USA and the UK
- What is a Portuguese Golden Visa?
- What are the benefits of the Golden Visa Scheme?
- Who can apply for a Golden Visa?
- What are the requirements for a Golden Visa?
- Golden Visa Residence Permits
- What are the requirements for investments?
- How to apply for a Golden Visa
- What are the documents required for a Golden Visa?
- What is considered to be acceptable evidence of investment?
- How much does the Golden visa cost?
- Taxes in Portugal
- How to get a Portuguese bank account and NIF number
- Can my family come with me to Portugal on a Golden Visa?
- How long does it take to get a Portuguese Golden Visa?
- Language requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa Program
- When can I apply for Portuguese citizenship?
- Do I need a lawyer to apply for a Portugal Golden Visa?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Portuguese Golden Visa?
The Portuguese Golden Visa program allows non-European Union (EU) nationals residency in Portugal in return for substantial investments.
This residency by investment scheme was launched by the Portuguese government in October 2012 with the goal of attracting international wealth to Portugal after the 2008 economic crisis.
The Golden Visa, also known as the residence permit for investment activity (ARI), allows non-EU citizens to live in beautiful Portugal where they can live, work, and study freely in the country without requiring an additional Portuguese visa.
Through this investment visa, foreign nationals can become permanent residents in Portugal and can even apply for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of residency in the country.
What are the benefits of the Golden Visa Scheme?
There are many benefits to moving to Portugal including the beautiful coastlines, friendly people, vibrant food, and sunny weather.
Under the Golden Visa Scheme, foreign nationals can benefit from additional perks which include the following:
- Qualifying for residency with one of the lowest investment thresholds in Europe
- Maintaining a residence permit without having to live full-time in Portugal. Golden visa holders can keep their Portuguese residence permits by only staying in the country for at least an average 7 days a year
- Foreign nationals can apply for Portuguese citizenship after 5 years of holding a Golden Visa (this is one of the quickest pathways to citizenship in Europe)
- Visa-free travel to 188 countries once the visa holder becomes a Portuguese citizen and acquires a Portuguese passport
In addition to these benefits, Portugal offers a favorable tax regime and allows visa holders to travel freely in the European Schengen visa zone without needing additional travel permits or visas.
Who can apply for a Golden Visa?
Individuals who are not citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland are welcome to apply for a Portuguese Golden Visa.
All applicants must be at least 18 years old and have no major criminal offenses in their home countries and/or Portugal. Furthermore, the funds used for investment should originate from outside of Portugal.
In addition, Golden Visa applicants will need to make a qualifying investment in one of the following categories:
- Real Estate – recent changes mean any investment properties must be in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or in the interior territories. Properties outside of these areas will not be eligible to support Golden Visa applications.
- A venture capital fund
- Transfer of capital
- Company formation
It should be noted that the minimum investment required for a Portuguese Golden Visa is €500,000, although most applicants invest more.
What are the requirements for a Golden Visa?
To qualify for a Portuguese Golden Visa, all applicants must commit to the following:
- The visa holder must spend a minimum of 7 days a year in the country
- The visa holder must invest a minimum amount of money in their specific investment category
- The visa holder must maintain their investment throughout their residency in Portugal under the Golden Visa
It should be noted that once the Golden visa holder becomes either a permanent resident or a Portuguese citizen, this investment will no longer need to be maintained and can even be liquidated.
If you are confused about the process and want to maximize your chances of obtaining a Portuguese Golden Visa, speak to our legal experts today by calling: +1 844 290 6312
Golden Visa Residence Permits
If approved for a Portuguese Golden Visa, visa holders will have up to 4 months in Portugal to apply for a Portuguese residence permit.
To obtain a residency permit, foreign nationals will need to apply for a permit at the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service known as Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) in Portuguese.
The initial residence permit will be valid for 2 years. During this time, the Golden visa holder will need to spend at least 14 days in the country during that time (at least 7 days per year).
