Last Updated : 4 Sept 2023
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The Golden Visa is a popular way to obtain a residency permit in Portugal through numerous investment options. In addition, the Golden Visa program can also ultimately lead to obtaining Portuguese citizenship. Therefore, it is one of Europe's most popular residency programs. Since its inception in 2012, thousands of families have received their Golden visas and have successfully relocated to Portugal.
It only suits if you first visit and experience Portugal before deciding. You can apply quickly and hassle-free for your Portugal tourist visa on Atlys.
Let us begin:
In October 2012, the Portuguese Government launched a residency program known as the Portuguese Golden visa. It allows non-EU citizens to obtain a residency permit through citizenship by investment initiative. The Golden visa is a very straightforward and flexible program with simple and clear legal requirements. The applicant can easily obtain it as long as the necessary investments are made. Furthermore, the Golden visa allows applicants to apply for citizenship after 5 years of residency.
The Golden visa program was implemented to boost Portugal's economy with foreign investment funds after the 2008 economic crisis. Since its launch, the program has accumulated over € 6,147,874,500.99. Therefore, from a Portuguese point of view, it is safe to say that the program has been successful.
Another attractive feature of the Golden visa is that applicants only have to spend several days in Portugal annually. They can maintain their permanent residence status while enjoying all the benefits of EU residency.
Portugal also provides a high quality of life, a low cost of living, and an attractive tax regime. Additionally, it offers a great education system and excellent healthcare, making it an attractive option for investors who wish to live, work, or retire in Portugal.
The Portuguese parliament has officially updated the law regarding foreign investors applying for a Portuguese Golden visa. Changes to the law took effect on January 1, 2022. They mainly affect the real estate market.
Applicants will not be able to make any residential property investments in metropolitan and coastal areas, including Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, and the coastal regions. To qualify for a Golden visa-Portugal, you must purchase a real estate property in lower density regions such as Azores, Madeira, or other qualifying areas.
These changes were implemented because the investments in Portugal were made primarily in high-density areas. Furthermore, the Portuguese Government made changes to increase the investments in low-density areas to decrease the high real estate costs in bigger cities.
Furthermore, capital transfer investments will increase from €1 million to €1.5 million, and the fund investment minimum will increase from €350,000 to €500,000. Therefore, we recommend that you start the initial application process with these changes in mind.
As mentioned above, the Portuguese Golden Visa is suspended for real estate purchases in urban areas such as Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, and the coastal regions. In addition, the Portuguese Government has suspended the Golden Visa for Russian and Belarusian citizens.
Portugal's Foreign Affairs Minister Augusto Santos Silva mentioned, "SEF has suspended the appreciation of any dossier of candidacy for authorization of residency through investment, commonly known as golden visas, for Russian citizens."
The visa suspension came to light after Russia invaded Ukraine. European countries such as the UK, the US, and Canada have also decided to stop or limit the sale of citizenship (golden visa) to Russian citizens.
It was implemented to stop wealthy Russian citizens with ties to the Russian Government from taking advantage of other countries' financial systems. Limiting the sale of citizenship is among other sanctions imposed on Russia.
This Golden Visa scheme offers the best benefits making it the most popular visa in other European countries worldwide. Golden visa holders can enjoy numerous benefits, which include:
You are not obligated to live in Portugal full-time to keep your residency permit. You only need to stay in the country for 7 days per year.
It is possible to apply for dual residency for you and your family. This includes your spouse and any dependent children. You can also have any dependent parents.
You can apply for citizenship after five years of residency, making it one of the fastest ways to obtain residency. You will have to complete a language test with only the basics of the Portuguese language.
You can have free access to the Schengen area and enjoy visa-free travel throughout Europe.
If you stay in Portugal for less than 183 days, you will not be classified as a tax resident, meaning that you are exempted from paying taxes in Portugal.
You are allowed to live, work and study in Portugal.
You have the option to start your own business in Portugal.
Your family members can apply for a visa with the main applicant.
Upon qualifying, you can apply for a Portuguese residency or citizenship after 5 years.
There are specific eligibility criteria that an applicant must meet for the Portugal Golden Visa Program. Additionally, you meet the requirements to maintain your Golden Visa-Portugal.
