Do I need to pass a language test to become a resident via the Golden Visa programme?

No, you do not need to take a language test in order to become a resident. However, you will need to take a test if you decide to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Can I get Golden Visas for my family too?

Yes, you can include certain family members on the same Golden Visa application, in fact, 15,431 Golden Visas have been granted to family members to date. Qualifying family members for a Golden Visa include:

  • Spouse or legal partner
  • Unmarried children under 26 who are enrolled in full-time education
  • Parents or parents-in-law who are 66 years old, or 55 years old and dependent on you
  • Siblings under 18, if you are legally responsible for them

How long do I need to stay in Portugal to be eligible for a Golden Visa?

In order to qualify for a Portugal Golden Visa, you will need to stay in Portugal for 7 days during the first year of investment and in the subsequent years, you must stay in the country for at least 14 days.

Does a Golden Visa allow you to work in Portugal?

Yes, if you hold a Golden Visa you are a Portuguese Resident which means that you are free to work and live in Portugal.

Do I need to pay in cash for the property in order to qualify for a Portuguese Golden Visa?

You will need to pay the minimum investment amount (€500,000) in cash but it is possible to take out a mortgage on the remaining sum.

Will the proposed Golden Visa changes affect investments via funds after 1st July 2021?

No. It is understood that the upcoming changes will only affect those who apply for a visa via real estate investment. 

How long after applying for a Golden Visa can travel throughout the Schengen area visa-free?

As soon as you have received your first residency card, you are free to travel unrestricted throughout the 26 countries which make up the Schengen area.



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