Residence permits can be renewed and will be valid for an additional 3 years. During these 3 years, the visa holder must spend at least 21 days in Portugal (7 days per year) in order to satisfy Portuguese Golden Visa residency requirements.
What are the requirements for investments?
As part of the criteria for a Golden Visa, visa holders must make and maintain a substantial investment in Portugal.
There are a number of ways foreign nationals can invest in Portugal for this scheme. The types of investment required for a Golden Visa are outlined below.
Real Estate Investment
Foreign nationals may invest in real estate for a Golden Visa. Some accepted investments include the following:
- Acquiring qualifying Portuguese real estate that is at least €500,000 in value
- Acquiring Portuguese real estate in a qualifying low-density area that is valued at a minimum of €400,000
- Acquiring Portuguese real estate for renovation. This real estate must be older than 30 years old and in an urban rehabilitation area that is in one of the regions acceptable for the Golden Visa. The renovated property will need to be valued for a minimum price of €500,000 in Portugal. If the renovated property is in a low-density area, the price drops to €350,000.
Investments can be made in a number of properties as long as the required minimum investment amount in total has been met. If you decide to invest in Portuguese real estate with a partner, each partner can apply for a Golden Visa as long as their investment meets the minimum amount required.
It should be noted that investments in residential properties in Lisbon, Porto, or coastal towns in mainland Portugal do not qualify for the Golden Visa scheme. Only property investments inland and possibly rural or low-density areas are eligible. You should seek advice before purchasing a property to ensure it meets the Golden Visa criteria.
Capital Transfer into a Portuguese bank account
Non-EU nationals who make a capital transfer of at least €1.5 million to a Portuguese bank account qualify for the Portugal Golden Visa.
Non-EU nationals who invest at least €500,000 in a qualifying investment fund in Portugal can qualify for a Golden Visa.
Investments in Portuguese companies qualify as valid investments. Golden visa applicants can either invest in an existing Portuguese business or create their own business in Portugal.
If investing in an existing company, Golden visa holders will need to invest a minimum of €500,000 and the incorporated company will need to create at least 5 full-time jobs for a period of at least 3 years.
If starting a new business in Portugal, Golden visa holders will need to create their own business that requires at least 10 full-time jobs ( 8 full-time jobs if the business is in a low-density area in Portugal).
Donation to Portugal
Charitable investors can make large donations which can qualify as a valid investment for the Portugal Golden Visa.
Visa holders can donate at least €250,000 for the preservation of the national heritage in Portugal or donate at least €500,000 for scientific or technological research in Portugal.
All investment funds must originate from outside Portugal. This includes any financial loans acquired from outside Portugal. Investors may take a loan from a Portuguese bank if their original investment exceeds the minimum qualifying investment amount.
How to apply for a Golden Visa
To apply for a Portugal Golden Visa, all applicants must go through a series of application steps which are as follows:
Register your Golden Visa Application online
Applicants can go on to the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) and register their Golden Visa application at the ARI Portal. Golden Visa applicants can apply themselves or use legal representation if they choose. Before visa applicants begin their Golden Visa application, they should decide which type of investment they will proceed with.
Submit the necessary supporting documents
As part of the visa application, all Golden visa applicants will need to submit a variety of supporting documents with their application. These documents will need to be uploaded in PDF format (max. 4 MB). If dependent family members are included in the visa application, the applicant will need to submit evidence of a relationship with these dependents.
Finish up the visa application
At this point of the application stage, applicants will need to finish up tying up any loose ends with their Golden Visa application. This may include paying the visa application fees and finalizing the investments in Portugal. When this is all done, you can then submit your application in full online through the ARI portal.
Interview and Biometrics Appointment with SEF
After you have submitted your application form along with all the necessary paperwork, you will then be asked to book an appointment with SEF for an interview and to submit biometric information for yourself and any dependent family members who will be sponsored on the Golden Visa. It should be noted that most applicants wait around 2 months to receive confirmation from SEF and to proceed with scheduling a biometrics appointment.
