Golden Visa Portugal: The Essentials

Golden Visa Portugal continues to be one of the most popular investment immigration programs in Europe.  The investors particularly find it attractive due to its flexibility and long list of benefits.

Portugal started its residence by investment program called Golden Visa in 2012.  From 2012 to 2021, the program attracted close to 9,500 applications from all around the world.

In the article below, we will touch on the essential aspects regarding the Portuguese ARI program.

What is Golden Visa Portugal?

The Golden Visa is a residence scheme, which allows international investors to invest in Portugal and get a temporary residence permit in the country in return for their incoming investment.  The Portuguese government strongly supports foreign investors.  If the main applicant makes one of the qualifying investments – that we will list later on in the article – he or she can get the Golden Visa and spread it to the rest of the family.

The Gold Visa residence permit allows for living and working in Portugal, as well as visa free travel within the Schengen area.  It also paves a way to Portuguese citizenship without having to live full time in the country.

Citizenship in Portugal

In order to get Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa program, you need to hold the residence permit and your investment for a minimum of five years.  At the end of five years, if you satisfy the below conditions, then you qualify for citizenship in Portugal:

  1. No unpaid taxes in Portugal,
  2. Clean criminal record in Portugal and your country of residence,
  3. Pass a basic Portuguese language test,
  4. Show ties to Portugal

Once you get naturalized in Portugal, you no longer need to maintain your Golden Visa investment.  So, you may sell it.

If you are a Portuguese citizen, then you are also an European (EU) citizen.  This means that you can live and work anywhere in the European Union, freely, as you please.

Golden Visa Portugal Really Works

Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) is the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service.  It takes care of all immigration activities in Portugal.  According to SEF statistics, from October 2012 to 2021, close to 9,500 investors received their Golden Residence Permit in Portugal.  Another 16,000 residents were issued as family members of the main applicants.

As of 2019, many Golden Visa holders applied for and received the Portuguese citizenship.  This verifies that the Portuguese government actually stands behind their promise with the program.

Required Documents

The program requires a set of documents from the participating investors:

  • Proof of clean criminal record required by the main applicant and all dependents,
  • Evidence that the dependents qualify:
    • Marriage certificate
    • Children’s birth certificate
    • If children are aged between 18 and 26 years old, proof that they are full time in school, financially dependant to the main investor, and unmarried
  • Source of funds on the investment amount
  • Medical insurance in Portugal
  • No restrictions on entry into the Schengen states
  • Proof that the applicants spend a minimum of seven days on average in Portugal (for two year cards: fourteen days within the two years / for three year cards: twenty one days within three years)
  • Proof of fulfilling the investment requirements and ownership of the investment for the five year period

The documents generally need to be translated to Portuguese or English, notarized, and apostilled.  They also need to be recent and up to date (acquired at most 90 days before submitting).

Lots of Qualifying Investment Opportunities

As the main applicant, you can choose any one of the below investment types in order to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa program:

  • Creation of 10 new full time jobs in Portugal,
  • Capital transfer of at least 1 million euros,
  • Purchase of real estate for at least 500 thousand euros,
  • Purchase of real estate for at least 350 thousand euros, as long as the building was constructed more than 30 years ago or is in an urban rehabilitation area, and that it is renovated,
  • Transfer of at least 350 thousand euros investment into research and development activities in Portugal,
  • Transfer of at least 250 thousand euros investment into supporting, restoring, or maintaining national cultural heritage,
  • Transfer of at least 350 thousand euros capital + 5 new full time jobs in a newly formed company under the main applicant’s name.

If the above investment is made in a low density area in Portugal, then the minimum amount in some of the above investment types drop by another 20%.

Overall, the minimum investment for obtaining a residence permit is 250 thousand euros. 

The most popular investment type is purchase of real estate in Portugal.

Submitting the Application

The Golden Visa application can be submitted online.  If you choose to apply by yourself, you can do so on the ARI portal of SEF.  

In most cases, applicants opt in to have a law firm represent them in the application process. The law firms can easily apply on your behalf.

Golden Visa Portugal Benefits

The main benefits of Golden Visas in Portugal include:

  • The right to live and work in Portugal
  • The right to travel along the EU Schengen countries without a Schengen visa
  • The little stay requirement (7 days/year on average)
  • The ability to easily include family members in the program
  • The lack of language requirement to obtain the Golden Visa
  • The right to apply for permanent residency or citizenship at the end of five years.

Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Fiscal Scheme

The Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) fiscal scheme is another advantage that Portugal offers. You may take advantage of it if you have a Golden Visa residence permit in the country. Individuals, who choose to relocate to Portugal and spend most of the year in the country can benefit from this program.  This tax program allows people to be exempt from paying taxes on their overseas income for ten years.

ARI / Golden Visa Dependent Rights

The main applicant is allowed to include his or her spouse and dependent family members into the Golden Visa program.  The dependents include children under the age of 18, parents above the age of 66, and children between 18 and 26 that financially depend on the main applicant.

The beneficiaries have the right to:

  • Live and work in Portugal
  • Travel within the EU Schengen countries visa-free
  • Apply for permanent residence or citizenship in Portugal at the end of five years

The beneficiaries have to upkeep the same stay requirement as the main applicant.

Conditions for Portuguese Citizenship

In July 2018, the “Citizenship Law” in Portugal had an amendment, lowering the six year requirement to five years.  At the end of five years of holding a residence permit in Portugal and upkeep with the requirements of the subject permit, the permit holder has the right to apply for citizenship.  As stated above, there are four conditions to be met in order to qualify for a citizenship application:

  • Have no unpaid taxes in Portugal
  • Hold a clean criminal record in the country of residence, as well as in Portugal
  • Enter and pass a basic Portuguese language test
  • Show ties to Portugal.

More Information

The Portuguese government incentivizes and supports foreign investors intending to invest in Portugal.  You may find further information in the SEF website and the official Portuguese government website.

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