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Key Benefits

The Portugal Golden Visa program has lots of benefits that attract UK applicants and their money from all over the world. Let’s take a look at those benefits:

  • Simple, straightforward, and transparent investment requirements
  • Very few documents that you as an applicant must sign
  • The minimum amount of days a year the applicant must spend in Portugal is 7 days
  • Some of the main applicant’s family members can apply for the program as well
  • The day you become a resident, you get full access to all Portuguese public services
  • Residents of Portugal get to travel to Schengen area countries (26) without a visa. As for Portuguese citizens, they can travel to 188 countries without a visa.

Get The Golden Visa as a UK Citizen: Who We Are And How We Can Help You

The Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment program, which allows applicants to become residents and later citizens of Portugal and the European Union at the same time. After Brexit, UK citizens lost the privileges that EU citizens have, and it is something not all United Kingdom natives agree with.

At immigrationAssist.co.uk, you can find all the information you need regarding the program, and if you have some questions left or just need assistance, we are available 24/7. Our specialists will answer all your questions. We’ll provide consultations and real-time support during the program, so no matter what option you choose we’ll be there with you every step of the way.

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment program, which allows people to become residents of Portugal. Next, five-six years later (given nothing goes wrong), they can become citizens of Portugal. Since Portugal is a member of the EU, citizens of the country become citizens of the European Union as well. That, in turn, allows them to travel to all EU countries without a visa.

More than that, along with the countries of the European Union, Portuguese passports let people travel to 188 countries without a visa. As for the residents, the countries of the Schengen area (26 in total) are at their disposal. Residents of Portugal can enjoy free travel to those countries without a visa or any other additional documents and procedures. And it makes no wonder that such opportunities attract people from different countries.

After Brexit, more and more citizens of the UK are considering the Portugal Golden Visa program. After the UK parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement with the EU, the locals no longer have the privileges they used to have. Free travel across the EU is one of those privileges United Kingdom citizens long for. Another reason: British people pay attention to the program: it allows them to live/study/do business in the EU the way they did before Brexit.

Golden Visa Portugal Background

The program was launched in 2012 by Anibal Cavaco Silva’s government. Today, ten years in, it’s absolutely clear that the program is a huge success. But back then, in 2012, some members of the Portuguese government used to criticize the program. Fortunately, despite all the obstacles, the program was launched and is still running, even though socialists took power three years later.

Up to this date, the Portugal Golden Visa program has attracted about 10 000 non-European residents. As for the finances, the residents invested about six to seven billion euros in the Portuguese economy, which was a huge support to the country’s economy after the notorious 2008 crisis. Inspired by the success story of the Portuguese government, many countries in Europe launched (or are about to launch) similar programs.

Their goal is to attract people (and capital) from all over the world. Among those countries are Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and more. Only time will tell whether any of these programs will be as successful as the Portugal Golden Visa program, of course. Right now, for UK citizens, the Portugal GV program is still the best option on the table.

What are the Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa?

First of all, it’s visa-free travel to all twenty-six Schengen area countries. People that travel a lot, be it for business or pleasure, will appreciate this benefit. No need to have heaps of documents ready every time you hop on a plane. With the Golden Visa, you can enjoy free travel. Below is the list of every single Schengen country that this program provides access to:

  • In the West of the EU, we have the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland
  • Eastern EU countries include: the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia
  • Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Finally, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as the Scandinavian countries

You can travel to all these countries without a visa when you become a resident of Portugal. And the best part is – when you become a citizen of Portugal, you can travel to as many as 188 countries without a visa. Becoming a resident means you are allowed to live, study, do business, and work legally in Portugal. You have all the legal rights to that. Thanks to the Golden Visa program Portugal became a go-to place for many Europeans.

Building for sale in Portugal

Residents can enjoy beaches, restaurants, festivals, and other events. Mild weather, delicious cuisine, safety, hospitality, and good healthcare and educational systems – that’s what people like about Portugal. And now, thanks to the program, more people can enjoy this beautiful country.