Receiving your Golden Visa
If approved for a Golden Visa, you can then travel to Portugal and apply for a residence permit. Applicants usually wait around 4 months after their biometrics appointment to receive notification from SEF that their visa application has been approved.
Golden Visas can be renewed after 2 years if the visa holder maintains both the residency and investment requirements necessary.
What are the documents required for a Golden Visa?
Applicants will need to submit the following documents along with their Portugal Golden visa application:
- A valid passport or another valid government-issued travel document (these documents must be valid for at least 6 months)
- 2 passport photos (these must meet Portuguese visa photo standards)
- Proof that the visa applicant has health insurance (either confirmation that the applicant is enrolled in the National Health System in Portugal or has health care coverage from an international insurance company)
- Criminal records from the applicant’s current country of residence. These must be issued within 3 months of the Golden Visa application.
- A written and sworn declaration by the applicant that he/she will maintain their investment in Portugal for at least 5 years
- Receipt of payment of the visa application fee (this must be printed from the ARI portal)
- Completed authorization form for SEF to access criminal records in Portugal
- Any documents demonstrating a good standing with the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority & Social Security system (This must be issued within 45 days of Golden visa application)
- Proof of investment in Portugal
All documents submitted will need to have been issued within 3 months from the start of the Golden Visa application.
Important documents that are not from a Portuguese entity will need to be legalized with an apostille (if from a country that is part of the Hague convention) or legalized at the nearest Portuguese Embassy.
Documents that are not in English or Portuguese will need to be accompanied by certified translations.
These translations will need to be notarized. If you are unclear about the paperwork needed to support your Golden Visa application you may wish to seek the advice of an immigration expert.
What is considered to be acceptable evidence of investment?
The evidence which you will be required to provide regarding your investment in Portugal will be dependent on the type of investment you have made.
Evidence of real estate investment
If you have decided to invest in Portuguese real estate, you may need to submit the following documents as part of your Golden visa application:
- A deed or promissory sale agreement of the property bought. This must be accompanied by proof of a deposit payment
- A Land Register Certificate proving that you have ownership of the property
- Any evidence issued by the appropriate authorities that prove the property acquired is in a regeneration area in Portugal (if applicable)
Evidence of Investment Fund
If the Golden visa applicant has decided to invest in a Portuguese investment fund, then he/she will then need to submit proof of subscription from the fund management company.
Evidence of Capital transfer investment
If the applicant has decided to invest in Portugal by transferring their wealth into Portugal, then he/she will need to submit a declaration from a Portuguese financial institution that the applicant has deposited at least €1 million into their Portuguese bank account.
Evidence of Company Investment
Applicants who have decided to invest in or start a Portuguese business will need to submit the following:
- Evidence that the business has generated at least 10 new jobs
- Declaration from a Portuguese bank proving that the applicant has deposited the required capital necessary for company investment
- Employment contracts for each employee of the Portuguese business
- An extract from the register of companies ( if the applicant is a shareholder)
Evidence of donation
If the applicant would like to invest in the arts or scientific research in Portugal by making a donation, then they will be required to submit the following documents:
- A declaration from a registered Portuguese bank proving that the applicant has deposited the required capital
- A declaration supporting that a donation was made to a public or private scientific research institution (if donating to research)
- A declaration from the Portuguese Strategy, Planning, and Cultural Assessment Office (if donating to the arts). This document must also provide evidence that the assessment office has consulted with the appropriate authorities in their investment sector.
If you have any questions regarding what financial evidence is needed or what will be accepted, contact an immigration attorney who is experienced in the Portuguese immigration system.
How much does the Golden Visa cost?
In addition to investment and legal fees associated with applying for a Golden Visa, all applicants will be responsible for the following fees associated with their application:
- Golden visa processing fee: €533 per applicant ( €83 for each dependent being sponsored in the application)
- Initial Golden visa application fee: €5,325
- Renewal application fee: €2,663
- Certified translations and notarization: costs will vary
Applicants who are renewing their Golden visas will need to pay both the renewal fee and visa processing fee.
