With the Portuguese Golden Visa programme set to change as of July 2021, David Moura-George (Portugal Director, Athena Advisers), Joao Martins Farinha (Partner, Legal Square) and Şafak Nervo (Senior Vice President, Optylon Krea) discuss the Golden Visa programme, what the proposed changes mean for investors and share some of our best Golden Visa properties, including an exciting new launch in Alcântara: Prima Collection – Lisbon Square.
How to apply for a Golden Visa: the two real estate options
At the moment there are two ways that investors can apply for a Golden Visa in Portugal by investing in real estate. Firstly, you can apply for a Golden Visa by investing €350,000 in properties over 30 years old which require renovation work and are located in urban regeneration areas. Alternatively, you may apply for a Golden Visa by investing €500,000 or more in any Portuguese property anywhere in the country.
Why invest in a Golden Visa?
Whichever option you choose, one of the great things about the Golden Visa programme is that you can include family members in your application such as your spouse or dependent children. Unlike other residency programmes, to maintain your Portuguese residency you will need to only stay in Portugal for, on average, seven days per year. But if you want to reside completely in Portugal you are free to do so too. After five years, you will have the opportunity to apply for full Portuguese citizenship.
Arguably, the most attractive benefit of the Portuguese Golden Visa programme is that you can benefit from unhindered travel throughout the Schengen zone and the EU.
The programme was created back in 2012 and since then more than €5.64bn has been invested in the programme, more than 90% of which is through property acquisition. A total of 9,389 visas have been awarded to investors and a further 16,050 visas have been awarded to qualifying family members.
“Since the start of 2021, we have received 50% more requests per day at our office for Golden Visas due to the proposed changes coming in July 2021,” comments Joao.
How long does it take to apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa?
Thanks to a recent change in the law, family applications may be submitted online too which helps speed things along. Previously, the investor would apply alone and three months later, once their application had been submitted, they would be able to apply for visas for their family members which could then take another three months. This change has effectively halved the waiting time.
After all of the documents have been submitted and the initial fee has been paid, the family will need to come to Portugal to submit physical documents and biometric data. Contrary to popular belief, there is not an interview at this stage. Instead, accompanied by your lawyer, you will need to submit a digital signature, a photograph and fingerprints. “When submitting biometric data, we recommend that clients book their appointment at an immigration office outside of Lisbon as it is often quicker,” advises Joao.
The path to EU citizenship
As mentioned above, one of the great things about the Golden Visa programme is that you do not have to relocate if you do not wish to. Last year, a law was introduced which now means that applicants must stay in the country for 14 days over the first two years and 14 days over the second two years.
Joao explains that clients need not worry about the potential effects of lockdowns of coronavirus on the residency process. During the strict lockdowns of 2020, procedures still went ahead as business continued as normal for lawyers. Nevertheless, it is important to remember to book your residency card renewals 30-90 days in advance the expiry of your visa.
After five years, investors will have the opportunity to apply for full Portuguese citizenship, renew the Golden Visa for a third time or apply for permanent residency. On average, it takes about a year and a half for citizenship to be approved. However, Joao highlights that during the five years as a resident, Golden Visa holders will be charged the same education fees as Portuguese citizens, even though they are not yet a citizen themselves. This is a question she frequently gets asked by those wishing to relocate to Lisbon.
Which family members are eligible for the Golden Visa programme?
Spouse or partner: this is someone who you have been living together for more than two years. You will need proof of this such as a shared insurance policy. “Many investors ask us if same-sex couples can apply for the Golden Visa together and the answer is yes,” comments Joao.
Dependent children of the investor or spouse: all children under 21 who are economically dependent, including adopted children, are eligible. To be classed as economically dependent they must be unmarried and they cannot have a job – they must be financially dependent on their parents. Joao advises against applying for children who are already in their late teens as they will surpass the 21 year age bracket before the completion of the five-year process.
Dependent parents or parents-in-law: generally speaking, Joao says that parents over 65 years old may be considered as dependent or they can apply for parents that are younger if they are economically dependent on the main investor or the spouse of the investor.
How much does the Portuguese Golden Visa programme cost?
* It is important to remember that €533 will need to be paid before each renewal
Why invest in Lisbon real estate?
“For investors, there are five key factors that make Lisbon an attractive destination,” says David Moura-George:
However, there are several other important reasons why Lisbon remains a property investment hotspot…
Lisbon was named the Green Capital 2020 by the European Commission, the only capital in southern Europe to win this sustainability award. Last year, the Tagus was cleaned and now you can even see dolphins. Plus, 90km of new bike lanes and 300 hectares of green spaces were added too. It’s a huge achievement for the city.
Web Summit, a major technology conference, is hosted in Lisbon and expected to bring in €2bn to the economy over the coming decade. Hub Criativo do Beato in Marvila is another exciting facet of the business revolution as it is set to be the largest start-up hub in Europe. Tech giant Google also has a strong presence in Portugal with seven campuses employing over 1,000 people and many new business centres are emerging with major international brands heading to Lisbon like BNP Paribas and L’Oréal.
