The Portugal Golden Visa offers those able to invest the opportunity to obtain residency in the country. The scheme is open to citizens of non-EU countries meaning it’s popular among UK residents following Brexit, allowing the opportunity to obtain residency in another desirable and beautiful country with a high standard of living.
MSC Notaries have created a guide to the Golden Visa in Portugal, including information on the benefits, eligibility requirements and how you can apply.
What is the Portugal Golden Visa programme?
The Golden Visa programme, otherwise known as residence permits for investment activity (ARI), has been offered and in action since October 2021 and is highly popular among investors. It is a scheme provided to potential investors that are citizens of non-EU countries.
The scheme’s main objective is to attract international investors to bring in capital to the country; to date, it has been a success in doing so.
Not only does the Portugal Golden Visa allow the country to generate new capital, it provides investors with the opportunity to reside in the country and visit whenever they like and benefit from the beautiful culture, high quality of life and affordable cost of living that it offers.
It is also a route to obtaining permanent residence in Portugal as after a period of just five years, Golden Visa residents are permitted to apply for citizenship and obtain a Portuguese passport.
What are the benefits of the Golden Visa in Portugal?
For the individual
- Low investment threshold. Investors need only 280,000 euros to invest, which is one of the lowest thresholds for countries that are part of the Golden Visa scheme.
- Visa-free travel to other Schengen countries. No visa is required to travel to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).
- Right to enter Portugal at any time. You can enter Portugal whenever you choose, even when borders are closed, a country that is safe and desirable with a high quality of life, enjoyable climate and good health and education systems.
- No restrictions on activity. You have the right to live, work, and study anywhere in Portugal along with your spouse and any financially dependent children or parents. You are also permitted to set up and run your own business in the country.
- No restrictions on visits. Ability to stay in Portugal for any length of time and extended periods.
- No obligations. You don’t have to live in Portugal and are only required to spend an average of a week in the country to maintain the residence permit.
- Tax Benefits. Golden Visa investors have Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) status in Portugal (unless they spend longer than 183 days per year in the country), so don’t have to pay tax on income earned from other countries and have a reduced 20% rate of tax for any income earned in Portugal (which can be as high as nearly 50% for normal residents).
- Permanent residency after five years. After five years, you are able to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. This can be beneficial due to Portuguese citizens are able to choose to live in any EU country and travel to 187 counties without needing a visa such as the US, Canada, UK and Australia. In addition, Portuguese citizens will be given a Portuguese passport and can decide to live, work or study in any country in the EU.
For family members
- Spouses and children under 18 can apply for a Portugal Golden Visa alongside the investor.
- Children between the ages of 16 and 26 can also benefit and apply provided they are not married and are financially dependent on the investor, live with them or are studying at a university full-time.
- Parents can apply alongside an investor providing they are financially dependent on the individual and are over the age of 65.
- Siblings can apply providing they are under the age of 26 and the investor has custody.
What are the Portugal Golden Visa requirements?
The Portugal Golden Visa programme is open to all non-EU citizens. It has become increasingly popular among UK citizens following Brexit and the UK leaving the EU in 2020, as UK nationals looking for international investment opportunities. The scheme in Portugal is also open to citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Due to the driving factor of the scheme being to generate increased capital in certain countries, there is a minimum investment required to qualify. The scheme offers various ways to invest, therefore the minimum investment required is dependent on the type of investment you are interested in.
The Portugal Golden Visa scheme offers the following types of investment options:
- Real estate/property acquisition. There is the option to purchase a property worth a minimum of €500k in a high-density area, or a minimum investment of €400k in a low-density area. Alternatively, you can invest in property older than 30 years that’s part of urban development with a minimum of €350k in a dense area or €280k in a low-density area.
The minimum investment threshold doesn’t have to be met through the purchase of one property in particular; you can purchase multiple properties to complete the transaction.
It’s important to note that as of January 2022, purchasing residential property in high-density areas like Lisbon or Porto, or popular coastal areas doesn’t mean you are eligible for a Golden Visa. You can qualify for the scheme if you are purchasing commercial property in these areas, however. To qualify for the scheme, you will need to purchase property in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or interior territories.
- Investment fund subscription. There is the option to invest a minimum of €500k in a certain type of Portuguese investment fund. The areas you can invest in are regulated by the Portuguese CMVM (Securities Market Commission). The areas you can invest in are usually focused on capital markets, real estate and/or tech companies.
- Capital transfer. For this option, you must be able to transfer a minimum of €1.5 million into a Portuguese bank account.
- Business. You can apply if you are able to create ten full-time jobs for Portuguese citizens with a company you own in a dense area or a minimum of eight jobs in a low-density area. Another option is to invest a minimum of €500k in a Portuguese company that already exists in the country and create a minimum of five jobs for citizens.
