The Complete Guide to the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme 2020

Since launching in 2012, 9,254 investors and a further 15,864 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 €5.56bn has been invested into this programme and property investment is the most popular way to apply for a Golden Visa. 

The results are in and October 2020 saw 54 visas were granted, plus a further 72 for qualifying family members, and more than €28m in investment, a 4.7% reduction when compared to October last year. 

Is Portugal’s Golden Visa programme changing?

At the beginning of the year, pre-COVID, the Portuguese government announced that they will be updating the eligibility criteria for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme. The new rules, originally planned to come into effect at the end of 2020, will mean that investors will no longer be able to purchase a Golden Visa property in coastal areas (like Lisbon or Porto) in order to obtain a Golden Visa. It’s also important to note that the changes will only apply to Golden Visa applications filed after the enacted date and will not affect submitted applications, be they pending or ongoing. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is uncertain whether these changes will be going ahead and we expect to have an official update very soon (see COVID-19 Update below).

Why does the government want to change the Golden Visa programme?

Though Golden Visa investments represent only 3% of all foreign property investment in Portugal, the Portuguese government wants to try to drive this investment into inland areas and the islands to promote regeneration, growth and job creation, all of which have been seen in Lisbon over the last years

COVID-19 Update

The plans to update the Golden Visa programme were announced at the start of 2020 before the Covid-19 outbreak became a pandemic. This led to the government declaring in April that the changes were ‘no longer a priority’ as they concentrated their efforts on combatting the virus. However, since then, there have been discussions that the changes will be revisited and may come into effect at the close of the year. As of yet, nothing official has been announced. At Athena Advisers, we are closely watching the news and will update this page and our clients as soon as we have an official update.

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What is the Portugal Golden Visa programme?

The Portuguese Golden visa 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

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 Portuguese government announced at the beginning of 2020 that the new changes would come into effect by the end of 2020. However, following the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, it is thought that the changes to the programme will be postponed in order to help the country generate revenue.

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.

What are the Golden Visa changes?

It is important to stress that even before COVID-19 the changes were not confirmed but parliament gave the government permission to restrict the scheme in certain areas. The proposed change aims to funnel investment into low-density areas such as the Azores and the interior areas of the country. However, given the amount of revenue that this programme brings in and the effects of the pandemic, it is very unlikely that the changes will come to effect at the end of the year.

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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