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HomePortugal Golden Visa: 2024 Guide - Lincoln Global Partners

Portugal Golden Visa Comprehensive Guide

The Portugal Golden Visa has been one of the most sought-after residence-by-investment pathways in the world. Investors are attracted to Portugal’s comfortable climate, safety and stability, and streamlined process to citizenship. Portuguese citizenship is available to investors after 5 years of residency.

Up until recently, Portugal offered a highly competitive and accessible investment minimum of €280,000 to qualify for the program.

In this guide, we discuss the Portugal Golden Visa program, investment options, how to apply, what to expect during the application process and the most recent program changes.

As with all residence by investment programs, the rules can change quickly. In 2023, Portuguese officials decided to make significant changes to the Golden Visa program, effectively scrapping the two most common program pathways. There was talk of closing the program entirely, but luckily this was not the case after months of debates between fervent industry leaders and parliament. The following guide is updated with all the newest program details.

Important Program Changes

On April 15th, 2023 the Portuguese government published the final wording of the “More Housing” bill which included closing the golden visa program among many other reforms. After several months of harsh proposals, rumors and heated debates around what could happen, a final decision was made on July 19th, 2023. However, on August 21st, Portugal's President, Marcelo Rebelo vetoed the Golden Visa changes approved just last month and is sending the bill back to parliament to be reworded. This means the real estate and bank deposit golden visa pathways will remain open at least until October.

While the most popular avenue of real estate investment will no longer be available, industry leaders and global mobility advocates are breathing a sigh of relief upon the official news that the program will indeed remain open, but with significant tweaks. Mainly, the closure of two pathways.

Under the approved Mais Habitação bill, the following changes will occur:

Eliminated Investment Options:

  • All real estate investment options, whether direct or indirect, will be eliminated. The bank/capital transfer option is also no longer available. 

Remaining Investment Routes:

The following eligible investment routes will remain for those interested in the Golden Visa program.

  • €500,000 in collective investment structures, such as funds not directly or indirectly related to real estate.
  • Investing in existing companies and contributing to job creation with a minimum investment of €500,000.
  • Donations and other liberalities in the artistic and/or scientific domains.

Other Implications:

  • Pending SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service) applications will be evaluated based on the laws in place at the time of submission.
  • The minimum stay requirement to maintain residence permits will remain at an average of 7 days per year.
  • Renewals of residence permits will follow the same initial rules as before.
  • Family reunions will be guaranteed under the same terms as main applications.

Effective Date:

  • The law will take effect the day after its official publication in the Assembly Gazette.

Also Read:- Portugal Golden Visa Investment Funds 2024

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portugal Golden Visa became available in 2012. The Portuguese government implemented it to attract foreigners to invest in the country. The program allows qualified foreign investors to obtain residency in Portugal by transferring capital into the country.

Perhaps most attractive, the program offers foreign residents a clear path to citizenship, and the rules of the program are clearly defined. To date, the program has approved over 6,000 applicants and raised over €6 billion.

Below we will outline the ways to obtain the Portugal Golden Visa as of mid-2023. But first, let’s explore why, regardless of the program changes, Portugal is, was and always has been a supreme citizenship investment destination.
Digital nomad looking at Portugal sunset

Why Portugal?

Portugal stands out amongst Golden Visa programs for many reasons.

Portugal’s Golden Visa offers a clear path to citizenship. After just 5 years of holding a residency permit (which is obtained through Golden Visas), foreign residents are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. A Portuguese passport is among the strongest in the world.

Portugal is an EU country, and having a Portuguese passport will give you access to live and work throughout the European Union. Portuguese citizens also enjoy visa free access to 186 countries.

Once you obtain a Golden Visa, the stay requirements are comparatively low. A stay requirement is the amount of time visa holders are required to remain in the country to maintain their residency status. For the first year, Golden Visa holders need to only spend 7 days in Portugal to retain their visa status. Afterward, for the subsequent 4 years, they must stay a minimum of 14 days each year. Again, these are comparatively low by global standards. Some programs require several months of continuous residence for foreigners to retain their Golden Visa status. Even other Portuguese residency programs require longer stay periods.

The Portugal Golden Visa remains in high demand because of Portugal itself. Portugal is a safe and stable country with a comfortable southern Mediterranean climate comparable to southern California. On average, Portugal relishes in 300 days of sunshine annually. 

The country has a diverse geography of mountains, beaches, valleys, and grassy countryside. In addition to this geography, Portugal is rich in cultural and historic heritage. There is considerable variation among Portuguese towns, and each locality is unique. 

We can’t forget to mention the Portuguese lifestyle is very laid back. For many, this is a welcomed change from the hustle and bustle of major metropolitan cities. Even more, the cost of living in Portugal is also much more affordable than in many other European countries. 

Lastly, the citizenship by investment process is transparent and regulated by established and efficient legal bodies. Portugal offers tax breaks and decent returns (around 4% on average) regardless of investment vehicle.

All this results in a very high quality of life in Portugal enjoyed by citizens and residents alike. Portugal will continue to be an attractive destination for prospective investors while the Golden Visa program is still taking applications.

Also Read:- Portugal Digital Nomad Visa Guide (D8 Visa)

Portugal Golden Visa 2023 Highlights

€500,000 minimum investment in research and development activities at public or private research institutions
€500,000 investment in existing Portuguese companies with job creation
€250,000 minimum investment in artistic production, recovery or maintenance of Portugal’s cultural heritage
€500,000 minimum investment in qualifying investment funds focused on capitalizing Portuguese companies
Open to third party nationals
Available to non-EU, non-Swiss, non-EEA citizens without legal issues with Portuguese authorities
Short Stay requirements
7 days for the first year, 14 days for subsequent years
Includes your dependents
Spouses, parents, spouse’s parents, children under 21, and children under 24 who are students can be included as dependents on your Portugal golden visa.
Visa-free travel in Schengen Area
Golden Visa holders enjoy visa-free access to the Schengen Zone

Golden Visa Tax Benefits

The program gives numerous tax benefits to Golden Visa holders. 

Undoubtedly, there is a high threshold to be considered a tax resident. The current threshold is set at 183 days, which is just over 6 months. This means that you will be exempt from residency-related taxes as long as you do not stay in Portugal for more than 182 days per year.

If you do become a tax resident, you can qualify for non-habitual residence status. This will allow you to receive exemptions on your income taxes. Non-habitual residents are also eligible for reduced income taxes, and there is a possibility to be exempt from foreign-earned income. The non-habitual resident status will be valid for up to 10 years.

Sources of foreign income that can be exempted from Portuguese taxes include but are not limited to pensions, business incomes, interest, some capital gains, dividends, and income from rental properties.

Advantageously, Portugal currently does tax capital gains on cryptocurrency. Active cryptocurrency investors will find this especially useful if they sell cryptocurrency for a profit.

Americans who obtain a Portuguese Golden Visa through real estate must report this as an asset on when filing taxes in their home country. 

Portugal Golden Visa Real Estate Investment

Overwhelmingly this was the most beloved way investors obtained the Portuguese Golden Visa. Unfortunately, this pathway is subject to close in October. Still, there is time to invest in real estate before the changes go into effect.

Golden Visa Investment Pathways

Business Investments

Investors can also obtain Golden Visas by setting up companies in Portugal. There is no minimum requirement, but this option is much more labor and capital intensive. To qualify, the company must create at least 10 jobs for Portuguese employees.

Alternatively, investors can put €500,000 into an existing Portuguese company, and that company must create 5 jobs.

For any investment that involves job creation, these jobs must be maintained for 3 years. Additionally, the regulations require both the company and the employee to make contributions to the Portuguese Social Security system. 

This option is best suited for people who want to establish businesses in Portugal and intend to actively maintain the business. This can be a great way to get around the geographic limitations of real estate investments while also potentially getting a better return. 

 However, this option involves a lot more work and active participation. Thus, it is only a good idea for those who want to actively run a business in Portugal. 

Capital Investments

Investors can invest €500,000 into a Portuguese private equity firm or venture capital to qualify for Golden Visas. Investors pursuing this option should make sure that their prospective firms are actually eligible investment firms that will allow them to obtain Golden Visas. Some Portuguese firms have developed funds that cater specifically to Golden Visa investors. 

Donations

Prospective Golden Visa investors can make a donation to preserving cultural heritage for €250,000 or to a Portuguese research institute for €500,000. Again, it is important to clarify that the organization you intend to donate to is classified as a research institute or one that preserves cultural heritage.  

Maintaining Golden Visa Status

Key Requirements

Regardless of the investment, to maintain their Golden Visas, investors must hold their investments for the 5 year duration of their residency. For Golden Visas that involve job creation, these jobs must be maintained for 3 years and Social Security contributions must be made throughout the entire period.

Dependents

The Portugal Golden Visa program allows applicants to bring dependents for additional costs. When applying, the main applicant must specify the number of dependents they wish to bring. 

 Applicants can bring spouses, children under 18, unmarried children under 26, and parents over 65. 

Required Documents

To apply for a Portugal Golden Visa, you will need the following documents:

  • Valid passport 
  • Background check from your home country or country of residence 
  • Health insurance (applicants must have comprehensive health insurance if they are not planning to reside permanently in Portugal)  
  • Required legal documents (available from the SEF website)
  • Bank statements 
  • Proof of funds transfer (proof you made investment), such as proof of deposit or proof of investment from qualifying funds 
  • Declaration documents attesting that you have no legal issues with Portuguese tax authorities and permission for Portuguese authorities to conduct their own background check on you 

The relevant documents can be accessed from the application online or through formal programs that facilitate the process. 

Depending on your investment, the required documents will differ. For example, if you purchase a real estate property for €280,000, you will fill out different documentation than if you make a donation or set up a company. 

Take note that the application requires all documents to be issued within 3 months. Some of these documents may be required to be issued within 45 days. This is important to clarify when preparing your application. 

 Documents will have to be apostilled or otherwise legally certified upon submissio

Details of the Portugal Golden Visa Closure

On April 15th, the Portuguese government published the final wording of the “More Housing” bill which included closing the golden visa program among many other reforms. Until now, details of when the program would be closed and who it would affect were unclear. There were some harsh proposals and rumors around what could happen over the last few months, but many are breathing a sigh of relief upon the official news.

No Retroactivity: The original proposal to have a retroactive cut-off date of February 16, 2023 has been scrapped. Investors, developers and legal representatives are surely wiping the sweat from their brow over this decision. Post February 16th investments are secure and clear, these transactions will not be voided. Something many were preparing for. Developers had to add conditional clauses in case golden visa investments weren’t honored, but thankfully this is not the case. 

No 183 Day Residency Requirement: Current Golden Visa holders and new applicants will convert their golden visa into a D2 Entrepreneurial visa upon renewal. However, there will not be a 183 day stay requirement as proposed in March. Instead, the 7 day stay requirement will remain in place. This was a major relief for current golden visa holders who feared the carpet being pulled out from under them and already made investment terms. 

A new era of cultural investment visas: Some speculated a new visa pathway would come into play in the absence of the golden visa. A positive outcome of all of this is the surfacing of investment-based residence permits for investments funding “artistic production and the recovery or maintenance of cultural heritage.” Such investments will require a stamp of approval from various government offices to validate they qualify. 

Still time to make golden visa investments: The best news of all is that investors do still have an open window to invest in a Portugal golden visa. The pathway remains open until the law officially goes into effect which is about 45 days. While that’s a short grace period, it’s a relief there is one at all. This means investors who have their hearts set on obtaining a golden visa nowhere other than Portugal should act swiftly. There’s no time to spare, but it can be done. Especially when you have assistance from start to finish, and that’s where we come in. Check out Lincoln Global Partners portfolio of golden visa eligible real estate and lets lock your Portugal golden visa in before the program ceases to exist.

What to Expect

There are other important things to be aware of before you start the application process to ensure that you keep realistic expectations.

Delays

While the official time to citizenship is advertised as 5 years, in reality, it may take longer. Administrative delays, paperwork issues, or other problems may emerge. What’s more, you will have to take time to plan and prepare your Golden Visa application and exit strategy. Realistically, you can probably expect citizenship within 6-7 years. Nevertheless, the Portuguese program is reliable. Assuming everything is in order and you maintain your Golden Visa status, citizenship can be expected at the end of the process.

COVID-related delays continue to plague administrations all around the world. You shouldn’t expect Portugal to be much different. But again, Portugal is a reliable, stable, and functioning country. Delays should be minimal. 

Fees 

The minimum prices listed for qualifying investments do not include fees. Throughout the process, applicants will have to pay several additional fees. This include: 

  • €5,325 application fee per person
  • €533 processing fee, €83 per dependent
  • €2,663 renewal fee
  • Additional fees associated with your particular circumstances 

If you use a lawyer, it is not uncommon for fees to range up to €6,000 per person. The price of associated fees will vary based on your personal circumstances. 

Language Test for Citizenship

After 5 years, you will need to demonstrate Portuguese language skills to obtain citizenship. Prospective citizens must pass a Portuguese language test at the A2 level. This is roughly an elementary level of Portuguese, which is easily attainable within 5 years. 

Permanent Residency or Continuing Golden Visa

In the event that investors do not want to become Portuguese citizens, they can apply for permanent residency or extend their Golden Visas (in 2 year increments) at the end of their 5 year period.

Portugal Golden Visa Application Process

The entire application process can take up to 6 months. From 2021, the application can be completed entirely online.

We recommend working with a legal advisor who is familiar with the process. In fact, in cases of property purchases, you will need the help of a lawyer to complete the process. Additionally, since the fall of 2022 a massive uptick of applications have been lodged. Unfortunately there has not been a massive uptick in employees to process said applications. Time varies between different areas, Athens being the slowest at the moment, but a legal advisor to constantly follow up on your applicants is beneficial to say the least.
Portugal Golden Visa flag

Get the Portugal Golden Visa in 7 steps

A rough outline of the application process is as follows:
  1. Research the program and decide which investment you will use. Here is the time to start consulting with experts and lawyers. 
  2. Prepare the necessary documents. Working with your lawyer and advisors, prepare the documents according to the Portuguese government standards. Any paperwork in your native language should be professionally translated into Portuguese to ensure smooth processing.
  3. Obtain a tax identification number and open a Portuguese bank account. You will need this tax identification number (an NIF number) before you open the account. The process of obtaining a tax identification number is straightforward and involves submitting identification documents and proof of address. Working with lawyers and experts will greatly facilitate this process. 
  4. Transfer funds to the appropriate party. Be sure to obtain proof of transfer because you will need to submit this with your application.
  5. Begin the pre-application process online. Thereafter, you can make a biometrics appointment with Portuguese immigration officials. The waiting time for this can take from 6-12 months, so be prepared to wait. The biometrics appointment will be conducted in Portugal.  
  6. Attend the biometrics appointment at the office you selected. You and all the dependents you listed on your application will need to attend the biometrics meeting. 
  7. Wait for your Golden Visa. After the biometrics test, it could take several months before your residency card is issued.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Your Journey with Lincoln Global Partners

Your Journey with Lincoln Global Partners
What is Citizenship by Investment (CBI)?

Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is a program that allows wealthy individuals to obtain a second citizenship by investing in a particular country. These programs are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a number of benefits, including visa-free travel, tax reduction, and a second home.

What are the benefits of obtaining a second citizenship?

There are many benefits to obtaining a second citizenship, including:

  • Visa-free travel: A second passport can give you visa-free access to a number of countries, making it easier to travel the world.
  • Tax reduction: Some countries offer citizenship by investment programs with attractive tax benefits, such as no income tax or inheritance tax.
  • A second home: Citizenship by investment can give you the right to live and work in another country. This can be a great option for those who are looking to retire abroad or who want to have a backup plan in case of political or economic instability in their home country.
Which countries offer Citizenship by Investment programs?

Lincoln Global Partners offers citizenship by investment programs in a number of Caribbean and European countries. Some of the most popular programs include those offered by Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Portugal, and Spain.

How much does it cost to obtain citizenship by investment?

The cost of obtaining citizenship by investment varies depending on the country and the specific program. However, it is generally necessary to make a significant investment, such as in real estate or government bonds.

How can Lincoln Global Partners help me obtain citizenship by investment?

Lincoln Global Partners is a leading provider of citizenship by investment programs. They have a team of experienced professionals who can help you choose the right program for your needs and guide you through the application process.

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