Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has become hugely popular among non-EU citizens looking to invest in Portuguese property.
Since the Portuguese government launched the scheme in 2012, it has generated an impressive EUR5.2 billion as of June 2020 in foreign investment and is a strong incentive for property investors worldwide.
But how exactly does the programme work and what makes it so popular among would-be investors? Check out our guide answering the top 10 questions.
Q1: WHAT IS THE GOLDEN VISA PROGRAMME?
Portugal’s Golden Visa programme is essentially a government scheme which offers citizens of non-European Union countries the opportunity to obtain residency – and potentially, citizenship – in Portugal once they have invested in Portuguese property. It is dealt with by the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service, or the Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) and has helped Portugal generate foreign investment and employment in the country.
Q2: WHO CAN APPLY FOR IT?
An individual must be a citizen of a third-party country to apply for a golden visa, which means Portuguese and EU nationals are not eligible to apply.
Since launching in 2012, the scheme has mainly attracted high-net worth individuals, highly-skilled professionals and retirees.
Q3: HOW DO YOU QUALIFY?
To qualify for a golden visa, one of the following three key criteria must be met:
- Invest €500,000 in residential or commercial real estate in Portugal. Any number of properties can combine to make up the €500,000 minimum investment and the property can be rented for income.
- Transfer funds of above € 1,000,000 into the country
- Create at least 10 jobs in Portugal
In some cases, people who are investing in small and medium businesses, or in the arts and culture or scientific research may qualify too but the vast majority (90%) receive the visa through real estate investment.
Q4: ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS?
In some cases, property investments valued at €350,000 or above may qualify, but the SEF will only approve these if the property being purchasing is more than thirty years old, is located within specific regeneration areas and requires extensive renovation work. If an investor elects to pursue this route, it is important to seek legal advice first.
Q5: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
The scheme requires that the investor maintains their investment for five years and complies with the minimum required periods of stay during this time. Most applicants need to provide proof of medical insurance to stay in the country, and the government may carry out checks to ensure applicants have a clean criminal record.
Q6: WHY IS IT SO POPULAR?
Many investors like Portugal’s Golden Visa programme because it is a fast-track way to acquire residency and allows investors to gain residency permits not only for themselves but also their spouse and any dependent children they may have. It also allows for travel throughout the EU Schengen zone without any additional visas – and once residency or citizenship has been gained investors and their dependents can live, work and study freely throughout the zone.
Once a golden visa is issued, the holder is also entitled to tax exemptions from other overseas income, if the investors lives in the country for less than 183 days per Portuguese tax year. Please speak to a tax advisor for more information.
Q7: HOW LONG IS IT VALID FOR?
The visa is valid for one year and it must then be renewed every two years after that. After five years, most people can apply for permanent residency and after six years, it is generally possible to apply for full citizenship by investment.
Q8: ARE THERE ANY CATCHES?
To keep a golden visa valid, the holder must spend at least seven days in the country during their first year as part of the programme, and after this, two weeks in the country every two years. Once an investor applies for permanent residency, they may have to pass a basic language test.
Q9: WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED?
When applying to the scheme, the following documentation must be provided:
- A passport (valid for a minimum of three months)
- A valid Schengen or short-term visa
- Proof of health insurance
- A signed criminal record certificate
- A signed affidavit sworn by the applicant as confirmation they will comply with tax and social security requirements
- Make and maintain the qualifying investment for a minimum of 5 years
- Receipt showing the Golden Visa fees have been paid
Q10: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE?
Once a qualifying property has been purchased and the paperwork submitted, an investor should be able to expect to receive their visa within three months or more, depending on if any problems exist with the application and supporting documentation.
If you are interested in the Portuguese Golden Visa programme, IP Global is happy to help investors through the process. Simply contact us here.
*Update: The Portuguese government announced in February 2020 that it intended to omit the coastal cities from the regions applicable to the golden visa programme in order to boost inland investment and create more jobs. This, however, has been tabled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the foreseeable future Porto and Lisbon remain the best options for investors in terms of capital upside and visa acquisition.