Taxes in Portugal
Golden visa holders will be responsible for paying the taxes related to their investment in Portugal if it generates an income.
However, golden visa holders who spend more than 183 days of the fiscal year in Portugal will become tax residents in Portugal and will therefore be subject to the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) Tax program.
For example, foreign investors who acquire real estate in Portugal will need to pay real estate acquisitions taxes, annual local taxes, and even rental income taxes if the property is rented out.
Local tax rates for property owners in Portugal are known as Imposto Municipal Sobre Imoveis (IMI) and usually range in price from 0.3%-0.8% depending on the property.
Rental property taxes are higher with a 28% flat tax rate however all costs related to maintenance, repair, and IMI may be deducted from the rental tax amount. Of course, if the property owner decides to sell their property for a profit, the sale will be subject to a capital gains tax if the property was acquired or purchased after 1998.
Through the NHR program, Portuguese tax residents are offered certain tax benefits such as tax exemption from almost all of the tax resident’s foreign source income and a 20% flat rate for certain professions.
For more information about the benefits of the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax program, speak with an experienced Portuguese attorney today by calling: +1 844 290 6312
How to get a Portuguese bank account and NIF number
Part of the requirements for the Golden Visa program is that foreign investors make their investments from a Portuguese bank account.
Fortunately, opening a bank account in Portugal is fairly easy for non-residents and foreign nationals. To open an account, the foreign investors will need the following:
- A valid passport or another government-issued travel document that proves identity and nationality
- The investor’s telephone number in Portugal
- Proof of address from the investor’s current country of residence
- Payslips or other evidence which offers proof of income
- The investor’s NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) number
Opening a Portuguese bank account is not an overtly time-consuming activity. It normally takes about half a day to visit the bank branch and open an account.
To obtain a NIF number (Portuguese tax identification number), foreign nationals will need to visit a Finanças office (a local Portuguese tax office) with proof of address from their current country of residence and a form of government-issued ID.
Most NIF applicants receive their NIF number within an hour or so.
Individuals who are not in Portugal can still apply for a NIF number if they appoint a Portuguese attorney or another representative as their proxy.
Can my family come with me to Portugal on a Golden Visa?
Golden visa applicants can sponsor eligible family members for dependent visas. The family can apply together in the same application process. Those who are eligible to join the main applicant in Portugal include the following:
- Spouses or Civil Partners of the main applicant
- Unmarried children under the age of 18
- Unmarried children under the age of 26 who are dependent on their parents and enrolled as full-time students
- Other legal dependents who are under the age of 18
- Parents of the main applicant who are over the age of 65
It should be noted that applicants who are applying for dependent visas will need to pay an additional €83 visa processing fee for each dependent being sponsored in the application.
How long does it take to get a Portuguese Golden Visa?
After the visa application has been submitted online, the Golden visa applicant will then need to wait for SEF to contact them for an interview and biometric collection.
It can take anywhere from 2-6 months for SEF to get in contact with the visa applicant, depending on the SEF office where the applicant is applying.
If the visa applicant is approved for a Portuguese Golden Visa after the interview, the applicant will then receive their Golden Visa cards.
Residence permit cards which will need to be applied for after visa approval usually take around 4 months to receive.
Language requirements for the Portuguese Golden Visa Program
To take part in the Golden Visa program, applicants are not required to pass a Portuguese language proficiency test. The program is open to all foreign nationals who speak a variety of languages.
However, if the Golden visa holder would like to apply for citizenship in Portugal after 5 years of holding a Golden Visa, then the foreign national will be required to pass a Portuguese language test.
To prove that they have basic knowledge and understanding of the Portuguese language, foreign nationals will need to pass the A2 Portuguese (CIPLE – Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira) test.