Any non-EU/EEA/Swiss national can apply for a Golden visa if they meet the necessary requirements.
You must make a qualifying investment such as capital transfer, real estate, donation, and company formation.
The investment fund is being transferred from outside Portugal.
You are 18 years or older and have a clean criminal record in your home country and Portugal.
The Golden visa can be extended to eligible family members.
You must maintain your real estate investment for at least 5 years.
You must spend a minimum of 7 days in Portugal in the first year of acquiring a Portuguese Golden Visa.
After that, you must stay in Portugal for a minimum of 14 days, consecutively or intermittent, within each 2-year visa period.
You must have the proper documentation for the visa application process.
The documents must be translated, legalized, and apostilled by the relevant authority in your home country.
You must pay the relevant visa application fees
To qualify for a Golden visa, you must make a minimum investment. You must maintain your investment for as long as you hold the Golden visa residency status. If you do not wish to keep your visa, you do not need to maintain the investment.
After 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship. Once you are a permanent resident of Portugal, you are not required to invest or maintain any investments.
Additionally, you must transfer funds into the main applicant's bank account in Portugal to make an investment. You will also need a NIF, a tax identification number in Portugal, to open the account.
The main applicant will need to acquire a Portuguese tax number. It can be done remotely by a power of attorney without you entering Portugal. However, without a Portuguese tax number, you can't carry out any fiscal activities in the country. To apply for the NIF number, you will need to do the following:
Proof of address in your country of residence
Valid ID documents such as passport
Take the documents to Finanças office in Portugal
Get your NIF number at the Finanças office within an hour
This can be done by a lawyer with power of attorney
All investment transactions must be made through a Portuguese bank account. Portuguese banks make it easy to open a bank account for non-EU citizens. You will need the following documents:
A passport or government-issued travel document or residence card,
Portuguese phone number,
Proof of address from your country of residence,
Proof of income,
Take all these documents to your nearest bank branch to open your account. You can also have the power of attorney to open a bank account on your behalf.
There are a few different types of investments you can look into. However, if you wish to obtain a Golden visa, you must meet one of the following investment requirements:
Capital Transfer And Donation
Real Estate Investment
Transfer of funds equal to or above € 1,500,000 in Portugal or in a Portuguese business
Donation or Transfer of funds equal to or above € 500,000 for scientific or technological research activity at an accredited national institution in Portugal
Donation or Transfer of funds equal to or above € 250,000 for artistic or cultural heritage conservation
Donation or Transfer of Funds above € 350,000 for Investment/Venture capital funds
Purchase of real estate property investment must be a minimum of € 500,000 (anywhere except Lisbon, Porto, or along the coast).
Purchase of rehabilitated real estate property must be a minimum of € 350,000 in urban areas.
Rehabilitated real estate properties must be 30 years and older or located in urban areas. The value includes purchasing the property and any renovations made to the property.
Purchase of real estate property investment must be between €280,000 or €400,000 in low-density areas.
If you choose to invest in low-density population areas, the investment amount is reduced by 20% (€ 400,000). Furthermore, as soon as you invest in a property, you are free to use it. This can include personal use, rent, or lease.
Property investment in rehabilitated real estate in low-density areas will be reduced by 20% (€ 280,000). After your purchase, you are free to use the property. This can include personal use, rent, or lease.
You can purchase one or multiple properties (any type of property).
A minimum of €500,000 investment in a qualifying Portuguese investment fund.
Create a minimum of 10 new jobs by starting a business in Portugal. These positions must be full-time and filled by Portuguese citizens.
Create a minimum of 8 new jobs by investing and starting a Portuguese company in a low-density area. Investments that are made in low-density population areas will be reduced by 20% (8 employees).
You have the option to create a minimum of 5 jobs together with an investment of € 350,000 in a startup company or investment in a local company by Dual investment.
There is a €500,000 incorporation amount with no limitation to areas or activities in job creation.
This investment option also provides possible grants, incentives, and benefits.