It’s a really exciting time to invest in Lisbon as the city is set to benefit from an array of infrastructure improvements, including a new high-speed rail connection between Lisbon and Porto. Plus, there will be a new Lisbon airport opening in 2023 and will double the city’s passenger capacity.
Investment Spotlight: Prima Collection at Lisbon Square
Booming and well-connected, Alcântara is close to the historic centre, the CBD and the Tagus river. A very creative neighbourhood, this area is most famous for the trendy LX factory.
“Created by an acclaimed international architect, Frederico Valsassina, Prima Collection – Lisbon Square is right next to the CUF hospital in Alcântara and is a huge project comprising 86 serviced apartments with high-end hotel amenities and a rooftop restaurant. There is nothing like it in the area, it is truly one of a kind” explains Şafak.
However, what makes these properties so exciting is that these apartments allow investors to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme at the lower rate of €350,00 and there are legal packages in place to ensure that the application proceeds swiftly. Investors will also benefit from a guaranteed 3% rental yield with rental management provided by Prima Collection.
David Moura-George has selected five other properties for sale in Lisbon and beyond which are perfect for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme.
Located in family-friendly Belém, a short drive from the historic centre, this project is close to gardens, museums, restaurants and shops, Nearly all of the properties have views over the Tagus river and there is a great selection of communal facilities too including a garden, a pool and a gym. These properties begin at €5000,000 – perfect for the Golden Visa – and are ideal for long-term rentals.
Camões Design – Alcântara, Lisbon
Situated in one of the neighbourhood’s best-known streets, this period building has been totally restored, allowing investors to apply for the Golden Visa programme at the lower rate of €350,000. This is a great location for families and will perform well on the long-term rental market thanks to its proximity to the new CUF hospital which will be an excellent source of tenants. There is also strong potential for capital appreciation as this neighbourhood has seen prices rise by 31% between 2017 and 2020.
Quelhas 54 – Lapa, Lisbon
This beautiful resale property is sold fully furnished, allowing investors to move in or rent out the property immediately. Home to many embassies, Lapa is a noble neighbourhood and this apartment has a great location with schools, shops and restaurants close by. The property was fully renovated just a couple of years ago and is bathed in light thanks to its large windows.
Splendid Beloura – Greater Lisbon
Located in Greater Lisbon, between Cascais and Sintra, these apartments offer more competitive prices than Lisbon and are perfect for families who want to relocate to Portugal as there is a brand-new international school, TASIS, steps away from the properties. All of the properties have exterior space and there is a communal pool, gardens and more. Nearby you will also find a golf course and neighbouring Cascais is superb for shopping.
Privato – Intendente, Lisbon
“A bit like Alcântara, Indendente is an up-and-coming neighbourhood, which means that properties like this are set for capital appreciation over the coming years,” explains David Moura-George. Apartments on the upper floors boast amazing views over the city and São Jorge Castle. Future owners will benefit from access to a communal swimming pool and garden too.
Forest Homes – The Azores
As it is a low-density area, investors can apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa at a lower rate, making this an attractive option for investors as well as those looking for a fantastic lifestyle investment. Sold fully furnished and decorated, these unique properties have breathtaking views over the forest and ocean. There are two pools on-site and the development is located right next to Lava Homes, featured in the Wall Street Journal, which can manage the rental of your property when not in use
When buying a property in Portugal you can typically expect to pay around 8% in purchasing costs. This is broken down below:
The Portuguese Golden Visa programme – your questions answered
Are there any disadvantages to using the fund route to apply for a Golden Visa?
No, there are no major disadvantages and this is a popular route for those who work in finance as they are most confident with working with this type of product. The reason that more investors choose to apply via a real estate purchase is due to the traditional attitude in Portugal as many prefer to invest in tangible assets. Nevertheless, both routes get you on the path to EU citizenship, it all comes down to what you prefer.
Can Golden Visa holders work in different European countries as well as Portugal?
Yes, you have the right to work in Portugal and you may work in any other EU country providing that you request a work visa. With a Golden Visa, it takes around two weeks to get a work visa as you have an EU residency card already. Conversely, those without a Golden Visa can expect it to take around three months to secure a work visa.
What’s the minimum amount of time you need to stay in the country to apply for a passport?
You need to meet the necessary requirements below:
Can I apply for a Golden Visa for my partner too? We are not married.
Yes, marriage does not matter when it comes to the Golden Visa programme: unmarried and married couples are viewed the same. In order to be eligible, you must prove that you have been living together for at least two years.
Can UK citizens now apply for the Golden Visa programme?
Yes, UK citizens can apply for the Golden Visa programme now that the UK has departed from the EU.
If I cannot travel 14 days in two years, can I get an extension?
No, that is not possible.
What evidence is needed to prove that I visited Portugal so that my residency can be maintained?
You will need your flight tickets, the stamps in your passport and you will need a receipt per each day of your stay – it can be as simple as a morning coffee!
Does the Golden Visa programme enable children to study in Portugal?
Yes, your dependent children can study in Portugal and any other EU country. In addition, remember that even though you are not yet a citizen, you will pay the local fees too which are significantly lower than international fees.
As a Golden Visa holder will I have access to public healthcare?
Yes, you will have access to Portugal’s excellent public healthcare system.