Another good thing about the program – it is not very demanding. For instance, it is not required of you to live in the country all the time. The minimum amount of days you have to spend in Portugal is seven days a year. But in case you decide to live in Portugal permanently, you will need medical insurance for that.

The next benefit the Portugal Golden Visa program has is a family reunion. Certain members of the main applicant’s family can apply for the residency along with him/her. Here is a list of family members who are eligible to apply for the program along with the main applicant:

  • Spouses
  • Children under the age of 18
  • Dependent children under the age of 26
  • Parents of the main applicant over 65

These family members are eligible to apply for the program along with you and become residents of Portugal. And as the main applicant, the family members can also apply for citizenship after five years. Here are the requirements you should meet in order to apply for the citizenship:

  • No past due tax payments in Portugal
  • You must have a clean criminal record both in Portugal and in your country
  • You’re required to pass a language test in Portugal

So, it’s pretty obvious why the program is so appealing to people from the UK and the whole globe. And to apply for citizenship after the initial five years, neither you nor the members of your family are required to move and live in Portugal on a permanent basis. All that’s needed from you is to spend at least seven days a year in the country, and that’s it, nothing more. Of course, you can spend more days in Portugal – it’s up to you to decide.

The residency status on its own has some benefits you and your family are going to like, including free travel to Schengen area countries. But wait until you become a Portuguese citizen! That’s when you and your loved ones will get the most out of the program. When you become a citizen of Portugal, you automatically become an EU citizen, with all the privileges the EU citizens have.

For instance, citizens of the European Union can live, study, work, or run a business in any country that’s a member of the Union. Needless to say that such opportunities are very popular with people who appreciate freedom both in business and lifestyle. And thanks to the Portugal Golden Visa program, it’s very easy to get EU citizenship. Later in this article, we’ll take a closer look at all the investment options that the program has to offer.

The Portugal Golden Visa official website says that Portugal residency has some tax benefits as well. If you spend less than 183 days (half a year) in Portugal, you will not be obliged by tax responsibility. If the source of your income is outside of Portugal, you won’t have to pay any taxes. But if your income is from Portugal, then, of course, you’ll need to pay taxes in Portugal.

When you spend more than 183 days in Portugal, you become a tax resident, but, according to the law, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should pay taxes in Portugal. There is this non-habitual residency program (NHR), and what it does is exempt foreigners from tax payments for ten years. In terms of tax politics, Portugal has very favorable regulations which attract investors and venture capital.

However, back in 2020, some changes were made, and now foreign pensioners no longer get tax breaks on their pension income. Nevertheless, when it comes to tax politics, Portugal remains one of the friendliest countries in the world. With the golden visa Portugal attracted people and capital thanks to customer-oriented regulations and laws. And in terms of raising money, the program is definitely a huge success.

Oh, and the Portugal Golden Visa residency by investment program is what it is – an investment program. In other words, to qualify for the program, the applicants don’t just donate (although such an option is available as well) their money. It is not some sort of a passing fee. Instead, t applicants invest their money. The program offers a few ways to invest, and we’ll talk about them in detail further down this guide.

 

To summarize: with this program, you and your family members (given they meet the requirements) become residents of Portugal. You can enjoy free travel to Schengen area countries (26 in total). More than that, you’ll have access to all Portuguese public services, may that be healthcare, education, or anything else. And whether or not to actually live in Portugal is up to you; still, don’t forget that you have to spend at least seven days a year in the country.

Next, after five/six years (depending on circumstances), you can become a citizen of Portugal. That will allow you to travel to 188 countries without a visa and make you a citizen of the European Union, just like UK nationals used to be before Brexit. The applicants get to invest in the European economy, and they get nice tax benefits. We at Portugal Immigration Assistant can help you with the whole process. We’re a client-oriented agency and our rates are highly competitive!