This test is roughly 2 hours long and is comprised of 3 sections testing the foreign national’s Portuguese language skills in oral comprehension, reading and writing, and oral expression.
When can I apply for Portuguese citizenship?
After 5 years of maintaining both the residency and investment requirements of the Golden Visa in Portugal, foreign nationals are eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship if they are able to meet the following requirements:
- The foreign national does not have any outstanding tax payments in Portugal
- The foreign national has a clean criminal record from both Portugal and their former country of residence
- The foreign national has passed the A2 Portuguese language proficiency test
When applying for Portuguese citizenship, the Golden visa holder will need to submit their Portugal naturalization application to the Central Registry Office at the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado (IRN). This application should be sent along with the following documents:
- The foreign national’s birth certificate
- Proof that the foreign national has passed the A2 Portuguese language test
- The foreign national’s passport or another valid travel document
- Any information regarding the foreign national’s current residence permit in Portugal
- Criminal record certificates
- Any evidence regarding the foreign national’s date and place of birth, their current occupation and place of residence, and any other countries previously resided in by the foreign national
- A document from SEF which proves that the Golden visa holder has been a legal resident in Portugal for at least 5 years
Portuguese citizenship applications normally range in cost from €175–250 and usually take around 6 months to 1 year to process.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for a Portugal Golden Visa?
Golden visa applications can be made by a non-EU citizen with the need of a lawyer however given the amount of money invested into this scheme, it is highly recommended that all Golden visa applicants hire an attorney experienced in Portuguese immigration law to help with the application process.
Not only can an attorney help applicants with their visa application and process, but they will also stay up to date with all the latest changes in the Portuguese Golden Visa Scheme, which will help visa applicants apply without delays and confusion.
Furthermore, individuals who decide to hire a Portuguese attorney to assist with their application can use their attorney to act as a proxy to submit visa applications, open a Portuguese bank account, and even obtain a NIF number all on their client’s behalf. For more information on the legal services which an experienced immigration lawyer can provide, call one of our immigration experts today at +1 844 290 6312 to learn more.
Last modified on August 16th, 2023 at 8:46 am
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There are many tax benefits available to tax residents in Portugal. Golden visa holders who spend more than 183 days in Portugal will be considered tax residents.
The Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) program in Portugal offers a variety of benefits to foreign nationals living in Portugal as tax residents which include the following:
- Certain income tax exemptions for the first 10 years of residence in Portugal
- Lower income tax rates (if employed in a ‘high value’ activity
- The ability to receive some foreign income tax-free
For more information regarding the NHR program, speak with a Portuguese immigration expert today.
The Portugal Golden Visa program is open to individual investors and not limited to companies. However, if the foreign investor would like to establish a company in Portugal with at least €1.5 million in capital, then a limited company could invest on behalf of the investor with capital.
Both Portugal and the United States allow dual citizenship, so U.S. citizens can acquire Portuguese citizenship without it negatively affecting their U.S. citizenship.
Individuals who are not U.S. citizens should research or consult with an immigration lawyer before they acquire citizenship in Portugal as some nationalities do not allow dual citizenship and would consider acquiring Portuguese citizenship as an abandonment of their original citizenship status.
To become a Portuguese citizen, all citizenship applicants must be able to prove that they have a basic knowledge of the Portuguese language. To do this, foreign nationals will need to have passed an A2-level Portuguese language exam.
Portugal is an LGBT-friendly country and allows Golden visa applicants to sponsor their same-sex spouses/partners to join them in the country as a dependent.
The Portuguese visa valid is initially valid for 2 years. Provided that the visa holder meets both the necessary investment and residency requirements, then the visa can be renewed for another 3 years.
After 5 years of residency in Portugal under the Golden Visa, applicants can then apply for permanent residency or even Portuguese citizenship.
One of the benefits of the Golden Visa is that visa holders will be allowed visa-free access to travel to the following countries in the Schengen Area: