Portugal’s Golden Visa

The Golden Visa. What is it?

The Golden Visa Programme launched by the Portuguese Authorities is a fast track for foreign investors from non-EU countries to obtain a fully valid residency permit in Portugal (“Golden Visa”).

Under the Golden Visa programme, non-EU citizens simply need to carry out one of the investments set out in the law to qualify to obtain a residency permit in Portugal. This residency permit will allow the investor and his family members to enter and/or live in Portugal and to travel freely within the vast majority of European countries (Schengen space).

Aimed at attracting foreign investment to Portugal, the Golden Visa is a very straightforward and flexible programme, with simple and clear legal requirements. With extremely reduced minimum stay requirements, the Golden Visa is clearly one of the most attractive residency programs for investors in the world.

The Golden Visa Programme will provide investors with the following advantages:

  • No need to obtain a visa to enter Portugal
  • No need to obtain a visa to travel in Europe (Schengen area)
  • Living and working in Portugal, even with residency in a different country
  • Residency extended to family members
  • Extremely low minimum stay periods
  • Low taxes
  • Permanent Residency after 5 years
  • Citizenship after 6 years

The Portuguese Immigration services (SEF) have informed that the processing and approval fees for residency through the Golden Visa have been updated.  These fees are now as follows:

  • Application fees – Investor – 517.40 Euro
  • Application fees – Family members – 80.60 Euro
  • Approval fees – 5,173.60 Euro
  • Renewal fees – 2,586.80 Euro
We strongly recommend obtaining legal advice before taking any of the steps of the Golden Visa, namely before making any kind of investment or submitting any applications or documents.
Our in-house lawyer can provide the necessary guidance and advice for processing your application.
If you would like to make an appointment with us to discuss this further, please get in touch.

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The Golden Visa programme was recently widened to include further types of investment. As a result, the following types of investment now qualify for the Golden Visa programme:

a) Property Investments:

i. Acquisition of property above € 500,000;
ii. Acquisition of property above € 350,000  – for properties more than 30 years old or located in areas of urban renovation.

b) Capital Investments:

i. Transfer of Funds above € 1,000,000;
ii.  Transfer of Funds above € 350,000 for research activities;
iii. Transfer of Funds above € 250,000 for artistic or cultural activities;
iv. Transfer of Funds above € 500,000 for capitalization of small and medium size companies.

c) Job creation:

Creation of  a minimum of 10 jobs;

It should be noted that only investments effectively made after 8th October 2012 are eligible for the Golden Visa programme.

Once issued, the Golden Visa will be valid for an initial period of 1 (one) year and then will be renewed for subsequent periods of 2 (two) years.

The simplicity of the Golden Visa Programme implies an extremely reduced amount of requirements being asked from the investor. The Golden Visa Programme sets out that the investor must comply with general requirements applicable to all types of qualifying investments and also with the specific requirements of each type of qualifying investment.

In general, all investors have to comply with the following requirements:

a)  Keep the investment for a minimum period of 5 years
b)  Funds for investment should come from abroad
c)   Entry in Portugal with a valid Schengen visa
d)   Absence of references in the Portuguese Immigration and the Schengen services
e)   Absence of conviction of relevant crime
f)  Minimum stay in Portugal: 7 (seven) days during the first year and 14 (fourteen) days during each subsequent period of two years

Each type of qualifying investment has specific characteristics, as follows:

(a)  Property Acquisitions

i. Acquisition of property above € 500.000;

  • Minimum investment of € 500,000
  • Purchase of one or multiple properties
  • All property types qualify
  • Possibility of co-ownership;
  • Freedom to use, rent or lease
  • Investment amount may be reduced by 20% (€ 400,000) in case such investment is made in low density population areas

ii. Acquisition of property above € 350,000

  • For properties more than 30 years or located in areas of urban regeneration. This value includes not only the property but also the investment in the refurbishment works
  • Possibility of co-ownership
  • Freedom to use, rent for commercial or agricultural purposes
  • Investment amount may be reduced by 20% (€ 280,000) in case such investment is made in low density population areas

(b)  Transfer of Funds

i. Transfer Funds above € 1,000,000

  • Minimum investment of € 1 million
  • Funds transferred from abroad to a bank in Portugal
  • Total freedom to invest the funds
  • Possibility of using the funds to invest in shares of companies

ii. Transfer of Funds of at least € 350,000 applied to research activities carried out by entities which are part of the national scientific and technological system

  • Minimum investment above € 350.000
  • Funds transferred from abroad to a bank in Portugal
  • To be used in research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technologic system

iii. Transfer of Funds of at least € 250,000 applied to investment or support to artistic production or recovery or maintenance of the national cultural heritage

  • Minimum investment above € 250,000
  • Funds transferred from abroad to a bank in Portugal
  • Investing in artistic output or supporting the arts, for reconstruction or refurbishment of the national heritage

iv. Transfer of Funds of at least € 500,000 for acquisition of participation units investment funds or capital investment companies for capitalization of small and medium size companies

  • Minimum investment above € 500,000
  • Funds transferred from abroad to a bank in Portugal
  • Investment used for purchasing shares in investment funds or in venture capital

(c)  Job Creation

  • Creation of a minimum of 10 jobs
  • No minimum investment value
  • No limitation on areas/activities
  • Compliance with Social Security obligations
  • Possibility of grants/incentives/benefits
  • Investment amount may be reduced by 20% (8 employees) in case such investment is made in low density population areas

The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders. With a resident permit from Portugal, the investor is entitled to enter and travel freely throughout all the countries of the Schengen area.

The Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are currently candidate countries to the Schengen Area.

Yes.  Under the Golden Visa Programme, the investor’s family members may also apply and obtain a resident permit from Portugal by applying for “family reunion”.  The Golden visa will be extended to family members, namely children, spouse and dependent family members.

The family members will also be eligible for Permanent Residency after 5 years Portuguese Citizenship after 6 years.

Under Portuguese Law any person that has held a valid Portuguese temporary residency title (e.g. the Golden Visa) for a period of at least 5 years, he will be entitled to obtain Permanent Residency in Portugal.

The investor and family members will have to meet the following criteria in order to be able to apply for Permanent Residency in Portugal:

  • Absence of conviction of relevant crime during the last 5 (five years)
  • Proof of income / financial independence
  • Proof of accommodation in Portugal
  • Basic knowledge of Portuguese 

The Portuguese legislation also sets out that any person who has been validly resident in Portugal for at least 6 (years (either under a temporary or permanent residency title), is eligible for obtaining Portuguese Citizenship.

In order to be able to obtain Portuguese Citizenship, the investor and family members will also have to comply with the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old (or at least 16 but married or legally responsible)
  • Absence of conviction of any relevant crime
  • Pass a simple Portuguese language test, which will serve to show sufficient knowledge of the language

The application for the Golden Visa implies that the investor will have to submit the following documentation:

  • Proof of Investment
  • Passport & Valid Schengen Visa
  • Portuguese Fiscal number
  • Criminal Record from country of residency
  • Portuguese Criminal Record
  • Declaration from the Tax Department proving the absence of debts  to the Tax Authorities
  • Declaration from Social Security proving the absence of debts to Social Security Authorities
  • Declaration from the investor confirming compliance with the investment requirements
  • Health Insurance valid in Portugal
  • 2 passport-type pictures
  • Receipt of payment of the application’s examination fee.

Any document that is not in the Portuguese or English languages needs to be translated to Portuguese.  The translation needs to be certified.

Document issued by foreign authorities need to be legalized before being submitted in Portugal. This legalization means obtaining the Appostille of the Hague Convention (when applicable) or legalization by the Portuguese Consular services.

A fiscal number is an identification number before the Portuguese Tax Authorities (also known as the tax number).  This number is required to carry out the investments.

Any investor interested in applying for a Golden Visa, can submit the application, either personally or via a legal representative appointed by him, in one of the following manners:

a) Online Registration

By registering online at the Services of Foreigners and Borders’ (“SEF”) website. After the registration is complete the investor will receive a password and will be able to access online in order to submit the necessary forms and documents.

b) In Person

In person, at the Services of Foreigners and Borders in Portugal.

It should be noted that the investor and family members will always have to be present at the Service of Foreigners and Boarders of Portugal for fingerprinting, signature and other formalities.

The Golden Visa involves payment of the following fees (payable directly to the Services of Foreigners and Borders (“SEF”)):

a) Processing fee (application and renewal) – €80 (plus € 80.20 per family member)

b) Initial Golden Visa- € 5,147.80

c) Initial Golden Visa for Family members- € 5,147.80

d)    Renewal of Golden Visa – € 2,573.90 

Once the application is submitted at the Services of Foreigners and Borders (SEF), it will take a few months for the application to be processed (please note that this is just an estimate based on our recent experience).

Once the application is processed, the Services of Foreigners and Borders (SEF) will contact the investor or the investor’s legal representatives in Portugal and set up an appointment with the investor (and family members) to collect  signature and fingerprints.

It should be noted that in some cases, it is possible for the investor to go to the immigration services to leave the fingerprints and signature shortly before the investment and/or submission of the required documents.

The investor (or any family member) will only be refused the Golden Visa (or its renewal) if:

a) He/she has not maintained the investment for the minimum period of 5 (years)

b) He/she has not complied with the minimum periods of stay in Portugal

c) He/she has been convicted of a crime punishable with a prison sentence of more than one year

d) The investor is in a period where he/she has been banned entry into Portuguese territory following a removal measure of the country

e) On the grounds of public health (this may only be based on diseases that have been defined by the World Health Organization or other infectious or parasitic contagious diseases which are the object of protection measures in Portuguese territory)

f) A Golden Visa may be refused on the grounds of public order, public security or public health

Yes, the investor only needs to hold the investment during the Golden Visa’s validity period – 5 years.

Yes, but without proof that the investment has been kept, the investor will not be able to renew the Golden Visa Permit.

No. The investor does not need to occupy the property and it can be rented out to obtain income.

There are three taxes in Portugal related to property:

a) Payable with the property’s acquisition:
– “IMT” or Property Transfer Tax”, which is the tax on transfer of ownership of property
–  Stamp Duty

Note: The exact amount of taxes to be paid varies according to the actual value of the acquisition.

b) Payable on an annual basis:
“IMI” or Council Tax, which is the annual municipal property tax; it is levied between 0.3% and 0.5% on the property’s tax value

No.  If the holder of the golden visa does not stay in Portugal form more than 183 consecutive days, he/she will not be required to pay taxes for income generated outside of Portugal.

Rental income and income arising from capital (e.g. interest, dividends, etc) will be taxed at a rate of 28%.