Who Is Eligible For A Golden Visa In Portugal

Some things you should know about before applying for the Golden Visa:

  • The main applicant should not be an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen. If the applicant is an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, he/she cannot apply for the program.
  • The main applicant must be at least 18 years old and his/her criminal record must be clean.
  • The main applicant must make an investment in order to apply for the Golden Visa. The types of investments the applicants are allowed to make are real estate, a venture capital fund, transfer of capital, creation of workplaces, and donations. More information on the investment types you’ll find later in this article. Important note: the investments applicants make must arrive from outside of Portugal.
  • Some members of the main applicant’s family may apply for the Golden Visa along with the main applicant. Previously we made a list of family members who are eligible to apply for the program along with the main applicant.

US citizens are eligible to apply for the Golden Visa too. There are even some extra benefits for them when it comes to real estate investment option. The thing is – US tax residents get some advantages if they own real estate abroad. As for US business owners, they can easily expand their business to Portugal, all thanks to the friendly tax regulations.

And what about citizens of Great Britain? Starting January 2021, they can apply for the program as well. After Brexit, UK citizens can no longer travel to the countries of the Schengen area without a visa, as they (UK citizens) aren’t citizens of the EU anymore. That’s exactly why the British are getting more and more interested in a Portugal Golden Visa. For them, it’s a chance to bring back the freedom of traveling they had before Brexit.

Investment Options for the Portuguese Golden Visa: What Types Of Investments Qualify For The Golden Visa

There are five investment options available for the applicants who wish to apply for the Golden Visa:

  • Real Estate Investment
  • Fund Investment
  • Creation of Full-time Jobs
  • Capital Transfer
  • Donation

Each one of these five options has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at these investment options.

Real Estate Investment

This option happens to be the most popular one with the applicants. And it makes sense. Not only do applicants qualify for the program, but they also become real estate owners. Also, keep in mind that the real estate sector is growing in Portugal, so buying real estate is also a profitable investment. Recently some changes were made to this investment option, and now applicants can no longer buy a property in Lisbon and Porto.

One of the building for sale in Portugal

Some coastal areas became unavailable as well. As long as real estate investments go, there are three options available for the applicants:

  1. Real Estate for 500 000 euros.

It is sometimes referred to as the ‘classic’ option, because in 2012 when the Portugal Golden Visa program was launched, this was the only available option. As for the property type, there are no restrictions per se. As long as the property is at least 500 000 euros, it qualifies for the program.

  1. Rehabilitated Real Estate for 350 000 euros.

This option became available in 2015, due to amendments introduced to the program. It allows applicants to obtain an estate that was either built more than thirty years ago or is located in an urban rehabilitation area. If the applicant decides to go with this option, he/she must spend at least 350 000 euros on buying and rehabilitating the property. Again, 350 000 euros is the cost of buying and rehabilitating the property combined.

For example, the property may cost 280 000 euros, and the rehabilitation may set you back 70 000 euros. When it costs you 350 000 euros combined to buy and rehabilitee the house, you are good to go. Joint ownership is available, too, given the applicant’s share is at least 350 000 euros. More than that, applicants can buy multiple properties, as long as those properties combined cost at least 350 000 euros.

  1. Real estate in low-density areas at 280 000 or 400 000 euros

If the property owned by the applicant is located in low-density areas, the applicant gets a 20% discount. Thus, if the property is worth half a million euros, you get to buy it for 400 000 euros. As for the 350 000 euros property, its cost will be reduced to 280 000 euros. So if you go with this option, you get to save 220 000 euros. But bear in mind that going with this will take more time and effort compared to the ‘classic’ option.

The Fund Investment option

Five years ago, in August 2017, this option became available for international applicants. Back then, the amount of money required to invest was 350 000 euros. After January 1st, 2022, the amount was raised by more than forty percent and now applicants must invest at least 500 000 euros.

To apply for the Golden Visa through this investment option, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Not be an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen

There might be some additional requirements, depending on the investment fund:

  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Source of funds
  • Experience with bonds, assets, etc.

