For the past few decades, the Portuguese Golden Visa program has held its spot as one of the most attractive investor visa programs of the EU. Investors from around the world are eagerly acquiring their second citizenships or residence permits in exchange for investment, i.e., supporting the host country’s economy. More and more individuals whose fortune exceeds $ 1 million turn their attention to European countries.
- 1 Residence permit in Portugal is in high demand with investors
- 2 Why are investors so interested in obtaining Portugal’s residence permit?
- 3 Existing European residence by investment permit programs
- 4 European citizenship by investment programs
- 5 Portugal residence permit: Investment options
- 6 Obtaining Golden Visa Portugal through the purchase of real estate
- 7 In conclusion
Residence permit in Portugal is in high demand with investors
Even a cursory look at the statistics will reveal how popular the Golden Visa Portugal program is. Since the launch of the program in 2019 and as of November 2019, almost 22,000 applicants have successfully acquired their Golden Visas. Out of this number, 8,125 are investors themselves, and the remaining 13,862 are their family members. Top 5 nationalities that participated in the program are: China (4,441), Brazil (858), Turkey (374), South Africa (318) and Russia (293).
This is not at all surprising. In 2019, PwC, the international audit and assurance, consulting and tax services agency, named Lisbon an ideal city for investing one’s assets in. Many years in a row, the Portuguese Golden Visa is recognized as one of the three leading EU citizenship/residence by investment program.
Why are investors so interested in Portugal’s residence by investment program? Immediately, economic stability comes to mind. However, that is not all.
Why are investors so interested in obtaining Portugal’s residence permit?
Portuguese Golden Visa grants certain advantages to the investor and their family members. Let’s list them below:
- Visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. Portugal’s Golden Visa will allow you to freely enter and travel through the zone without bothering about visas.
- Running business in a stable environment. Portugal’s Golden Visa will allow you to start a new business in Europe, or upscale the existing one. Your business will enter the stage of continuous development, since Portugal is an economically stable country.
- Tax exemptions. Portugal’s Golden Visa holders are granted 10-year-long tax holidays. The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program was created specifically for this purpose, and it is highly recommended to enter it.
- Opening accounts in European banks. Portugal’s Golden Visa allows its holder to easily open an account in any of the (very stable) European banks. You won’t have to worry about your deposits’ safety.
- No residence requirements. You’ll only have to stay in Portugal one week per year to make sure your Golden Visa is extended. In case of naturalization, you’d be required to reside in the country for at least 6 months. This condition does not exist when applying for Portugal’s residence permit by investment.
- The opportunity to enroll your children in European schools and universities. A Portuguese residence permit provides its holders with the unique chance to ensure a brilliant future for one’s children. Portuguese Golden Visa is also a pass into Europe’s most prestigious educational institutions.
- The possibility to apply for citizenship. One of the main advantages of Portuguese Golden Visa is that it allows the investor and their family to obtain citizenship in 5 years’ time. It is the shortest timeframe offered by a Golden Visa program.
Do you still have doubts that the Portuguese Golden Visa program is the best option for you? You might find that other European countries also boast attractive options. Let’s compare the Portuguese Golden to some other similar programs.
Existing European residence by investment permit programs
The cost of Portugal’s Golden Visa doesn’t differ that much from its European competitors. Only Greece and Spain stand out on the list:
- Portugal (residence permit): cost starts at €350,000;
- Malta (permanent residence): cost starts at €330,000;
- Cyprus (permanent residence): cost starts at €300,000;
- Greece (residence permit): cost starts at €250,000;
- Spain (residence permit): cost starts at €500,000.
It should be noted that all of the above countries have a fairly well-developed tourism sector. Greece and Spain, however, went through their respective crises several years ago and are still recovering from its consequences.
The Portuguese economy, on the other hand, is stable, and the standard of living is on the rise. Still, the main advantage of the Portuguese Golden Visa is the possibility to obtain a passport after 5 years of holding the permit. In contrast, other European countries that exchange residence permits for investment have stricter rules when it comes to citizenship.
Let’s compare European residency by investment programs in the table below.
|Portuguese residence permit||Greek residence permit||Spanish residence permit||Malta’s permanent residence||Cyprus’ permanent residence|
|How long it takes||From 12 to 16 weeks||8 to 20 weeks||16 to 28 weeks||12 to 36 weeks||12 to 20 weeks|
|Minimum investment threshold||At least €350,000||At least €250,000||At least €500,000||At least €330,000||At least €300,000|
|Obligatory stay in the country||- One week within the first year of holding the Golden Visa|
- Two weeks for the next two years
|One week per year||For those planning to apply for permanent residence||None||None|
|Extending residence permit||Staying in Portugal for a specified amount of time||Must keep ownership of the real estate||One-time visit will suffice||Complete the paperwork||No extension require, issued for life|
|Applying for citizenship||A week-long stay every year for 5 years, i.e., 35 days in total||No special conditions for holders of temporary residence permits. Citizenship is obtained only through naturalization after at least 7 years||Staying in Spain for at least 6 months annually. One may apply for citizenship in 10 years’ time||To reside in Malta for 5 years, provide proof of ties with the country||No special conditions for holders of temporary residence permits. Citizenship is obtained only through naturalization after 7-10 years|
|Special taxation conditions for foreign investors||Non-Habitual Resident tax system||None||None||Malta Non-Dom Status||None|
|Is it necessary to be personally present in the country to get the permit extended?||Travel to Portugal to open a bank account||Travel to Greece in order to obtain one’s residence permit||Travel to Spain in order to obtain one’s residence permit||In the final stages of the procedure, of-age applicants are required to visit Malta||Travel to Cyprus in order to obtain one’s residence permit|
European citizenship by investment programs
For some investors, obtaining just a residence permit is not enough, since a passport would be more helpful for their needs. But it’s no easy feat: there is no program yet that would allow one to obtain Portuguese citizenship by buying real estate or through subsidies. There are, of course, some alternatives.
Namely, there are two European citizenship-by-investment programs that stand side-by-side with Portugal’s Golden Visa one. See cost comparison below:
- Portugal (residence permit): costs at least €350,000;
- Malta (citizenship): costs at least €880,000;
- Cyprus (citizenship): costs at least €2,150,000.
In 2020, Greece was planning to launch its own Citizenship by Investment program. According to preliminary information, the cost of the passport might have been around €2 million.
As you can see, prices for European citizenship differ, but even the lowest offer (the Maltese program) fluctuates around €1 million. In the meantime, the Portuguese Golden Visa program will still allow you to obtain the desired passport. There are no special requirements set by the government. It is only necessary to stay in Portugal for a week within a year. After 5 years, you as an investor will be eligible to apply for permanent residence or, more boldly, for Portuguese citizenship.
Note: Let’s all forget the wording “Portuguese citizenship by investment”; there is, officially, only the Golden Visa program, which is equivalent to a residence permit.
|Portuguese residence permit||Citizenship of Cyprus||Citizenship of Malta|
|How long it takes||12 to 16 weeks||12 to 24 weeks||1 year or a bit longer|
|Minimum investment threshold||At least €350,000||At least €2,150,000||At least €880,000|
|Visa-free countries||Schengen Area||173 countries, including the US & Canada||183 countries, including the US|
|Obligatory stay in the country||- One week within the first year of holding the Golden Visa|
-Two weeks for the next two years
|Extending residence permit/citizenship||Staying in Portugal for a specified amount of time||Issued for life||Issued for life|
|Applying for citizenship||A week-long stay every year for 5 years, i.e., 35 days in total||Own a residential real estate object worth at least €500,000||Own government bonds and real estate for at least 5 years|
|Special taxation conditions for foreign investors||Non-Habitual Resident tax system||Lowest corporate tax in Europe, 12.5%||Malta Non-Dom Status tax system|
|Is it necessary to be personally present in the country to get the permit extended?||Travel to Portugal to open a bank account||Travel to Cyprus in order to obtain one’s residence permit||In the final stages of the procedure, of-age applicants are required to visit Malta|
Portugal residence permit: Investment options
The government provides several options for those wishing to apply for a residence by investment in Portugal. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Purchase of real estate
Many investors prefer to apply for Portuguese Golden Visa through buying property. Indeed, this option will allow you to have a source of passive income. In addition, the cost of real estate is steadily growing in Portugal, and over time, the object can be profitably sold. One can select from the following investment options:
- Invest at least €350,000 in immovable objects over the age of 30 years that are subject to reconstruction;
- Invest at least €500,000 for any other type of real estate (no restrictions).
We will take a closer look at this investment option in a section below, and now, on to other available investment options.
Opening a deposit and purchase of securities
If you do not wish to spend extra time on choosing and buying real estate, you may be interested in making a deposit or purchasing securities. It is also possible to invest in government-approved projects. The options are as follows:
- make a deposit of at least €1 million in a Portuguese bank;
- buy government securities of Portugal worth at least €1 million;
- invest at least €1 million in a government-approved project.
Some investors prefer this option. Above all, such type of investment lifts any additional reflections or commitments. The applicant receives their Golden Visa in exchange for investing:
- at least €350,000 in research;
- at least €250,000 in art or cultural activities;
- at least €500,000 in small and medium-sized enterprises in Portugal.
If any of the above activities are carried out in a less popular area of the country, the required investments can be reduced by 20%.
Starting a business
It is also possible to obtain a Portuguese residence permit by creating a certain number of jobs. It is necessary to establish a business in Portugal (start a new one or branch out). A minimum of 10 jobs are expected to be created through business. In this case, the amount of investment can also be reduced by 20% if the activity is carried out in a less popular area.
Obtaining Golden Visa Portugal through the purchase of real estate
If this is your preferred option, it’s time we learn more about prices on the country’s real estate market.
The cost of real estate in Portugal starts at €42,000 for the finished object, and at €22,000 for a territory with a development plan. Seems quite reasonable, doesn’t it? However, there are certain rules and regulations tied to obtaining Portugal’s Golden Visa through investment. The value of real estate should reach at least €350,000 for an object aged 30 years and above, and requiring reconstruction, or at least €500,000 for any object of your liking.
