The Complete Guide to the Portugal Golden Visa Programme 2021

Since launching in 2012, 9,544 investors and a further 16,265  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 €5.72bn has been invested into this programme and investing in Golden Visa-eligible property is the most popular way to apply for a Golden Visa. Demand for the Portgual Golden Visa programme remains strong with €647m invested in the programme throughout 2020.

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme is set to change in January 2022

There has been plenty of speculation over how the acclaimed Portuguese Golden Visa programme will change and when those changes will come into effect. It was confirmed in February that the Golden Visa programme will remain unchanged until January  2022. Whilst all the benefits will remain the same it will no longer be possible to combine a golden Visa application with a property purchase in Porto, Lisbon and some other coastal area. The Azores, Madeira, Comporta and the interior areas will remain unaffected. The minimum fund investment will also rise from €350,000 to €500,000. Read our article on Portugal Golden Visa changes to learn more.

VIDEO: Portuguese Golden Visa

 

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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. Investors may also include qualifying family members in their application such as their spouse, dependent children, dependent parents or dependent parents-in-law.

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

Current status/2021 changes

What are the new Portugal Golden Visa rules?

From January 2022, it will no longer be possible to combine a Golden Visa application with a property investment in high-density coastal areas like Lisbon and Porto. However, this upcoming change will not affect properties for sale in the Azores or Comporta, two of our key Portuguese resorts. In addition, the minimum amount required for fund investments will rise to €500,000 (currently €350,000).

When will the Golden Visa programme in Portugal change?

The Golden Visa programme will be changing at the end of 2021 – not July 2021 as previously suggested. This gives clients an extra six months which in reality is only a small buffer to a tight timeline.

Do I need to buy a property in Lisbon before 31st August in order to qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme?

This is not an official deadline but we strongly recommend that those interested in the Golden Visa programme by investing in Lisbon real estate purchase their property by August 31st so they can submit the online application shortly after and receive their pre-approval by the end of the year. It can take around three months to receive a pre-approval for a Golden Visa, so this deadline will ensure that investors will not be affected by the changes which come into action from 1st January 2022.

How does covid travel restrictions affect the requirement for biometrics?  If we have dependents who are not yet vaccinated and cannot fly to Portugal for biometrics, what arrangements can be made for them?

Biometric appointments are considered essential travel so you can travel to Portugal.

 

Entry requirements

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

Your first and second visas now last two years and during each two-year period, you will need to spend 14 days in Portugal. The final visa which is issued at the end of your fourth year is valid for one year and during this time you must spend seven days in Portugal.

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.

Do I need to buy my property in cash in order to qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme?

You will need to pay for the minimum investment sum (€350,000 or €500,000 depending on the property) yourself in order to qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme. However, if you purchase a property for €700,000 in Lisbon where the minimum sum of investment is usually €500,000, you can get a mortgage to cover the remaining €200,000. The interest rates in Portugal are incredibly low so this is quite an attractive option for buyers.

Do all Portuguese properties qualify for Golden Visa if they are of the correct value?

If investing €500,000 or more in Portuguese property it is usually eligible for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme. However, your lawyer will still perform due diligence as other factors may impact the property’s eligibility. Eg. if there is a court action against the owner and the property is collateral.

For €350,000, it is a little bit different as you will need to prove that the property is old enough and ensure that the proposed works are in line with what is needed to qualify for the Golden Visa programme.

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.

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

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

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.

 

Investment options

If I am buying a property that needs renovation and is, therefore, eligible for a Golden Visa at the lower rate of €350,000 can I add the renovation costs to the property price to reach the €350,000 minimum investment?

While buying costs cannot be added to the property purchase price, you can factor in the renovation costs. This means that it is possible to qualify for the Golden Visa if you buy a property for €300,000 and spend €50,000 on renovation.

If I want to apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa by investing in land or property inland which needs a complete renovation, what is the minimum sum of investment required?

€350,000.

How do I apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa programme by creating a company?

You will need to incorporate a company and invest €350,000 into it. So you will need to set up a bank account for the company and a personal bank account in Portugal. You will then need to transfer the money from abroad into your personal Porutugese account and then transfer the money into the company’s account. On top of this, you will need to create five permanent jobs and these jobs need to last for at least three years. remember that having employees comes with many other additional costs. These include income tax and salaries and social security contributions for your employees. Plus, it is important to remember that in Portugal employees are paid a mandatory 13th and 14th salary. 

 

Timings

How long does it take to receive a Portuguese residency card?

The pre-approval stage takes around three months from the submission of the application.

Once you are pre-approved you can come to Portugal to submit your biometric data. Once this data is submitted it can take up to six months to receive your residency card. 

If I am buying a property off-plan when can I apply for a Golden Visa?

If the property has a PH licence you can apply for the Golden Visa programme straight away once you sign the CPVC and pay €500,000 or €350,000 to meet the minimum sum of investment.

Can Brits waiting for their Portuguese residency cards stay in Portugal beyond the permitted 90 days? 

You can stay beyond 90 days as you are waiting for your residency card but you won’t have your Portuguese resident rights yet which may be problematic as you can’t access healthcare etc. 

When does free travel across the Schengen zone begin – immediately or after 5 years?

Once you receive your residency card, you are free to travel throughout the Schengen zone. With a Golden Visa, you have the same rights as any legal resident which means that you can live in Portugal and access the healthcare system etc. This also means that if you are elsewhere in the world and there is another major lockdown, you can still get a repatriation flight back to Portugal. 

Is the Golden Visa guaranteed once all the paperwork is submitted and the applications have been completed?

Once you have made the investment, submitted the documents correctly and received your approval, your Golden Visa is guaranteed. We work with Legal Square in Portugal who have a 100% success rate managing Golden Visa applications. They will ensure that your investment qualifies for the programme before you make the investment and inform you precisely what documents you and your family need in order for your Golden Visa application to be successful.

After spending five years as a resident in Portugal via the Golden Visa programme do we need to apply for citizenship straight away or may we choose to remain residents and then apply for citizenship at a later stage? 

Yes, absolutely. In order to apply for citizenship, you need to be a resident for at least five years so you will be able to apply at a later date. When your Golden Visa runs out after five years you can apply for permanent residency instead of citizenship. This option is quite popular with Golden Visa investors from China as they need to forfeit their Chinese passport in order to apply for Portuguese citizenship as China doesn’t allow dual citizenship. By becoming a permanent resident they can still hold onto their Chinese passport. 

Can I resell my Golden Visa property once I become a Portuguese citizen?

Yes.

 

Tax

As a Portuguese citizen, what obligations do I have in terms of tax, social security etc.?

You do not necessarily need to become a Portuguese tax resident if you apply for a Golden Visa. But if you receive a salary in Portugal, social security and income tax will need to be paid. If you live abroad and work abroad, you pay your taxes in that country – not Portugal. 

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.

If someone is an NHR status holder, do they lose the tax benefits if they become a Portuguese citizen?

No, Portuguese citizens can also apply for the NHR programme too so long as they have not been tax resident in Portugal for the past five years. For example, if a Portuguese citizen moves to Switzerland for five years and then returns to Portugal they will be eligible for the NHR programme. Whilst many can benefit from this programme, do remember that not all jobs qualify for the NHR programme, take a look at our Portugal Non-Habitual Resident guide to learn more.

 

Costs

Do the buying costs of a property count towards the sum needed to qualify for a Golden Visa? For example, if I am buying a property in Lisbon just under the €500,000 threshold can I factor in IMI etc.?

No, the buying costs are excluded.

Family applications

Can I get Golden Visas for my family too?

Yes, you can include certain family members on the same Golden Visa application, in fact, 16,495 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

What evidence is needed to add a parent to my Golden Visa application?

If you want to add your father to your application and he is over 65 you will need your birth certificate to prove the bond and also his criminal record. If he is under 65 to prove his dependency you will need to sign a declaration that he lives with you, have bank statements showing that you are transferring money to him as well as proof of retirement or no income.

Working

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.

 

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