Ensure that you have all the correct documents before you start the process. This will make the process faster and easier. In addition, you must meet the following visa requirements:
Copy of your valid passport (at least 6 months)
Two passport pictures, taken within 6 months
Proof of health insurance that is valid in Portugal (if you plan to live in Portugal)
Clean criminal record from your home country
Tax identification from your home country
Portuguese criminal record report
Declaration from the investor confirming compliance with the investment requirements
Declaration from Social Security proving the absence of debts to Security Authorities
Sworn declaration or affidavit stating that you will maintain the investment for at least 5 years
Proof of payment receipt from the ARI portal
Proof of investment such as a deed or promissory sale agreement, proof of deposit payment, proof of payment in investment funds, proof of payment for the real estate, proof of donation, etc.
All documents mentioned above issued by foreign authorities must be legalized before being submitted in Portugal. The legalized or notarized documents must include an apostille if your country is a Hague Convention member.
All documents must be translated to Portuguese (if not already in Portuguese) and submitted to the visa applicants. These translated documents must also be certified. Ensure that documents are in PDF format and a maximum of 4MB when uploading on the ARI portal.
Though the visa application is straightforward, gathering the documents and other steps can be quite tricky. You should be able to do all the steps correctly if you follow this guide. However, we strongly recommend getting help from a lawyer or advisor in Portugal. They will be able to advise you every step of the way and know how to deal with the local authorities.
You must follow the below-mentioned steps for a successful Portugal Golden Visa application process.
You will need to decide on an investment option. Whichever option you choose, be sure that you analyze it carefully and are confident in your decision. Once you have decided on your investment, you'll need to gather all relevant documents surrounding the investment. Ensure that you make copies of the originals and include them in the documents you'll submit at your visa appointment.
Gather all the documents needed for yourself and any dependents you might have. This process might get frustrating and tiresome; we recommend you start collecting the documents well before your visa appointment. This will leave you enough time to fix or resolve any problems during the document collection process. For example, a police clearance in certain countries might take some time. If you don't leave yourself enough time to get the document, you may not be able to submit it during your visa appointment.
As mentioned above, you'll need to have a NIF number and open a bank account. In addition, non-EU/EEA citizens will need a fiscal representative to accompany them when traveling to the tax office to apply for a NIF number. It is also possible for your fiscal representative to apply at the tax office on your behalf.
A fiscal representative is defined as someone who is over 18 and a legal resident of Portugal. Your fiscal representative will ensure that you comply with the Portuguese tax regulations. They will need to prove their status with a passport or Government-issued ID and their proof of address. Note that your fiscal representative should be someone you know well and trust because they'll be carrying some risk.
A NIF request by foreigners can be made through e-Balcão by a citizen residing in Portugal.
After acquiring a NIF and opening a bank account, you can now finalize your investment. Ensure to obtain all the necessary documents for your investment/proof of investment as you will need them during your application process.
Once you have all the documents, you can apply for your Golden visa through the online portal of the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF). Follow these steps to submit your application:
Register in the ARI portal. You need to submit your contact details, passport details, address, and your legal representative's contact details.
Attach electronic copies of the required documents (PDF not larger than 4MB).
Pay all relevant fees.
Wait for confirmation from SEF.
During your application process, you will need to submit a supporting document that proves you have made an investment or made an initial deposit for your investment.
Family members and other dependents should submit their applications simultaneously. However, an extra processing fee of €84 will apply for each subsequent applicant.
The expected processing time after submission is around 3-6 months. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could take up to 8-10 months (or longer). Therefore, we highly recommend employing a specialist to save time and ensure the process is done correctly.
After receiving approval, you will need to schedule an appointment with SEF. Afterward, you will travel to your appointment with SEF. You must submit your supporting documents once more (check that you have up-to-date police clearance as it might have expired during the application process). Your biometrics will be collected during your appointment; the screening includes fingerprints, taking your photo, and your signature.
Once processed and approved, you must pay € 5,325 per person. After your payment is received, you can get your residency card within approximately 10 days. Your residency permit will be valid for 2 years and must be renewed.
After your initial residency card has expired, you will need to renew it. The process includes an up-to-date criminal record, retake biometric data, and payment of processing fees.
After 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship. Once successful, you do not need to maintain any initial investments.
You need to maintain your investment and minimum residency requirements to renew your Portugal Golden Visa. In addition, you must start your renewal process 3 months in advance. You must start early because of all the paperwork and document gathering involved. You'll need the meet the following criteria:
Must be a non-EU citizen and reside in any country except Portugal
Must submit all required documents. Some documents might have expired before the renewal date (for example, your police clearance). Be sure that you check that all your documents are up-to-date before starting your renewal process.
Submit your Portugal Golden Visa application.
Pay all associated fees for each approved applicant.
After approval, you must meet the minimum stay requirements (21 days for 2 years). Take note that you must physically be in Portugal to meet the minimum stay requirements.
After approval, maintain your investments for a minimum of 5 years.
Remember that all documents must be translated into Portuguese. This can quickly be done in Portugal once you start your renewal application.
The visa application fees must be paid for the main applicant and the dependents applying for the visa. Additionally, you will also have to pay visa renewal fees. Applicants will have to pay the following expenses during the entire process.
For Infital Application:
Processing fee of € 533 for the main applicant
Processing fee of €83.10 for each dependent applicant
Once approved, payment of € 5,325 per applicant
For Visa Renewals:
Processing fee of €533 for the first applicant
Processing fee of €83.10 for remaining applications
Once approved, payment of € 2,663 per applicant
Suppose you decide to get help or hire a lawyer or an advisory firm. In that case, you will be charged for the entire visa application process. The legal fees will depend on the firm that you choose to go with. However, they can start anywhere from € 8000 to € 10,000.
After you have finished the visa application process and have paid your visa fees, you just need to wait for the visa approval. Upon approval, you will get your Golden Visa card with a validity of 2 years. After every two years, you must renew your Golden Visa-Portugal.
An attractive feature of the Golden visa is the flexible minimum stay requirements. Golden visa holders must stay a minimum of 7 days per year in Portugal. As of April 2020, the residency permit became valid for a two-year period, which requires a minimum stay of 14 days in Portugal (within 2 years). It can be renewed for another 3 years, meaning the minimum stay equals 21 days in Portugal (within 3 years).
Once you have started your application for the Golden visa, you are one step closer to permanent residency or citizenship. The process will comprise a total of 5 years. Here is what to expect in the 5 years leading up to your permanent residency.
Once you successfully receive your Golden visa, it will be valid for 2 years. You must spend a minimum of 7 days in Portugal in the first year of acquiring a Portuguese Golden Visa. After that, you must meet the minimum stay requirements of 14 days every 2 years. You do not need to stay in Portugal to meet these requirements and are free to travel as you like throughout the 2 years.
Suppose you wish to renew your residency permit. In that case, you must start your application process 30 - 60 days before your visa's expiration date. You will need to reapply and follow the same process with SEF as the first time (collecting biometric data, submitting supporting documents, and paying related fees).
Additionally, you can enjoy all the benefits of the Golden Visa starting the moment you get your visa.
Per new regulations, your Golden visa will be valid for 3 years. You must spend a minimum of 21 days in Portugal and maintain your investments during this time.
After a total of 5 years, you have 3 options.
You can choose to continue the Golden visa program, which provides a temporary residency permit
You can apply for a permanent residency permit
You can apply for citizenship, provided that you meet the necessary requirements, such as a language test. The test will only cover the basics of the Portuguese language, which leads to Portuguese residency and, ultimately, a Portuguese passport.
Suppose you decide to apply for a Portugal residency permit or citizenship. In that case, you are not obligated to maintain any previous investments that you have made in Portugal.
Suppose at any time, within the 5 years, you do not want to continue with the Golden visa program. In that case, you can sell or liquidate any investments you have made.
The Portuguese Golden Visa Program compares well with other investment programs available throughout the European Union. In fact, only the Greece Golden Visa is a more affordable program.
However, there are other ways of making Portugal your home, as we discuss in our comprehensive Portuguese Visa Guide. Many opt to go with obtaining permanent residency through their occupation or length of stay. At the same time, some may choose to go the retirement visa route through a Portuguese National Type D7 Visa.
An entire new generation is making Portugal their base of operations while reaping the benefits of a new and established remote working culture with Portugal's Digital Nomad Visa. In all cases, you can rest assured knowing that Atlys has your travel needs and preferences covered in one of our expertly written guides.
No, you are not obligated to live in Portugal. You are free to use your property in any way (accommodation for vacation, rent, or lease). However, take note that you need to meet the minimum stay requirements.