For a better understanding of the offers available on the Portuguese market, here is an example of a typical €350,000 real estate object:
- a total territory of about 1,300 square meters;
- a 900-square-meter area of construction;
- location: the city of Almancil.
In most cases, however, the above price most likely means you will get rather dilapidated object instead of a place that is ready to welcome new residents. But you still might catch some nice offers. For instance, here’s a duplex villa for the price:
- 863 square meters;
- two floors with separate entrances;
- 5 bedrooms, 2 living rooms and 2 kitchens:
- 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms on the ground floor;
- 3 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen, 1 bathroom, 2 storerooms on the second floor;
- a terrace on the second floor;
- a swimming pool and a garden in the yard;
- location: the city of São Brás de Alportel.
The cost of real estate objects in good condition starts at €500,000. Here’s what one can typically expect to get for the price tag:
- an area of about 1,200 square meters;
- 258 square meter-building;
- 4 bedrooms, a study, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom;
- a terrace, a 5-car garage, a courtyard, an outdoor bathroom;
- located in the city of Olhão.
In addition, it is possible to purchase the adjacent neighboring building in this particular option.
Not everyone is interested in doing renovations. If this is about you, we’d recommend investing in brand new, or nearly new, real estate, or in objects that have aged well.
There are many interesting options for €500,000 and above on the Portuguese real estate market.
- about 140 square meters;
- 3 bedrooms, a living room, a study, a dining room, a bathroom, a kitchen;
- a fireplace, a terrace, a storage room, golf course, a garden (including a barbecue spot and a relaxation area with a jacuzzi);
- located in the city of Almancil;
- 200 meters away from the ocean.
And although this is a secondary housing, the villa is in great condition and equipped with the latest technological items. Of course, the beach is within walking distance, too.
- about 138 square meters;
- two storeys;
- 2 bedrooms, a living room, 2 bathrooms;
- a gym, a parking on the ground floor, a garden, 2 terraces, a courtyard pool and a jacuzzi;
- located in the city of Alcoceti;
- near the Praia dos Moinhos beach.
This villa is new and fully furnished, complete with a dishwasher, fridge, microwave, washing machine and air conditioning. The energy saving level is A. The infrastructure is well developed in the area: it is possible to reach the center of Lisbon in just 30 minutes, and be at the Lisbon International Airport in 20 minutes. The villa overlooks the river and the sea.
A 2-bedroom apartment:
- about 110 square meters;
- 2 bedrooms, 1 living room, 2 bathrooms;
- parking area with charges for electric cars, solar panels;
- internal and external gyms;
- green areas and playgrounds;
- a rooftop pool;
- located in the city of Benfica.
It’s a brand new luxury apartment. The kitchen is equipped with Bosch appliances. The level of energy saving is A. There is a suspension platform in the building that offers a breathtaking view.
Note: As a rule, in new apartment buildings, you can choose apartments with more bedrooms. Naturally, the cost of such an apartment will be slightly higher.
Some developers offer to purchase objects under construction for about €500,000. This doesn’t seem like the most convenient option, since you will have to wait until the project is complete.
And if you are looking for real estate with at least three bedrooms, or larger square footage, we suggest considering options that start at €520,000.
- sells at €520,000;
- 400 sq. m;
- 3 storeys plus basement;
- 6 bedrooms, a large living room, a kitchen, a dining room;
- the garden is accessible from the living room;
- a balcony on the second floor;
- a 2-car garage;
- a swimming pool in the courtyard;
- beach is within walking distance;
- located in the city of Albufeira e Olhos de Água;
There is a home cinema, a relaxation area, a games room and a laundry room in the basement; a jacuzzi and a large terrace on the ground floor. The kitchen is fully equipped. The villa has air conditioning, solar panels and central heating. It was previously lived in. Located in the area with well-developed infrastructure.
- sells at €550,000;
- 9,544 square meters;
- the main building is 356 square meters;
- number of buildings – 4;
- the main house has 3 bedrooms, a study, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom;
- the guest house has 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a storage room, a bathroom, a terrace;
- additionally, there is a large patio, a garden, plot of land, a barbecue spot, fruit trees, automatic irrigation system;
- located in Lagoa e Carvoeiro.
The farm has previously been lived in. The guest house has recently been renovated. This place farm is perfect for an investor who would like to set up a business related to organic farming or rural tourism. Energy Saving Level is E.
Several ways exist to obtain European citizenship. Still, being issued a passport as a holder of Portugal’s Golden Visa remains the most advantageous option. After all, this will allow you to become a resident of one of the European countries, as well as to acquire liquid real estate. The real estate in your possession can be rented out (since Portugal is very popular with tourists), and eventually sold. Most importantly, the holder of the Portuguese Golden Visa will obtain the country’s passport in 5 years’ time effortlessly and with zero additional investments.
If all of this makes Portugal an ideal destination for you, and you have decided to obtain the Portuguese Golden Visa through investing in real estate, the one thing left to do is to choose the right object for you. You are free to choose an object with a cost that aligns with the minimum cost threshold, or a more expensive one. The real estate market is full of various offers. The cost will vary depending on the remoteness of the object from the city center, the development of infrastructure and the number of rooms.