Compared to other investment options, the fund investment option has some advantages:

  • The minimum amount of money is 500 000 euros, which is significantly lower.
  • Compared to the real estate option, the fund investment option is friendlier in terms of taxes. There is no IMI tax (~6%), no stamp duty, and no annual municipal taxes. More than that, if the applicant is not a tax resident of Portugal, the income generated by the fund gets a tax exemption.
  • In addition to everything else, the real estate option takes a lot of time and effort, especially the rehabilitation option, whereas with the fund investment option you don’t waste much of your time.
  • As for the safety of your money, naturally, there are some risks associated with the fund investment. But when it comes to the registration of a fund in Portugal, there are tons of regulations. Therefore, you can be sure that your money is in the good hands of professionals.

The Capital Transfer Option

This option right here is the most expensive one. To apply for the Golden Visa through this option, the applicant must transfer a minimum of 1.5M euros. The capital must be transferred to Portugal or a Portuguese business. It’s one of the least popular investment options, actually. Still, it gives applicants another way to apply for the Golden Visa. As with all investment options, whether or not to go with it is up to you.

Creation of Full-Time Jobs

This might be the least expensive option for citizens of the UK and people around the globe. All that is required from the applicant is to create at least ten full-time jobs in Portugal. And if the business is in a low-density area, the minimum number of full-time jobs is reduced to eight. The business, in turn, must be a limited company, and the applicant must be the only owner. In recent years, this option has been gaining in popularity with entrepreneurs.

Because Portugal’s economy is constantly growing, many investors choose this option over everything else. And let’s not forget about the friendly tax politics. More than that, depending on the business and its location, the golden visa Portugal property option (the less expensive option by far) may cost you more than creating full-time jobs.  But if you don’t want to run your own business, you are welcome to invest in an incorporated business in Portugal.

Working as driver in Portugal

All in all, at least five new full-time jobs must be created to qualify for the program. But remember, it’s business we’re talking about here. There are some risks involved, whereas the real estate investment program is a safe option and you get to own a property in Portugal. If you’re from the UK and are a bit confused by all this, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for guidance!

Donations

Last, but not least, we have the donation option. With it, the applicant can either invest a minimum of 250 000 euros in preserving national heritage (culture, arts, you name it) or invest at least half a million euros in the science or technology sectors. To qualify for the program, both the science and technology research must be conducted in Portugal.

And there we have it: the Portugal golden visa properties option, the fund investment option, capital transfers, creation of full-time jobs, and donations – five in total. So, which option should you go with? That depends on a lot of things, but now you have full information on each of these investment options. And remember that you can loan money to apply for the program. But, the loan must come from outside of Portugal. Otherwise, it won’t qualify for the Golden Visa.

What Are The Golden Visa Portugal Requirements

Portugal Golden Visa residents must spend a minimum of seven days in the country. The initial GV Residence Permit requires the applicants to spend fourteen days in Portugal within two years. As for the Subsequent GV Residence Permit, the minimum amount of days the applicant must spend in Portugal is twenty-one days. Lately, a few changes were made to the Portugal Golden Visa requirements.

For instance, starting April 2020, the GV Residence Permit is valid for two years. Before the changes, it was valid for just one year. And the same goes for the Subsequent GV Residence Permit. Now it is valid for three years. The main applicant must present supporting evidence of his/her investment/investments in one of the five investment options that are qualified for the Golden Visa.

As long as the main applicant is not a citizen of Portugal, the investments must be maintained. But after the applicant becomes a Portuguese citizen, he/she can, if they wish so, withdraw their investment(s). In other words, the day you become a citizen of Portugal, you can do whatever you want with the investment money.

To apply for the Portugal Golden Visa program, you as the main applicant must provide the following documents:

  • A copy of your passport or another government-issued document
  • Proof of investment made by the main applicant (you) that qualifies for the program

If it’s the real estate option you went with, you should provide the deed of sale agreement. Also, you’re required to provide proof of payment, along with proof from the fund manager.