- Donations. Last but not least, there is the option to make a donation of a minimum of €250k to preserve a national heritage or a minimum of €500k to a research and development facility in the country.
It is also important to note that you must maintain the investment you make in order to be eligible for the Golden Visa scheme in Portugal for the entire duration of your permit.
The Portugal Golden Visa scheme does not require you to visit the country and stay for any specific or lengthy period of time.
If it is an investor’s first Golden Visa permit, they are only required to visit and stay in Portugal for 14 days in the two years that their permit is valid.
In addition, for any subsequent Golden Visas, you are still only required to stay in Portugal for a minimum of 21 days out of the three years.
How to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa
1. Decide on your investment type
The first priority for any investors considering applying for the Portugal Golden Visa scheme is to understand the investment options available and decide on the best route for you to go down.
The most popular route that investors have chosen in the past is property investment, however, with this now being more heavily restricted to low-density areas, it is important to review all your potential opportunities.
2. Gather all the required documents
There is a wide range of documentation required to apply for this scheme, which is why it can be valuable to work with a professional to guide you through the process.
The documents you will need for both yourself as the main applicant and any subsequent family members are:
- Copy of passport or another government-issued travel document
- Proof of the required investment made by the main applicant e.g. a deed or sale agreement and proof of deposit for a property, proof of fund subscriptions, proof of shares, etc.
- Proof of healthcare coverage from Portugal’s National Health Service or foreign equivalent
- Criminal record from the country of residence along with a form allowing the Serviço de Fronteiras e Estrangeiros (SEF) access to criminal records in Portugal
- Declaration of compliance with investment requirements for the duration of the permit
- Documentation stating a good standing with Tax and Customs authorities in Portugal
- Receipt of payment for the application
In addition to obtaining all the above documents, you will also need to have all these documents legalised and translated into Portuguese for them to be suitable for submission.
MSC Notaries offer all the services required to assist you in the legalisation and translation of the documents required to ensure your Golden Visa application is successful.
Our notary services allow you to legalise your documents for use in Portugal efficiently and affordably. If you are applying for the Golden Visa from a country that is a member of the Hague Convention which includes the UK, we also offer apostille services to assist you in acquiring an apostille stamp for your documents.
All documents submitted to Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme also need to be professionally translated into Portuguese. Our team are specialists in English to Portuguese document translation and can help you to get all your documents ready for submission. Where required, we can offer our services remotely to those based in other countries who need help preparing their documents for the scheme.
3. Obtain a NIF number and open a Portuguese bank account
Once you’ve decided on the type of investment you will be making and have prepared your documents, you will need to set up a Portuguese bank account (provided you don’t have one already). Portugal requires investors to make the investment from a bank account in the country rather than an international account.
You will also need to obtain a Tax Identification Number (NIF) to be able to open an account.
4. Finalise your investment
At this point, you will need to carry out the planned investment.
5. Submit a pre-approval application online
Once your investment has been made and you have all your legalised and translated documents prepared, you will need to submit the pre-application form online to the SEF.
Once your application is with the SEF, it is a waiting process to hear from them with a potential appointment date for a biometric interview. This process can take between two and six months.
6. Attend a SEF biometrics appointment
You can apply for a biometrics appointment at any of the SEF locations around Portugal; keep in mind that biometrics appointments must be attended in person by the main applicant and any family members also applying.
Once your pre-application has been approved, you will be provided with a list of potential available dates to choose from to attend.
7. Obtain your Golden Visa
Following your in-person appointment and providing it is a success and you submit all the necessary information, you will then be provided with your Golden Visa residence card(s).
How long does the application process take?
The application process for the Portugal Golden Visa usually takes between 2-6 months to complete due to the timeframe it takes for your application to be approved and potential delays in arranging a biometric appointment date.
The biometric appointment and interview can be booked in any of the SEF locations across Portugal regardless of where your investment was made.
What are the fees and costs involved?
Of course, the main cost of applying for the Golden Visa scheme is the minimum investment you are required to make to be eligible.
In addition, however, there are some initial costs and renewal fees charged by the Portuguese government to keep in mind when beginning the process:
- Processing fee of €533 at the beginning of the application process and upon renewing
- Initial application fee of €5325 per person at the beginning of the application process
- Renewal application fee of €2663 per person when renewing
It is also important to factor in the legal fees you will need to pay to whichever law firm you choose to work with when carrying out the investment and application process, as well as the notary, apostille and translation fees involved when sorting your documents.
Due to the size of the investment and the various specific requirements of the process, it is always advisable to work with professionals to ensure all aspects are being carried out accurately.
Arrange your documents for the Portugal Golden Visa with MSC Notaries
If you are ready to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa programme and would like assistance with the notarisation, legalisation and translation of any documents, you can get in touch with our team for a free quote.