Healthcare coverage

  • If you’re applying for the Golden Visa from Portugal, it needs to come from the Portuguese National Health System.
  • If you’re applying outside of Portugal, you need to provide a document that came from an international health insurance company.

Of course, your criminal record is to be clean and provided within three months of the submission.

Next, you must sign a document that allows SEF to get access to your criminal records in Portugal.

Your application must be on good terms with Portugal tax and Customer authority and Social Security.

All these documents must be in Portuguese or translated into Portuguese and certified by a notary.

Related Fees

There are some fees related to the program. Here is a full list:

  • Processing Fee: 533 euros for the main applicant and 83 euros for each family member. You should pay these fees at the beginning and each renewal.
  • IAF (Initial Application Fee): it’s 5. 325 euros per person. Must be paid once initially.
  • Renewal Fee: 2.7 euros must be paid for each person at each renewal.
  • Legal Fee: Depending on law firms and/or investment options, the fee may differ.

Bank Account and NIF number

The main applicants must make an investment from their bank accounts in Portugal. For that, the applicant must have a bank account in Portugal. Also, the applicants are obligated to have a NIF number. Opening a bank account in Portugal takes just a few hours.

To get a NIF number, the applicant must:

  • Get proof of address from the country he/she resides in
  • Then submit this proof of address and a government-issued ID to a Financas office
  • After that, the applicant will get the NIF number

Nothing hard about this one. If you wish, you can have your attorney get the NIF number for you and on your behalf. In that case, you don’t even have to be in Portugal.

How to Open a Bank Account in Portugal

Bank in Portugal

Portugal, unlike many countries, is very friendly towards non-residents when it comes to opening a bank account. Also, the fees are quite low, compared to many European states. Here are the things you must do to open a bank account in Portugal:

  • 1st go to the bank’s office
  • 2nd take your passport/another government-issued document with you
  • 3rd Provide the NIF number, proof of address, and proof of income
  • 4th Give your Portuguese phone number to the bank manager

Alright, now you have a bank account in Portugal, congratulations! There’s a way to make things go even faster. For that, you should contact our agency. We’ll help you through this process from the first step to getting a bank account.

How To Get a Golden Visa in Portugal: Application and Step-By-Step Process

There are eight steps for the applicants to take for the Golden Visa program:

Number 1. Choose the investment type.

Before you apply to the program, take a few days and think over the investment options. This is a very serious decision, talk with your family about it. There are no right or wrong options here – everything depends on your situation and your preferences. But about ninety percent of investors go with the real estate option. It’s a non-risky, affordable option and it doesn’t require any special skills or knowledge.

Having your own property in Portugal, a warm and beautiful country in the south of Europe seems like a good idea to a lot of applicants. While the real estate option remains the most popular one, recently, the fund investment option has been gaining momentum. True, there are risks involved here, but the opportunity to make money attracts more and more investors.

Number 2. Gather all the required documents.

This is also a very important step of the application routine. It’s very easy to forget a document or two, especially if you’re in a hurry. Haste makes waste, they say, and this is just the case. So, start gathering the documents in advance and check over and over whether you’ve got all the necessary documents or not. If you’re on the clock and just cannot spend that much time gathering all those documents, we’ll be happy to lend you a hand.

Number 3.  NIF and bank account.

Compared to the previous two steps, this one is quite easy and not at all time-consuming. Besides, your attorney can help you with this task, acting on your behalf.

Number 4. Making an investment.

This is the part where you as the main applicant make an investment through one of the five investment options.

Number 5. Apply for the Golden Visa.

After you made an investment that qualifies for the program and gathered all the required documents, it’s time for you to submit the pre-application to SEF online. Or, you can have your lawyers take care of everything. On average, this step takes about two months.

Number 6. SEF appointment.

This is where you as the main applicant and those members of your family that applied for the Golden Visa along with you show up in one of the SEF offices to make the application official. You and your family members must also submit your fingerprints to the system.

Number 7. It’s time to get the Golden Visa.

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for! From now on, the main applicant and his dependents (the family members who applied for the program along with the main applicant) are residents of Portugal. The cards will be valid for two years, after that you need to renew them. After step number six (SEF appointment), it takes nearly four months until you get the Golden Visa.

Number 8. Applying for Citizenship.

After five years of you being a resident of Portugal, you can apply for citizenship. All in all, the process takes from six to twelve months. Keep in mind that once you become a citizen of Portugal, you become a citizen of the EU as well. Also, being a Portuguese citizen means you don’t have to maintain the investments anymore.

Living in Portugal

Fees and Costs: What Are the Government Fees and Legal Costs Related to the Golden Visa

There are some legal government fees involved here, apart from the investment money. Previously in this article, we talked about those fees. Here’s a quick reminder:

  • Processing Fee: 533 euros for the main applicant and 83 euros for each family member. You should pay these fees at the beginning and each renewal.
  • IAF (Initial Application Fee): it’s 5. 325 euros per person. Must be paid once initially.
  • Renewal Fee: 2.7 euros must be paid for each person at each renewal.
  • Legal Fee: Depending on law firms and/or investment options, the fee may differ.

The bad thing about the fees, they add up to a significant amount. But the good thing is that you don’t have to pay the fees upfront. Also, depending on the investment option, the size of all the fees may differ. Let’s take a look at three investment options that are popular with the applicants:

  • The most popular option – the Real Estate investment 0 adds about 6-7 percent to the initial cost. For example, if you go with the 350 000 euros property option, you’ll end up paying 369 840 euros. If you go with a 500 000 euros property option, eventually, you’ll pay 537 500 euros.
  • As for the Capital Transfer option, all you have to pay is the initial 1.5M euros, the management fees (0.5%), and some other insignificant fees.
  • When it comes to the Fund Investment option, the fees are 35% of the profit, 1.5% annual management fees, and some legal fees that may vary depending on the fund.

Statistics on the Portugal Golden Visa

Since October 8th, 2012, the day the Golden Visa program was launched, 10 384 applicants have received the Golden Visa. Along with that, the Golden Visa received 17 326 dependents. As mentioned before, the program raised about 6 to 7 billion euros and is considered very successful.

Here are some more useful statistics:

  • 9 960 applicants applied for the program through the Real Estate investment option.
  • 668 applicants preferred the Capital Transfer investment option.
  • 20 applicants applied for the Golden Visa through the Creation of Full-time Jobs option.

As you can see, Real Estate is the most popular option with the applicants. About 90 percent of the applicants applied for the program through this investment option. And 8 611 applicants out of 9 960 estate investors obtained properties worth at least 500 000 euros.

2022 Portugal Golden Visa Changes

In February 2020, the Portuguese government decided to encourage more people to invest in less popular options such as investments in low-density areas, donations, full-time jobs creation, and urban rehabilitation. Thus, the government made some changes to the program. It took about two years for these Golden Visa Portugal suspended changes to come into effect in 2022. Let’s take a look at them.

The list of Portugal Golden Visa changes:

  • The minimum amount of money that is required for the Fund Investment option has been raised from 350 000 to 500 000 euros.
  • The minimum amount of money that is required for the Capital Transfer option has been raised from 1 million euros to 1.5 million euros.
  • Investments in Scientific Research have been increased to 500 000 euros.
  • As for the Incorporated Business option, the minimum amount of money has been raised from 350 000 euros to 500 000 euros. Although, the minimum number of workplaces remains the same.
  • Some changes have been made to the Real Estate option as well. Now the applicants can’t buy properties in Lisbon, Porto, other major cities, and some coastal areas. To qualify for the program, the real estate must be located in low-density areas. Fortunately, the required amount of money remains the same.

These are the Portugal Golden Visa Changes 2022. Looking at them, it’s clear that the Portuguese government is using these regulations to make applicants invest in the not-so-popular options. But if you applied for the program before December 31, 2021, these new changes will not affect you.